Obama May Choose New Transportation Secretary to Make Trains Run on Time

With LaHood leaving leadership of US DOT, the president will look for a secretary to make overdue progress on his signature high-speed-rail network

With Ray LaHood likely stepping down as secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2013, President Obama may be looking for a leader to make overdue progress on his signature transportation policy, a national high-speed-rail network. The president’s original goal was to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years, but so far only California’s increasingly embattled system is scheduled for completion by then.

The divided Congress is unlikely to finance any significant portion of Obama’s high-speed-rail projects, so he has to nominate a secretary who cares as much about reform and good engineering as securing funding and undertaking flashy projects. A focus on efficiency over spending should please House Republicans, whose support the administration will need if it ever hopes to increase federal transit funding.

(more on rail critics' takes on a new transportation secretary . . . )