It’s no secret that the University of Michigan is stranded in the middle of the Midwest. In cities like Ann Arbor and Detroit, it’s easy to feel disconnected from other metropolitan areas. Students needing to travel often complain about the current options being limited, expensive and inconvenient. Thankfully, President Barack Obama has recently announced plans to build a nationwide high-speed rail network of 100 mph-plus trains. This network would connect Ann Arbor to Chicago and Detroit, providing students with much better options for sampling other cities. At the same time, the plan would conserve energy and create needed jobs. Such a plan should be implemented quickly for the good of students, workers and the state.

The proposed plan identifies 10 corridors, one of which is the Chicago hub network that would connect Chicago with other metropolitan areas in the Midwest, including Detroit. The broader goal of the proposal is to relieve the congestion on highway and airport infrastructure by giving travelers an efficient alternative in the form of speedy, electric-powered trains. In addition, the plan will also create short-term and long-term jobs for the upgrading, construction and maintenance of the railroad infrastructure.

With Ann Arbor on the Chicago-Detroit rail route, this would make it easier for students to get to Chicago and beyond much faster than they do now. Besides opening up new destinations for everyone, this could also help out-of-state and international students by giving them an option of flying from Chicago, which can be cheaper than flying from Detroit. But all students benefit from easier options to travel long distances in shorter amounts of time. Being located a mere 2 hours from Chicago gives students in Ann Arbor much better access to the world outside the University community.

The state of Michigan also stands to benefit from this plan. The high-speed rail network would create both short-term and long-term employment for Michigan, which is dealing with the highest unemployment rate in the country. The state does not have an efficient and affordable public transportation system to speak of. This project would give it a much-needed boost in infrastructure by connecting parts of the state to Detroit, and Detroit to other metropolitan counterparts in the Midwest. This creates greater connectivity between everyone who lives in Michigan, which will undoubtedly be helpful as the state inches toward economic revival.

A reliable nationwide rail network would also ease the demand for air and road travel and decongest clogged airways and highways. And in doing so, it will make the United States cleaner and greener. The electric-powered trains would reduce dependence on vehicles that burn harmful fossil fuels. Reducing the number of cars on the road and planes in the air could decrease both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

While the plan has its critics, high-speed rail networks like the French TGV and the Japanese Shinkansen have been successful, and there is no reason why such a model can’t be replicated in the United States. This is a sound investment, from an economic as well as an environmental standpoint. It’s an investment we need to make to get our state and our country back on track.

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