What LaHood's departure means for high speed rail | WBEZ
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Dynamic Range

From the archives: LaHood says 'no stopping' high speed rail

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, left, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, on a high speed rail test run in October of 2012. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast, file)

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he would leave his post in the Obama administration earlier this week. "I have had a good run,” the former Illinois Congressman and Peoria native told the Associated Press. “I'm one of these people who believe that you should go out while they're applauding.”

During his tenure in Washington, LaHood struggled with Congress to pass funding for major infrastructure projects, and eventually compromised with them on a two-year plan, dubbed MAP 21, that gave states more flexibility in spending federal dollars. He also brought greater attention to hazards like distracted driving, and tried to put pedestrians and cyclists on equal footing with drivers, earning him accolades from many alternative transportation advocates.

But one of LaHood’s biggest efforts was his promotion of high speed rail. At an urban policy forum held in Chicago in December, LaHood told the audience that “every generation does something big for the next generation,” and that high speed rail would be our generation’s gift to the next.

In an exit interview with the Huffington Post, LaHood admitted that he felt behind on this quest, but insisted that he and his administration had still “come a long way.”

“As long as President Obama is in the White House, whoever sits in this chair will have high-speed rail as one of their top priorities,” he said.

You can take a closer listen to LaHood’s earlier remarks on high speed rail – and his insistence at its inevitability – in the audio above.

Dynamic Range showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Ray LaHood spoke at an event presented at the UIC Urban Forum in December of 2012. He was interviewed by Steve Schlickman, Executive Director of the UIC Urban Transportation Center. Click here to hear the event in its entirety.

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