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High-Speed Rail is a Necessity

March 3rd, 2010

Rochester City NewspaperA letter to the editor in this week’s City Newspaper caught my eye tonight. It echoes many thoughts that have been rattling around my own head since the feds announced $151 million in high-speed rail money for New York—but stated much more eloquently than I could ever wish to. The gist of the commentary is clear from the title, “High-Speed Rail is a Necessity”. But the real golden nugget… and the point I’d like to scream from the top of Xerox tower… was this: News of high-speed rail funds should have been hailed as a positive breakthrough for our region. Instead it drew an avalanche of skepticism and negativity—two ugly characteristics that have become hallmarks of this town and will ultimately hurt us all.

Here is the letter from Roger Brown, president of the Rochester Regional Community Design Center…

Amtrak's Acela high-speed train which operates between Washington DC and Boston.“The recent news about high-speed rail money coming to Upstate New York should have garnered enthusiastic response from all in this community who travel and from those involved in urban planning and governmental affairs for this region. This is great news for the future of Rochester.

But I am disappointed at the cautionary reaction by the county executive [Maggie Brooks] and the Democrat and Chronicle Editorial Board, among others. It is this skeptical attitude that has prevented many more federal dollars from being directed to this region. California and Florida, which received more funding, clearly recognize the economic and sustainability benefits of a healthy, well-developed rail transit system.

It is imperative that this state, this region, this city embrace high-speed rail transit (not to mention light rail and trolley systems), and we must begin to act immediately. In the near future, rail transit will be our only option for long-distance trips. Airline travel will ultimately become too expensive, and automobile travel will be too slow and too expensive. The inevitable truth is that oil is steadily being depleted on this planet, causing fuel prices to rise to unobtainable levels.

Planning for rail travel is not about economic feasibility for the short term; it is about economic survival for the long term. If we do not actively and aggressively pursue high-speed rail and other forms of rail travel for our cities, this state and subsequently this region will be uncompetitive with the rest of the country.

Soon we will have no choice but to change our ways. Operating in the ‘business as usual’ mindset will only sink us deeper into economic despair.

Fortunately, our federal government has finally seen the light and is beginning to encourage and incentivize the development of high-speed rail travel. For us to not fully embrace this change would be irresponsible.”

ROGER BROWN, ROCHESTER

Brown is president of the Rochester Regional Community Design Center.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 at 9:25 pm and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “High-Speed Rail is a Necessity”

  1. Bob says:

    Lot of credit to Roger for bringing up Peak Oil implications. The peanut gallery that cruises area newspapers will scoff, but this is the educated position. Whether or not we (as a society) can reach a consensus on the negative impact of the personal automobile on the vibrancy of cities nationwide, there’s no question that oil is a finite resource.


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