Thursday, December 1, 2011

Beware of Certain Bike/Ped Plans

Understand that I have an avid biker and walker. I live car-free for a good part of the year and have served as a Trustee on a trails organization and advoacted safer pedestrian access everywhere I travel. But as was evident with the City of Portland Maine's transportation Committee and planning department staff this week, sometimes we forget our prioritiies. I am cutting and pasting a commnet I shared with a national organization about a blog on the current Federal Transportation Bill But this relates diecctly to portland consdering a cnversion of our rail corrdors to trails. As Follows:

Well at the known level of risk I take in raising the ire of so many I must lend my 2 cents worth.

Active transportation funding is a problem. Active transportation is a key word that we watch for when we find the Nationally-based, Federal highway-funded RAILS TO TRAILS CONSERVANCY making plans to discontinue more railway corridors for use as recreational trails. Please, before you launch the familiar attacks, spend some time on the history of this group. They may have changed their name to rails with trails, but the intent and outcomes are the same - loss of valuable railway corridors.

TRT was organized around the same legislative era when the railroads were being shut down as American transportation was completing its transformation to the single-occupancy automobile and nearing the end of a era of the most successful transportation system in the world. I won't spend a lot of time here, but from 1946 to 1976 the auto/roads pavement succeeded. Passenger rail transportation was considered a waste of money and an interference for the freight rail operators who were also losing market share to the subsidized road system. Fear of losing railway corridors to abutters led the Federal government to pass legislation to protect the corridors. Enter the RTT group, funded through highway fuel taxes stepping into the picture under the assumption that they would provide "Interim use of the rails" as recreation trails until such time as rail could re-emerge.

Their track record, if you will, has been very successful. Thousands of miles of rail corridors have been converted to trails and less than 1% has been converted back. Once they are in, their is no way to get them out. One might suggest that the corridors should be shared. The greatest engineering feat of the 19th and 20th century designed around a transportation system that was moving thousands of people IN BOTH DIRECTIONS at over 100 miles per hour (yes 100 years ago passenger rail was traveling that fast and faster). Note "both directions". Now transportation planners believe that the corridor is wide enough for joggers and bikes and pushing baby carriages alongside 100 mile an hour trains. But not only is that unrealistic, but in order for commuter rail to work, as rail was originally designed, trains must operate in both directions - there is no room for non-motorized uses. (oh yes, but when you Google design for Rails WITH Trails all the links point to successful systems - all in manuals written by the RTTC and funded with highway dollars) It just ain't so.

The "argument" these days is about our health. But the real debate should be the economic impact. We must consider transportation and the economic malaise we are in in the same policy breath. Roads and cars have not only destroyed the economy, but they are the cause of our poor health and environment. A rail will not only bring great economic opportunity to raise us from this depressed economy, but our environment will improve. Besides, there are plenty of places to jog and bike that are not in railroad corridors!

Before we make policy and finding decisions on such things as trails, or funding organizations that convert railway corridors to recreational trails we need an EIA. Not just an Environmental Impact Analysis (which is one of the costliest burdens of rail investments) but an ECONOMIC IMPACT ANALYSIS. if one were to analyze the return of taxpayer investment on a trail verses railway, the economic impact is significant - and not at all in the favor of trails. The idea that recreational trials brings tourism and economic impact to towns along the route is BS. In maine, where the rail/trail is paved at a cost of $Two Million Dollars a mile, the towns along the way are left with the responsibility of on-going maintenance, and in the winter no users except for lazy, trail and rail destroying oil using snowmobiles who can be elsewhere ( I wasn't showing any prejudice there was I?).

I have to go to work, of which there is not much of these days.

Think hard about "Active Transportation". Is it just one more way for the anti-rail contingent to kill the best solution to our oil crisis? or is it good for our health as we lose our homes?

Tony Donovan

Train Time

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mainer’s enthusiasm for passenger rail has not waned

Only forty years have elapsed since the Maine Central Railroad ceased intercity passenger rail service from Portland to Boston, Lewiston, Bangor and points west. Railway corridors in Maine’s largest urban center were abandoned, first on Commercial Street in 1989 and then the Union Branch in 2009; one to make it safe for automobiles and the other to create an urban recreational trail.
Yet Mainer’s enthusiasm for passenger rail has not waned. Interest is at an all-time high, and people I talk to from Wells to Bethel, Freyberg to Rockland and yes, even in the eastern counties, not only value restored passenger rail service in Maine, but see the need for a reinvigorated passenger rail system throughout the state. The time has come for a paradigm shift in our transportation mentality, and passenger rail will be - must be - an essential component of transportation in the 21st century.
Too many people, with good intentions, are underestimating our ability to change transportation policy. Too many people are saying rail will take too long, cost too much and face so much opposition, that we should take other alternatives, even it means continuing pumping tax dollars into road paving for buses and giving up on our existing railway transportation corridors for trails. Just as Commercial Street made way for cars, and the Bayside was cut up for a trail, we now are being asked to consider taking the last of the rail corridors into Portland to be used for other than their intended and engineered purpose.
The fact is, we can have a modern commuter and passenger intercity rail system, and we can have it in as few as two years. The railway routes are established. State and private rail companies have or are in the process of upgrading the infrastructure. Funding is not only available, but a careful analysis will show that it is a lot less expensive than rebuilding our roads every ten years. No one questions rebuilding a 1/3 mile long bridge for $38 million dollars (Martins Point), but consider it impossible to pay $14 million for 20 miles of track to Freyberg. Building five miles of rail is a road to nowhere, but spending $18 million of local property tax dollars to rebuild a section of the River Road is OK.
Until now we've lacked both the political will at all levels of government and a coordinated effort to make passenger rail a reality. But after ten years of successful regular Amtrak service between Portland and Boston, the time for revitalized passenger service throughout Maine is upon us, and it's time to act. It is not a time to be distracted by recreational use of this critical asset.
While recreational trails and off-road motoring are important to some segments of the economy, they should not overshadow the importance of a restored Mountain Division and St. Lawrence & Atlantic railways bringing real, long-term economic stimulus and jobs to communities through which they serve. A passenger rail system attracts private development dollars. Rail offers a more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly option than buses, airlines or automobiles. It also provides a much needed transportation option to seniors, students, or all those who would rather avoid the general hassle of automobile travel. What we need is a passenger rail initiative that connects the small urban centers of rural Maine regions not currently served by Amtrak.
It's high time to invest in a robust passenger rail transportation network that we can all be proud of, a network that includes both the Amtrak Downeaster and restoration of the regional network of railway transportation corridors that so ably served our economic needs in the recent past and hold out the best promise for our immediate future. Please, the next time fill up your gas tank, consider what it would be like to be free of the burdens of your car. We urge you to consider the possibilities. In twenty years you'll look back and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you.
Anthony J. Donovan, President
Maine Rail Transit Coalition
Portland Maine

"Build Trains not Lanes

Friday, March 4, 2011

Portland Press Herald "Rails to Trails" ; 3/4/11

Funny those media folks. Interviewed me for 15-20 minutes about this Mt. Division Trail issue. I talked economics, railroad terminology, property tax burdens, costs of roads, business development, jobs, environment, politics etc. What does she quote me on? A baby carriage next to the train. Either that reporter does not get it, or she favors the trail - or both. Following are the notes I sent her, that were not referenced in today’s PPH article:

(1) There are limited public resources available for transportation uses in Maine and many competing uses statewide for in federal transportation dollars. The voters choose to invest in rail as a means of reducing our dependence on oil, reducing the impacts of trucks cars and buses on paved roadways and as a means of increasing the efficiency of freight transportation.

(2) There is a misperception that the June 2010 Bond funding does not complete the job. But in fact the 4-5 miles of 115 lb track that is laid, sets us up for commuter passenger rail service between Portland and the commuting towns as far out as Standish. The fact is, we can have a modern commuter and passenger intercity rail system, and we can have it in as few as two years. The railway routes are established. State and private rail companies have or are in the process of upgrading the infrastructure. Funding is not only available, but a careful analysis will show that it is a lot less expensive than rebuilding our roads every ten years.

(3) No one ever questions when funds are used to pave only a section of roadway. The real issue here is how we might reduce the tax burdens associated with roads. MDOT is rebuilding a 1/3 mile long bridge for $38 million dollars (Martins Point), and the media is only telling us which lane will be closed and when. But consider $14 million for 20 miles of track to Freyberg and the 1st five miles of rail is a “road to nowhere”. Ten Thousand cars a day travel on the River road, and the towns of Windham and Westbrook are facing an $18 million dollar to repave a section, and that is not a road to nowhere! A $14 million dollar investment in rail will rebuild the tracks as far as Freyberg and last 50 years compared to the 10 or so years paving a few miles of roads will get a town.

(4) Transportation funding should be targeted toward the greatest economic good for the public. Trails are going to cost a lot of money to engineer and build. The 5 miles already completed in Gorham cost $1 million in tax dollars and it is already deteriorating from snowmobile use. The towns along the line will be responsible for maintaining this trail –when they can’t afford to fix their own sidewalks, much less roads, schools etc. A true economic impact analysis comparing rail transit to Non-motorized recreational uses of public dollars should indicate that this is not the best use of public dollars.

(5) Rails to Trails or Rails with Trails is basically an effort to remove vital railway corridors for use as recreational trails. This is a fact. And, regardless of the stated motive to “preserve the RR ROW” as an “Interim use” for trails, the fact is once a Railway is a trail, politically and economically it is close to impossible to return it to rail use. In fact we have had engineers on the trails part of this corridor that have showed us the damage the trail is doing to the rail corridor that may not be reparable.

(6) The Rail to Trails conservancy was created by the Federal government as a means of preserving the corridor for future use of rail. To prevent the corridors from being lost, not to provide an easy road system for hikers. Although there is a large constituency supporting the use of the corridors for a trail, once taxpayers and consumers learn of the benefits that rail will provide, the consensus should change. But meanwhile all we have heard from are the recreational trails folks.

(7) RIGHT NOW, more than ever, we need railway transit. Our need to divest ourselves of our dependency on oil and the single-occupancy vehicle is imperative – and railways offer the most economical choice for achieving this goal. If the Maine voter decided that tax dollars are best invested in recreational trails, over railways, or other critical economic uses, so be it. We suggest that is not the case.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Channel 6 Rails to Trails Feb 28

It really is too bad that the folks who want to enjoy redreational and nature hikes in Maine can't seem to locate a place other than establsihed railway transportation corridors. You would think, in this big open state there would be a couple of other options. Now, the nature trails folks are so desparate for this easy, straight and level route to recreate on, they sold their souls to the biggest carbon emmision ters of the woods - Snow mobiles.
Background: The Sebago to the Sea Coaltion is asking the Governor to stop spending the Bond money Maine voters passed for rail, until they can find a way to make the rail into a trail. My thoughts, as shared with the Channel 6 folks:
Regarding the Caroline Cornish Story

Interesting that 2 of the news stories prior to the one about the rails to trials were about the costs related to maintaining roads during storms and also about the budget crisis we face across the state. If I was to keep watching I'm sure national news would cover the mid-east and the fast rising price of gasoline. So we now have the recreational trails people trying to delay, or prevent the investments into a real alternative to car. The rails to trails people found an easy path for them to hike in the woods even if it is a paved road, straight level and no scenery except an old rail line. Here we have a state with more open space than any in New England and in many of the nation, yet the recreational trails people are determined to
make their nature walks on this corridor.

Fact is, it is train time. The people of maine voted for this investment,and the trails people have known since the first day that the purchase of this corridor was for rail. Interim use is not permanent trails.

Then there is the fact that this PAVED trail will need to not only be paid for with tax dollars, when the roads and bridges are facing a $700 million dollar shortfall - but each town will be responsible for maintaining these lines - paved trails for snowmobilers paid for with local property tax dollars. The 8 ,mile paved trail built already cost $1 million. Problem is one department in MDOT is funding trails ( Dan Stewart) and another funding rails (Nate Moulton) and the roads guys are dominating the discussion so no one is paying attention.

The Maine rail Transit Coalition has attended every Sebago to The Sea meeting and we have made it clear that the trails are undermining the rails,that the trails will need to be moved, as per state law, and that there are many other options for biking (roads) and hiking in this region. The railroads across the country have been lost to trails and maine has had a preservation program in place for almost 20 years to eventually restore rail. now that we have an opportunity to leverage federal funding, which is supporting rail investments across the country, and with the global threats off crushing costs related to road based transportation, now is not the time to allow the trails to take over these critical economic assets for recreational uses that have questionable, if not limited benefits and in fact with snowmobilers use may have in fact additional costs to local property tax burdens.

Train Time

Tony Donovan, Pres.
Maine Rail Transit Coalition
Portland Maine

"Build Trains not Lanes"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Interesting E-Mail Exchange w a Critic

As per this title, the following was an exchange generated by a rail critic/road supporter who contacted Portland State Representative and MRTC member, Ben Chippen with his opinion on investing in rail (and his opinion on the intelligence of those who support investing in rail). A long, but interesting read. as follows:

On Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:32 PM, George wrote:
I think the state of Maine should only spend money on the rail beds as we do the roads. I read about the economic income of the Downeaster. What is the balance sheet total, positive or negative? If the balance sheet is negative then we shouldn’t be financing it.
From: Ben Chipman []
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 10:43 PM
To: George
Cc: Tony @ Home Office; Gary Higginbottom
Subject: Re: Railroads

Hello George,
The balance sheet for roads is always going to be negative. Pavement and roads do not make money for the state. We should not expect railroads to either. Transportation costs money. Creating a mile of pavement costs a lot more than developing a mile of rail. Dollar for dollar our money is much better spent on railroad. I am not saying roads should not be repaired but we should not stop funding rail either.

Ben Chipman, State Representative
From: Tony @ Home Office []
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:56 AM
To: George; Ben Chipman
Subject: RE: Railroads

Mr. Colby,
Cc. Rep. Chipman

Dear Mr. Colby:
In regards to your e-mail on railroads, please find attached the economic impact analysis of the Downeaster passenger rail. The Maine Rail Transit Coalition agrees that the State of Maine should only spend money on rail as we do on the roads. Currently that is not the case and although the highway fund is facing looming deficiencies, investments in railway transportation corridors are even more under-funded. Yet the economic impact of the Downeaster operations alone are projected to generate $76 million in property tax revenues, while creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth over the next few decades. At the same time the increasing costs of pavement, roads and bridges are being shifted from the state to local municipal budgets e.g., property taxes, at a time when nether towns nor consumers can afford them. Railway transit offers an alternative to commuters that will not only reduce their annual transportation fees, but it will reduce local property tax burdens while at the same time attracting private business and housing investments to locations around railway terminals. This is already happening in Maine (Brunswick, Portland, Saco, and Old Orchard) to the tune of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

The cost of constructing one mile of railway is $800,000 and last 50 years (or more). The cost of reconstruction one mile of road is about $2 million and needs to be reconstructed every 10 years. Although operational costs of commuter rail require public subsidies, the costs to households for owning and operating a car are estimated at over $10,000 annually per car. If rail can reduce the costs of owning multiple cars, and even help consumers to own a good car for a longer period of time, that return on sales, income or gas tax investments need to be weighed against the costs of continuing to rely on foreign oil and pavement based, single occupancy transportation.

Railway transit is effectively used around the world and in fact, prior to the introduction of the federal highway system, the US railway system was the most advanced in the world, with trains traveling over 100 mph to small and large towns throughout the country. These towns prospered with the rail, and there is a real question as to whether the highway system we now rely on is bringing prosperity to our towns, or a cost burden that is inhibiting our ability to create good jobs and wealth for our citizens.

The Maine Rail Transit Coalition is a group of dedicated professionals from around the State with colleagues around the country that are engaged in studies, educational forums and analysis of transportation with the purpose of explaining the real benefits of railway transportation and the hidden costs of our continuing reliance on roads for economic development.

I hope you can visit our website at for additional information and up to date reports on transportation issues. We appreciate your sharing your comments and hope that you are able to continue to share your thoughts and ideas with us as we continue our efforts to lower transportation costs, and increase economic opportunity for Maine residents.
Sincerely, Tony Donovan, President Maine Rail Transit Coalition
From: George []
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 9:29 AM
To: 'Tony @ Home Office'; 'Ben Chipman'
Cc: 'MRTC'
Subject: RE: Railroads

Apparently you are both ignorant as to how freight moves in Maine and the United States. Both of your attitudes are wrong. We need cooperation between trucks and railroads, NOT on or the other. I am a professional truck driver and I have the same complaint about some of the trucking associations, us or them.

It would or will be several years before the railroad can even come close to moving the freight that trucks move. Ben your economic ignorance is showing again. Roads absolutely do make money for the state and towns. How do you think products and services get from here to there?

I checked the website and that is just a typical optimistic projection done in 2008 and after you get past the propaganda ,most of it untrue especially about being “green” there is not much of sudstance there.

Thank You for the response
George Colby
From: Tony @ Home Office []
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 4:19 PM
To: George; 'Ben Chipman'
Cc: 'MRTC'
Subject: RE: Railroads
Dear George:

Actually our group works very hard to establish facts and data to support our analysis and that information we put out for discussion. However, more important is that we tend to try to work with all groups in a manner that is not hostile, or in any way exhibiting vitriol as is so much in the news these days. We do not ever make statements that might be cause for someone to think we are angry or stubborn. We do not ever call anyone ignorant, and though we might consider statements made by others to be wrong, we never say that they are wrong but rather try to establish facts and analysis so as to help everyone understand all positions. The only attitudes we believe are wrong are those that can be considered to be personal attacks on our integrity.

So moving beyond that aspects of our communications, please consider the following:

The railroad industry and trucking industry is cooperating to a great extent throughput Maine and the US. Intermodal transportation networks are critical to the economical and efficient movement of goods. The Auburn intermodal is the best example in Maine where we have products hitting the shelves of retailers in Maine after a rail connections from Vancouver delivers (china-made products) to trucks that deliver to LL Beans etc. I am not certain where you read us to say that it was one or the other. We are instead seeking to balance investments in both.

It is also true that it will be several years before rail freight matches truck. But several years is not that far off. And it was just several years ago when Maine's truckling industry gathered at the Capital to complain that they were being driven out of business due to high gasoline and diesel costs - something that unless we increase roads subsidies the State has no control over.

I am not certain how roads make money for states and towns. Businesses make money through the creation of wealth and use transportation, provided by government investment as a critical tool to achieve that wealth. But the government subsidies have been required for the deficits in user fees for the Highway Trust Fund for many years. From 2008 to present more than $30 billion dollars have been transferred from the General Fund to the Highway Trust fund. Funds that could have been used to pay for other services - or to reduce taxes.

I am not certain what website you went to. if it was the Maine Rail Transit one, we do seek to post established data, or facts. If what you say about things being "untrue" please be specific and we will respond accordingly. As for green, our goal is economic prosperity and the best return on investment for consumers in a manner that is efficient, economical and environmentally sound. We believe that is we achieve efficiencies, economic prosperity and environmental benefits will naturally follow.

The train industry has so many drawbacks simply due to the way America was planned during the post WW2 era, with advent of suburbia. During the 50s and 60s when the highway system was being developed there were many regulations being created in favor of the automotive industry, thus hurting the train industry. A few figures major figures about trains to consider:

- 85% of the wear on our highways is caused by trucks.
- One 80,000 lb truck does as much damage to the highway as 10,000 cars.
- One train can replace 280 to 500 trucks, since each wagon can carry on average 100 tons vs 56 ton max on a truck.
- A truck requires 3 times more fuel per ton per mile. Though the figures range from 1.4 to 9 depending on equipment and conditions.

Just a few of the benefits that would result from replacing as much of the trucking industry with rail as possible:
- Significant reduction in wear and maintenance costs associated with highways.
- Less maintenance and less trucks on highways means less traffic jams, which cost an estimated 100 billion yearly to the US economy.
- Using less fuel to ship goods would lower dependency on foreign oil and help reduce emissions for the environment.
- Cheaper goods, due to cost reductions in shipping since a large portion is based on fuel consumption. Exactly the reason why truckers are often heard having protests and strikes during high fuel prices. Inexpensive goods would result in a boost in the economy.
- The rail industry is financially responsible for it's infrastructure. While trucking companies only contribute a small mount to the extremely large budget that is spent on keeping the road infrastructure in America running.
- In 1995 42,000 people died in automobile accidents. A third of all highway accidents that result in death involve trucks. Meanwhile the railroad industry only claims about 500 lives per year (almost all to people who were trespassing on tracks ).
- One rail line can carry as many people in a day as 16 lanes of highway. Plus trains are actually quieter than trucks. Highways produce a lot of noise pollution and require the placement of sound barriers. Meanwhile a train only comes once in a while, and even then does not create too much noise.
- Trains are constantly evolving, and even today's diesel locomotives are far superior technologically than their truck counterparts.

Always a pleasure to have someone like you causing us to think, research, analyze and respond. Thanks again for your commentary.
George wrote:
First I will probably not tone down my speech when I feel it is warranted. That is the problem with this country today. The shooting in Arizona had NOTHING to do with vitriolic speech.

As I said in my reply to Susan Davis I am not opposed to trains. I also believe they have a place in transportation. I may not have mentioned it before, I own a small trucking company and I don’t get subsidized by any government. I have recently changed my view on government financing and railroads. I had for many years been opposed to any government financing of railroads, however I would not be opposed to State & Federal Government financing of railroad beds as they do roads. However I object strongly to subsidizing operating costs of any business by government.

I also stay up on engine technology and to say that locomotive engines are superior to truck engines is just plain wrong. As a unit locomotives are not “far superior” to today’s trucks.I would invite you to read the 2 following article from the Bangor Daily News,160865
Thanks George
From: Tony @ Home Office []
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2011 5:56 AM
To: George
Cc: MRTC; Ben GreenIndy Chipman
Subject: RE: Railroads

Mr. Colby:
In the articles you provided;
1. Mr. Dutton states:"We support the rescue of the rail line, but it is incomprehensible for Maine to spend $20 million of public money with zero transparency into the process, terms and desired outcomes for rail customers and the taxpayers at large. "
REPLY: Lack of transparency is a chief concern of our group. We can get nothing from the state regarding rail investments. All done behind closed doors. just as the highway industry has operated for decades.

It is well-known that Twin Rivers is battling with MMA to secure cost-effective, reliable rail service from our Madawaska plant. The state’s rail, if accessible to Twin Rivers, may in the future provide important rail options to our plant and, by extension, help secure our long-term sustainability. However, we need assurances that the rail will be operated under the principles of capitalism, not backroom deal making.

2. MMA is a lousy company and that applies to most rail operators, particularly in Maine. Thank goodness for government investment in roads and federal and state gas subsidies to keep the operating costs of private trucks low.

My old aunt once said that I should always preface certain statements with "in my opinion", such as "In (your) opinion the shooting in AZ had nothing to do with vitriolic speech" In my own opinion I suggest that it did. And in my own opinion I suggest that you will achieve more by indeed toning down your speech. Too many angry people out there calling people with different opinions ignorant and wrong. That not only risks their anger, but it ends to have those being called names ignore the name callers. We are not bad people and we are working hard (with zero pay) to try to raise the level of incomes for everyone in Maine.

Good comments about twin Rivers and Frazier. A couple of more dollars a gallon on the pump and they may lose a few of those truckers. As for MMA, hopefully we can get some competition up there soon. I lean toward Canadian operators.

Maine Rail Transit Coalition
Portland Maine
"Build Trains not Lanes"
From: George
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 18:52:06 -0500
To: "'Susan S. Davis'"
Subject: RE: Railroads
Can you tell me exactly how much it cost to reconstruct 1 mile of railroad bed and 1mile of roadway please. Thanks
From: Susan S. Davis []
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 4:10 PM
To: George; Anthony J. Donovan; 'Ben Chipman'
Cc: 'MRTC'
Subject: Re: Railroads


Please note that truckers are benefiting from trains elsewhere, and we are likely to as well as we rebuild out lost, and much less expensive, rail infrastructure.
Regards, Susan, MRTC

Ohio truckers thank Norfolk Southern for boosting business>
Ohio's short-haul truckers say business is booming, thanks to Norfolk Southern's freight service. The opening of the Heartland Corridor line allows the railroad to send double-stacked freight shipments into central Ohio from points of origin along the East Coast, dramatically increasing work for truckers who shuttle containers the last few miles from the rails to the customer. "Instead of having a train once every three days, now you can move containers much more swiftly. There's a big difference," says one trucking-company operator. American City Business Journals/Columbus, Ohio
From: George
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 19:10:46 -0500
To: "'Susan S. Davis'"
Subject: RE: Railroads

I grew up next to a railroad and the rails don’t last 50 years. I know of some roads that have been constructed correctly that have lasted 50 years. On the “about” $2 million dollars for road construction, what exactly what size roadbed are you talking about? I am not against railroads, I believe they have their place. I am not against the government maintaining railroad beds. I AM against any subsidy of operating costs. I am a trucking company owner and I don’t get any subsidies from the government and I don’t want any.
Thanks George
From: Susan S. Davis []
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2011 8:30 AM
To: George
Subject: Re: Railroads

I repeat the statistic from below: The cost of constructing one mile of railway is $800,000 and lasts 50 years (or more). The cost of reconstruction one mile of road is about $2 million and needs to be reconstructed every 10 years.

An even more important aspect of that statistic is that increasingly the cost of annual road maintenance is being transferred to municipalities, which have to choose between funding education and fixing roads. Add that to the cost per household of anywhere from $5-10,000 just owning each car (the gas is the least of it), and you start seeing the hidden impact of roads over rails. But they have to work together. Trucks are a critical component of a successful rail infrastructure. My personal favorite? The name “pick-up” came from picking up freight at the railroad station!
Best regards, Susan
From: Susan S. Davis []
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2011 10:35 AM
To: George
Cc: Ann Adams; Anthony J. Donovan; Gary Higginbottom; Joan Saxe; Joane Saxe; Mark Sengelmann; Mark Sengelmann; Paul Weiss; Susan S. Davis
Subject: Re: Railroads

I don’t have those statistics, so I’m copying other members of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition to get them for you. If I’m not mistaken, roads and highways have a lot of hidden subsidization. Other members of the MRTC can speak to that better.

It’s important to know that General Motors orchestrated the destruction, of, and the negative propaganda about, rail and railroads in order to sell cars, trucks, oil, gas, rubber. They were found guilty of collusion with Standard Oil and Firestone Tire in the systematic destruction of light rail systems, starting in Los Angeles, by the US govt. in the early 1950s—paid all of $1,000 fines, each party. Then along came Eisenhower to create the interstate highway system, done by two friends, both GM executives brought in to run the Dept. of Defense (you’ll remember that defense was the argument for the Interstate System creation, stimulated by the success of the Autobahn in Germany) and Dept. of Transportation. I can assure you that you will not be able to extract real cost comparisons from DOTs to this day. They hide the subsidies and they do not acknowledge the hidden and unintended consequences of road construction vs. rail.

We’ve pulled together our statistics using the Freedom of Information Act as often as not. Let’s see what others can add.

Thank you for continuing this conversation and not just walking away. As you have seen and will see, this is a highly informed and educated group on the subject of rail, transit and transportation.
Best regards, Susan
George wrote:
I agree on the behind closed doors. I have been to MDOT public hearings and Maine Turnpike public hearings. There was always a conclusion reached and they weren’t going to change their minds and they were not open to less expensive and “new” ways tried in other states to repair bridges that equaled the same result. There is too little transparency in all of government.

I added a comment to your signature. ("Build Both")
Thanks George
'nuf said (4 now)