Whether a high-speed rail system ever gets built in the United States is still up in the air, but if it is, artist and activist Alfred Twu has figured out exactly where those speedy rail lines should go.
Twu started working on this map in 2009, when President Obama's plan to build high-speed rail was unveiled. "There were many such maps being made by various designers," says Twu, but since then he's updated the map with labels and put it on Facebook, and it struck a chord. It's gone viral.
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"With the huge response it's generated, I created a petition to the White House to fund such a system," he told Mashable. After just a week, that White House petition already has 27,528 signatures.
Twu's not just guessing where those routes should be, either. "The routes are based on various studies by government agencies and advocacy groups," he explains.
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We like the map's colors and its overall design, into which Twu put a lot of thought. "Some artistic license was applied to make it more elegant and have it be a series of distinct lines like a subway map," he says. "Colors were selected to convey the idea of the U.S. being made up of several interwoven regional cultures that come together at major cities -- like an internal melting pot."
Trains zipping across the continent at 220mph might sound like a far-fetched futuristic concept, but Twu thinks this project could be built out much like the Interstate Highway System was built in the 50s, he says. "I've seen 2030 and 2050 as potential dates from various advocacy groups," Twu added.
As you look at the map, you'll see that Twu included unshaded routes, which he says were "purposely left open to interpretation." He says the general idea of adding those routes would be that they would handle "lower-speed trains, as well as potential future high-speed routes."
But certainly there's not enough money to do something like this, given the economic situation in the United States at the moment, right? Tsu says cost estimates for a high-speed rail system like this range from $1-$2 trillion. Geez, that's a lot of money. He responded, "Sounds like a lot, but divided over four decades, that is around $25-$50 billion a year or 80-160 dollars a year per person. That's one tank's worth of gas money."
To get a closer look at the map, view or download this .PDF file.
What do you think, readers? Will this speedy rail system be going near your house? Should the United States catch up with the rest of the developed world and build the system, or should budget constraints keep us from spending money on this futuristic conveyance?
Bonus gallery: Here's a design concept showing how those high-speed trains might work:
Graphics courtesy of Alfred Twu
This story originally published on Mashable here.