Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The argument here is that the DOT is on a roll. They are expanding their conception of high-speed rail routes around the US, which is, of course, red meat for the barracuda rail developers and their hanger-ons. More states; more congressional districts.

Here's the central point: High-speed rail is the US pork-barrel de jour. It's a convenient way to transfer federal funds to the States, but disguised as something worthwhile to construct. It has become apparent, especially with the California example, that the goal is not to create a worthwhile, well-conceived, well-designed and useful transit system for which there happens to be a great demand. None of that is happening and the demand is certainly not there.
The goal, or end, is actually the means, the money. As a life-time Democrat, I have to say I'm ashamed of this Democrat-driven program. It reeks of corruption and manipulative politics.

Perhaps high-speed rail is a good idea for the Unites States; perhaps not. We'll certainly never find out this way.

Just a minor point. No one is talking about the fact that the US has no manufacturing or even construction history or capacity for high-speed rail technology and manufacturing. It will all have to be imported. And paid for how? Why, with ARRA stimulus funds, of course. Those are dollars meant to create US jobs and stimulate our economy. So, watch those dollars head overseas. You know, don't you, that Parsons Brinckerhoff, the lead construction contractor, is based in the UK?



High-Speed Rail = Low-Quality Planning

posted in News commentary, Transportation |

High-speed rail advocates are psychotic, says the Boyd Group, an aviation planning firm. Psychotics, notes the company blog, suffer from “confusion, disorganized thought and speech, mania, delusions, and a loss of touch with reality”–all of which describe rail nuts.

“If you really want to see psychosis,” adds the Boyd Group, “log on to the DOT’s website.

Instead of providing hard, accurate information, it’s now a shoddy trumpet for politically-correct schemes pushed by the hobby-lobby that’s running the Department.”

Displaying the DOT’s 2009 map of proposed high-speed rail lines, the blog says “high-speed rail isn’t infrastructure; it’s political correctness” and the administration’s plan isn’t a “vision,” it’s “corruption.”

Unfortunately, the Boyd Group has understated the problem. First, as the Antiplanner previously noted, DOT’s 2010 rail map contains almost 50 percent more miles of high-speed rail, mainly due to political lobbying by various cities and interest groups. For example, the original map included no lines to Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Salt Lake City. Planning agencies in those cities immediately began lobbying to be added to the map, and three out of four are on the 2010 map.

Second there was LaHood’s cynical distribution of rail funds, just a week before the election, to states where Democrats were running narrow races for Congress–and announcing those grants by calling those members of Congress and letting them make the press announcements.

Most recently, there is LaHood’s termination of Ohio and Wisconsin rail projects weeks before the governors-elect of those states take office. Yes, those governors-elect have vowed to cancel the projects, but LaHood didn’t even give them a chance to change their minds. Was he punishing the voters of those states for electing Republicans? Or just trying to get all the money spent before Congress can take it back?