Kansas City is part of Obama's high-speed rail plan

The car and the airplane are getting some heated competition.

After years of talk with little action, the country is opening the spigot to spend billions on a new way to get around: high-speed rail.

President Barack Obama on Thursday detailed his strategy for building a fabric of high-speed rail lines that would crisscross the country from New England to California, including a route between Kansas City and St. Louis. By later this year, states, including Missouri, could start work on a new rail system that could rival what has been built around the world.

Obama's strategy focuses on reversing years of forgotten passenger rail service by funneling millions into 10 overarching corridors across the country, including one that would cover Kansas City, St. Louis and the Midwest.

Obama's plan is rooted in his stimulus bill, which included $8 billion for high-speed rail. The president also is seeking $5 billion more in rail funding in his budget proposal.

Obama noted that this was just the first step to a longer-term project that promises to be quite expensive.

"This is not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future," the president said. "It is happening right now. It's been happening for decades. The problem is it's been happening elsewhere, not here."

After being one of the world's railroad leaders at the turn of the century, the U.S. has started falling behind countries like Japan, Germany and France, which have developed high-speed rail.

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