Rail roaded

Bob Geary, one of those journalists who digs deep and thinks hard, has an excellent story in this week's Independent about the state of transit funding here in North Carolina. It's not a pretty picture.

The massive economic stimulus package now being fashioned in Washington is expected to include billions of dollars for mass transit and intercity rail projects. But because of decisions made during the Bush administration, the Triangle stands to receive little or none of it, the region's transportation leaders say.

Bob seems to have found some hints of a silver lining, reporting that North Carolina's metro leaders are on the case, but I can't help lament this sad situation. We'll be living with the disastrous consequences of Bush-era policies for generations to come.

Triangle Transit's first board meeting of 2009 coincided with the unveiling in Washington of the House Appropriations Committee's $850 billion economic recovery package, which included a proposed $10 billion for mass transit. But David King, Triangle Transit's general manager, doubted his agency would qualify for any of the rail funding and likely will receive only "single-digit millions" for new buses and bus shelters from any stimulus package that eventually emerges.

The reason, King said, is that Triangle Transit's rail planning came to a screeching halt two and a half years ago when the Bush administration signaled that the then-proposed Durham-to-Raleigh commuter line would not be approved for final design and construction funding. After a decade in the federal pipeline, Triangle Transit withdrew the project rather than suffer a fatal rejection.
Thanks for nothing, George.  




And the Bush Admin made that decision


Wasn't it because Skip Stam, Liddy Dole and other R leaders in NC told the White House that nobody in the Triangle would ride a train? Liddy is now just an irrelevant regret for NC, but I sooooo hope Skip Stam and other R leaders in the Lege pay for their stubborn, shortsighted, out-of-touch, partisan ignorance with their legislative seats in 2010.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Why couldn't we?

It seems like we could build our rails right beside the interstates with one on each side going with traffic.  I believe it could be done, I'm no engineer, but I think that the overpasses could be done so a train could tunnel through those dirt sides.  The land has already been bought so it we would not have to survey and buy more. We could  put North Carolinians to work on a trans-state rail from Wilmington to Asheville.  It might be a good way to spend some stimulus money.
Maybe we could look at things that never were and say "Why not?"

Already there

If you have access to a state map that has railroads on it, you'll see that there are existing railroads and rights-of-way all over the state, including from Wilmington to Asheville. There are highways right next to the tracks for most of that way such us US-74 which is fairly close or adjacent to the old SCL route from Wilmington to Charlotte.

As far as interstates go, although they are graded to easier standards than US and state highways in general, I think you'll find that it can be quite expensive to make a railroad work where an interstate works. Trains aren't so good on hills. They like things real gradual. Just to keep the grades in check, you'd end up with tons more bridges and cuts, especially the farther you go west.

Additionally, these existing railroads actually go through towns where people can get on and off like they did in the old days. Alhough it would be very expensive to have something like high-speed rail go through many existing corridors, there is a lot we could do to upgrade them if we wanted to get back into passenger rail again.

On of the best trips I ever had was from NC to DC on the train.

It was the first time I'd ever traveled by rail, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I did drive to Raleigh to get on the train, but that was because I was with a group.

I'm planning to do it again -- only this time we'll get on the train in Southern Pines. I'd love to be able to get on a train in SP and go to Charlotte or Raleigh for the day, and take the train home again.

Horizontal Holes

An auger boring company that bores through the sides of banks, dams, dirt berms, under roads, under runways, under train tracks without stopping traffic.  In the story that I've linked to, they were able to bore under an active train track and installed two concrete box culverts.  Follow the link and scroll to the bottom for pictures. 

Safer Too

Even from a safety standpoint,  we would have no cars crossing the tracks.

Could be the beginning

NC could be the start of a much larger system like the eurail.  If a town wanted a depot hub, they could foot the bill for it to promote their interests.  I wish that our legislators could get on board with this.   Kay Hagan is new and energetic and so is Kissell. 

Rail? First, let's change our "mobility culture"

Look, I'm with you guys on this "rail revolution". My folks used to send me/drive me to Chicago (where my grandparents lived) in the Summer sometimes when I was a kid growing up in California. I have so many fond memories traveling on the "L" there to watch the White Sox play with my gramps. Everyone there just knew the "L" train could take them where they needed to go in the city and in some cases beyond.

Now....saying that, we aren't in the 1950's and early 1960's. Folks now want and even demand mobility. It sure sounds great to talk about rail to "get around" and so forth...but, it's not that simple anymore. Some of us would just use it a bunch...most of us wouldn't. Hey, if ya live in D.C. and there's no other legitimate means of transportation around the city/county...then, rail/subs is super. For most of us..in our cities...in our "neck of the woods", that's not really what we're gonna choose even if it's available.

My take on this.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

well, I would choose it.

If there were mass transit available here, I would use it. I don't have the opportunity.

And, in some circumstances...so would I

Linda...I'd probably use some kind of "rail" system myself if it were available. I love Charlotte, for example, and I live in Reidsville. Well, what if I could catch a rail here and go there....spend time there...then catch a rail and come back here?? Sweet, huh?

But, that's not exactly what's gonna happen in my lifetime. Sure would be nice if it happens in my grandkid's lifetime, however. It has to start somewhere...so, I'm not all negative on this...just sayin'...

The best thinking is independent thinking.

The thing of it is

There are parts of the state where it would be easy to do. I could take the train from Southern Pines to Raleigh. I'd need to find good public transport while I was there, but it's not that much of a stretch to see that happen.

If anyone believes in the concept of "peak oil"

and that we're on the down side of the curve, then we need to be thinking about the impact of the unavailability, at almost any price, of gasoline to power our current transport system...and our economy.

I strongly suggest everyone read James Kunstler's book "The Long Emergency" and his fiction novel, "Made by Hand" to get an idea of what life might be like.

Here's a link to get you started: thinking about the importance of regional rail transport

Stan Bozarth

Heard at the barber shop tonight

that the intensive clearing beside the existing tracks that's been happening for a few months here between Greensboro and High Point will be for a 90+ mph train that will go to Atlanta from here in 4 hrs. I don't get the local paper but I'm trying to find out more.

Urgency is hard to come by

It will take a catastrophe - force of nature - for we humans to adjust ourselves. Some of think we already have a catastrophe (I certainly do), but I fear there are not yet enough white people feeling it.


I think that the marketplace would handle a lot of this. For example, businesses have gravitated around interstate exits. Accordingly, businesses would locate around the rail. Pepsi might start putting their Taco Bells inside the rail hub. Hotels would be nearby with an offramp. Residential areas would locate there and use it as a selling point. This is not to try to get rid of cars or the freedom, but I do most of the hair raising driving in congested areas and it would be nice sometimes to read a book and let somebody else do it.

That's true

But my feeling is that transportation dictates where things are more than where things are dictates transportation. For example, all of those little towns running up 117 from Wilmington to Rocky Mount sprouted up because of the railroad which came first. And the affluent houses were built right next to it. Not saying the same will happen now. It was just that convenience ruled the day then and probably will to some extent now.

I agree

Transportation corridors do drive development. And in planning for that development, zoning choices have to be built into the overall strategy.

The free marketeers want none of the above. They argue that governments have no business doing planning that will help direct where people will work, live and play. They are nuts, of course, but that's their story and they're sticking to it.

Your point is well made.


Good planning would be a must.

Park and ride has worked well

for some cities, why not build large parking areas near train depots? Why not even provide small rental electric cars for transport once the train drops a passenger at a destination?

I'd love it

I'd love to be able to drive my car to a specific area...park it...catch a quick train ride to Charlotte...get a cab or even possibly rent an electric vehicle to get to the various places we love to go there...come back, catch a quick train ride back home.

I'm retired..I'm ready for something like that. I wonder about the "younger generation". It could very well be 1). a way to severely reduce our gasoline consumption and 2). help people get from place-to-place economically. In addition, building these kinds of things around the country would make a HUGE impact on jobs creation and so forth.

I probably sounded negative about the original point on this...but I'm not. I just question whether we, as a people, would be willing to give up some of our "personal mobility" that we've grown so used to.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

UnReality For Smitty Tour?

Hmmmm...I can get to Atlanta from Greensboro in about 7.5 hours now by car and won't have to rent a car when I get there and don't have to worry about being at a "pick-up area" at any certain time...can stop for a while if I care to if I see a Wendy's or a Taco Bell or ... well you get the point. * Smitty

In about a year Smitty, your trip to Atlanta will take about 2 weeks, considering you will be traveling in Armed Convoy supply by Homeland Security. No doubt your Convey team will have search and destroy missions for Taco Bells and other assorted Government Meal stations. Your Rest Stops will be totaly secure,since they will be Government Dentention Camps, holding vast numbers of Retarded Republicans along with a few Progressives who got lost looking for the Obama Paradise.

Good luck Smitty! If you chose this mission, and this post will be read by Homeland Security and held against you at your "Enemy Of The State Trial"

You're a trip, dog

HAHAHAHA...thanks for that. I needed that right now.


The best thinking is independent thinking.

Not yet enough "white" people??????

That's a disappointing post, James. Our nation's plight isn't about "white people" and their feeling. I never, ever felt that you were someone that was so FAR LEFT that you felt everything and anything in America is about white people being evil...the enemy. I'd hate to have to go and find all those things "white people" do and have done for all other races in our country and around the world.

I'm disappointed, to say the least. PULEASE don't call me a "racist" for what I've said just because it doesn't trash white people at every angle....okay?

Hey, maybe what you said was "tongue in cheek" or just a joke or something and I just totally missed it.

Tell me that's what you're saying. Or, maybe I'm over reacting. Something's not right here. It's just not like ya.


The best thinking is independent thinking.


Big problems get big attention when white people are at risk. That's not trashing white people, it's simply pointing out reality.

AIDS wasn't a priority as long as only Africans were dying. Even as a "gay" problem it got scant attention. But once it jumped into heterosexuals, boom. Big interest. Big money. Big push to cure the ills.

I'm not saying white people don't do plenty to help others. But the truth is, money follows money. Western governments and businesses react mightily when white people are at risk. Especially white men. They're the ones who have the big bucks. Just look at the money being spent on Viagra.

If the malaria and AIDS problems we see in Africa were happening in the US, you can bet no expense would be spared to eradicate the diseases.

If condo buildings in south Florida were facing the Atlantic lapping at their lobbies, the threat of a rising sea-level would be taken very seriously.

I honestly don't know if the sea level is rising yet or if islands are simply sinking - or both - but I do know this. Until the problem is OUR problem ... meaning that citizens of the good old US of A are seeing their property values hurt by the risk ... it won't be something most people will care much about. And by then it will be too late.

I do see what you're saying, James...but

Look, America has "spent" a gazillion dollars on trying to combat the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Bush, himself, supported that. I think what we found out is that it will take more than gazillions of dollars to defeat the AIDS crisis in Africa. It will take a culture change. I just don't see what you've said here about that as a legitimate argument. AIDS came upon us (Americans) slowly at first. It was mostly in the gay community at first. Then, it expanded into ALL communities...white, black, hispanic....gay, hetero, bi..you name it. The truth is, it took an epidemic to create the panic that ended up driving what is happening now to defeat it.....world wide/race neutral.

I do see your point that because white folks (expecially in America) by majority are the ones that hold the wealth in our country, when they are affected, it gets more push to resolve any particular problem that "also" affects them. Rather than being so negative about how everything in America is all about wealthy white people, I hope that Obama and our new "change" philosophy takes a look at not just wanting to find ways to reduce the importance of those that hold wealth in our country and how they have provided so much in the way of jobs, innovation, progress in the sciences, direct monetary contributions to the less fortunate not only in this country but around the world.

I know this isn't popular here, but sometimes I think that much of the democratic dogma is centered around "wealth envy". No, the wealthy aren't always perfect and no they're certainly not people that have only the good of the poor at heart..they got rich being savvy and being self-absorbed, that's how it happens. But, I hate it that seldom do you see blogs lauding the BILLIONS given by people like Gates and many Hollywood magnets and the "giving back" by people like Tiger Woods and the like. Rich people aren't evil. And, even though the percentage of people that can be considered rich in our country are, indeed, white....a whole bunch of them didn't get that from inheritance as is the general attitude. Most got it from just hard work and innovation...taking risks and working within the capitalist system. Some have been lucky...some inherited it...no one is arguing that. But, just because they're white...well, I doubt that will always be the case. When it's not...do you honestly believe that "others" will be any different than their white counterparts?

Think about it.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Since I'm feeling the spirit...

Consider the biblical story of the talents. The teacher knocked the one who did the least with his talents.

If Gates is the richest man in America, he should be expected to do the most - not praised on blogs for doing a lesser percentage than someone who makes $35,000 a year.

And "wealth envy" (what?)

Calling upon Abrahamic tradition again: The love of money is the root of all evil - not the money itself.

Money, or capital, should be a means to an end, not an end unto itself. That's the difference between people who are concerned about people, and people who are concerned about capital.


I don't have that same "spirit"

Sorry...I'm agnostic, so anything cited through "scripture" just doesn't really hit the mark. I'm sure what you've posted can be and might be considered really "to the point". But, to me, we're not all about judging the percentage of what someone contributes or uses to help people...it's about IF someone contributes or does use some of their personal wealth to help people.

Not sure what you make...how much you're worth...but if it's more than the "unfortunate" in our country....what are you "expected" to give..and do you give it?

Don't answer...it's not a question meant to get your response...it's rhetorical.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

An agnostic can learn from a story without committing to it.

Even though the story is probably more historically Zoroastrian and later appropriated for Abrahamic use, that's not my point.

I'm still not sure about yours.

Does "wealth envy" concern you as a motive?

Are motives absolved by symbolic acts of contrition, no matter how small or large?

If the answer to the latter is "yes," then I understand where you're coming from.


Good points

I understand what you're saying and agree with much of it. I don't worry too much about what individuals give or don't give. Those are all personal choices. And I do understand how some people might appreciate or even want credit for doing good. The desire for recognition is a deep-seated human emotion.

My wife is fond of the term White Old Rich Men as a way of explaining how we got into a situation where what's good for "white men" is deemed to be good for everyone.

You get my point.

I do get that point, of course

You DO know that I am not a Bush fan and, to me, is Howdy Doody's double, right?

I am, however, a Reagan kinda guy. Yep, he had a lot of negatives...as did ALL presidents. But, I liked the guy and my chest swelled when he spoke in most incidents...except toward the end.

Our country has been led by "white men" for 200 years through good years and bad years. I doubt that if it were black men or hispanic men, there'd have been just good years or that those folks wouldn't have been pretty similar to what we've had with the white men.

We're gonna change...hey, we're already changing. I just hate it that there's always the "white" reference. Look, "diversity" and "racial equality" isn't about everyone but white men. I know that kinda gets away from what is presented here...but, in a way, it doesn't. It's one reason I don't support past "affirmative action" legislation/laws/requirements. Somehow, it has always seemed to me to be "against whites".

The best thinking is independent thinking.

I heard a story on NPR

saying it wasn't about race at all, but about class. Might be true. I guess we'll see, but I don't think that'll be anytime soon.

You should take a closer look at the history of affirmative action. It's not against whites at all. It's a small attempt to use public policy to make up for a hundred years of horrific slavery and discrimination that put black families on the chopping block, stole their wealth and dignity, and resigned their children and their children's children to lives of despair.

Maybe it's changing, but if it is, affirmative action has played a role. Maybe not a big role, but a role nonetheless. You can't cut off a person's legs and then complain when they can't walk.

Not the role of "affirmative action" James

What you're presenting isn't or hasn't been the role of affirmative action, in my view. It was, however, the role of "racial equality" that Dr. King was all about. At least, that's what I believe he would want. I don't think that any kind of "affirmative action" policy can change the events of the past. It can, however, make everyone equal...blacks and whites and hispanics and asians...etc. included. It's not about somehow "making well" the slavery and injustices of the past. It's about "going forward" with equality. But, to me, that's not what the affirmative action legislation was about in past years. To me, it was about negating white achievement to favor making access to education and promotions and employment selection to favor minorities regardless of qualifications or effort. To me, that's just wrong for our country. It's not government's responsibility to make sure we have "equal numbers" of races in the workplace or in colleges and so forth. To me, it's about not taking away anything that would or could get in the way of the ability for people to achieve. To me, it went WAY beyond that.

Just my opinion.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

well, duh.

; )

If people were to wake up one morning and realize it wasn't about race but about wealth, imagine what might happen. All those poor and middle-class people who have one vote might realize they have been led around by a minority of rich folks entirely unlike them, who also happen to get only one vote. They might actually vote working-class people into office and those working-class people might actually tell lobbyists to go take a flying leap and do what was best for the country and not for the lobbyists.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Let's just make everyone "equal"

Best thing would be for everyone to be equal...no one is more wealthy than the other...everyone has what everyone else has.


The best thinking is independent thinking.

Wow..you're putting things that zing above me

Look...not being argumentative here and I'm probably not your equal in intelligence...hell, I'm just NOT. "Are motives absolved by symbolic acts of contrition". Guess you're saying that if someone does do a good deed, does it deserve kudos just because it's something someone does even if it isn't a huge percentage of their wealth?

Well, if I've understood that correctly, I guess my answer is, in fact, yes. I don't expect people like Gates to give any more than they, themselves, deem to be "enough" personally. I feel that it's not just that his and his wive's efforts are in billions (which they are), it's that they do make the effort with their wealth.

I may have missed your point...but, that's my point.

The best thinking is independent thinking.