Sunday, July 01, 2012

Economic Revitalization & High Speed Rail

Eisenhower to the Present

In 1956 the Federal Highway Act authorized the design and building of an elaborate set of interconnecting highways that then President Dwight Eisenhower saw as a precursor not only to national security, but also an economic shot in the arm that the nation needed as hundreds of thousands of young men returned home from war.
Years later this is now a map of what we have come to know and enjoy as the Interstate Highway System.

Now, these roads are clogged with cars and our airspace is overcrowded and projections indicate that further congestion will inevitably strain the present system and cause enormous stresses on the infrastructure it takes to maintain such a system.

Other nations have dealt with such stresses and strains by building high speed railroad systems. The Japanese and later the Chinese have gone a long way to building such networks that have covered thousands of miles. The map below will show how extensive these achievements are:

What this map illustrates is that great distances are in and of themselves no barrier to build state of the art systems that can carry passenger trains at upwards of 175-200 miles per hour. Imagine that capacity being built here in the United States. The Europeans have also made enormous strides in building just such a network across national borders and connecting millions of people from on end of Europe to Asia Minor. 

Now the question comes to us. Do we have the political will do do what would benefit the nation in any number of ways.
  1. Hire millions of American Citizens to do the work that will be necessary.
  2. Use American Steel and Manufacturing Facilities to provide the hardware for such an enormous undertaking.
  3. Design and build Locomotives and Rolling Stock that will be needed for such a network.
In the same way that we found the money to build the Interstate Highway System by leveling various Transportation Taxes, so too now we need to envision such a possibility for our nation.

In many ways we find ourselves left behind. Will we continue to fade into second class nation status, or are we willing to make a strong statement and make a claim on the future for our county.

That is up to us.

I for one, love trains. It is probably too late for this old fella to see such a thing to come to pass. But Scripture does say that "Your old men will dream dreams and your young men shall see visions." ~Joel 2:28

This is my dream.

Fr. Paul


amesababble said...

Thanks for writing this great blog entry!

Anonymous said...

My question is this: while I love trains, and take them as often as I can, and while I would love to go faster certainly-how many other Americans would do it with me? How much traffic would we generate putting a high speed rail through Iowa or South Dakota or other large sparsely populated places? Do we subsidize those lines that are unprofitable?

I think we should instead focus on regional high speed rails in existing networks. Areas such as the NE, the NW's Cascades lines, and CA's high speed rail network.

Fr. Paul said...

I think that's a good question. I could well imagine high speed trains between NYC and Chicago @ 200mph or a Washington to Atlanta run being quite competitive. Perhaps Chicago, down the Mississippi & the big cities along the way, would work. Chicago, Denver, SF and LA...even that is a possibility. I'd keep it between major population centers and as we did with the Interstate System, make it grow as usage grows. But if we begin with the obvious high density corridors, I think we'd find it helpful to reducing congestion on the roads and airways. But the big benefit is the job creation it would give us.