The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

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
 

Contribute To NCI

October 17, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 41

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

This E-Zine is best viewed at
1024 X 768 screen resolution

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

  News Items…
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood To Leave
   Administration This Term
Obama Administration Pushing Hard On
   14 “Key Infrastructure Projects”
  High-Speed Lines…
Former Amtrak Chair And GOP Senate Candidate
   Tommy Thompson To Address Major Rail Event
  News From Amtrak…
Amtrak Breaks The 30 Million Mark
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Builder’s Lines…
Sound Transit Tunnel Digs On
 
  Commuter Lines…
Commuting By People Movers?
   Three Urban Systems Show How
  Labor Lines…
Obama Averts Railroad Workers’ Strike,
   For Now
  Transit Lines…
Where Is Union Station?
  Across The Pond…
Berlin Area Rail Network Attacked By Leftist Political Vandals
  Guest Editorial…
What An Actual Wall Streeter Thinks About
   “Occupy Wall Street”
  Publication Notes …


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

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
To Leave Administration This Term

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON --- United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former GOP Congressman who signed on with the Obama Administration early on, and has been one of the most passionately committed transportation secretaries in many decades, has announced he will be leaving the Administration after the first term.

His departure is seen as a blow to the Administration’s centerpiece Hugh Speed Rail program, which President Obama announced in April 2009 at a White House ceremony featuring LaHood and other key DOT leaders such as deputies Mark Yachmetz and Karen Rae.

However, High-Speed Rail supporters have also noted that the FRA, which administered the High-Speed Rail program grant process, has with a small staff nevertheless been able to oversee the obligation of $7.8 billion of the initial $8 billion program, which was a part of the $785 Billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Stimulus Act”), a remarkable feat in a short time period which will enable “shovels in the ground” on a far faster track than most major infrastructure projects, which typically take a decade from proposal to ground-breaking.

In an article in the October 13 Chicago Tribune by reporter Katherine Skiba, Tribune reporter wrote, LaHood “said today that he is staying in that job for one term only and will not run for public office again.

LaHood, continued reporter Skiba, “whose name is sometimes mentioned for posts such as Illinois governor, said: ‘I’m not running for public office anymore,’ and specifically ruled out a run for governor. He said he expected there will be some ‘wonderful opportunities’ for him in the private sector when he leaves government.”

“LaHood spoke in an interview after addressing the National Press Club, where he urged passage of the American Jobs Act, saying its $50 billion in transportation projects plus a $10 billion investment in an infrastructure bank would put people to work immediately in the construction industry,” reported the Tribune.

LaHood is currently a key part of the Administration’s push to pass the “American Jobs Act,” which saw a defeat in the Senate this past week when the GOP threatened a filibuster, and the vote fell short of the 60 needed for cloture.

The Senate has 59 Democrats, including some third-party Senators who caucus with the Ds, and 41 Republicans, and even thought the jobs bill passed 50-49, failure to achieve 60 votes ensured that a Republican filibuster would kill the bill. The Administration is continuing to fight for pieces of the bill, and some Republican senators have indicated they might go along with a piecemeal approach, rather than the $50 billion bill proposed by the Administration.


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Obama Administration Pushing Hard
On 14 “Key Infrastructure Projects”

From The White House

WASHINGTON, DC --- The Obama Administration has announced the selection of 14 infrastructure projects around the country that will be expedited through permitting and environmental review processes, an important next step in the Administration’s efforts to improve the efficiency of federal reviews needed to help job-creating infrastructure projects move as quickly as possible from the drawing board to completion.  This announcement comes as a result of the Presidential Memorandum President Obama issued in late August at the recommendation of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Through the Presidential Memorandum, the President directed agencies to expedite environmental reviews and permit decisions for a selection of high priority infrastructure projects that will create a significant number of jobs, have already identified necessary funding, and where the significant steps remaining before construction are within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government and can be completed within 18 months. 

Below is the full list of projects selected by those agencies, which represent diverse sectors of the economy and combined will support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.

As the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has highlighted, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permit decisions and environmental reviews is one critical step the federal government can take to accelerate job creation.  While many of these review processes are not under the control of the federal government -- state, local, and tribal governments are partners in the effort, as well -- the Obama Administration is committed to reforming the federal permitting and environmental review process to ensure that it runs as efficiently as possible while continuing to protect the health and safety of all Americans, and to preserve opportunities for public participation in federal decision-making.  The Administration will apply broadly the information gathered while expediting these projects to further improve the permitting process for all projects.  And as part of the Administration’s commitment to efficiency and transparency, beginning at the end of November, the public will also be able to track the progress of projects under review through one central website.

14 Infrastructure Projects Selected for Expedited Review:

Department of Transportation Projects:

Tappan Zee Bridge, New York 

The Tappan Zee Bridge project will replace a deficient bridge that is a critical link in the regional transportation network.  While the project is an ambitious one and construction will not begin for several years, improved coordination amongst multiple federal agencies will reduce the time needed to proceed from a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to a Record of Decision, potentially reducing the project timeline by multiple years.

Crenshaw/LAX, California

The Crenshaw/LAX project will extend the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LA Metro) existing Green Line light rail nearer to the Los Angeles International Airport and connect it to the Expo Line light rail.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing additional targeted technical assistance to shorten the approval time for this project by several months. In addition FTA and LA Metro will pilot FTA’s new streamlined risk assessment approach for major transit projects to ensure risks and associated mitigation measures are identified and addressed promptly.

Whittier Bridge, Massachusetts

The Whittier Bridge project on I-95 in Massachusetts will replace an existing bridge over the Merrimack River with a new, multi-modal bridge that will add lanes as well as bicycle and pedestrian lanes.  The lead agency, resource agency and project sponsor will facilitate better coordination to accelerate permit review and approval within six months, including an agreed upon schedule for document reviews and establishing a process for dispute elevation and resolution.

Provo Westside Connector, Utah

The Provo Westside Connector highway project in Utah will build a new arterial roadway between Provo Airport and Interstate 15 to improve roadway system linkage in southwest Provo, UT.  By increasing coordination among federal and state agencies, permit review and approval can be expedited, saving six or more months.  This time savings will be achieved through an agreed upon schedule for document reviews and establishing a process for dispute elevation and resolution.

Baltimore Red Line, Maryland

The Baltimore Red Line is a 14 mile rail transit line connecting the suburban areas west of Baltimore to downtown, the Inner Harbor and Fells Point areas, and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus. This project has many outstanding permitting issues that will require substantial cooperation between a number of resource and other federal agencies.  By engaging in early negotiations with all necessary federal agencies and optimizing coordination amongst the agencies this project will begin construction earlier than currently planned, potentially reducing the project timeline by two years.

Next Generation Air Transportation System Infrastructure Project, Texas

This Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot project will create Next Generation (NextGen) aviation procedures, including the implementation of new, more efficient routes, for the two airports in Houston, Texas. These performance based navigation procedures must comply with internal FAA approvals as well as reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act.  Integrating these reviews will expedite this project and studying the impacts of the new procedures will serve as a demonstration project for future NextGen procedural improvements.

Department of the Interior Projects:

Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project, New Mexico

This project will build two water treatment plants and deliver water through approximately 280 miles of pipeline, 24 pumping plants, and numerous water regulation and storage facilities bringing a clean and sustainable water supply to the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation will work to improve coordination between Federal and non-federal entities and to expedite land acquisition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Projects:

Denver Mariposa Housing Project, Colorado

In connection with a HOPE VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, this project will revitalize a distressed housing project located in South Denver.  Portions of the project are underway and HUD will expedite its Part 58 review and review of the Revitalization Plan for the next phases.
City Market at “O” Street, District of Columbia

Located in Washington, DC, City Market at “O” Street is a mixed-use property consisting of 400 market-rate residential units, 16,000 square feet of retail space and a 57,000 square foot supermarket with financing under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Section 220 insured mortgage program.  In conjunction with this project and others, FHA has embarked on an effort to streamline the approval process for loans, including review of related federal permits and is working with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to expedite the National Historic Trust approval, subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Arroyo Sequit Watershed and Qwuloolt Estuary Coastal Habitat Restoration Project, California

This habitat restoration project is composed of two activities.  The first activity is the Arroyo Sequit Creek Steelhead Barrier Removal in California, which will involve construction activities to remove existing physical barriers, including two dry weather crossings and one check dam, along the Arroyo Sequit watershed in northern Los Angeles County, CA.  The second activity is the Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration in Washington State and will involve restoration construction activities to restore 350 acres of currently isolated floodplain.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will work with the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite construction permits by up to one year, with the goal of beginning construction as early as 2012.

West Coast Coastal Habitat Restoration Project, California and Washington

This project is composed of four habitat restoration activities including Sears Point Tidal Restoration in California; Napa River Salt Marsh Restoration in California; Riverside Ranch Restoration in California; and the Salt Creek Estuary Reconnection in Washington State.  The scope of these project activities will involve construction elements that will contribute to habitat restoration in these regions. This project will be expedited by up to one year by the facilitation of interagency resource coordination between the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Department of Agriculture Projects:

Cleghorn Ridge Wind Project, California

This wind generation project by Cleghorn Ridge Wind LLC would consist of up to 52 wind turbine generators aligned in a general east-west direction along the ridgeline at Cleghorn Ridge, in the San Bernardino National Forest. USDA Forest Service, U.S. Air Force, and Federal Aviation Administration will cooperate to complete the review of this project by federal agencies in as little as 18 months, rather than the three years originally estimated.

Deerfield Wind Power Project, Vermont

This wind generation facility by Deerfield Wind LLC in the towns of Searsburg and Readsboro in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont would consist of 15 two-megawatt turbines.  USDA Forest Service is working to expedite a Final Environmental Impact Statement before December 2011.

Dakota Prairie and Little Missouri National Grasslands, North Dakota and South Dakota

USDA Forest Service is working with an expedited process for reviewing oil and gas applications for wells and ancillary facilities such as pipelines and power lines in the Dakota Prairie and Little Missouri National Grasslands.  There are approximately 80 applications currently in file.  The expedited process involves early coordination with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management and use of the 390 Categorical Exclusion provided under the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

In addition to unveiling the projects selected for expedited review today, the Administration will also instruct agencies throughout the executive branch to gather comprehensive information regarding their reviews of infrastructure projects, and the best practices they have developed.  The Administration will use that information to develop recommendations to further improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of federal permitting and environmental review,  without compromising our responsibility to protect safety, public health, and the environment, through measures such as adopting sector-specific guidelines for timely reviews of permitting applications; encouraging early engagement with stakeholders; coordinating federal reviews with those of state, local and tribal regulatory agencies; and instituting greater oversight of the overall process.

Some of the Key Steps Taken By the Obama Administration On Permitting Reform:

The announcement is the latest in a series of common-sense steps the Obama Administration has taken to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permitting and review.  These steps are helping to speed job-creation in the near term while increasing our competitiveness and strengthening our economy in the longer term.  Just as importantly, the steps the Administration has taken also ensure that permitting and review processes continue to provide safeguards for public health and the environment while offering opportunity for constructive engagement by stakeholders.

For example:


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HIGH-SPEED LINES... High-Speed Lines...  

Former Amtrak Chair And GOP Senate Candidate
Tommy Thompson To Address Major Rail Event

From The Western High-Speed Rail Alliance And By DF Staff

LAS VEGAS --- Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and a candidate for the United States Senate from Wisconsin, will give the keynote speech at the closing luncheon of the 2011 Rail Ahead conference November 4, 2011 in Las Vegas.

A former chairman of the Amtrak board, Thompson serves as a senior advisor to the American Public Transportation Association. In that role, he speaks often to business groups about the need for smart infrastructure investment and the jobs and economic vitality those investments create. Elected to four terms as governor, Thompson also served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thompson, who was known for his close working relationship with Amtrak Vice Chair and former Democratic Presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis, is a strong proponent of bi-partisanship in transportation, noting in frequent public appearances that “There is no such thing as a ‘ Democratic bridge,’ or a ‘Republican highway.’ What there is, is an America that needs to work together to build itself back up.”

Regarding The Western High-Speed Rail Alliance, as described on its website (http://www.westernhighspeedrail.com/whsra/about-us):

“The WHSRA…exists for the purpose of determining the viability of developing and promoting a high-speed rail (HSR) network to provide high-speed rail connections throughout the Rocky Mountain region with eventual connections to the Pacific Coast and other regions of the United States. The members of the Alliance agree to work jointly for the acquisition of funding to conduct studies of high-speed rail options, to develop plans for high-speed rail infrastructure, and to construct high-speed rail facilities throughout the region as they are determined to be viable.”

“Unlike other high-speed rail associations, the WHSRA was founded by the Metropolitan Planning Organizations, (MPO), from the major transportation hubs in four states. Federal highway and transit statutes require, as a condition for spending federal highway or transit funds in urbanized areas, the designation of MPOs, which have responsibility for planning, programming and coordination of federal highway and transit investments. The planning authorities who are members of the WHSRA are prepared to use their planning expertise and resources to determine desirable high-speed intercity rail routes and integrate these routes into their respective urban transit plans. Working with the state departments of transportation in their respective jurisdictions, the members hope to create a blue print for eventual high-speed rail links between the five major metropolitan areas and the rest of the nation’s rail and transportation system.”

“The construction of a national high-speed rail system is necessary to catapult the United States back into the forefront of transportation infrastructure development. The synergistic combination of the economic downturn, the stimulus package with its $8 billion down payment for the implementation of high-speed rail transportation, the national commitment to “go green,” the recognized benefits of infrastructure construction with its resulting job creation, and the pressing need to relieve overburdened highway and air congestion – all these factors combine to make this the ideal time to implement a coast-to-coast high-speed rail system.”

Conference organizers report that its block of rooms at the Bellagio have sold out, “…and Bellagio room inventory is scarce for our conference dates. For any attendees who have not booked their room, we have secured a limited block of rooms at the neighboring Vdara Hotel at a discounted rate of $189 per night. This limited number of rooms will be available until October 19th.”

“For reservations, please call the MGM/Aria reservation line at 702-590-7111, and be sure to mention the Western High-Speed Rail Alliance and the Vdara Hotel. November is coming quickly so be sure to reserve your spot and sign up today!

Here is the conference schedule as it currently stands:

 Wednesday, November 2, 2011
4-6:00 p.m.Early Registration
6-7:00 p.m.VIP Reception
  
 Thursday, November 3, 2011
7:00 a.m.Registration
8-9:15 a.m.Opening Breakfast Session - Winning The Future
9:15-10:30 a.m.General Session - Winning the Future, an International Update
10:45-11:45 a.m.General Session - Winning the Future in the West
Noon-1:30 p.m.Lunch Keynote Speaker - FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae
1:45-3:00 p.m.Breakout Sessions
   Financing the Future
   Staffing the Future
3:30-4:45 p.m.Breakout Sessions
   Winning the Future through Sustainable Design and Construction
   The Future Role of the States
5:30-7:00 p.m.Opening Reception
  
 Friday, November 4, 2011
7 a.m.Registration
8-9:30 a.m.General Breakfast Session - Gauging the Future
9:30-9:45 a.m.Break
9:45-11:15 a.m.General Session - Winning at the Local Level
11:15-11:45 a.m.Break
11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.   Lunch - Gov. Tommy Thompson


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NEWS FROM AMTRAK... News From Amtrak...  

Amtrak Breaks The 30 Million Mark

From An Amtrak Memorandum From Joseph Boardman
And DF Staff

The National Passenger Railroad Corporation, better-known as Amtrak, has broken and exceeded the 30 million passenger mark. The fiscal year that just ended on September 30, has shown 30.2 million passengers and ticket revenues of $1.9 billion, reaching all-time-highs on both counts, and also showing a trend of rising ridership and ticket revenue growth.


Image: Amtrak

Hitting 30 million. A poster now on display in Amtrak’s employee areas and elsewhere noting the milestone reached by the railroad.

As written by Joseph Boardman in Amtrak This Week, an employee newsletter, “We also want to thank our passengers for their business and our state partners for their support of passenger rail. Today, we will mark exceeding 30 million passengers…” He continued, “We broke records in spite of a weak economy and the disruptions to service due to major weather events over the course of the year, and that speaks very highly of the dedication of our workforce. Thank you for the work you do — please keep it up!


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)74.7571.70
Canadian National (CNI)73.2369.74
Canadian Pacific (CP) 53.9750.50
CSX (CSX)21.1320.09
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)54.1950.23
Kansas City Southern (KSU)58.3654.55
Norfolk Southern (NSC)68.1764.87
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.7411.50
RailAmerica (RA)14.0413.67
Union Pacific (UNP)91.9788.80

Beginning August 29, 2011, we will be adding Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)
as an indicator for BNSF Railroad, as well as RailAmerica (RA).
 


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BUILDERS LINES... Builder’s Lines...  

Sound Transit Tunnel Digs On

The project’s deep tunnel and a boring machine nicknamed “Brenda” was mentioned in DF in the June 20, 2011 edition (http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df3/df06202011.shtml#Brenda). Here are a couple of images of the progress being made.

Machine in the east tunnel, currently 100 feet under the Montlake neighborhood

Two Images: Joshua Trujillo / seattlepi.com

A project manager walks underground during a tour of Sound Transit’s tunneling operation from the University of Washington to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, October 11, 2011 in Seattle.

A pit where the station will be located is shown during a tour of Sound Transit’s tunneling operation.


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COMMUTERLINES... Commuter Lines...  

Commuting By People Movers?
Three Urban Systems Show How

From The Web Urbanist
http://weburbanist.com/2010/10/13/phenomenol-people-movers-3-odd-urban-transport-methods/

Finally, an engineer has come up with a viable solution to the spiral escalator dilemma. London professor Jack Levy has created a system that he calls “the Levytator,” a surprisingly flexible escalator system that takes up very little space, can be installed in already-existing buildings and can take on just about any configuration. Unlike traditional escalators, the ingenious new design does not require a large mechanical room beneath the system to keep it moving.


Image: Weburbanist.com

The stairs are on a continuous loop above the floor, which sets this design apart from traditional escalators where half of the steps are unused at any given time. Thus, the cost per step is much lower than traditional escalator designs and no excavations are required to install this system in an existing building. There is virtually no limit to the size and shape of the loop, and because the stairs turn into a moving sidewalk when flat the system can be installed to move people around all kinds of indoor and outdoor displays.


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LABOR LINES... Labor Lines...  

Obama Averts Railroad Workers’ Strike, For Now

Huffington Post And Other Internet Sources

WASHINGTON, DC -- A costly strike by railroad unions was averted last week by President Obama when he created a special board to help resolve the dispute. Eleven unions representing about 92,000 railway workers have been unable to reach agreement on a new contract with more than 30 railroads, including Union Pacific Corp., CSX Corp., Norfolk Southern and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

The National Mediation Board, a federal agency that usually tries to resolve labor disputes in the airline and railroad industries, had been trying for more than a year without success to resolve the dispute. Several of the unions, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen refused to come to a settlement and threatened to strike on October 6 if their demands were not met. BLET is the largest, with approximately 25,000 railroad workers.

As the strike approached the President created a Presidential Emergency Board to oversee the contract talks. The president has the power to install a five member board if a strike would interfere with interstate commerce. They have 30 days to recommend a settlement and then the unions and railroads will then have a further 30 days to approve it. 

Obama said he took the step of appointing an emergency board in the interest of keeping the nation’s freight rail system running smoothly. A labor disruption “could affect businesses across the country and cause unnecessary damage to our already-fragile economy,” the president said in a prepared statement.

The railroad industry was offering a wage increase of 17 percent over six years, but the contract required that the union members pay more for their healthcare.

Kenneth Gradia, chairman of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents the railroads in the negotiations, said he was disappointed that the unions had rejected an offer to give rail employees wage increases of 17 percent over six years.

“We strongly believe that it is in the best interests of both sides – and the country – to reach agreements and eliminate the risk of any disruption to rail service.” Gradia said in a prepared statement.

The United Transportation Union (UTU) did accept the terms of the contract. Explaining their decision, UTU leaders told 40,000 union members in written statements that, “Historically, rail unions do poorly after rejecting tentative agreements.”

Nevertheless, eleven unions decided to hold out and fight for a better contract.

“It is unfortunate that, in this time of record industry profits, the carriers insist upon attempting to take advantage of a weakened general economy to further line its corporate pockets at the expense of the railroad workers whose labor generates those profits,” BLET National President Dennis Pierce said. “And it is shameful that the carriers have chosen to specifically target those railroad workers who are most vulnerable — older workers and the sick and injured — to shoulder a disproportionate share of the demanded givebacks.”

Roland Wilder, attorney for six of the unions involved in the dispute, said the unions are eager to present their position to the board.

“We hope with the board’s help, we’ll achieve a final settlement of this dispute,” Wilder said.


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Where Is Union Station?

By David Peter Alan

For anyone familiar with Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. or even Toronto, it would be easy to answer that question. In each of those cities, Union Station is a distinctive landmark. In each of those cities, the famous train station also acts as a true union station, hosting Amtrak trains (also VIA Rail in Toronto), as well as local commuter trains.

Until recently, the same could be said of Denver Union Station. The stately Romanesque building had stood at 17th and Wynkoop Streets in the now-trendy neighborhood of LoDo (Lower Downtown) since 1894. It was a busy place during the golden age of rail travel but, for the past 28 years, only one daily train between Chicago and the Bay area, Amtrak’s California Zephyr, stopped there. Until recently, the C and E light rail lines operated by the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) went there, too. So did a privately-operated seasonal ski train to Winter Park, until 2009.

Now, all that has changed, due to a redevelopment project in the area. The building still stands, surrounded by a chain link fence. Amtrak moved out on February 1, 2011 and now stops at 21st and Wewetta Streets, three blocks away. The move is supposed to be temporary, during construction, although it will be at least 2014 before Amtrak moves back into the old station.

Meanwhile, RTD celebrated the opening of the new “Union Station” for light rail on August 15th. The first train into the new facility was greeted with speeches by politicians and music by a brass quintet from the Denver Municipal Band. Councilwoman Judy Montero praised Union Station as a symbol of Denver. RTD Board President Alba Winter talked about the money that the Union Station project would bring into the local economy. Mayor Michael Hancock looked forward to a 28-minute ride from the new “Union Station” to Denver International Airport, which will be available when the FasTracks rail initiative is completed. Under that plan, which has received Federal funding, the West Corridor to Golden is scheduled to be completed in 2013, and the airport line should open for service in 2016.

Despite the fanfare, the fact remains that the new “Union Station” lies approximately 1100 feet or 350 meters from the original “Union Station” building. Under FasTracks, both facilities will provide service. Commuter trains and intercity buses would join Amtrak at the original station, while light rail will go to the new facility bearing the same name. In the past, light rail had gone into the historic Union Station, but the track connection into that facility is no longer used.

Not everyone was as thrilled with the new facility as the politicians. The Colorado Rail Passenger Association (ColoRail) issued a statement that criticized the project for a lack of through track access, insufficient capacity for intercity buses and lack of a promise that the waiting room would be open and available to passengers at all times.

In addition, ColoRail expressed its concern that having two stations with the same name, but a distance apart, would cause public confusion. Their statement said: “The light rail station is labeled incorrectly... It is next to the Millennium Bridge so it should be called that. It is two blocks away form Denver Union Station which has been at its present location for over 100 years. We must call this light rail station the Millennium Bridge Station and not confuse it with the historic station.

Will Denverites and visitors actually be confused? Time will tell. Will the entire FasTracks initiative be built and operated? Mayor Hallack responded “Absolutely” but, again, time will tell. For the present, “Union Station” in Denver is a light rail station that looks like the others in the system and not the historic station that had greeted rail travelers for 117 years.

The web site of the Denver Union Station Project Authority, www.denverunionstation.org, has details of the FasTracks plan, as well as a history of the Union Station building. ColoRail’s web site is www.colorail.org.


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ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...  

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Berlin Area Rail Network Attacked
By Leftist Political Vandals

Damage From Arson Attacks Exceeds Million Euro Level – Political Bickering
Over Description Of Attacks – Political Prank Or Dangerous Terrorist Threat?

Via Deutsche Press Agentur (dpa)

BERLIN – A leftist group calling itself Hekla, the name of a volcano in Iceland, claimed responsibility for an arson attack late Monday (10th of October) on signal and communication cables along the Berlin – Hamburg high-speed rail line just outside of the city of Berlin. The resulting fire caused substantial damage to electrical cables that control the rail line used by a variety of trains, including high-speed ICE trains going to and coming from Hamburg. The closure of the line resulted in a massive number of train delays and cancellations in the Berlin area, not only limited to the Berlin – Hamburg route.

Another fire bomb was found later unexploded in the main central Berlin train station (Berlin Hauptbahnhof), which is used by many thousands of travelers and visitors each day. Police and personnel from the train network, Deutsche Bahn, found over a dozen more fire bombs during the week at various locations along train tracks in the Berlin area. As more makeshift incendiary devices were found on Berlin’s rail network on Thursday, German politicians disagreed on whether they represented a new dimension of violence by leftist extremists.

Germany’s federal prosecutors’ office stated that, since Monday, police have found at least 17 incendiary devices, mostly just bottles filled with gasoline, at nine crime scenes in rail facilities in Berlin and nearby Brandenburg state, including at least one device found near the city’s Südkreuz station at about 10:30 am Thursday morning.

Top federal law enforcement officials were handling matters due to the “special importance of the case,” according to the prosecutors. But Ehrhart Körting, Berlin’s interior minister, said the public need not fear a new wave of leftist terrorism seen in West Germany in the 1970s. He told the BZ newspaper that the extremists suspected of attacking the network espoused a fringe philosophy supported by very few Germans. “They’re not very organized, but a small leftist group,” Körting said. Although he called them “knowledgeable” about where to strike to create maximum angst, he played down the risk they posed.

Others to the right of Mr. Körting in the German political world, including German transportation minister Peter Ramsauer of the center-right CDU political party had a far different view of the attempted arson attacks on the rail network in the Berlin area: “a new dimension of criminal terrorism.”

Messages from Hekla, indicated it wants to protest German involvement in Afghanistan as well as the jailing of American soldier Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking documents to the Wikileaks website.

In an internet statement Thursday attributed to the group, members denied they were terrorists or trying to hurt people. “The firebombs are incendiary devices placed solely with the aim to interrupt signal and data communications,” the group wrote.

State Police searched the section of track on the Berlin-Hamburg main line

Photo: dpa

Last Monday (10th Oct. 2011) State Police searched the section of track on the Berlin - Hamburg main line where arsonists lit fire to a cable conduit on the side of the tracks, which totally disabled the rail line’s signals and train detection systems. These track-side cable conduits have been a target of copper thieves in the recent past, sometimes in Germany, and in far more often in Great Britain, Italy, France, Greece and eastern Europe.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, Germany’s interior minister, warned in Focus magazine of a potential “spiral of violence,” echoing similar sentiments from Transportation Minister Ramsauer and others in the government. Other political leaders in Germany pointed to the 3/11 commuter train bombings in Madrid, Spain in March 2004 and bombings of the London and Moscow subway systems in the past decade to bolster their position that the attempted arson attacks on the train network in the Berlin area represent a similar threat to public safety.

Gerd T. Becht, of Deutsche Bahn’s supervisory board, told Bild newspaper that the company has lost a significant amount of money because of the incidents. If the perpetrators are found, Deutsche Bahn would demand more than € 1 million (US $1.4 million) in compensation, he said. The city of Berlin has been hit with a series of arson attacks against automobiles and trucks parked on city streets and open areas since shortly after the start of 2011. Hundreds of parked vehicles have been destroyed in the city by arson attacks since January, with several leftist groups claiming responsibility for some of these acts of arson.


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GUES EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

What An Actual Wall Streeter Thinks
About “Occupy Wall Street”

By Anonymous

(The Identity Of The Author Is Known To D:F; We Are Withholding It To Protect The Author’s Job,
Which Is Indeed On Wall Street, In A Senior Position --- The Publisher)

I hope Washington wakes up soon to the reality of our future.

There is a really good reason why so many people are protesting on Wall Street and elsewhere.

If the politicos think we are safe from what happened in the “Arab spring” they should think again.

The more the rich, conservative right in this country tries to “shrink” government, to the benefit of only their fat wallets, the more the rest of the country will start to think, what’s left for us?

If we continue to let mother oil, auto and other “private interests” dominate our economy, the more people will be “left out”.

Once those “left out” get to the tipping point, then things will get far worse than now.

With our infrastructure showing such biased neglect and so many folks out of work, who be left to will ride in fancy cars at $10/gallon?

Who will be left to fly anywhere when the fuel surcharge on plane tickets is ten times the cost of the flight?

With so many people out there without jobs, what do the politicos expect them to do?

Armed rebellion starts in the street – there is a reason why someone showed a gun to a carload of people last week to get money - just one block from a house in New Jersey.

I really think Washington is blind………

Mass transit makes sense and it’s for the public good (the “mass” in transit).

So does trying to stimulate the economy with jobs and work.

The alternative is far worse.

It’s not about giving hand-outs but a hand-up is what many folks need.

The ability to get back in the game, with real employment and a chance at modest life and success is what most folks want, not to be a rich fat-cat on the top of the heap.

If I remember correctly, that’s how the “American Dream” was once defined, in better days….


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