Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Geography Of High-Speed Rail: Urban Pairs

The America 2050 report is making quite a splash in the blogosphere. I got wind of it via Richard Florida's blog. There is an interesting pattern in the list of the Top 25 City Pairs for high-speed rail:

19. Columbus-Washington
20. Cleveland-Washington
21. New York-Pittsburgh

Above is the highest Pittsburgh pairing. My first thought was about the prospects for Washington-Pittsburgh. Upon further review, both Columbus-Washington and Cleveland-Washington speak to that important transportation corridor. Any connectivity to DC for those two Ohio cities will surely depend upon the Pittsburgh link.

In fact, Pittsburgh would be the HSR rail hub between the Midwest and the urban Northeast. Being the biggest city in the middle of nowhere ensures this designation. As the new economic geography of the United States begins to take shape, Pittsburgh will emerge (again) as a major center between the two mega-regions.


Paz said...

If Pennsylvania doesn't get its act together, I wouldn't discount Buffalo being a major competitor for the BosWash-Chicago Hub connection point.

Jim Russell said...

I wouldn't worry about it. The DC line must go through Pittsburgh. And Buffalo doesn't have a shot unless the line cuts through Southern Ontario. Stimulus dollars won't fund that route.

Robert Pontzer said...

that 2050 group considers a DC's connection to the Midwest (via Pittsburgh) "lowest priority"...

They also base their determinations of Pittsburgh's rail service on the false premise of lumping us in with Greater Chicago (the ChiPitts region)... which is not Pittsburgh's primary economic megaregion despite a somewhat tenuous "urban corridor" extending northwestward through Youngstown, Cleveland and the vast fields of grain of NW Ohio and Northern Indiana... while a few mountains prevent continuous urbanized corridors from Latrobe to Hagerstown... Pittsburgh's eastward links are much more important than Chicago.

And it's not just about the local market... the location of Pittsburgh demands that be the critical link between the nation's two most densely populated regions... which also happen to be much closer than these HSR wannabe-cartographers perceive. Somehow random listless lines from the Northeast into Alabama are higher priority amongst these folks than DC-Midwest (Chicago).