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View Diary: All aboard with hi-speed rail in America! (314 comments)

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  •  Rights of way would kill the effort (0+ / 0-)

    Today's rails run along rights of way granted in the 19th century.  Cities were built along the tracks.  So at the time the tracks were first built, the land was basically undeveloped and thus cheap.  Now it's costly and urbanized, especially along the Boston-Washington corridor.

    High-speed rail requires good tracks, and they have to be rather straight.  That is easy enough in the desert, but essentially it's like building a new highway, and after the trauma of neighborhood destruction wrought by the Interstates in the 1950s and 1960s, nobody can stomach that again.  Plus land prices have skyrocketed since then -- real estate bubbles have that effect.  If you live in the northeast, could you imagine a 40-foot-wide straight right of way being cut through the endlessly sprawling suburbs?  Plus there's the impact of being near the noisy tracks... again, a negative impact.

    So in the urbanized areas, we're basically stuck with the routes we have, and they're not well suited to high speeds. :-(

    And in the rural areas, there isn't demand, and the distances are probably too great to make it worthwhile.

    •  Two words: Eminent Domain. (n/t) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mnemosyne, AreDeutz

      "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

      by Brooke In Seattle on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:37:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Other Words: Foreclosure Crisis (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Lots of homes that will never be lived in, built in subdivisions that will never again be full. Inner cities that have already been hollowed out. Farms that are in recievership. We have the space, and some cities ( I would use Detroit as some sort of hub) would practically give away the land in exchange for the development. Others would gladly take something rather than sit on blocks and blocks of unsellable houseses.

        Howard Dean Forever and a Day

        by CarolDuhart on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 03:15:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not in the northeast (0+ / 0-)

          Those empty subdivisions are in the sun belt.  The northeast corridor is high-priced land.  Homes are down to $500k in some areas, but not the costly ones.  An are of land costs a million dollars or more in many suburban towns, not to mention the cities.

          So sure, cheap RoW can be had from Detroit to Las Vegas, but that's not where rail makes much sense.

          Eminent domain is thus very costly. It also would be VERY unpopular, as thousands of homes would be leveled, and thousands more put adjacent to trackage. That's much harder to pull off now than it was in the 1950s.

          •  Ever hear of TUNNELS? (0+ / 0-)

            I mean, geez people, use your grey matter!

            An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere - Mark Twain.

            by AreDeutz on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 01:50:10 AM PST

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            •  For 400 miles? (0+ / 0-)

              Oh yeah, we spent $15B to tunnel under 2 miles of Boston, so why not 400 miles?

              Underground construction is expensive, and there's no record of high-speed trains going for long distances through tunnels.  The aerodynamics could be, uh, interesting.  150 MPH in a confined space, sure.

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