Posts Tagged ‘passenger rail’

Think with me for a moment…

Let’s say that I want to live in a big house. Well, it doesn’t have to be that big, but what I’d like to have I can’t quite afford – a couple extra rooms and a larger kitchen. Maybe an extra bathroom.

Currently, however, I can only afford something that’s less than I truly want, so I have two choices. Live without a home or buy something that’s affordable and put a little work into it.

Let’s say I chose the latter. With the loan I’m offered I purchase a small house that’ll do for now. It’s practical and does the job – providing shelter as well as offering an investment opportunity.

Over the course of a couple years I spend a little, make some repairs, remodel the existing kitchen and bath. Spruce up the yard. Neighbors walk by and see the work and decided that perhaps they can spruce up their place a little too. Fresh paint, a new porch and maybe some new landscaping.

Then one day, a few years later, I realize that not only is my current home looking better than ever, but the neighborhood has gotten better as well. More people have taken it upon themselves to repair or at least tidy up their homes and yards. It took some work. Not just for me, but for everyone in the neighborhood.

The next year I decide to sell my house and with the profits I’m able to buy a house that’s got more of what I want. It has a bigger kitchen, a second bath and a spare bedroom. I like it! It’s what I dreamed about having for a long time, and had I not purchased my previous home, (and put a little work into it) I’d have not been able to create a profit. In fact, the neighborhood may not have even improved. Essentially, the investment paid off, not just for me, but for my neighbors. They can expect a profit because, over all, the neighborhood improved.

What happened with this theoretical housing model is what can happen with the 3C rail corridor – so long as Ohio politicians decide to, at least invest in a little something. I agree that we’d probably all prefer high-speed trains zipping in and out of town that could carry us to Chicago or New York in a matter of hours. But right now that’s far too expensive.

And sure, expanded rail service in Ohio is going to take some investment. We’ll need train stations, some new switches and we’ll probably start by using some existing equipment. Just like my first house – it’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

And while we live with what we can afford, we add a few more jobs here and there. Our train stations attract a certain amount of attention and maybe some businesses pop up to support those traveling by train. It costs a little to maintain, but it’s an investment. We’re working towards a goal.

A few years later it’s decided to upgrade the tracks and remove some of the grade crossings so that the trains can go faster. New technology allows for improvements that were not possible just a few years earlier. But, because we made the initial investment, we can now capitalize on the existing infrastructure.

Some may think that this is an over-simplified model. Perhaps it is. After all, I can zip to and from Chicago and New York by plane and I don’t have to think about making an investment of my own.

Understand, however, that our airports have not been built by the airlines. And our highways have not been built by the automobile manufactures. Indeed not. Airports and highways are built through federal, state and local funding. These government funded facilities support economic opportunities for the associated communities.

As an example, might Experience Columbus find it difficult to attract conventions if Port Columbus were to shut down? Would our hotels find guests if they could only arrive and depart by automobile? Would our shopping centers and entertainment venues survive if our highways could not bring in visitors? Could UPS deliver your package if our streets didn’t exist?

As a reader, you may never ride one of the 3C trains. Or maybe you will. But as a resident of Columbus, and as a resident of Ohio, you’ll receive tangible benefits by having this city connected to a national passenger rail system.

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I’m responsible for the oil leak contaminating the Gulf of Mexico.  I came to this conclusion this week while I was driving to work, slowed by scores of moving vehicles, most of which contained just one person.
Each time I make the decision to drive to work rather than take the bus, I’ve essentially told companies like BP to search for oil in risky environments.  Each time I sit in line at a drive-thru window, I’ve told our government to do whatever it takes to search for crude oil that can be refined into gasoline.

Each time I drive my car to a friends house, or to the grocery store rather than bicycling or walking, I’m sending a signal to the oil industry that what they do, and that what the government allows them to do is A-OK.

At times I’m forced into such actions.  Escaping a culture that is based upon low-cost fuel is incredibly difficult.  My local supermarket is in fact a super-huge market filled with fruits, vegetables and scores of other products grown and manufactured outside of the region.  I’ve grown to expect fresh fruit in January and February.  I bet you have too.

Each time we build a new road, widen and existing road, rebuild an overpass or zone for a new subdivision rather than repairing our inner-city neighborhoods and investing in public transit systems, we are voting for this type of risk.  Each time we build a new runway or expand an airport rather than expanding our rail system, we invite the risk associated with this type of disaster.

So when I look at the derogatory comments being aimed at BP and the derogatory comments being aimed at the Federal Government I have to stop for a moment and ask, just who is creating the demand for this type of industry.  And when I look for who is to be blamed for this calamity, I have to answer truthfully.

It is I.

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