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Eastshore Highway (I-80) in the Bay Area
In 1956 then-President Dwight David Eisenhower, a Republican, signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. Construction of the Interstate highway system began shortly thereafter—depending on who you ask it was either Kansas, Missouri, or Pennsylvania that started work on the system first. No state refused any funds for the Interstate highway system. Construction began in 1956 and the "original" highway system was completed in 1992.

Over the year the interstate highway system has provided hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of jobs during its initial construction and its continuing maintenance and expansion. It is the heart of the economic engine that drives our economy.

Now imagine if any one state, say one that had a Democratic governor, had opted out of the interstate system in 1956. There would be a giant hole in our national transportation system. We would have a state that would not have a link to the rest of the country. Imagine driving across the country on I-90 and you hit the Wisconsin border and you go from a four lane divided highway built to Interstate standards in Minnesota, where the speed limit is 75 miles per hour, to a two lane highway where going over 60 miles per hour would be sketchy at best and when a big truck passes you going the other direction you feel like you are going to be blown off the road.

Businesses would would leave this state in droves and this state would have been left behind the rest of the country. Tourism would take a hit and getting from one end of the state to another would be a nightmare. Not having an Interstate highway in a state would create a great amount of economic pain for the citizens of this mythical state.

Fast forward to 2011. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included funds for multiple infrastructure projects across the country. Also included in the act was $8 billion marked for investment in high speed rail. In 2011, Governor Walker (R) of Wisconsin, Governor Scott (R) of Florida, and Governor Kaisch Kasich (R) of Ohio rejected federal funds for high speed rail. High speed rail will be the economic engine of our country's future and by rejecting these funds these three Republican governors have in essence crippled their own states economic future. The decision to reject these funds was done as a short-sighted political action without regard to the needs of their individual states or the needs of the country as a whole.

Declining these funds has meant missed opportunities and missed job creation. It also means that plans for a national high speed rail system are on hold. Three governors with only a political agenda in mind have disrupted and crippled the future of American transportation.

In 1956 it would have been inconceivable that a governor would turn down federal funds for an infrastructure project. Today, it has happened not once but three times. We have crumbling infrastructure, an underfunded educational system, and a growing gap between the haves and have-nots, yet Republicans only care about power and scoring political points with their base and not about the country as a whole.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM PST.

Also republished by DKos Florida and Maryland Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (138+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Failure in Shear, roberb7, belinda ridgewood, Glen The Plumber, David54, brae70, Dianna, kevinpdx, blueoregon, ferg, jediwashuu, Calamity Jean, raines, Simplify, Powered Grace, FisherOfRolando, defluxion10, TexDem, Jay C, PeterHug, ichibon, appledown, blue in NC, Ekdog, Flint, Lefty Coaster, psyched, divineorder, DontTaseMeBro, political junquie, WhizKid331, MKinTN, LakeSuperior, pat bunny, anodnhajo, Pat K California, Anima, artebella, Lily O Lady, Miss Jones, profundo, gizmo59, J M F, Mr Robert, duhban, DeminNewJ, where4art, BobBlueMass, Horace Boothroyd III, Ashes of Roses, cskendrick, Mnemosyne, Laurel in CA, YucatanMan, RandomNonviolence, bunsk, LeftOfYou, MagentaMN, flowerfarmer, sngmama, Rolfyboy6, Mike Kahlow, KayCeSF, ptanow, leonard145b, copymark, Word Alchemy, LSmith, monkeybrainpolitics, Assaf, kerflooey, eeff, nomandates, Polly Syllabic, nirbama, lennysfo, tegrat, GeorgeXVIII, Ishmaelbychoice, democracy inaction, Aquarius40, sebastianguy99, Rosaura, skybluewater, smileycreek, Doctor Who, Odysseus, Ducktape, bbctooman, Zwenkau, paulex, aughtomatic, Larsstephens, TXdem, ruleoflaw, Shockwave, Pakalolo, Notreadytobenice, 88kathy, cocinero, buckstop, boatjones, Josiah Bartlett, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Debs2, flitedocnm, ruscle, eOz, BYw, Zinman, sfbob, Danno11, nedog, Radical Faith, deepeco, greengemini, Heavy Mettle, Liberal Thinking, lakehillsliberal, elwior, Arabiflora, outragedinSF, Grandma Susie, camlbacker, HeartlandLiberal, Superpole, Shelley99, Loose Fur, kyril, unclebucky, eagleray, onionjim, KBS666, LaughingPlanet, Ironic Chef, amparo fan, BvueDem

    "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

    by Mark E Andersen on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:00:14 PM PST

  •  A High-Speed Bus System is better. (18+ / 0-)

    Suggestion for Facebook: 50 free "starter friends" automatically as soon as you sign up.

    by dov12348 on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:14:04 PM PST

    •  So they just snap on those high speed cones (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loose Fur, kyril

      and Wala, high speed bus? LOL

    •  Actually, high-speed busses are a big part of the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      future of commuting, if not long-distance travel.  Cities in South America have come up with great BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) systems that show what "express" really can mean.

      These use dedicated bus lanes (no traffic slowdowns) and permanent bus stations (where you pay to get into the station then just move quickly into the buses when they arrive).

      Here's a story on them...

      •  Curitiba being the prime example (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        fascinating story about its conception, planning and construction.

        BRT "can" be just as efficient as lightrail, sure.

        every situation is unique, and though I favor lightrail, there are some areas better served by BRT.

        “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

        by ozsea1 on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 02:32:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, we're being left behind. (54+ / 0-)

    Other countries are investing in high-speed rail. And this isn't just about high-speed rail, this is about neglecting our infrastructure in general.

    Kasich's war against high-speed rail really pisses me off. It would be awesome if I could catch a bus to Akron, then a train to Cincy and get there from Akron in 2 hours and spend the weekend there. Or I could go to Columbus in an  hour, or Cleveland in less time than that and hit the casino. I could catch an Indians game without paying steep parking fees, and their pitiful attendance would go up.

    If there was high speed rail in Ohio I would use it all the time. Even if there was one line from Cleveland to Cincy via Akron and Columbus, it would increase travel between those cities. It would be huge for tourism.

    But Republicans control state politics and don't understand the importance of infrastructure, even as they take the highway home from Columbus out to the suburbs. We've missed the boat (or train) big time.

    Shear is a very brittle failure mode. Other modes of material failure include warning signs like bowing or cracking. But Failure in Shear often occurs catastrophically, without warning.

    by Failure in Shear on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:21:58 PM PST

    •  You must be wrong. Kasich said (19+ / 0-)

      "Nobody wants to ride the train."

      He said that without doing one second of research on rail that anyone could see but he's a genius so he must be right. Look at all the jobs he created in Ohio!

      The big joke is that until really recently, the Republicans in the Ohio legislature supported rail. Then came the Tea Party crazies who have them in a choke hold and the need to oppose absolutely anything President Obama proposed.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

      by anastasia p on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 02:33:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A glimmer of hope is that Millennials are driving (32+ / 0-)

      less than any previous generation.

      They don't drive nearly as much as young people once did: While all Americans are driving less since the recession, the average person ages 16-34 drove 23% less in 2009 than in 2001, the sharpest reduction for any age group.

      And some of the nation's youths — those known as Millennials, born between 1982 and 2003 — approach travel differently than their parents do. They are "multimodal," meaning they choose the best mode of transportation, such as driving, transit, biking or walking, based on the trip they are planning. They consider public transportation the best option for digital socializing and one of the most likely ways to connect with the communities they live in. They also say that transit allows them to work while they travel.

      There have been other studies and articles about the trend:
      "We've basically assumed in transportation planning for decades upon decades that the amount of vehicle travel and per capita VMT can go in only one direction, and that's up," says Tony Dutzik, a senior policy analyst for the Frontier Group, a public interest think tank. "And we have been planning our transportation system based on that assumption."

      Data from the last few years clearly show that this axiom is no longer true...

      Some of this travel will be by high-speed rail instead of by car on the interstate or by air.

      Some of this travel will be by local rail, by bicycle, and not at people live closer to work and walk, telecommute, or a combination of both.

      A terrible bastardization of the Eisenhower Interstate System began to take place in the '70s and '80s: federal funds began to be used to build spurs, urban loops, and local bypasses to interstate standards and these highways were signed as part of the Interstate Highway System. Interchanges were built every mile or two. Massive commuter-housing subdivisions sprang up at each interchange, along with monster-sized strip-shopping centers, fast-food joints, and office complexes. Suburbanites began to use these Interstate-designated highways for short commutes to work within an MSA, or for short hops from one junky strip shopping center to the next. Congestion, sprawl, increases in driving, increases in pollution, and atrophy of a functional interconnected street system in rapidly-growing metropolitan areas (think Atlanta, GA or Charlotte, NC {where I live}). A horror, a disaster, a great leap backward in transportation.

      This has to stop. There is a growing group of folks in Charlotte who are trying to stop two new, planned "bypass" projects: the so-called Monroe Connector/Bypass, a 19-mile, one-billion-dollar strip of concrete with nine interchanges running through cornfields coincidentally owned by "connected" developers, and the Garden Parkway, a completely unnecessary 22-mile divided highway from western Mecklenburg County into Gaston one Gaston County resident once observed, "from where nobody lives to where nobody wants to go". BUT...thousands of acres of land at key planned interchanges has been bought up by our congressman Robert Pittenger (R-09), purchased as a result of insider information he acquired when he helped determine the route of the highway as a state senator. We're still fighting an uphill battle.

      The money being spent wasted on these sprawl generators could go a long way toward either local rail - Charlotte's embryonic light rail system cost less than $50 million per mile, including trains and parking lots and decks - or a high-speed rail corridor in North Carolina as part of national high-speed rail.

      To add insult to injury, we have wasted SO. MUCH. MONEY. on other things - think, for example, of the two trillion dollars - and counting - flushed down the toilet in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, I recently posted this comment in an unrelated diary about what $2 trillion dollars would buy in terms of local rail:

      ...FORTY-ONE THOUSAND MILES of light rail...enough to put 410 miles in each of the nation's top 100 metropolitan areas (#100 is Spokane, WA).

      Spread out over the top 200 metro areas, 205 miles of passenger rail could be built in metropolitan areas down to Fargo, ND and Barnstable, MA (MSA population 215,423).

      Obviously, that money could buy regional or national high-speed rail as well as local light rail. It might seem that high-speed rail would cost more than $48 million per mile, because the infrastructure itself is much more complex than that of light rail. However, the light rail being retrofitted in places like Charlotte is forced to acquire expensive urban right-of-way, where land costs might reach $1 million/acre; long-haul high-speed corridors can run through much cheaper undeveloped land, so lower right-of-way acquisition costs offset higher construction costs.

      It is a tragedy that, as is the case with health care, education, criminal justice, and other key quality-of-life factors, the United States - due to government corruption, rightwing fearmongering, and just plain old stupid people (teabaggers, anybody?) - is far, far behind virtually every industrialized nation in the world. And the gap is growing.

      If we don't rid ourselves of the so-called "leaders" who are holding back progress in sane and practical transportation solutions, we will be in serious trouble over the next decades.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 02:37:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  One of my favorite examples of (11+ / 0-)
        spurs, urban loops, and local bypasses
        is where I-26 crosses I-77 a bit south of Columbia, South Carolina.

        Out in the middle nothing, surrounded by fields and the odd tree or two, is a truly spectacular, monumental, fantabulous interchange -- loops and bypasses and flyovers and exits and entrances.

        A sign identifies it as the Strom Thurmond Interchange.

        Ol' Strom, he done good for the home folks, whatever else he did or didn't do in his too-long tenure up there in DC.

        Great Questions of Western Philosophy: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

        by Mnemosyne on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:07:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Generations make me laugh (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies, Heavy Mettle, blue in NC

        the last of the 'millennials' may be driving less because they're in elementary school. :-)

        But I agree with you. People cite the cost of rail but they neglect to have the same concern about similar amounts of money invested in roads or airports to handle those passengers instead.

        Rail can get people right into a city center better than even cars can, and it's far more accessible to people who can't or shouldn't drive. It's a game changer, in a very good way.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:24:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's an apples-to-apples comparison (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue in NC, onionjim, elfling

          of driving-age young adults. No elementary-schoolers involved. 16-34s in 2009 were driving 23% less than 16-34s in 2001. (Would be interesting to see if the trend has continued.)

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 03:47:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry, I did know it was (0+ / 0-)

            and I know it's a real trend, but it still made me laugh. Today's 10 year olds have little in common experience with those born in the 80s.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 07:24:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Might be true and all, but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tom 47, duhban, Heavy Mettle, kyril

    the situation is so different that Republicans won't suffer.

    Constituents drive cars.  Their lives may depend on rail but they don't see it that way.

    Voters only react to what they see in front of them and what has happened in the past year.  No more.

    "Our problem is not that the glass is half empty or half full, but that the 1% claims that it is their glass." ---Stolen from a post on Daily Kos

    by jestbill on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:24:01 PM PST

  •  urban infill as an alternative priority (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, patbahn, Balto, RainyDay, kyril

    I'm thinking of the California situation, where improving the local transportation would be more beneficial than the high speed line.

    For example, in the SF bay area, electrifying the CalTrain connecting SF to the Peninsula, and building a second BART tunnel across the bay and extending BART through SF.

    LA has similar projects, I'm sure.

    Those are more expensive than the local areas can handle, but still much cheaper than big projects like the CA high speed rail was supposed to be, and with a much bigger direct benefit.

    •  LOL the "Baby Bullet Train" is as modern as it (6+ / 0-)

      gets and that they can't even allow for reciprocal ticket honoring between Amtrak and Caltrain shows how slow progress is and the BART completion to San Jose has taken longer than high speed and subways in Asia

      For example, in the SF bay area, electrifying the CalTrain connecting SF to the Peninsula, and building a second BART tunnel across the bay and extending BART through SF.

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

      by annieli on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 01:01:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      patbahn, duhban, EricS, Odysseus, BYw, kyril

      CalTrain is being electrified, a project to be completed within 6 years, in order to accommodate high speed rail, which will be using the same tracks.

      BART is also being expanded, slowly but surely. Unfortunately it is just really expensive. It will be in San Jose and to the Oakland Airport before too long ("before too long" as defined on the how-long-these-projects-usually-take scale)

      Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

      by Doug in SF on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 01:58:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  An American failure. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban, Josiah Bartlett

    I honestly believe that we do not have the design, engineering, and manufacturing talent and capability to build high speed rail.

    Hell, most Americans probably think that a low speed uncomfortable monorail is futuristic.

    •  We could contract the Chinese (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, lakehillsliberal, unclebucky

      to design and build HSR. They will have more miles of HSR than the rest of the world combined, and they are the best civil engineers in the world.

      I don't doubt that we have engineering talent, but we currently have zero miles of HSR and no infrastructure that goes with a healthy segment. That means that we have few engineers with the experience to do the design.

      •  Yep, it depends on where one starts... (0+ / 0-)

        China has the experience along with 10-20 year experienced engineers.

        We have engineering school graduates who did powerpoints.


        Ugh. --UB.

        "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

        by unclebucky on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 04:37:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  So that none of the benefits of investing in (0+ / 0-)

        infrastructure happen in this country. Out sourcing to China will obviate any need for transportation as people not having a job will not to go anyplace.

      •  Ow. (0+ / 0-)

        Chinese HSR is based on plans stolen from Kawasaki and German companies. The Chinese engineers OK'd running the trains at speeds 25% higher than the plans were designed for and omitted/skimped on safety components. As for construction prowess:

        One of the most common rackets was illegal subcontracting. A single contract could be divvied up and sold for kickbacks, then sold again and again, until it reached the bottom of a food chain of labor, where the workers were cheap and unskilled. (The practice is hardly unique to the railways: in 2010, a rookie welder employed by an illegal subcontractor was working on a dormitory in Shanghai when he dropped his torch and set the building on fire; fifty-eight people died.) In November, 2011, a former cook with no engineering experience was found to be building a high-speed railway bridge using a crew of unskilled migrant laborers who substituted crushed stones for cement in the foundation. In railway circles, the practice of substituting cheap materials for real ones was common enough to rate its own expression: touliang huanzhu—robbing the beams to put in the pillars.
        and the cost savings we should expect to realize:
        With so many kickbacks changing hands, it isn’t surprising that parts of the railway went wildly over budget. A station in Guangzhou slated to be built for three hundred and sixteen million dollars ended up costing seven times that. The ministry was so large that bureaucrats would create fictional departments and run up expenses for them. Procurement was a prime opportunity for graft. The ministry spent nearly three million dollars on a five-minute promotional video that went largely unseen. The video led investigators to the ministry’s deputy propaganda chief, a woman whose home contained a million and a half dollars in cash and the deeds to nine houses; her husband, who also worked for the ministry, was found to have a collection of gift cards—a discreet alternative to cash bribes. Other government agencies also had serious financial problems—out of fifty, auditors found problems with forty-nine—but the scale of plunder in the railway world was in a class by itself. Liao Ran, an Asia specialist at Transparency International, told the International Herald Tribune that China’s high-speed railway was shaping up to be “the biggest single financial scandal not just in China, but perhaps in the world.”
        The US competes with Northern Europe and Japan for the best in heavy engineering, but to cut down on corruption we should give the project to the Finns or the Germans.
  •  Mistakes of the highway system (6+ / 0-)

    Hopefully we can avoid or even ameliorate the environment- and community-destroying aspects of the interstate highway system. Heck, high-speed rail itself may be just the way to do that.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:55:26 PM PST

  •  Nice shot of I-80 in Berkeley (6+ / 0-)

    I know that stretch well from my frequent trips to the East Bay for music and friends.

    •  I think you mean... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MarthaPeregrine, jpmassar, kyril

      ...."too well." Anyone who's driven it once knows it too well.

      Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

      by Doug in SF on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 02:00:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The ironic thing is that high speed rail in CA, (0+ / 0-)

      even if it is actually built, will not help reduce traffic on that particular stretch of Interstate.

      •  Are you sure? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies, lakehillsliberal, kyril

        It certainly does nothing for local traffic, but that stretch of highway also accommodates me any time I travel from the North Bay to Los Angeles via car or air.

        Alternately, I have made that trip using Amtrak buses that take me to Martinez and then the San Joaquin trains.

        I actually prefer the train and the only reason I don't make that trip constantly and by train is because you have to swap out to a bus at Bakersfield to get to LA Union station, which is a lot less comfortable and creates an irritating stopover on both ends, given the unpredictability of traffic for the bus leg.

        So yes, sometimes, HSR gets me off that stretch of highway. It's a bottleneck and it's used by everyone going from the North Bay to any points south.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:32:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Best part is the bike/pedestrian path by the Bay (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, kyril

      ... which is just barely visible to the right, and the wonderful pedestrian/bicycle bridge (not visible) from which the picture was taken :-)

      Better to hide your tax returns and be thought a crook than to release them and remove all doubt. [Adapted from Abraham Lincoln]

      by Caelian on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:30:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary as Florida turned down (11+ / 0-)

    2 billion dollars, I believe, and this is unacceptable. Gov Rick Scott is a CLOWN and this is major FAIL.
    Re posted to DKos Florida.

    "No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar." Abraham Lincoln

    by appledown on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 01:49:59 PM PST

  •  America no longer invests in the future. (16+ / 0-)

    Our political class can't see past their next election. All of our infrastructure is deteriorating, none of it state of the art.

    •  Yeah but we got the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 JSF, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, sfbob, kyril

      The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper and the world's best surveillance systems! Yoo! Ess! Aay!

      Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources. Synonyms: trickle-down; voodoo economics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve.

      by FrY10cK on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 06:46:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, if they want to pass, let's build HSR in (12+ / 0-)

    the west and east.

    Hey if the Red states want to blow this off, we can
    build HSR from LA to Vancouver and Boston to Richmond.

    I would love HSR from DC to NYC.

  •  you would THINK that as a tourist state, Florida (14+ / 0-)

    would want to make it as easy as possible for visiting travelers to get around the state as rapidly as possible, say from Disney to the Everglades to the beaches to historic St Augustine.

    But nooooooooo . . . .

    Because COMMUNISM !!!!. Or something.

    That's why they call us "Flori-duh".


    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 02:12:08 PM PST

  •  We need real high speed trains, faster (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue in NC, Odysseus, kyril

    than we have now. Other places have them, we are stuck with yesterday's technology.

    •  Yes to rail; Maybe to "high-speed" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Perhaps a more realistic solution is to focus on standard-speed (100-150 kph) passenger rail instead, and allow for ways to make the time more productive.

      You know, comfortable seating, tabletops, AC power, Internet access, etc.

      Given the alternative of 3 hours crammed in an Air Greyhound cattle car or, say, an overnight trip with more civilized accommodations, I might very well choose the latter...

      "If you are still playing for Team Republican and want to have any honor whatsoever, you need to leave the Republican Party now, apologize to America, and work to remove it from our political system." - Brad DeLong

      by radabush on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:57:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry, I just don't agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While high speed rail may make sense within urban areas and between close urban areas as on  the east and west coasts, for the majority of the country, it's simply not going to work, just as Amtrak doesn't work.  It's too expensive for this distances travelled and won't pay for itself, just as Amtrak in the west doesn't pay for itself.  For those of us in the west, air travel is just fine, it's cheaper and we have the space to build larger airports.  I'd rather spend the money on a new airport like Denver International Airport (around $5B) than on a high speed rail between Denver and anywhere.  And we have the space for it out here.  As for inter-city, Denver has its own growing light rail system that we approved and paid for ourselves.  I love to ride it and do at least once a week, but, it's nearly always pretty empty and I'm not sure fares will cover operating costs.

    So my advice is that you shouldn't suggest a solution which may work on the east and west coasts to the rest of us in the middle.  And, don't expect us to pay for it either.  We already paid for our new airport and it works great.

    •  Amtrak is having record breaking years (20+ / 0-)

      in terms of riders.

      You sure you want to stick to 'people don't use it'?

      Der Weg ist das Ziel

      by duhban on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 03:21:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, Kasich says stuff like that, so it (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        duhban, Aquarius40, BYw, kyril

        must be true!

        "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

        by blue in NC on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:29:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  All I can say is that (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue in NC, cocinero, BYw, Judge Moonbox, kyril

          whether assholes like Kasich have a say or not in federal funding I think the future for Amtrak is looking quite good simply because more and more people are riding the train. I know I do at least every couple months to go home as it's easier, safer, less stress etc etc. And I've been saying as much to anyone that will hear me out.

          Judging from how much harder it's been to find a row to myself I think people are listening. As long as that continues we'll get get high speed rail eventually just would be better to have some investment from the government.

          Der Weg ist das Ziel

          by duhban on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:40:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Right.. The "People Don't Ride Trains" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Judge Moonbox, duhban

        canard is about as stupid and wrong as it gets.

        first of all, WHERE is our Eurostar type train?  this is NOWHERE in the U.S. the Acela train travels what? 90 mph maybe? between two cities that millions of Americans don't live in or travel to?

        thus one cannot whine that people will not use HSR if in fact they have never been given the opportunity to do so.

        it's total BS.

        first off, a true high speed rail line between Chicago and Miami would have thousands of riders-- many of the elderly people who happen to love trains, and they are tired of being treated like cattle by the airline companies.

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 04:21:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The irony! It burns!! (21+ / 0-)
      just as Amtrak doesn't work.  It's too expensive for this distances travelled and won't pay for itself, just as Amtrak in the west doesn't pay for itself.  For those of us in the west, air travel is just fine, it's cheaper and we have the space to build larger airports.  I'd rather spend the money on a new airport like Denver International Airport (around $5B) than on a high speed rail between Denver and anywhere.
      "Just as Amtrak doesn't pay for itself"


      "I'd rather spend the money on a new airport..."

      Because, of course, airlines pay for themselves, right? Airlines don't NEED the state of Colorado or the city of Denver to spend PUBLIC, TAX DOLLARS on an airport BECAUSE AIRLINES PAY FOR THEMSELVES????


      NO. THEY. DON'T. "pay for themselves". United Airlines is NOT staffing the Denver control tower. Delta Airlines is NOT plowing the Denver runways. Frontier Airlines is NOT building parking garages and linking the airport to I-70. American Airlines is NOT patching runway potholes every April and May in the shadow of the Rockies.

      YOU ARE. WE ARE.

      As I have stated before in transportation related threads, ALL forms of transportation are subsidized. NONE of them pays for themselves. (No, not even hiking counts. Who marks the trail? Clears it of buck thorn? Builds landscape tie steps and posts markers? Someone OTHER THAN the hikers.)

      The only discussion worth having is over WHICH form of transportation should be subsidized to what level. The diary itself testifies to the MASSIVE build out of the Interstate road system, which DID NOT PAY FOR ITSELF and still DOES NOT PAY FOR ITSELF. The states chipped in 10% for construction. There are gasoline taxes and freight taxes charged to users to PARTLY pay for some of the on-going costs. Every state annually spends MILLIONS of tax dollars (which are levied on a fair number of people who do not drive for various reasons, but they are still taxed) for repair, snowplowing, painting lane markers, signage....which shows roads DO NOT PAY FOR THEMSELVES.

      On these grounds, and these grounds ONLY does it start to make sense that YES, flying between points in the sparsely settled, long-distance American West  does have claims to make in terms of efficiency and use of resources and perhaps public subsidies. (Yet even for Denver, the 447 miles to Albuquerque or the 535 miles to Salt Lake City are both feasible bullet train pairings.)
           OTOH, the dozens of city-pairs in the American Midwest, Upper South, Pacific Rim that are between 300 and 500 miles apart would make strong claims for 150 mph bullet train connections in terms of efficiency and use of resources and perhaps public subsides.
           Beyond this, the densely populated Washington-Boston corridor, wherein tens of thousands of residents within sight of New York Bay do not even think about getting a driver's license due to transport congestion and density of markets, goods and services, would make strong claims for inter urban rail, subway and elevated systems with restrictions (as London UK is doing) on private motor vehicle use in terms of efficiency and use of resources and perhaps public subsidies.

      Subsidize away! Its the ONLY way we will ever move form Point A to Point B. But please do not take a "doesn't pay for itself" cheap shot to RAIL when this is equally true of ALL FORMS of transportation.


      "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

      by WineRev on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:49:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with everything you said. (7+ / 0-)

        Seriously, how nice it would be to take a bullet train from Alb. to NYC?  Alb. to Denver? Alb. to anywhere in CA? or just anywhere without having to fly.  I used to love love love to fly, but not anymore.  Give me a seat on a train, a berth if needed for sleeping, and I'm a happy camper.  I watch the high speed trains in other countries and I feel nothing but envy.   (I'm in Santa Fe, NM, but a drive to Alb. isn't too much to get on a bullet train to anywhere.)

        I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

        by KayCeSF on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:00:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think from now on (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, sfbob, kyril

        I'm just going to link to this comment ;)

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 06:14:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Denver - ABQ Traffic? (0+ / 0-)

        A run like Denver - Albuquerque could definitely see competitive travel times with air, but would there be enough traffic to support that kind of construction?

        Even in Europe, you don't see them building 500 mile HSR lines just to link a half-million person city to a major metro.  True, Pueblo and CO Springs too, but show me any long-distance HSR line in Europe that has anywhere near that few people/mile -- you'd see that served by air and by local-speed trains.

        DEN-SLC has major terrain complications, very expensive to build.  

        Anyway, those are specific examples but not unlike what you find for most Mountain West city pairs.  

        •  It easily could see enough traffic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          if the Albuquerque end were connected on to Phoenix, which was connected to LA and Vegas, especially if the LA node were connected into a full-length West Coast HSR line.

          SLC to Denver might work as well if SLC were connected through Boise to Portland and on to Seattle, Vancouver, and SF. You could also do SLC to Vegas and ABQ to Dallas.

          The Denver/SLC/Vegas/Albuquerque quadrangle is actually a really easy place to justify spending on complicated terrain and long distances because it's a major tourism destination; it just has to be connected to population centers that are already transit-heavy. And it's close to the West Coast (easy hop from Vegas), which is beginning to meet that standard.

          Going east from Denver is a harder sell because you have to go a really long way through a lot of small cities and car-centric countryside to get to the first city (Chicago) that might bring in heavy traffic. On the other hand, the engineering is easy and the land is fairly cheap, so you might be able to make it work if Chicago were seamlessly connected into the East Coast transit network.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 04:45:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Focus on where the people will be (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PrahaPartizan, kyril

      Considering that Climate Breakdown may very well make Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas and other cities in the arid West uninhabitable in the not-too-distant future, might a better idea be to focus on travel around where the water is?

      Say, eastern United States cities largely developed before World War II and the subsequent outbreak of Happy Motoring?

      (And even if water isn't an issue, Peak Cheap Energy will certainly make travel to distant locations considerably less attractive in any case...)

      "If you are still playing for Team Republican and want to have any honor whatsoever, you need to leave the Republican Party now, apologize to America, and work to remove it from our political system." - Brad DeLong

      by radabush on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 06:03:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Increasing energy costs (6+ / 0-)

        would make traveling be train more economical than driving of flying. The longer the distance, the more true that would be.

        •  Time lost matters (0+ / 0-)

          As someone who does coast-coast flights regularly, the difference between air and rail would have to be HUGE to make up for my needing to take an extra week or two off of work every year due to the time spent on a train.  Even if you get the train down to two nights each way, which would be a pretty impressive average speed given stops, terrain, etc, that's worth a lot.

          •  I have a different perspective; I'm retired. n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            •  Travel cost (0+ / 0-)

              Fair point.

              But the economics also get harder for multi-day trips too.  Presumably you won't have people sitting in an upright chair for 48 or more hours straight.  You'll need sleeping cabins or widely spaced lie-flat seats or who knows what.  Plus more bathrooms, and facilities for bathing, and restaurants.  All those extra space requirements add up to carrying fewer passengers per train, meaning higher ticket prices.  Or if not in the ticket prices, charging you $20 for a cup of coffee and $5 for the bathroom...

          •  When you count parking, shuttle bus, and waiting (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sfbob, duhban, kyril

            around in the terminal, I can actually take the very inefficient Amtrak from SF to LA with only a couple hours more. That includes having to swap to a bus in the middle because there's not enough rail capacity in California's mountain passes to add any more trains.

            It also costs less than just the airport shuttles AND my time is more usable.

            Cross-country, sure, air travel is the way to go.

            Now imagine how much more capacity your airports would have on both ends if you're not having to spend gates and capacity on short-hop flights to move people from SF to LA or NY to DC.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:37:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Entirely agree, I really wish we had true HSR in the Boston-DC corridor -- as is air still usually beats train for the Boston to DC trip.  My point was towards those suggesting a serious future for transcon HSR.

          •  I think you're operating under an impression (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that is slightly off.

            No one I can see is suggesting air flights will completely disappear. It's just too convenient and efficient especially to people that have to travel for business. But that doesn't mean we should ignore rail either or for that matter the economic boon it would be. Even in Europe where train travel is the preferred people still fly and there's a lot competition between rail and airlines.

            Der Weg ist das Ziel

            by duhban on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 09:12:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Technically, (0+ / 0-)

    the interstate system was finished with completion of Boston's "Big Dig."

    •  Nope. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, kyril

      The Big Dig was a replacement of part of I-93 and an extension of I-90 beyond its old terminus.

      If you want to be technical, the original Interstate system will be more or less finished in 2017. Beyond that, there are a bunch of cancelled segments that will never be built, but this is the last link in one of the original routes (albeit a project that was necessitated by the cancelling of another).

      The system is still being expanded, and new routes or sections of route are added almost every year. Current projects at various stages of development include Interstates 11, 22, 49, 69, and 99.

      warning: snark probably above

      by NE2 on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:27:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the (0+ / 0-)

        pedantry. Being a resident of Boston, I'm well aware of what the Big Dig did. I was referring specifically to the legislative language of the highway funding bills, which declared an OFFICIAL end of the interstate highway expansions in 1992. True, they were full of shit, but that's what I was referencing.

        Next time I will be more specific.

  •  Governors may not have turned down money outright (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban, blue in NC, Judge Moonbox

    ...but there were the "freeway revolts" in which residents often successfully pressured officials to put a moratorium on interstates through certain areas.  There remains evidence on the maps and in the incomplete structures today where this happened.  In Boston, for example, there was supposed to be an Inner Belt designated I-695 which was never built and I-95 was supposed to go through Boston rather than bypassing via the highway locals refer to as 128.

    •  Portland, Oregon's initial light rail system (8+ / 0-)

      was partly paid for by the funds from the cancelled Mount Hood freeway.  There's still evidence of the plan to build it.  Here is an exit ramp to nowhere on I-405 that would have connected to the Mount Hood freeway had it been built.

      •  Boston actually first (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Judge Moonbox, kyril

        A lot of Portlanders think that was a Made-in-Oregon tactic, but Boston actually did it first, a few years earlier.  It was part of the revolt that vadem165 mentions -- money set aside for the freeways went to extend the Red Line at both ends and to relocate the Orange LIne (and as a subway instead of an "el").  

        (PS:  the ramp you show is actually an old I-84-Steel Bridge link, I think it came down when MAX was installed.  The Mt. Hood Freeway ghost ramps are on the Marquam Bridge)

    •  Great to see that sanity prevailed, and that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, kyril

      some of these sprawl-generators were stopped.

      The interstate system for long-distance travel...great! The interstate system as a foundation for local travel within a metropolitan area...not so great.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 03:26:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it could be both. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cocinero, PrahaPartizan

        It keeps traffic out of downtown streets, but I think in some cases the interchanges could have been more limited.  In MA I-495 is officially an alternate to I-95 going around Boston, but given the wide radius, possibly the widest in the country, and the aforementioned rerouting of 95 to itself bypass Boston (There is I-93 going through and I-90 coming in from the west.), 495 is used for other purposes.  In my part of the state it is essentially the Merrimack Valley Expressway.  It also serves indirectly as access to Worcester from eastern MA.

  •  Is there a map somewhere... (5+ / 0-)

    ...of all the proposed high-speed rail routes?

  •  I drove cross-country the summer of '92 (14+ / 0-)

    Not to mark the completion of the Interstate Highway System but because it was something that I'd long wanted to do and I finally got the opportunity to do it (I didn't even know that it was officially completed then). My motivations were many. For one, I wanted to see the country I'd grown up and spent most of my life in but had barely seen. For another, I was inspired by various "road" books I'd read over the years that many here are I"m sure familiar with. E.g. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, On the Road, Blue Highways, etc. I also wanted to get away from NYC, where I'd been working for several years at a job I didn't really like and feeling claustrophobic. Also, when I was growing up I'd had fantasies of seeing the country someday, whether by car or train or maybe even bicycle (that particular adventure still awaits me).

    But what really made me want to drive cross-country at that particular time was my having taken Amtrak cross-country the previous winter and seen a bit of the country from the window of a train, and having gotten the urge to see much more of it, preferably in summer, on my own, making my own routes and schedules. The previous summer I'd seen a lot of western and central Europe on Eurail, so I really had the travel bug. So I bought a new car and three days later set out on my journey. I ended up driving nearly 15,000 miles in two and a half months, on a circuitous clockwise route that took me to 35 states and who knows how many parks, forests and lake and seascapes.

    It was a blast. I camped, I stayed in motels, I stayed with friends, I met up with family. And I saw the country I'd longed to see at last, storing enough sights, experiences and memories to last for years.

    My point is that this country is in many ways about travel, be it by highway, air, dirt path or railroad, for pleasure, commerce and keeping in touch. It was built by its transportation infrastructure and it will wither if that infrastructure isn't properly maintained and upgraded as needed, including the adoption of new technologies as they arise. And by "built" I don't just mean in a practical way, but in a human way. Our culture is both local and national, and it's impossible to conceive of the America we know without its transportation infrastructure. No national sports. No RVs. No national parks. No orange juice or beaches in January outside Florida and southern California. No cheap goods. No national commerce of any note. We'd have remained a global backwater.

    Grow or die, America. Build that damn high speed rail network already.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 02:55:23 PM PST

    •  AMEN! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, ozsea1, cocinero, BYw

      really, what [in the world] are we waiting for.  And Jobs!  And Freedoms!  H-speed rail it! Dammit, Janet!

      I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

      by KayCeSF on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:16:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're waiting for Repubs to lose power (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, Judge Moonbox

        and Dems to grow a spine and stand for something. The plans have been in place for decades. We've been on hold in many ways for that long on this awful detour through conservahellia. Time to get back on track.


        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:34:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  True (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue in NC, Aquarius40, BYw, Judge Moonbox

    but at the same time we're still moving forward. Amtrak is having record breaking years in riders for I believe at least the last 3 years and is taking that and reinvesting in their rail system.

    Don't get me wrong it could be a lot better and ideally I'd like to see those 3 governors kicked out of office and then when we retake the House pass a rail investment act.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 03:16:06 PM PST

  •  I'd like to hear a GOOD explanation of why CA's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    high-speed rail has to start in the San Joaquin Valley, for God's sake, instead of between actual major population centers. I've heard that it's because of Bay Area NIMBY'ism, but how about a route that parallels Interstate 80?

    •  Politics..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, RainyDay

      President Obama secured votes for certain legislation, and in exchange, certain congressmen were accommodated.

      Isn't federalism grand?

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 03:52:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's easier to build there. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, BYw, Judge Moonbox, Zwenkau

      It's straight and flat and will be able to be used by existing Amtrak routes in the interim.

      warning: snark probably above

      by NE2 on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:29:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bruce McF on these boards (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, BYw, elfling, Judge Moonbox

      every Sunday evening does a series called Sunday Train.

      He addressed the San Joaquin Valley start in several diaries (link to one here).

      I yield to his expertise.


      "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

      by WineRev on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:09:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amtrak CA Zephyr parallels I-80 (0+ / 0-)

      Of course it's not high speed, especially through Donner Pass.

    •  Because the new equipment has to be certified (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox

      and they need some test track with the easiest alignment. You have to start the first track somewhere.

      People talk of the central valley like no one lives there. Merced and Madera are small; Fresno is not. Amtrak is Fresno's most useful transit to LA or SF... if you ride the San Joaquins you'll run into people who use them to commute from their homes in Fresno to jobs in SF. In addition, the central valley stops have universities that will generate quite a bit of ridership.

      A journey of 400 miles starts with a single step.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:47:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  6 round trips a day. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Bakersfield has more passengers coming and going than all but 4 CA stations. Okay, even if you adjusted for what may be a double count for people changing from train to bus and back, that's still a lot of passengers.

        California law prohibits Amtrak from selling tickets to people whose entire journey is by bus, but they have over 20 connecting buses out of Bakersfield. (I'm informed that some of these people use the "Hidden City" trick, buying a ticket to Anaheim and only going as far as LA).

        The point is that the San Joaquin Valley already has lots of passenger traffic, but most of the so-called liberal media makes it sound like you're building a rail line between Alturas and Yreka.

        Freedom's just another word for not enough to eat. --Paul Krugman's characterization of conservative attitudes.

        by Judge Moonbox on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 09:02:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  One day I sat next to an older woman (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Judge Moonbox

          who was traveling from Fresno to Anaheim, to go to Disneyland for her birthday. Disneyland was giving free tickets to residents on their birthday at the time, and she decided she would meet a friend and they would go.

          Fresno to Anaheim is probably a 5 hour drive, and she didn't feel safe driving it. To fly would require that she do a layover in Las Vegas and it was a rather pricey ticket besides. Amtrak gets you right into Anaheim.

          But the point is, Fresno is horribly underserved by air and only barely served by highway. Lots of people live there. It has a major university. It is very poor and having HSR make travel more practical in and out of Fresno could create some enormous economic opportunities.

          Also on this route: Amtrak bus connection to Yosemite National Park.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 09:44:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I enjoy rail travel, and there are undoubtedly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Satya1, duhban

    environmental benefits to encouraging long-distance train travel rather than cars or planes. But comparing HSR to the interstate highway system economically is a bit of a reach.

    Passenger railways are going to require subsidies until eternity. I see no way that they would generate economic activity comparable to the interstate system. High speed freight might be another matter.

    It's true that construction of HSR systems would generate a number of jobs, at least for a time. But so would the Keystone XL pipeline. Hell, building replicas  of the Great Pyramid would create jobs for a while, too.

    •  HSR creates options for trips that are not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Superpole, Judge Moonbox

      currently feasible.

      It's just barely possible for people to fly between SF and LA, have a meeting, and back again in the same day, if the end and beginning points are quite close to the airport and the passengers don't mind a Really Long Day.

      A 2 hour each way trip - where the riders can eat, work on computers, read, or sleep - makes that meeting pretty feasible. And often those face to face meetings create economic activity.

      Me? I'm using it to go to Disneyland as soon as I can. :-)

      All transit is subsidized. Rail systems usually do better than break even on operating costs from fares once they're installed.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:54:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We had better passenger rail connections back in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, BYw

    the 1850's when Abe Lincoln was crisscrossing IL practicing law and politics.

    In the Chicago metro area you can get around quite well without a car or minimal use of one if you live in say, Itasca.  Outside the big city it gets difficult to get around without a car.  Within some of the larger cities going without a car can work, but there isn't much connecting the cities.

    •  Florida has a similar problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Josiah Bartlett, Superpole

      Here in Tampa Bay, the local bus systems are pretty good and can get you just about anywhere (though the connections between St Pete and Tampa aren't very extensive).

      But getting from one Florida metropolitan area to another (such as from Tampa Bay to Orlando, Pensacola or Miami)--forget it. Virtually impossible without a car.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:04:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Try Tampa to New Port Richey. (0+ / 0-)

        When I was in Sarasota last winter, an old friend contacted me, but I couldn't get up to his place in Pasco County because the bus connections were pitiful. I found a web page that they're trying to put together a regional network, but that hasn't produced any results yet.

        By the way, I do have luck getting from Miami to Sarasota on the Greyhound bus (although they had briefly cancelled the stop in Sarasota, and my aunt had to pick me up in Bradenton). From Orlando, I can take a train to Tampa and connect to Sarasota.

        Freedom's just another word for not enough to eat. --Paul Krugman's characterization of conservative attitudes.

        by Judge Moonbox on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 09:11:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Looks like Pasco has the 19 bus (0+ / 0-)

          which connects to Pinellas 19 at Tarpon, both of these half-hourly during the day, and with an advertised connection on each agency's schedules. Then you can change to the less-frequent 200X over the Campbell Causeway to Tampa. Certainly suboptimal, but not too bad for an intercity route through suburban hell. If you're taking the train to Tampa, you can substitute the Amtrak bus connection for the 200X (the Clearwater bus station is a block from the 19).

          warning: snark probably above

          by NE2 on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 09:47:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  what we really need is a way to make day trips (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Judge Moonbox, NE2

            Right now, if you are a tourist in Orlando and want to, say, take a day trip to the Space Center or to Tampa Bay, or vice versa--leaving in the morning and coming back at night--there's no good way to do that without renting a car.

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 03:27:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thugs will agree to it, when EU has flying cars (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, PrahaPartizan
  •  Infrastructure is sine qua non of nation-states (0+ / 0-)

    Modern-era Randpublicans want neither, and wish to shut down both.

  •  I'd really like to see this country (8+ / 0-)

    enter at least the late 20th century in terms of rail transport instead of continuing to pave over the countryside.

    From where I live in North Carolina, an overnight trip to New York takes 12 hours, maybe -- with assorted delays, more likely closer to 14-15. And the one train daily leaves at something like 3 a.m.

    In Europe, they've just opened the new TGV link that lets travelers go from Carcassonne to Barcelona in about 3-1/2 hours. It used to take close to 18.

    Great Questions of Western Philosophy: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

    by Mnemosyne on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:01:41 PM PST

  •  The original rationale (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caelian, RainyDay, Aquarius40

    for the interstate highway system -- at a time when the country still had a lot of dirt roads as well as narrow two-lane "highways" --  was that it could be used for evacuation when the nuclear war with the Russians started. People would be able to get in their cars and drive out of the cities.

    Once you stop laughing over that, next time you're on the Interstate, notice that about every five miles there's a long, level stretch, about a mile long, just enough to provide a landing strip for an airplane.

    Great Questions of Western Philosophy: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

    by Mnemosyne on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:12:28 PM PST

  •  Was Eisenhower surprised at urban Interstates? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Was President Eisenhower really surprised to discover that the Interstate System included urban freeways?

    The urban freeways were an important element of the Interstate System from its unveiling in the 1939 report to Congress: Toll Roads and Free Roads. During congressional hearings in 1955 and 1956, Mayors and municipal associations testified in favor of the Interstate System because of the benefits the cities expected to receive from urban highway segments. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads had published General Location of National System of Interstate Highways in September 1955 with 100 pages of maps showing the urban Interstates. This publication—known as the Yellow Book because of the color of its cover—was distributed to the Members of Congress as well as State highway agencies and city governments.

    However, President Eisenhower was not aware of the urban highway segments. His model for the Interstate System had been Germany’s autobahn: the rural highway network he had seen during and after World War II. In the summer of 1959, rumor has it that he discovered the existence of urban highway segments when he passed construction of the Capital Beltway while being driven to the presidential retreat at Camp David. An alternative theory is that he discovered the truth when he talked with urban planners about the District of Columbia’s freeway network. Whichever way he found out, President Eisenhower asked his friend and adviser, retired General John Bragdon, to conduct a broad review of the Interstate program.

    On April 6, 1960, the President met with Bragdon, Secretary of Commerce Frederick Mueller, Federal Highway Administrator Bertram Tallamy, and others, to review Bragdon’s preliminary findings, including his view that the Interstates should include only roads that carry intercity traffic around and into cities. Other urban Interstates should be eliminated. Mueller and Tallamy objected. The President responded that he now knew that the city officials and Members of Congress understood the urban highway segments were part of the program, even if they were contrary to his views. By then, he had heard of, but not seen, the Yellow Book (Mueller handed him a copy) and had been told that it was one of the prime reasons Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Although the concept was against his wishes, he felt his hands were tied. The urban Interstates would remain part of the program.

    The meeting ended, and so did the issue. (US government public domain)

    warning: snark probably above

    by NE2 on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:32:39 PM PST

  •  Short-sighted sums up snotty. He is playing a big (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, BYw, Judge Moonbox

    short game that will cost us healthcare, education and transportation.  Wisconsin will pay for years for this guy.

    Minnesota is looking better each day.....a better place to work and raise kids as wisconsin slides into corporate control.

  •  While I was still living in Austin there was a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mjjt, cocinero

    push by some money folk to build high speed rail from Austin to Dallas.  
    It never got off the ground, in part because towns and farmers and businesses along the proposed route were not crazy about the idea of being bulldozed so, mostly well to do business folk could uses their former homes and ranches and home towns to be chauffeured in comfort, and small expense.

    Much the same thing happen to the idea of building high speed from Austin to San Antonio.

    Both plans did nothing to answer the problem of how do you get to where you want to go once you step off the train?

    Neither Dallas, nor San Antonio, and especially not Austin has a very descent bus service.  So the alternative is take a cab or rent a car.  Both those options are very expensive.
    So it was obvious that the idea only benefited those who were well to do or had an employer issued credit card.  

    But the public was supposed to pony up a huge chunk of loan debt to benefit those wealthier than themselves.

    So yes public transit should play a much larger part in our present and our future, but it has to get us to where we are actually going, not just to a dump off site miles from our actual destination.

    And it has to be affordable.

    Going from my present home in NE Virginia to my job in Maryland takes less time to drive, even with rush hour traffic, and costs less than taking the series of buses, and metros, and long hikes if I used public transit.

  •  and it doesn't have to be bullet trains (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notreadytobenice, cocinero

    I would be perfectly happy with 100+ mph corridors and infrastructure, completely do-able without the huge expense of the really fast trains (as cool as they are). California is currently really fucking up it's bullet train project, which will just give the anti-rail nitwits more ammo.

    •  WRONG (0+ / 0-)

      you'll see with some of the anti HSR whiners here: "the train has to get you between cities in comparable timeframe as airline flights in order to be competitive".

      that's is partly correct. let's say we built the north-south HSR line between Minneapolis-Miami that many people envision-- with stops at major cities like Chicago and Atlanta on the way.

      if flight time between Chicago and Atlanta is say, 1.75 hours, it can't take "high speed" rail 12 hours to get you from Chicago to Atlanta. it's got to be more like 4-5 hours.

      with that HSR system, charging 1/3 to 1/4 the fare (one way) compared to the airlines, between the two cities-- there's a competitive system.

      one reason it's competitive is there are numerous older people who would take this train-- they don't care that it takes 3-4 hours longer than the crappy, cramped airlines.

      "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

      by Superpole on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 03:59:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My dream. A train down the middle of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Interstate. Every overpass a station with elevators down to the train. Trains could even load and unload through the roof.

    Buses will feed the trains.

    Save the outer lanes for trucks.

    Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

    by 88kathy on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:47:28 PM PST

  •  Would love this to happen. But California (0+ / 0-)

    has made a mess of it.  The agencies and officials were bought off as to where it would be located.  It should be running down I-5.  Europeans offered their design and technology which would have saved us a great deal of money, but the entire process has been controlled by contractors who want fat paychecks.

    There is a 57% financing hole in the plan.  It's not economically sustainable, and,thus, we are going to lose out on the environmental sustainability.

    "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

    by Going the Distance on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:04:13 PM PST

  •  Was that High Speed Rail or High Speed Submarine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if it is in South Florida? You will need a submarine just to tour Miami in 2100. No problem for the Republicans as they don't believe in either. They can just keep their heads in the sand. Oh, wait a second, the sand will be under water too.

  •  Let's be honest... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole, Judge Moonbox

    Driving sucks.  It's four and a half mind-numbing hours from Chicago to Detroit, assuming good weather and traffic.  I'd rather get there faster by means that do not require my paying attention to what I'm doing for hours on end (I'd rather spend the time reading) or going through the degrading misery that our airports have become.

    •  BEENGO!! (0+ / 0-)

      I-94 between Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor?

      a total Frankenstein nightmare. this road should clearly be THREE lanes.. but it's a sucky two lanes, with massive truck traffic... these bastards take all day passing each other. forget driving 75mph the entire way.


      "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

      by Superpole on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 04:01:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nah (0+ / 0-)

    The AI for completely autonomous cars is nearly ready for release to the general public.  The biggest issue is liability.  What will happen is that a big corporation will accept all the liability issues, and start a car subscription service.  Pay a certain amount a month, and a self-driving car will show up where you need it, when you need it, take you where you need to go, and drop you off.  Before too long, that will be the option most people take, because it'll be cheaper than the costs of owning, storing and maintaining a car themselves, and being on the hook for insurance.

    What this means for interstate travel is that these cars will be able to move at much higher speeds much closer to one another, to take advantage of the fuel savings from riding in each other's slipstreams, much more safely than human beings could.  That, combined with the lower accident rates with the AI, makes these kinds of cars every bit as economical, and nearly as environmentally friendly, as trains.  You've also got the advantage that because passengers are in their own vehicles, they can break away from the pack and deliver riders directly to their destination without stopovers and coordinating with other mass transit services.

    From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. -Immanuel Kant

    by Nellebracht on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 01:46:52 AM PST

  •  This Discussion is More Or Less Pointless (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Judge Moonbox

    $8 Billion funding for high speed rail is nowhere near enough to fully fund the robust HSR system we should have in our nation: a north-south route from Minneapolis to Miami, with stops at major cities in between; and an east west route between NYC and Los Angeles.

    Not only is the system we need-- building it would provide tens of thousands of long term, well paid JOBS.

    last I checked, China is funding their HSR program to the tune of $500 Billion.

    of course Europe is much more serious about HSR than we are-- having just started the new HSR service between Paris and Barcelona; travel time: six hours. Fare: 59 Euros. the cheapest Air France flight is $643.

    I'll be on that train within a year-- just like I took the Eurostar between London and Paris and back; my first incredible experience with HSR.

    The United States is a total farce with it comes to planning/funding this technology/infrastructure. and our system is on shared rail with freight trains.. stupid.

    I can more less guarantee everyone here we will NEVER have a HSR rail system comparable to Europe or Japan-- thanks to the anti infrastructure buffoons in our so called congress. they will NOT fund it.


    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 03:49:10 AM PST

  •  For long distance- Trackage (0+ / 0-)

    needs to be owned by someone other than the current railroads- BSNF and others...

    Currently the Empire Builder line of Amtrak from Seattle to Chicago has a 0% on time rate for east bound trains. And 5 days of runs were cancelled this month as BSNF not giving Amtrak its time on the rails due to freight trains being more profitable.

    That's a week of no service for the mid-nation.

    So while I love taking the train- I will not wait for a train that is delayed longer than the trip nor is canceled for a week.

  •  I Just Want To Get There In A Reasonable Timeframe (0+ / 0-)

    I use the MTA Xpress bus to get me to and from work five days a week. It's okay in the morning but the evening is a disaster. I know I'm OCD -- actually, very OCD -- when it comes to schedules and the clock. I have memorized the bus schedule and have it adjusted for when the bus "really" arrives. I'm so obnoxious that I get on the bus and recite to the driver when they should have gotten there especially if my Google Map shows me the traffic was normal. I have said to them, "The clock is God and the schedule is the Bible."

    Can't things just be on-time as I am wherever I go? People should really try to be obsessed with the clock as I am.

    The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    by The Lone Apple on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 06:28:02 AM PST

  •  HSR: Don't assume it's a great xptn solution (0+ / 0-)

    As a newly minted energy researcher/analyst I totally get the importance of adapting transportation to socioeconomic needs especially in changing energy regimes.  But I am not convinced that high speed rail (HSR) is a great or even good solution.  I don't have all the answers (hire me to find them!) but consider that we already have a way of getting a lot of people from one major city to another at high speeds - airplanes - and they don't require grade crossings or bridges, or for that matter, built infrastructure for every inch of every possible path.  Further consider that whereas planes and trains both waste energy due to drag and HSR trains only go roughly 1/3 the speed of airliners, planes aren't dealing with sea-level air density or the resistance of dozens of axles.

    These points I've brought up don't prove HSR is somehow a bad idea but just to caution everyone about assuming that HSR is a good idea for the US.  There is a huge construction and maintenance burden and yes, that carries its own stimulus benefit but I don't think HSR targets the more pressing problem of giving a highly significant proportion of Americans an option to having a car to travel from home to work, school, or other routine destinations.

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