My how times change: “Louisiana’s transportation department plans to request federal dollars for a New Orleans to Baton Rouge passenger rail service from the same pot of railroad money in the president’s economic stimulus package that Gov. Bobby Jindal criticized as unnecessary pork on national television Tuesday night.”
I love passenger rail, but it’s hard to see this as being high on the list of useful high-speed rail endeavors. The distance is right, but metro New Orleans is the country’s 50th largest metro area (bigger than Tuscon, smaller than Rochester, NY) and Baton Rouge is 67—smaller than Worcester, MA but bigger than El Paso. Which isn’t to deny that a quality rail link could be useful; only to observe that there are a large number of potential projects—basically everything on the existing HSR corridor list plus all kinds of littler things like Phoenix-Tuscon, Worcester-Boston, DC-Norfolk, DC-Richmond—that would seem like a better idea.