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Real Rail at Last (or at least eventually)

July 13, 2009, 12:00 am
By SFR Staff
Back in April, when the Obama administration revealed its vision for a high-speed rail network, I didn't get excited. Instead I got angry with Governor Bill Richardson.

See, the proposed map had all kinds of cool rail connections for eastern urban corridors and soon-to-be bankrupt left coast states. Even Oklahoma was in on the action. But New Mexico got the shaft: We were one feint gray line on the map, under the heading of "other passenger rail routes." Meaning that despite our pride over the schmancy new Railrunner finally reaching Santa Fe, interstate rail travel was going to remain, like our road quality and the shapes of our houses, in the stone age.

The plan back in April

"Damn you Bill Richardson!" I thought. "If you hadn't gotten embroiled in all these pay to play allegations, you could be making deals for us in DC." I figured even if Richardson had been guilty of shady deals, he could have gone on making shady deals that would benefit New Mexico. I mean, that's how it's done, isnt' it?

But a new push coming from the US High Speed Rail Association has me almost happy enough to forgive Bill. The association has released a map of its own vision for more aggressive and interconnected high-speed rail and claims the time is now to push for a revitalization of the rail industry that could result in "millions of jobs" and trains hustling about the country at a respectable (if boring to our European and Asian friends) 220 mph.

Even factoring in the whole manufacturing, commuting and travel impact, I'm not sure I buy that jobs will number in the millions, but I don't care. I am selfish by nature and I like the sound of a bullet train from Albuquerque to Denver by 2020 and Albuquerque connections to the east and west coasts by 2025. That's Denver in about two hours, less from Santa Fe. That's Los Angeles in four hours. Let's call it eight hours just to be safe. Talk about a game-changer. By 2030 it would be possible to take high-speed rail to Burning Man. Here's the new map:

The new, and far superior, plan that doens't confine New Mexico to the stone age.

The association is pushing to implement the bulk of the original Obama vision by 2015 and then push hard from there. Makes sense to me. It's about time we entered the era of civilized transportation, with or without crooked deals.

 

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