A proposed high-speed rail megaproject would connect New York and Boston via Hartford and Providence, promising a faster commute for the region’s millions of workers. Anthony Flint reports on the project for Bloomberg CityLab.
The private backers of the North Atlantic Rail Project hope to attract President “Amtrak Joe” Biden’s attention and federal investment, claiming that their project “checks all the boxes for a multi-benefit recovery strategy.” NAR promises to cut travel time between New York and Boston down to 100 minutes, two hours shorter than Amtrak’s current service. The project’s supporters say it would benefit not only residents of Boston and New York but also those in the “left-behind, post-industrial legacy cities” between the two, which could see an influx of new investment and development if they become accessible by high-speed rail.
In the final phase, the NAR network would add more stops in smaller cities, making it easier for people to travel throughout the region and potentially easing housing affordability issues. Hartford mayor Luke Bronin, co-chair of the North Atlantic Rail initiative, said the new connections “would unlock economic opportunity and spur growth for dozens of mid-sized cities throughout New England, connecting the entire region in one integrated market for ideas, labor and innovation.”
One major hiccup could be the project’s $105-billion price tag, with the massive cost due in part to the engineering challenges faced in building and tunneling in densely developed areas and underwater. When compared to other projects around the world, however, NAR would be a small step in bringing the United States closer to having a world-class transportation system.