He doesn’t know whether his state will get federal billions to build a fast train network, but Gene Conti was the face of America’s state high-speed rail boosters this week at a Japanese-sponsored seminar in Washington.
North Carolina’s transportation secretary didn’t get much media attention in the United States for an event covered by six Japanese TV networks, “High Speed Rail: Mobilizing a New Generation,” sponsored by the Japanese International Transport Institute and Japanese government agencies.
North Carolina is one of 37 states competing for a share of $8 billion in federal stimulus funds for high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects. The Obama administration is expected to announce the winners sometime this winter.
Conti chairs a rail transportation committee for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
“We’re building a network that is greener, reduces our dependence on foreigh oil, gives citizens more travel options, and will boost the community and economic health of our country through the creation of new jobs,” he said at Thursday's event, which had an American and Japanese audience.
Japan actually has a high-speed rail network.