The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

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March 2, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 10

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 20th Year

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IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items…
“Transportation For America” Launches In DC;
   NCI Chair John Robert Smith Keynotes The Day
Former FRA Administrator Carmichael Hails Obama Stimulus
   For Its ‘21st Century Vision’
Obama Backs High-Speed Rail Service — Again!
New Jersey Town Pushes For New Rail Start
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  NCI Conference Event…
Setting A Vision for Sustainable Development:
   The Louisiana Transportation Renaissance
Betting The Farm --- And All The Animals Too
  Publication Notes …

NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

“Transportation For America” Launches In DC;
NCI Chair John Robert Smith Keynotes The Day

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON, DC --- The most broadly-based coalition of transportation, environmental, and smart-growth activists ever assembled launched its “Transportation For America” campaign this past week in Washington, at a gathering in the Cannon House Office Building keynoted by National Corridors Initiative Chairman, the Hon. John Robert Smith, former Amtrak Chairman and Mayor of Meridian, MS.

“I want to thank Transportation for America for bringing together more than 200 member organizations throughout the nation to advocate for a new and sustainable transportation system,” stated Mayor Smith in his remarks. “It’s a privilege to be among you as we roll out this major bi-partisan effort to help rebuild America’s fractured and dysfunctional transportation system.”

The campaign, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, and other philanthropies, was assembled by a series of advocacy groups, and is co-chaired by Reconnecting America, headed by President And CEO Shelley Poticha, and Smart-Growth America, led by President and CEO Geoff Anderson. Campaign Transportation For America is led by Campaign Director James Corless ( with David Goldberg as Communications Director (, Ilana Preuss as Director of Campaign Partnerships (, Mariia Zimmerman as Policy Director ( that’s right, it is “Mariia”, with 2 “i’s” just as it appears) and Quentin Kelly as Legislative Director (

Mayor Smith continued:

“The campaign we launch today is the product of so much work by a diverse and representative body of Americans…across the political spectrum… who nevertheless share commitment to this nation.

That commitment mandates that we bring to bear all resources we can muster…federal, state and regional… and drawing on human and financial capital… begin immediately to reconstruct the nation’s transportation system… especially the long-neglected railroad system we have allowed to atrophy… to build a system that is indeed a system… an interconnected, functioning whole that can move both people and goods quickly, safely and cost-effectively… so that Americans can once again compete head-to-head with the rest of the developed world…and regain the place of leadership we have allowed to slip from our grasp.

“In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood the critical importance of connectivity in our vast land…and while his vision was limited to the interstate highway system… his words still ring true:

“Our unity as a nation is sustained by communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods. Together, the unifying forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear—United States. Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.”

“While the federal interstate system was boldly conceived and executed… we have been reminded time and again that highways are only one component of a true transportation network… yet time and time again we have failed to act on those lessons.

“Remember the energy crisis of 1979? Following the Iranian revolution… oil production decreased… and widespread panic surged through our nation of motorists. Remember the long lines at gas stations… proposals to have drivers fill up on odd or even days depending on their tag numbers?

“On September 11, 2001… we experienced the most chilling transportation failure in our nation’s history. Who can forget photos ... with Twin Towers burning in the background… of New Yorkers walking across Brooklyn Bridge… because that was the only way they could get away from danger. Streets and roads were in complete gridlock… and our air travel system was grounded for the first time in our nation’s history. The sudden grounding of flights reverberated across the nation. Nearly 2 million people had to cancel travel plans… overnight mail delivery was halted… and 460 usually bustling airports were eerily empty or plunged into chaos. Our nation’s trains were the only public transportation moving in or out of our country’s largest city and our nation’s capitol. Ironically…as the Washington Post reported that day… “Officials urged Americans to consider other modes of transportation.”

“But we did not act.

“The Madrid bombings of 2004 wreaked havoc on that city’s rail system… killing nearly 200 and injuring more than 1,000 others. This transportation crisis is widely blamed for the political fallout that resulted in the defeat of the incumbent president just three days later.

“Once again we saw transportation issues being inextricably linked to a nation’s political and economic stability.

“Still, we did not act.

“In the past year… back in our own country… we saw gasoline prices spiral upward to hover at or spike over $4 a gallon. Amtrak ridership soared. Cities with light rail systems reported record ridership.

But for my constituents in Meridian, Mississippi and in countless small and mid-sized cities and in rural areas around our country… options to $4-a-gallon gas were few or nonexistent. The options were to cut back on groceries and other necessities… or stay home.

“We did not act.

“Our transportation atrophy is a result of highways that are overcrowded and highway trust funds in jeopardy… airlines in meltdown… and a passenger rail system that has been shamefully neglected. This atrophy is exacerbated by all the added layers of homeland security… an energy crisis… and urgent calls for sane environmental choices in the face of a deteriorating planet. But out of crisis comes great opportunity.

“With reauthorization for rail, highway and air occurring concurrently… a new T bill…and an engaged public concerned over increasing gas prices, global warming and threatened choices for transportation… I believe the confluence of these events provides unique timing for a new transportation vision.

“Last Winter, the National Corridors Initiative convened by CEO Jim RePass in St. Louis to raise the national profile on the subject of infrastructure… and to challenge the Presidential candidates to pay attention to the deepening economic crisis being brought on in part by our failure to build America in the very fundamental way that the word “infrastructure” implies. Very few people at that time were talking about infrastructure because it seemed an arcane and obscure concept…best left to economists or academics. But we gathered to make the point we make here again today—Infrastructure is destiny.

“The St. Louis Statement” that came out of that gathering says in essence:

“The silence of those now running for the office of President on the growing crisis in our nation’s transportation infrastructure is deafening. We have all heard about the crisis in the economy, and changes in the earth’s climate brought on by global warming, but we have heard nothing about one key element that underlies both of those issues: the movement of goods and people, our very freedom of mobility. Yet few national issues offer a greater opportunity for imaginative change.”

And we asked the candidates three questions:

“Do you understand that transportation must be treated as a system, not merely a collection of competing modes, when setting and executing policy? How do you propose to restore our transportation system to health? And, third, What are you going to do, specifically, to obtain the funding needed to do that?

“As the campaign progressed, Barack Obama began to hammer on the theme of infrastructure and its importance to our future. Since his election, the President has continued in that vein and… just last week in signing the stimulus bill… he committed himself and this nation to rebuilding our crumbling highways… investing in our overtaxed air system… and building a true high-speed rail network that will allow America to once again take its place in the leadership of world economies.

“To reach that laudable goal… those of us who advocate for transportation… and the business community… must work together to get thousands of people back to work now… and build a transportation system for today and tomorrow that will lower the cost of doing business in America…ease the transportation congestion crisis and the wear-and-tear punishment of highways… integrate with major airports across America and help restore our nation to health. And we need the support of a Congress whose members reach out not only across the aisles separating their parties but across the geography separating their states.

“It is time once again to reach across the figurative aisle… from south to north and from east to west… and get this country moving again.

“And I see great promise. My fellow mayors are the most effective voice for our American cities on Capitol Hill… and they understand that transportation is about connecting from city center to city center. I see mayors of cities large and small energized and committed to addressing these issues.

On the state level… I see states like Wisconsin, Illinois, California and North Carolina investing in all modes of transportation.

“I see think tanks like Reconnecting America convening the best minds in the transportation world to craft recommendations for our leaders.

“I see conferences such as this where we engage in open discussion and debate about our shared transportation future.

“All of these things give me great hope that we will finally see modes of transportation as feeding one another, not competing… as interconnected partners, not isolated silos unto themselves.

“To cement those connections and ensure that the modes of transportation can and will support and sustain each other… we must establish clear national transportation objectives that will lead to the attainment of critical goals… like energy security… climate protection… access to transportation opportunities… and the safety and health of our people.

“Consider this simple possibility—a citizen in Newton, Mississippi buys a ticket and boards a bus, his bag with him…and a small container of La-Z-Boy recliners… made in his hometown… on the back of the same bus. Both passenger and freight travel to Meridian’s multi-modal station where… still using the same ticket… that passenger and his bag board a higher-speed Amtrak Crescent… bound for the international airports in either Atlanta or New Orleans….with the container of La-Z-Boys on the same train. At either airport… he boards a jet bound for Orly Airport in Paris…still with the same ticket and with the La-Z-Boys in the cargo hold… and when he arrives… his bag is with him. What a novel concept.”

“With the serious and sobering issues facing our country today….the timing is right for this gathering… but if this conference is merely another convocation to puzzle over transportation’s navel and not act… then we have wasted time and energy. These issues are complex and daunting… but we must act and act now. Our children and grandchildren will hold us accountable. To fail them is to leave our great nation… as President Eisenhower said… “a mere alliance of many separate parts. And this we cannot do,” vowed Mayor Smith, in concluding his remarks.

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Key Republican Leader Under Bush (I) Praises Obama Stimulus Package


Former FRA Administrator Carmichael Hails
Obama Stimulus For Its ‘21st Century Vision’

By Df Staff And From The University Of Denver

HOUGHTON, MICHIGAN --- Former Federal Railroad Administrator Gilbert Carmichael, a leading Republican in the South who served in the Bush (I) Administration, this week praised President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as “the most ambitious transportation infrastructure program put forth in the U.S. since the 1950s, when President Eisenhower initiated the development of the Interstate Highway System.”

In a major address entitled “A Railroad-Based ‘Interstate II,’” at Michigan Technological University, Carmichael, who is Founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver, said:

“Wrapped inside the $111 billion devoted to much-needed infrastructure spending in his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Obama’s stimulus plan very significantly allocates $8 billion for intercity high-speed rail transportation and another $1.3 billion for Amtrak,” said Carmichael. “This is the first phase of what should be a three-part, high-speed, intercity transportation blueprint that will connect all our major cities, ports and airports via rail,” Carmichael told the audience of students, faculty, and representatives from major railroads. “This is the first time an intermodal strategy, with a strong emphasis on rail, has been proposed by government to meet the North American transportation system’s requirements for both freight and passenger transport.”

Carmichael told the audience this new approach “…represents the most economical, fuel-efficient, and environmentally sustainable vision for improving our transportation network in this country, and it will help us achieve energy independence.” Carmichael has for more than a decade been calling for what he has named “Interstate II,” a new rail-based transportation vision, committing to a steel version of the highway system that was begun 50 years ago; and said “President Obama clearly understands this necessary, new approach to meeting 21st century transportation needs.”

“The nation has enough highways, albeit, most of them are badly in need of repair and suffering from massive gridlock due to a doubling of our population since they were built. What the U.S. does not have is a rail-based, intercity, rail transportation network like that in Europe and Asia. In those parts of the world, where fuel was priced higher, electric high-speed trains carry hundreds of passengers safely and efficiently between cities and connect to and from major airports. North America has a huge rail system already in place, serving 90 states and provinces with 240,000 miles of route. The rights-of-way are already paid for, and the private sector has done much to upgrade them; but they have been vastly under-utilized for years. Our rail system right now carries only 25 percent of capacity since most of it is single-tracked. By adding 30,000 miles of double- and triple-tracked rail, with grade separations, to our existing system, we can create three times more capacity, connecting millions of people to not only ports, but to airports and center cities, greatly relieving the stress on our overburdened highway system.”

Carmichael pointed out that Obama’s new infrastructure plan would expand the originally recommended six, intercity, high-speed rail corridors to 13 intercity corridors in Phase-I and would create developmental partnerships between the private sector and state DOTs. Furthermore, it would be administered by the Federal Railroad Administration, as it should be, and would be fully paid for under the recovery act -- not by matching funds.

He also pointed out that the railroad is the only mode of transportation that easily converts to electricity should the world’s fossil fuel supply continue to decline, as many predict. It would also offer a vastly more environmentally friendly and ethical form of transportation, providing nine times the fuel efficiency as highway transportation, while operating at speeds of up to 90 miles-per-hour for freight and up to 125 miles-per-hour for passenger transit. “In the foreseeable future, the railroad mode is the only candidate for large-scale benefits from the electrification of a new energy grid, such as President Obama is talking about,” said Carmichael. “Electrifying the U.S. rail system would make sense in a future of oil scarcity and would provide us with a ‘greener’ carbon footprint as we move toward cleaning up the global environment.”

“Our nation is experiencing a wrenching reshaping during this time of economic volatility, and by mid-century our lifestyle will be very different from today. Our nation urgently needs a new vision for its outmoded transportation system, and the President’s new policy is a step in the right direction,” summarized Carmichael. “Phase I of Interstate II represents an important policy shift toward developing and maintaining a 21st century, intermodal transportation network, based on greater cooperation between the freight and passenger rail segments. It will greatly enhance our intercity transit needs. In the future, to build new, national transportation programs, such as Interstate II, partnerships between the government agencies and the private-sector railroads must be promoted. Investing $100-200 billion over the next 15-20 years will create huge numbers of needed jobs, stimulate economic growth, and provide us with a beautiful, 21st century, high-speed, intermodal freight and passenger system.”

About ITI

The Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver which Carmichael helped found offers an Executive Masters Program that awards a Master of Science in Intermodal Transportation Management from the University of Denver. This graduate degree program prepares transportation industry managers for the increasingly complex, global business environment where knowledge of finance, quantitative processes, supply chain, law, and public policy issues as well as freight, passenger, and intermodal transportation operational strategies are critical management tools for success. For more information on the ITI Executive Masters Program call: 303-871-4702 or visit:

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Obama Backs High-Speed Rail Service — Again!

From The Washington Bureau On The Internet
Staff Writer: Raju Chebium

FEBRUARY 27 ---- Another boost for high-speed rail came from President Obama last week, sending shock waves through the rail advocacy community which was already happily surprised by the last minute announcement of $8 billion for high speed rail in the stimulus package. This time the president proposed setting aside $5 billion in the upcoming Transportation Reauthorization Bill over the next five years. The money was part of Obama’s budget plan for 2010.

States would have to compete for the grants, which would total $1 billion each year beginning in 2010, and could then move forward on plans to build high speed rail.

“This funding will build on the $8 billion down payment . . . and marks President Obama’s commitment to provide Americans a practical and environmentally sustainable alternative to flying or driving,” the Transportation Department said in a statement.

At present, the Northeast Corridor’s Acela train from Washington to Boston is the only high-speed rail in the United States. The Acela can reach a speed of 150 miles per hour but with the curvy route along the shoreline east of New Haven, the average speed is about 85 mph.

There are ten corridors in the country designated for high speed rail, each connecting big cities within a few hundred miles of each other. Transportation experts say that any trip of 500 miles or less should be served by rail rather than air travel for reasons of efficiency, convenience of arriving directly in the city centers, and the environmental benefit of being far less polluting.

“It’s very refreshing that we have a president who is keen on this issue,” said Martin Robins, a fellow at Rutgers University’s Voorhees Transportation Center.

High-speed rail “has been very unfairly retarded from proper investment in this country,” Robins said in a telephone interview. “It’s been bogged down in a lot of wasteful and picayune arguments about Amtrak.”

The Reason Foundation in California, a libertarian think-tank that opposes government subsidies to rail, has put out a statement that “High-speed rail ...... doesn’t make any sense in the United States, because people are accustomed to driving and flying.”

Reach Raju Chebium at

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Restart Of The Old....


New Jersey Town Pushes For New Rail Start

By David Peter Alan

Flemington is the county seat of Hunterdon County, a rural county in western New Jersey, or “West Jersey” as the locals call it. The town was the subject of notoriety once before when Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted of kidnapping and murdering the infant son of aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. The infamous 1935 trial was Flemington’s “moment of fame” in the past, although the town may again achieve fame in the future; this time on the rail scene.

The Flemington Economic Development Coalition, a consortium of local business leaders, has proposed the restoration of passenger rail service to the town. If their vision becomes fact, Flemington will have passenger service for the first time since the Central Railroad of New Jersey discontinued service on its “South Branch” in 1953. That service ran over a 15-mile branch line from Somerville, the seat of neighboring Somerset County. The historic CNJ mainline is now known as New Jersey Transit’s Raritan Valley Line (RVL) and NJT passenger trains still run on it between Newark and High Bridge.

The proposed service would not use the entire historic Flemington Branch, since approximately two-thirds of it no longer exists. Instead, it would diverge from the RVL at Bound Brook and continue through the historic Lehigh Valley Line, now part of Norfolk Southern. The last stretch of track, 3.7 miles, is owned by the Black River & Western Railroad, that operates a short line freight service and the tourist trains between Flemington and Ringoes to the south. BR&W owner Kean Burenga supports revival of passenger service on his line.

Proposed Route

Robert Benjamin, President of the Flemington Fur Company, is one of the leading advocates for the proposed service. His business is family-owned and has been a part of the Flemington retail scene for decades. In a presentation before the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition on February 9th, Benjamin stressed that the required rail infrastructure is in place, although it must be upgraded for passenger service. He estimated the cost of construction at $40.2 million, including $18 million ($1 million per mile) to build a second track on the Lehigh/NS Line, $2.2 million ($550,000 per mile) to upgrade the BR&W track into Flemington and $20 million for station construction. The last new start that was built at a comparable cost is Music City Star, a commuter service operated by the Regional Transportation Authority in Nashville that began operating in 2006 over the Nashville & Eastern Railroad.

Lehigh Valley Railroad Station

The beautiful Lehigh Valley Railroad Station during the stean era. This station was torn down in the 50’s.

Benjamin noted the advantage for his townspeople to have rail access to New York City and also called for service in the other direction, so visitors could experience the historic town center and the outlet shopping available in Flemington. “The proposed rail line would move people in an efficient, cost-effective manner,” he said and noted that communities in both Somerset and Hunterdon Counties had received the rail proposal enthusiastically.

Rail advocate Jack McDougal, a member of the Flemington team’s advisory committee, stressed the economic advantages of building rail over highway expansion. “It is much more cost-effective than adding lanes to Route 202, he said.

The original Flemington-Pennsylvania Railroad Station.

The Flemington-Pennsylvania Railroad Station. This was Flemington’s first station. The line went from Flemington down to Lambertville where it connected up to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Then people could continue down to the city of Trenton. The line and the station were later acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

There is no funding in place for the proposed line, although its proponents are hopeful that they can start with Federal “Stimulus” funds and get some money from New Jersey when the State’s Transportation Trust Fund is renewed in 2011.

But if NJT sinks its available capital into its proposed “ARC” tunnels into Manhattan and deep-cavern terminal far below 34th Street, (see previous stories in DF) there won’t be funds for other rail proposals such as the Flemington.

A local initiative to restart rail service in a rural area could represent the way of the future. Highways and even local roads in outlying areas are packed to capacity at peak travel hours, especially in the Northeast. Many rail lines are not fully utilized, and relatively inexpensive upgrades to these lines could generate substantial increases in passenger-carrying capacity. As more localities become concerned with environmental conditions and making their communities more livable, rail will increasingly become part of local development plans.

David Alan is chair of the Lackawanna Coalition in NewJersey

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)58.7761.84
Canadian National (CNI)32.3432.81
Canadian Pacific (CP)28.2128.35
CSX (CSX)24.6826.61
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)20.8921.93
Kansas City Southern (KSU)17.6918.80
Norfolk Southern (NSC)31.7233.97
Providence & Worcester (PWX)10.9113.45
Union Pacific (UNP)37.5240.02

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The University Transportation Center And
The Center for Urban and Public Affairs
of LSU-New Orleans

and The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

Invite you to participate in  

Setting A Vision for Sustainable Development:
The Louisiana Transportation Renaissance

March 26, 2009 at New Orleans


NEW ORLEANS --- Transportation leaders, advocates, those who study or work in the transportation industry, and the news media are invited to New Orleans March 26 for “Setting A Vision for Sustainable Development: The Louisiana Transportation Renaissance”, with opening keynote address by Louisiana Transportation Secretary Dr. William Ankner, closing keynote by American Public Transportation Association President & CEO William Millar, a featured address by nationally-known author Roberta Brandes Gratz and presentations by a series of national and regional transportation and smart-growth advocates in between.

The all-day event at the Port of New Orleans, 1350 Port of New Orleans Place, adjacent to the Morial Convention Center, will be presented by the University Transportation Center at the University of New Orleans, and the National Corridors Initiative, and takes place starting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 26, 2009. Registration in advance is recommended at: on “UNO Conference”. The registration fee is $25 for students, and $75 for all others. Lunch will be provided.

In addition to Dr. Ankner and President Millar, speakers will include Dr. John Renne, Co-Director of the UNO University Transportation Center, as moderator of the conference opening session “Transportation Is Land Use Policy”, with Justin Elizabeth ‘Boo’ Thomas, President, The Center for Planning Excellence, Baton Rouge and Kathryn Lawlor of AARP; followed by a special presentation by Cambridge Systematics, Cambridge, MA.

In the afternoon, Dr. Billy Fields III, Director, Center for Urban and Public Affairs, moderates a panel focused on “Placemaking” with Dr. Karl Seidman, Senior Lecturer in Economic Development, M.I.T. , Cambridge, MA and (Maurice) Pres Kabacoff, Co-Chairman & CEO, HRI Development Team.

Featured speaker that afternoon will be noted urban affairs writer Roberta Brandes Gratz, author of Cities Back From the Edge: New Life for Downtown (Wiley), on “Transportation, Place, Economy and Community: Connecting the Issues”.

The second afternoon panel, “Setting a Policy Agenda” will be lead by James P. RePass, President & CEO, The National Corridors Initiative, as moderator, with Paul Rainwater, Executive Director, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (invited) and Jeff Thomas of the Office of Recovery and Development Administration (invited).

A conference resolution on moving Louisiana and the Gulf Coast Region forward to a viable transportation future will be developed during the conference, and issued at its conclusion.

For further information and registration on line, see “UNO Conference” at website




8:30-9:00 a.m.Registration
9:00-9:30 a.m.Opening Keynote Address: William Ankner, Ph.D., Secretary, Louisiana Department of Transportation
9:30-11:30 a.m.Panel A: “Transportation Is Land Use Policy”
John Renne Ph.D., Co-Director, University Transportation Center, Moderator
Kathryn Lawlor, AARP
Elizabeth ‘Boo’ Thomas, President, The Center for Planning Excellence
11:30-11:45 a.m.Dike Ahanotu, Principal, Cambridge Systematics, Atlanta
11:45 a.m.Break
12 noon-1p.m.Luncheon Speaker: TBD
1:00-2:30 p.m.Panel B: “Placemaking”
Billy Fields III Ph.D., Director, Center for Urban and Public Affairs, Moderator
Karl Seidman, Senior Lecturer in Economic Development, M.I.T.
(Maurice) Pres Kabacoff, Co-Chairman & CEO, HRI Development Team
2:30-3:00 p.m.Roberta Brandes Gratz, author, Cities Back From the Edge: New Life for Downtown (Wiley):
“Transportation, Place, Economy and Community: Connecting the Issues”
3:00-3:15 p.m.Break
3:15-4:25 p.m.Panel C: “Setting a Policy Agenda”
James P. RePass, President & CEO, The National Corridors Initiative, Moderator
Justin Augustine III, General Manager, New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority
Paul Rainwater, Louisiana Recovery Authority (invited)
Jeff Thomas, ORDA (invited)
4:25 p.m.Adoption of Conference Resolution
4:30-5:00 p.m.Closing Keynote Address: William Millar, President & CEO, American Public Transportation Association
5:00 p.m.Adjournment



Veolia Transportation, City of New Orleans, AARP, RTA, and MoreŠ


Register Here on the Conference Home Page

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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Betting The Farm --- And All The Animals Too

Let’s be clear about this: America is about to undertake the most audacious boot-strapping effort in its 233-year history.

In the face of the United States’ economy’s downward spiral over the past 24 months, the collapse of not only the American but much of the international banking system, and a terrible blow to the self-confidence of people everywhere, not to mention their fortunes, that this has caused, President Obama has taken a bold step towards blocking continued descent, by creating a $787 Billion “Stimulus Package” that for the first time in nearly two generations addresses with real dollars and in a fundamental way the underlying foundation of the nation’s economy, its transportation infrastructure. $8 billion for intercity rail, $8 billion for states (who can use it as the governors/legislatures see fit), $2 billion for Amtrak plus, in the ISTEA-reauthorization bill now being crafted, another $5 billion for transit.

But how is it possible to spend $787 Billion, even as state and Federal deficits mount and tax revenues decline? After all, the United States went off the gold standard many decades ago. Where will this money come from?

The answer is actually simple: it will come from our hearts.

The American people are faced, today, with the kind of epoch-making choices that define the rise and fall of civilizations, and we are all smack in the middle of it.

We can either pull in our horns, hunker down, and start fighting over the scraps and tatters that remain, or we can rise up, as one people, set our sights squarely at the distant horizon, and forge our way forward.

President Obama has shown a remarkable courage, and a sense of genuine confidence, that is as brave and as clear-eyed as these terrible times demand, and is representative of the resilient spirit of the American people.

Are we betting the farm? Yes we are. But by God, it is our farm --- and also, what is the alternative?

We can tinker around the edges, as some have proposed, which would truly be fiddling while the city burns, or we can be as bold and tough as our new President.

Time to rise up, America. Fired up? Ready to Go!

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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2009 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, intermodalism, transportation-oriented development, and current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending large images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size. Descriptive text which includes location and something about the content of the image is required. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your web site or e-mail address.

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

Destination Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

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