Yet another borderline ballistic rant wells up almost every day as I read the paper and think about the future of what looks like a nation run by infants. Mommy, Mommy, I want a Maglev! I want a Maglev!
But son, we are a little short right now and we need money for those roads and bridges you want. I need them to get to my new house, Mommy. The one you bought to avoid city taxes? Transportation is a right! OK, but we are having problems. The loans uncle Freddie and Aunt Fannie guaranteed for a lot of peoples houses have gone bad. You haven't made a mortgage payment on your house in the last two months. Mommy, housing is a right! You told me that. Do you need six bedrooms and a three car garage? It's what you gave Timmy! It's what you gave Paul! I know, but now there are so many bad loans and we need to bail out the banks and--. The banks can't fail! The banks can't fail! Banking is a right! But son, remember the health care you need. Mommy, we can't talk about that. Health care is a right! Life and death, Mommy, I don't want to die. I want to live forever, and ever. I know son, but sometimes we have to make choices and....
Mommy, Mommy, Mommy. We can't talk about this. I want a Maglev. I want a Maglev. I shouldn't have to choose! This is America, the greatest nation in the world. I have rights!! It's what you said. It's what you promised. It's why your my favorite mommy. You make me feel safe. You never used to talk like this. This is America! We can do anything. I want a Maglev! I want a Maglev!
Tedious, isn't it? And, You know I could go on and on with only slight exaggeration.
Null Space and the Post Gazette both things up about the childish antics that likely resulted in our relative lack of new rail funds. When Obama's administration starts to think your plans are unrealistic, you have a big problem.
Not going into the specific proposals too deeply, generally the bulk of funds went to states that--
A) Seemed to really want rail projects.
B) Had somewhat reasonable proposals to economically upgrade existing freight tracks and rights of way.
C) Point to point connections designed to link cities.
It also seemed like things tilted heavily to corridors with somewhat limited physical barriers like mountains. We can, quibble pretty heavily about the likely use of some of these lines (like the Buffalo one and the Chicago, Detroit One.)
So why so little for us? We are a big populous state with almost the only already viable existing line running along our coast. We are also a stones throw from Cleveland with no mountains between us along the former legendary Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia line almost everyone thinks needs to be reborn.
So, what happened? Well, it doesn't seem like projects linking either Cleveland to Pittsburgh or to Philly (or D.C.) were submitted. Instead, we asked for funds for a fairly reasonable commuter line from Scranton and this....
"Mr. Gurney said release of the funding was stalled because the railroad agency's attention was on awarding the $8 billion in new grants. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia submitted $57 billion in requests for the money, which was part of last year's economic stimulus package.
Pennsylvania applied for $2.3 billion in stimulus money to start maglev construction, but Mr. Gurney said it appeared from the start that the grants would all go to conventional steel-wheel-on-rail projects.
"What happened was not at all unexpected," he said. "While it's disappointing that no maglev project got any of the funding, we saw the handwriting."
The project calls for a 54-mile system from Pittsburgh International Airport to Downtown Pittsburgh to Greensburg. Mr. Gurney said the severe decline in flights and passenger traffic at the airport has not diminished its potential."
That's right we asked for one of the largest requested grants for a project that doesn't link us to any significant city, but whizzes us to our airport using technology that I think has yet to be proven cost effective.
In fact, we managed to come up with one of the few ideas that might not help Pittsburgh's central city and which worked against rail's great ability to take large numbers of people into and out of dense areas with little impact. This idea seemed focused on helping Monroeville, Penn Hills and the southern and eastern suburbs.
Older Yinzer's may be reminded of the ghost of Skybus, an earlier attempt to corner the market on what was likely a dubious technology.
I should say more but honestly, I'm just too angry.
To quote Null Space, "If your strategy was to actually not expand transit options would the results be any different."
(Clarification-- this is an fairly exagerated rant low on details. We, actually did recieve a tiny 26.4 million to beef up the Harrisburg--Philly section and a whole $750,000 to study improvements to the grindingly slow from here to Harrisburg. I actually don't know all the proposals but it's pretty clear that a heavy focus was put on the Maglev. To my knowledge, nobody here saw value in any link to Cleveland at all.)