Richard Florida on Mega-Regions and High Speed Rail: “…fordism has come smack up against its limits. It’s cheaper to produce many industrial goods off-shore, and the geography of post-war suburbia has been stretched to its breaking point. It may well be impossible for sustained recovery to come from breathing life back into the banks, auto companies, and suburban-oriented development model. A new period of geographic expansion – or what geographers term a ‘new spatial fix’ – will eventually be needed to spur a renewed era of economic growth and development….New periods of geographic expansion require new systems of infrastructure….”
Mega-regions, if they are to function as integrated economic units, require better, more effective, and faster ways move goods, people, and ideas. High-speed rail accomplishes that, and it also provides a framework for future in-fill development along its corridors. Just as development filled-in along the early street-car lines and the post-war highways, high-speed rail will encourage denser, more compact, and concentrated development with growth filling in along its routes over time.
I’ll just add that we’re evolving a network economy where modular diy (or bootstrap) business development can take root, and I suspect the future will depend on our ability to connect more than it will depend on our ability to grow. We have technical infrastructure to support connection, light rail could be part of the physical infrastructure. (Thanks to Tim O’Reilly and Steven Johnson for pointing me at this piece.)