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Senator Wants Hudson Tunnel For High-Speed Rail

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An Amtrak Acela train is seen at the 30th Street Station - Philadelphia, PA - May 8, 2010 - Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Amtrak

An Amtrak Acela train is seen at the 30th Street Station – Philadelphia, PA – May 8, 2010 – Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Amtrak

levon_feature Levon Putney
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NEWARK, NJ (WCBS 880/AP) - A big reason Amtrak wants the new Gateway rail tunnel under the Hudson River into Manhattan’s Penn Station is to expand its high-speed rail network.

Sen. Bob Mendendez on what high-speed rail means for area jobs

“High-speed rail is right along the lines of what we need,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey). “It’s what the world is doing. It’s what China is doing. It’s what London is doing.”

Menendez says this is about competing in the world market “and a real opportunity to get our people to places of work, to get our businesses to send their sales force along the northeast corridor.”

Menendez and fellow New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg resuscitated the much-debated project Tuesday.

But he says, even with President Barack Obama’s commitment, a high-speed rail network will still need states to pitch in funds.

Obama is calling for a six-year, $53 billion spending plan for high-speed rail, as he seeks to use infrastructure spending to jump-start job creation.

What do you think? Would you want high-speed rail into New York City? Are you willing to pay for it? Sound off in our comments section.

An initial $8 billion in spending will be part of the budget plan Obama is set to release Monday. If Congress approves the plan, the money would go toward developing or improving trains that travel up to 250 mph, and connecting existing rail lines to new projects. The White House wouldn’t say where the money for the rest of the program would come from, though it’s likely Obama would seek funding in future budgets or transportation bills.

During last month’s State of the Union address, Obama said he wanted to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.

Video: Shanghai high-speed maglev train goes 267 mph (461 kph)

Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday the administration wouldn’t compromise when it comes to spending on the infrastructure, education and innovation programs Obama is touting.

“We cannot compromise. The rest of the world is not compromising,” Biden said in Philadelphia at an event announcing the high-speed rail initiative.

Thus far, Obama’s plans to increase spending on high-speed rail have received a chilly a reception from Republicans. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., urged the administration Tuesday to focus its spending on the crowded Northeast rail corridor, and not “squander limited taxpayer dollars on marginal projects.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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