US Rail Developments
We are not the only place that is going to build a huge new bridge with the promise of LRT capacity for the future, but a lot new freeway capacity much sooner. The same mistake is being advocated by the Columbia River Crossing Project Sponsors Council for the Washington/Oregon boundary. This this is not the same as the Gateway Council set up (where the proponents were mainly business interests). The Seattle Transit Blog reports that
The Columbia River Crossing Project Sponsors Council is made up of leaders both in Oregon and Washington including leaders of Vancouver, Portland, TriMet (Portland’s transit agency) and Oregon DOT and Washington DOT.
This would be a twelve lane bridge – replacing the existing 6 lane – so the outcome – double the capacity double the traffic – is not in doubt. The discussion is also intersting beneath the story since it would appear that, like the Port Mann, there is actually no defined plan for actually connecting up the proposed bridge to the regional rapid transit system.
Just as with the US federal bailout program, there is still a lot of interest in roads and bridges, and much less availble for railways. Yet another opportunity to change the dorection of North America is going to be lost, it seems. Railways are much more efficient people and freight movers than roads – both in terms of land taken and energy consumed. Global warming and peak oil should have seen everyone start to switch towards renewable sources of energy much sooner and faster than they have – and go for electrification, since electricity does not have to come from fossil fuels. Road vehicles rely almost exclusively on oil – most “alterntative” fuels still being fossil fuel sourced or processesed – and electric cars still being something only distant commercially in sufficient quantities to make any difference.
New York seems to be the exception to this rule. There railways lead much of the development of the state – and not a few are already electrified and carrying large numbers of people as well as freight. The North East of the US bing rather different to most of the rest of the country.
State will invest more than $10 billion over 20 years to improve connections between New York’s biggest cities
This morning at the Albany/Rensselaer train station, New York Governor David Paterson (D) announced a major new effort by his state to invest in its rail system
Most of that investment is designed to upgrade existing corridors to enable better transportation of people and goods. This is not yet electrified high speed rail adopted by most other advanced countries, but is an important step in the right direction.
The contrast with BC is stark. He we sold of BC Rail (a process still mired in controversy) and are currently proposing to spend a lot of money enabling freight railways to continue to disrupt communities. This is because we have a government at present that only cares aboiut business – nothing else matters. We actually had an electric railway to move coal up at Tumbler Ridge but we scrapped that. We could have used the Olympics as a way to get good quality passenegr rail between North Vancouver and Whistler – not hard or expensive to do, and common to most ski resorts in Europe and japan – but the porfit to be made from the sale to CN was a quicker fix. And we only have short lengths of rail rapid transit in the core of the region – and one way, peak only commuter rail for one part of the rest.
Rail for the Valley, streetcars and light rail for region, even a second daily train to Seattle all seem to be terribly difficult to achieve – but all objections to yet more roads and freeways are simply swept away as if they had no validity. We plan by staring at the wake of the ship and ignore the hazards now clearly visible from the bridge.