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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January 31, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 4

Copyright © 2011
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 12th Newsletter Year

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

  News Items…
House T&I Chair Mica, Vice Chair Shuster Push For
   True High-Speed Rail, Private Investment
  Political Lines…
T&I Chairman Mica Announces Subcommittee Chair,
   Vice Chair, And Memberships For The 112th Congress;
    Rank Member Rahall Names Subcommittee Dems
Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy
   Project, On The State Of The Union Address
NJ Refuses To Repay $271 Million To Feds For
   Axed ARC Tunnel
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Ridership Lines…
Amtrak’s Wolverine Lines From Michigan To Chicago
   See Boost In Traffic And Revenue
Another Blizzard Pounds The New York Area,
   But Transit Does Better This Time
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …

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

House T&I Chair Mica, Vice Chair Shuster
Push For True High-Speed Rail, Private Investment

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON, NEW YORK CITY, HARTFORD --- In the same week as President Barack Obama’s State of the Union renewed his call to build an American High-speed Rail system equal to any in the world, the newly elected chair of the key House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, John Mica (R-FL) and his Vice Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA) set to work on defining how, in their view, High-speed Rail should be implemented.

While also an advocate for High-speed Rail, Chairman Mica has differed with the President on the Administration’s strategy of spreading $8 billion in stimulus money, plus $5 billion in regular appropriations, across many projects throughout the United States, including some where train speed will only be “high-er” relative to the current 40-mph average speed achieved by most of Amtrak’s current service.

At a field hearing of the T&I Committee held January 27 in New York City, Chairman Mica re-iterated his view that funds should be concentrated in corridors that can deliver the most bang for the investment dollar, rather than spread out among the states, especially in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

“One of the most valuable and potentially productive federal assets in the United States is the Northeast Rail Corridor. This 437-mile stretch of incredibly valuable real estate covers the distance between Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, and Boston, Massachusetts. Halfway up the corridor, here in New York City, is America’s business and financial center. This is also our nation’s most congested and densely populated area. Yet New York City is not served by true high-speed rail – and true high-speed rail may not be realized here for more than three decades.”

“Unfortunately,” Mica continued, “this valuable national transportation asset, and the development of true high-speed passenger rail on the Northeast Corridor, has been largely ignored. In January of last year, President Obama said, “There’s no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains when we can build them right here in America.” While high-speed trains in Europe travel at 186 miles per hour, Amtrak’s Acela chugs along at an average speed between D.C. and New York of 83 miles per hour – a snail’s pace by comparison.

Amtrak’s current plan to bring high-speed rail to the Northeast Corridor would require $117 billion, and would not be completed until the year 2040. This slow-speed schedule for bringing true high-speed rail service to the Northeast Corridor will never allow President Obama to meet his goal announced in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that, “Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail.”

Just do the math.”

Chairman Mica stressed at the New York City hearing what he has in the past, that private-sector investment, not just public funds, need to be brought to bear if true High-speed Rail is ever to become a reality in the United States.

“It is my hope that this timetable can be dramatically improved. Entering into public-private partnerships to assist in financing high-speed rail development on the corridor will get it built much faster and bring down costs. Unfortunately, one of our nation’s most valuable assets, including some of the most prime real estate in the world, has been left behind. Instead of providing a visionary transportation link in America’s most crowded corridor, we continue to support an antiquated and unproductive corridor that struggles to meet the needs of its many users. Finally, why should Members of Congress from more than a dozen states here today care about the Northeast Corridor? Let me state some of those reasons: The Northeast Corridor is an incredibly valuable asset.

As stewards of these assets, we have an obligation to all federal taxpayers and the citizens of these great cities.

“This is our nation’s most congested corridor, on land and in the air. 70% of our chronically delayed flights begin in New York airspace. Amtrak will never be capable of developing this corridor to its true high-speed potential. The task is complex and large-scale, and can only be addressed with the help of private sector expertise and funding,” concluded Chairman Mica.

Also on hand at last Thursday’s hearing at Grand Central Terminal was Railroads Subcommittee and T&I Vice-Chair Bill Schuster (R-PA), who stated:

“It is truly an exciting time to be on the House Transportation Committee and to be the Chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. It is particularly exciting because our nation is finally moving ahead in the areas of intercity passenger rail, and specifically high-speed rail. High-speed rail is essential to our nation’s transportation future and our best hope for easing crowding on our congested highways and airspace. There is simply no better way to move large numbers of people from city-center to city-center than on high-speed rail.”

“In my home state of Pennsylvania,” continued Subcommittee Chairman Schuster, “upgrades to the Keystone Corridor to speeds of 110 mph have resulted in significantly higher ridership that only continues to grow. Higher speeds would only make this service more attractive. Now when I travel to Philadelphia, I refuse to drive and the Keystone Corridor train is my preferred method of transportation. Unfortunately, the United States is far behind the international curve on high-speed rail. Our friends in Europe have been at work for decades on an impressive high-speed rail network. Japan is working on a new high-speed train that will carry passengers at up to 310 miles per hour between Osaka and Tokyo, augmenting their existing bullet trains. And China is spending nearly $300 billion to develop 8,000 miles of new high-speed track by 2020. That’s enough rails to go from here to Los Angeles – three times over.”

“For nearly 100 years,” continued Shuster, America was the unquestioned global leader in passenger rail, and trains were the primary, and in many cases only, mode of transportation available for medium and long distance travel. But the advent of commercial aviation and the interstate highway system changed the equation. In the face of this stiff competition, our nation’s passenger rail system faded into disuse and disrepair.

However, today things are beginning to change. The population concentration in our urban areas is increasing, in particular on the eastern seaboard and the Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC and New York City. In 2006, the Unites States population reached 300 million people. And by 2039 we are expected to break the 400 million mark.

Rep. John Mica (R-FL)

Rep. John Mica (R-FL)

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA)

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA)

“Congestion costs continue to rise. Crippling congestion and poor roads cost businesses and commuters almost $115 billion a year in wasted time and fuel – that is up from $24 billion in 1982 (adjusted for inflation). And Americans spend more than 4 billion hours per year stuck in traffic. It is clear the time for investment in high-speed rail and improvements to our intercity passenger rail system is now.”

“Unfortunately,” continued Cong. Shuster, “instead of focusing on key corridors, scarce federal dollars have been spread too thin among too many different projects, leading to incremental progress that could slow our already delayed entrance into high-speed rail. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity was the failure to invest in the Northeast Corridor, which, for the most part was kept out of the selection process. Failing to invest in the critical Northeast Corridor will ensure continued congestion in our nation’s most densely populated region and on the corridor that presents the best opportunity for true high-speed rail and profitable service.”

“Most importantly, we must focus on how we can bring private sector investment to this critical corridor by introducing competition and incentives for investment. In this constrained budget environment, it is more important than ever for us to leverage private sector funds so we can continue to move forward in the area of high-speed rail and intercity passenger rail. In the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008, I was proud to author a provision regarding competition. My provision, Section 214, created a pilot program to allow two Amtrak intercity routes to be opened up to private sector competition for up to five years. Unfortunately, my provision has thus far been ignored by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and this competition has yet to take place.”

Witnesses at the hearing included former Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, a major national high-speed rail advocate, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Following the hearing a round-table discussion took place that included Amtrak President & CEO Joseph Boardman. The Amtrak CEO summed up his view on High-speed Rail and the Northeast Corridor in a special letter to Amtrak employees January 28. It reads:

“During his State of the Union address this week, President Obama made specific reference to the critical role high-speed rail has in our country’s infrastructure and future. Yesterday there was a congressional field hearing in New York City at Grand Central Station held by the new Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica. The subject of the hearing was about building “real” or “true” high-speed rail.”

“Al Engel, our new vice president for High-Speed Rail, and I joined a roundtable discussion of the issues after the official part of the hearing ended — we were not invited to testify before the committee. The addition of a discussion format in connection to a committee hearing was new for me. I guess it was Chairman Mica’s way of trying to get the members of the committee and others engaged in a discussion about high-speed rail,” wrote Boardman.

“While it’s not my intent to represent Chairman Mica’s position, his basic argument — as I understand it — comprises three parts:

  1. While he appreciates the efforts that have been made to bring high-speed rail to the Northeast, those efforts do not measure up to a world-class standard based on what is available in Europe, Japan and China;

  2. The assets of the Northeast Corridor should be privatized with perhaps multiple operators or franchised with the intent of introducing competition as the way to bring this level of service;

  3. The distribution of federal high-speed rail funding is too widely dispersed and insufficient to accomplish the intended purpose of successfully constructing a world-class system, and further the only region of the United States that has the density to support that success is the Northeast.

You may have seen some of the stories in the media about the hearing, and we’ll be seeing more as the national debate about the future of passenger rail continues. I want to share with you our position.

“In the context of these points of view — and I leave room for understanding them better as they develop — I believe:

  1. Amtrak has proven to be a good steward of the Northeast Corridor since we were given that responsibility in 1976 for 363 miles of the 457 miles between Boston and Washington, D.C. Since 1976, we have electrified the entire route, we have nearly doubled the number of passenger trains per day, north-end speeds have gone up from a maximum of 90 mph to 150 mph, south-end speeds are up from 110 mph to 135 mph, travel time is down, ridership is up and continues to grow, Amtrak’s air/rail market share is up and rising, and the number of grade crossings are down nearly 80 percent. Given our challenges, we have made significant strides given the federal investment levels over the years. It is my position that Amtrak should continue as the primary steward of Northeast Corridor assets, in collaboration with states and commuter railroads, and in a collegial way with the Federal Railroad Administration.

  2. In listening to other points of view, I think the core of their debate about high-speed rail is ultimately about who owns the property and/or operates it — a public entity like Amtrak or private sector entity. I think that’s at the heart of the debate. Its major focus is not “real high-speed rail,” it’s “real estate.” Amtrak was created by Congress precisely because the privately owned railroads could no longer sustain the vital public service of intercity passenger rail. No other company is prepared to take over the Northeast Corridor. No other entity is equipped to cover the long-term capital and operating costs of the NEC.

  3. Places other than the Northeast need trip-time competitive rail service. The demand for it is so great that many states received funding for worthy investments to help meet their regional transportation needs. But more funding is needed to rebuild our passenger rail network, and to improve the ability for the freights to accommodate that growth. It is vitally important for passenger rail and high-speed rail systems to provide the connectivity that is needed to make passenger rail viable in the United States. It is not only about having rail as an option for millions of Americans, there are other reasons of national import — reducing our dependence on foreign oil, sound use of our energy and natural resources, economic recovery and stimulation, and congestion relief are among the others — for advancing passenger rail as a matter of strategic national priority. Putting Amtrak on a list for zero federal funding is both inconsistent with that need, and ill-advised in the face of the issues we face domestically and globally.

“As I told you last week,” CEO Boardman concluded, “we are working hard to educate new members of Congress about the importance of Amtrak to our nation, and to our nation’s future. More and more of the public is demonstrating their knowledge of the importance of rail with our increasing ridership. We always face uncertainty, and we will hear about cuts all around us; there are just some things we cannot control. But we can keep our faith that the right decisions will be made, and we can work hard for our customers. Thank you for your support and for what you do every day.”

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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

T&I Chairman Mica Announces Subcommittee Chair, Vice Chair,
And Memberships For The 112th Congress;
Rank Member Rahall Names Subcommittee Dems

From Internet Sources

WASHINGON, DC--- U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced Chairmen, Vice Chairs and memberships of the six T&I Subcommittees for the 112th Congress; The Ranking Democratic Member is Nick J. Rahall (WV)

All chairmen and Vice Chairman are Republicans, who now control Congress; Democrats on the subcommittees are led by their respective Ranking Congressmen as designated by Cong. Rahall.

Subcommittee on Aviation
Thomas E. Petri (R-WI), Chairman
Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Vice Chair
Ranking Democratic Member: Jerry F. Costello (D-IL)

Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chairman
Jeff Landry (R-LA), Vice Chair
Ranking Democratic Member: Rick Larsen (D-WA)

Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management
Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chairman
Rick Crawford (R-AR), Vice Chair
Ranking Democratic Member: Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), Chairman
Richard Hanna (R-NY), Vice Chair
Ranking Democratic Member: Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR)

Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chairman
Tom Reed (R-NY), Vice Chair
Ranking Democratic Member: Corrine Brown (D-FL)

Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Chairman
Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Vice Chair
Ranking Democratic Member: Timothy H. Bishop (D-NY)

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Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project,
On The State Of The Union Address:

From Internet Sources

WASHINGTON --- The co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project, former Senator Slade Gorton, former Congressmen Martin Sabo and Sherwood Boehlert, and former Mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer, issued the following statement regarding yesterday’s State of the Union address:

“The Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project commends President Obama for his call to increase investment in transportation, and we are strongly encouraged by his assurance that investment decisions regarding infrastructure will be based on economic benefits. Wise investments in transportation infrastructure are the necessary foundation for economic growth and prosperity. We also applaud the president’s commitment to ensuring that any new investment is fully paid for. The president explicitly recognized that the economic benefits resulting from transportation investments extend beyond immediate construction jobs and can have important long-term impacts, and this is an essential step in the right direction. We look forward to seeing his full proposals for the next surface transportation bill, and working with the Administration and Congress to ensure that it is performance-based, directly linked to a set of clear national purposes, and accountable for results.”

About the Bipartisan Policy Center:

In 2007, former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell formed the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) to develop and promote solutions that can attract the public support and political momentum to achieve real progress. Currently, the BPC focuses on issues including health care, energy, national and homeland security, transportation, and economic policy. For more information, please visit our website:

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NJ Refuses To Repay $271 Million To Feds
For Axed ARC Tunnel

From WNYC and other Internet sources

JANUARY 26 -- Back in November, the Federal Transit Administration sent New Jersey a bill for $271,101,291 as repayment for the work done on the ARC tunnel before Governor Christie terminated the project. The Christie administration was told that the money would be due by Christmas Eve.

Last week, WNYC reported that the Governor had told the feds on January 25 that he would refuse the agency’s demand to have the state pay $271 million for early work done on the cancelled trans-Hudson ARC Tunnel. 

More than $600 million had been spent for engineering, construction and environmental studies.

“Christie pulled the plug on ARC in October,” the report states, “citing the potential for $5 billion in cost overruns that the state would have to pay. The move won him acclaim from fiscal conservatives and higher approval ratings from New Jersey voters.”

Patton Boggs, the Washington, DC law firm that filed the submission, argues that no repayment is required because the project was cancelled for reasons beyond the governor’s control. The project’s estimated cost over-runs, when New Jersey is already under “severe financial stress,” made the project untenable for New Jersey, the filing argues.

The filing also claims that only New Starts money is required to be sent back to the FTA, and $225.5 million of the $271 million doesn’t fit that description.

“The FTA overstates the funds that are even at issue and makes a demand for repayment that is far broader than authorized by statute,” read a statement accompanying the filing.

Governor Christie says that preliminary engineering for the ARC tunnel is proving useful to the study of other projects, such as the proposed extension of the No. 7 subway line from Manhattan to New Jersey and upgrades to Amtrak service in the Northeast Corridor.

The bottom line is -- New Jersey cannot afford to pay the bill, also stated in the filing.

U.S. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Olivia Alair said, “The FTA is currently reviewing New Jersey Transit’s response and will make a decision that is in accordance with the law.”

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Canadian National (CNI)67.7668.33
Canadian Pacific (CP) 67.1567.29
CSX (CSX)69.2867.64
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)50.8252.13
Kansas City Southern (KSU)48.87 47.71
Norfolk Southern (NSC)60.3863.77
Providence & Worcester(PWX)18.0515.57
Union Pacific (UNP)93.5494.51

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RIDERSHIP LINES... Ridership Lines...  

Amtrak’s Wolverine Lines From Michigan To Chicago
See Boost In Traffic And Revenue

Crain Communications and Bloomberg on the Internet
Writers: Bill Shea and Tim Boyle
And DF Staff

The Wolverine is a passenger train service operated by Amtrak as part of its Michigan Services.
The 304 miles (489 km) line provides three daily round-trips along the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago route.
The Wolverine operates over Norfolk Southern Railway, Amtrak, Conrail and Canadian National Railway trackage.


DETROIT -- The daily Amtrak rail service between Detroit/Pontiac and Chicago — known as the Wolverine line — saw a nearly 23 percent quarter-vs.-quarter increase to 130,683 passengers in the first quarter of the fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31.

Ticket revenue on the route increased more than 26 percent to nearly $5 million compared with the same period a year ago, the Michigan Department of Transportation said in a statement.

The state’s two other Amtrak routes also saw passenger and revenue gains:

The increases are attributed to gains in customer opinions of Amtrak and a rise in interest in rail travel in general, MDOT said.

Amtrak saw a record 28.7 million passengers nationally in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, along with a record $1.74 billion in ticket revenue.

But the national system continues to require taxpayer subsidies to operate.

Amtrak is the government-owned intercity passenger rail service, known officially since its inception in 1971 as the National Railroad Passenger Corp. It received about $1.6 billion in federal aid to cover operational and capital costs in its last fiscal year.

The service saw $2.5 billion in total revenue last year, against $3.7 billion in expenses, according to Amtrak’s annual report.

Fifteen states also provide local subsidies. Michigan budgeted $7.8 million in annual operating subsidies for the Pere Marquette and Blue Water routes in the 2009-10 fiscal year. That’s the bulk of the $12.4 million set aside by Lansing for passenger rail service in the state’s Comprehensive Transportation Fund.

The Detroit-Chicago line doesn’t receive any state dollars.

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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Another Blizzard Pounds The New York Area,
But Transit Does Better This Time

By David Peter Alan

This winter has been one of the snowiest on record in the Northeastern region of the country, while cold temperatures have kept the snow from melting. For the second time in thirty days, the New York area was pounded by a blizzard; this time on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 25th and 26th. The City has already recorded 56.1 inches of snow, and this has been the snowiest January ever recorded. In the unlikely event that there is no more snow, this will have been the sixth snowiest winter New York City has known, so record snowfall for the season is likely (the old record was 75.6 inches, set in 1995-96).

The official accumulation in New York City from last week’s storm was 19 inches, and some suburban areas got even more. Although cities like New York and Newark are having trouble finding room for the new snow, transit recovered better than it had from the storm that pummeled the Northeastern coast on December 26th and 27th. During that storm, it took four days for New York City transit to return to normal operation and there were serious outages on the Long Island Rail Road (reported in D:F, January 17th). New Jersey Transit did better than New York, according to the Railgram, the newsletter of the Lackawanna Coalition, but NJT had suspended bus service, and trains ran on a week-end schedule.

This time, NJT maintained a full weekday schedule, although trains were subject to delay on Wednesday and Thursday. Service was suspended Wednesday on the Morris & Essex Line west of Dover, the Raritan Valley Line west of Raritan and the portion of the Newark Light Rail between Penn Station and Broad Street Station. Bus service was suspended during the worst of the storm, but most bus service had been restored by Thursday morning. Overall, NJT recovered better than it had from the December storm.

New York’s transit also did better, but performance was far from uniform. The subway system did not endure the outages that plagued it in December, according to Andrew Albert, Chair of the MTA Transit Riders’ Council, who said “the subways did better for sure.” Bus service in the City did not fare as well, but it was mostly restored by mid-day on Wednesday. Albert complained that streets were not well-plowed near bus depots, so it was difficult to get the buses out of their garages and into service. The Long Island Rail Road did better than in December, but service was not restored to the East End of the island until Friday. Metro-North ran a Sunday schedule on the New Haven Line into Connecticut on Thursday; normal service did not return until Friday.

Nonetheless, Albert was frustrated that transit’s performance after the January blizzard had not improved sufficiently from December’s abysmal level. He specifically cited a situation at Coney Island Terminal in Brooklyn, when passengers were ordered off an incoming “N” train at 2:00 on Wednesday morning with no alternate transportation (the subway system normally runs 24 hours a day). The cold and frustrated riders commandeered a sweeper train so they could keep warm, and stayed there until service returned four hours later. “Do we need to take lessons from a place like Montreal?” he asked, and then added: “We’ve had snow before. What’s the difference?”

There are several reasons for transit’s better performance during and after the January storm. New Jersey rail advocate Albert L. Papp credits better weather forecasting, which allowed transit managers to prepare more effectively. The December storm was originally predicted to bring only a few inches of snow. Only on Christmas night were blizzard warnings issued for the next day, and the prediction was for twelve to fifteen inches of snow. New York City and many areas of New Jersey got two feet.

The timing of the December storm could not have been worse. It started on Sunday afternoon of a major holiday week-end, and the snow continued falling into Monday. It caught local governments unprepared for the magnitude of the storm. And transit was just one segment of government that was caught unprepared.

Community outrage at the lack of preparedness for the December storm may have jolted local government officials and transit managers into a heightened expectation that another bad storm could pass through the area. According to Albert, City Council members and some transit riders deluged Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) managers with complaints at a January 14th Council hearing.

Everyone in the region hopes that their towns are now adequately prepared for more snow and will not repeat the poor performance from December, although those cities and towns are now worried that there is little or no money left in the budget for more snow removal. Papp’s response to conditions this winter seems typical; he said that he had never seen piles of snow this deep in his home town of Maplewood, New Jersey, and that the height of the piles of snow reminded him of Aspen, Colorado.

February and March still lie ahead.

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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

Dear Editor,

Was it really necessary to print the entirety of both Senator Dodd’s and Senator Kerry’s speeches.  Only Senator Kerry said anything about transportation policy, and that with the in some ways advanced, in some ways destructive Interstate Highway System as his framework?

And a contrast of German with North American intermodal operations that does not recognize the role of market tests in governing the construction of railroad facilities (the Des Moines River Bridge and the Global III container yard on Union Pacific; the double-tracking of the Southern Transcontinental on BNSF) gives Passenger Rail advocates in the United States an incomplete picture of the work involved in securing the cooperation of those carriers with the Passenger Rail authorities (whether Amtrak or a suburban train operator) in expanding the passenger network.

Stephen Karlson
DeKalb, Illinois (MP 58.3 on the Overland Route)


We sometimes wrestle with this type of thing, i.e. whether to include text in total or link. Quite often news agencies and other Internet sources will change their links to articles when they archive them from the active and current news feeds. When that happens, the link we initially offered may be rendered inactive. By including the text in full we were assured of an easy-to-access archive of the comments on our server. - Webmaster


Dear Editor,

As a “balanced” forum, the readers of National Corridors are directed to the January 27th edition of the New York Times. It contained an interesting article outlining the future need to spend up to $15billion on New York’s JFK and Newark Liberty International airport. Ostensibly the “futurists” opine that this is needed to accommodate the projected increase of 50 million additional air travelers in the next twenty to thirty years. The Port of New York and New Jersey would be the “owners” of the project and to a degree the bankers for it to some extent. Now bearing in mind this is the same region that allowed another critical infrastructure need, Access to the Region’s Core, to become “stillborn” on account of the visceral politics at play. Admittedly the tunnel project needed to revert to its original intent, e.g. a Penn Station terminus not the deep cavern tunnel that drove up costs while providing no intermodal connectivity. 

As has been said by many others, in a variety of forums, airport capacity can be “expanded” by diminishing use of such facilities by short and mid-distance flights. By expanding capacity on the Northeast Corridor and Empire Corridor, and enhancing intermodal connections, some of the rebuilding costs in the New York area could be avoided. With Amtrak and indeed all public rail transit now once again under threat, it will be eye opening to see the response of the bi-state governments to the airports expansion needs.

If any federal assistance is sought for that initiative it will likewise prove fascinating to see what comes from the mouth of those who now call for the end of Amtrak subsidies, Tiger Grants and the like. Could it be that expansion and construction creates jobs only when applied to airports and highways, having been “on the dole since their birth”, but not for rail infrastructure improvements? Should we continue to ignore the development of a more rationale transportation policy only except where it benefits air travelers? Stay could be an interesting and bumpy flight.

John A. Fostik, MBA

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ERATTA... Eratta...  

With respect to Destination:Freedom, January 24, 2011, Vol. 12 No. 3, “St. Louis Throws Car-Oriented Planning “To The Curb,” the following was pointed out to us:

It’s St. Louis County, not St. Louis city, that’s looking at zoning codes with regard to transit-oriented development. St. Louis effectively seceded from the county that surrounds it, back in 1876. The seat of county government is Clayton.

This city-county split confuses a lot of people, including the bloggers of The Architect’s Newspaper. The article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch makes everything clear:

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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2011 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.

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