Upstate Officials Meet to Discuss Advancing High Speed Rail

Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith, co-chair of the High Speed Rail Working Group of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) along with Senator David J. Valesky (D-Syracuse), met with Rob Simpson, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Development Corporation and Darlene Kerr, Deb Warner, and Benjamin Sio of the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce to discuss regional economic development priorities and the role High Speed Rail will play in advancing those priorities.

"Viable passenger rail is essential to achieve a balanced intermodal transportation system," Senator Smith said. "High-speed rail offers the opportunity to alleviate traffic congestion; provides land use planning alternatives; provides an alternative to highways and air travel during periods of national crisis; addresses environmental concerns and reduces dependence on foreign oil."

"High-speed rail represents opportunity in Upstate New York at a time when we need it most," Senator Valesky said. "Like the Erie Canal 200 years ago, a statewide high-speed rail system has the potential to revolutionize the entire state."

Senator Smith outlined his three part approach to building a High Speed Rail system in New York State which includes:

1. Establishing a High-Speed Rail Authority to operate the system and raise money to ensure its success: specifically, to provide matching funds for federal grants, continue the environmental and engineering work to prepare for the new high speed rail corridor and then, to build the line.

2. Convening a statewide High-Speed Rail Public Private Partnership ("P3") Council to achieve public-private collaboration in funding high speed rail. Led by former Comptroller Carl McCall, the State Asset Maximization Commission has outlined the key principles of public-private partnerships in modern economies. New York State will apply those principles specifically to developing high-speed rail.

3. Establishing a bipartisan High-Speed Rail Business Council to promote awareness of high-speed rail and to advocate for its construction. Exceptional strides have been made by the Regional Plan Association and the New York State High Speed Rail Coalition to build these relationships.

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