Design professionals are seeing the $8 billion investment the Obama administration is making in high-speed rail as a major opportunity for architecture and engineering firms.
“The mass transit money will at a minimum have a ripple effect and stimulate the need for both public and private infrastructure improvements in the Northeast corridor, California and the Midwest,” Arthur Schwartz, deputy executive director and general counsel with the National Society of Professional Engineers, told The Zweig Letter—a weekly management journal published by ZweigWhite. “It would seem that if they have not already done so, design firms need to position themselves to participate in this significant opportunity.”
On January 28, President Obama announced $8 billion in high-speed and intercity passenger rail grants for projects in 31 states, with major investments in Florida and California. The grants are seen as a “down-payment on developing or laying the groundwork for 13 new, large-scale high-speed rail corridors across the country,” according to the Department of Transportation.
New York City engineer Samuel Schwartz equates that investment in high-speed rail to that of Eisenhower’s 1956 interstate highway system plan. His firm, Sam Schwartz Engineering, recently hired Howard Roberts, former head of New York City Transit, as senior vice president of transit and rail services, a new business line.
“Now we’re getting serious about rail,” says Schwartz. “I think what we hope we’re seeing is 1956 all over again. We think we’re right at the inception of a rail revolution.”
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