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(rshsdepot) FW: Reconnecting America

I have not forwarded the attachment mentioned in the forwarded message
because of its rather substantial size, and the fact that folks on the
mailing lists would never get the attachment, and finally because it is
available in the What's New section of their web site at
<http://www.reconnectingamerica.org>.  A quick reading suggests that this
Congressional Testimony is similar but with important updates to the Full
Report also located at their Web Site. Nevertheless, links are provided to
the Web Site, the Full Report, and the Congressional Testimony in the
Organizations and Reports Section of the Sierra Club High Speed Rail Task
Force Web Site.

I have to assume that Hank Dittmar had compelling reasons why his report
had to be twisted so that it 'appealed' to the financially and politically
powerful supporters of airports and airlines. Nevertheless, I have great
difficulty with the notion that existing airports can serve as terminals
for high-speed railroad trains, and thus repay the incredible public and
private investment made therein:

* Primarily due to the 150 year history of the railroad system, High Speed
Rail provides far superior service to the historic downtown business
districts of major cities.
* By also stopping at carefully selected commuter rail stations, High Speed
Rail also provides better service to suburban office locations.
* Since High Speed Rail shares its downtown terminals with SOME Commuter
Rail services, High Speed Rail must be marketed in conjunction with
connecting Commuter Rail, to take full advantage of reasonably frequent and
comfortable Commuter Rail service to so many points in the suburban areas
currently favored by so many business people for office and residential
* Whatever proximity may exist between airports and railroads are usually
due to the 'accidents of history', thus surviving airports must 'labor' to
quickly connect themselves to the railroad network, and failing airports
are likely to totally reject the idea out-of-hand.

Nevertheless, I concur with 'Reconnecting America'  that High Speed Rail
must make a special effort to create connections to airports.
Unfortunately, those connections are only necessary to the SMALL NUMBER of
MAJOR AIRPORTS that must survive to serve transcontinental and
international flights. Indeed, High Speed Rail must be promoted as a
replacement to existing short-hop air flights that currently provides
'feeder service' to these surviving transcontinental and international
flights. Accordingly, I strongly suggest that the Airport and High Speed
Rail Committees of the Sierra Club (and like minded organizations) work
together to identify the 'short list' of surviving airports and the
transportation improvements required to properly connect those airports to
High Speed Rail.  

Unfortunately, I suspect that lots of small and mid-sized airports must
face conversion to totally other uses as the only practical means of
recouping the existing major investments in the public and private
'infrastructure' that surrounds the airport. Indeed, since airports feature
very large parcels of land that is 'ruined' as far as the natural
environment is concerned, Sierra Club (and like minded organizations) ought
to carefully consider whether they ought to instead promote the idea that
small and mid-sized airports should instead be converted into 'suburban
office parks' and the like. The former Pease Air Force Base near Portsmouth
NH (now  'Pease Tradeport') MIGHT serve as an example of such a real estate

Note that I view advocacy of High Speed Rail as a 'positive answer' to
airline and highway pollution and the multiple environmental impacts of
further airport and highway expansion. Accordingly, I suggest that the
Sierra Club (and like minded organizations) must consider advocating
'airport conversion plans' as another 'positive answer' to the 'airline
dilemma' that currently faces the political leadership on this country. :-(

Kenyon F. Karl
Webmaster - Sierra Club - NERCC - High Speed Rail Task Force

> [Original Message]
> From: April Jones <ajones_@_transact.org>
> To: Reconnecting America <ajones_@_transact.org>
> Date: 2/24/03 4:14:05 PM
> Subject: Reconnecting America
> February 24, 2003
> Dear Colleague:
> After the release of our Missed Connections report and subsequent coverage
> in the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, you wrote to request updates
> on the Reconnecting America project.
> We're happy to report that we are making progress with the project.  We
> working on an analysis of the opportunities inherent in improving our rail
> network, a report which parallels the analysis of the air travel system
> we released in December 2002.  We hope to release that report within the
> next 60 days.
> We're also want to let you know that this Wednesday, February 26, at
> eastern, the House Aviation and Railroads Subcommittees are holding a rare
> joint hearing entitled "Planes, Trains and Intermodalism, Improving Links
> Between Air and Rail." Reconnecting America Co-Director Hank Dittmar has
> been invited to testify, and his testimony will be available at our web
> http://www.reconnectingamerica.org under the "what's new" tab on the 26th.
> In addition, you can hear a live broadcast of the hearing at the House
> Transportation and Infrastructure Committee web site at this web address:
> http://www.house.gov/transportation/audio/index.html
> Thanks for your interest in Reconnecting America.
> The Reconnecting America Team

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org


End of RSHSDepot Digest V1 #606

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org