Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Centralia, Ill. enjoys better service

The local Morning Sentinel covers the expansion of conventional passenger train service.

Illinois Department of Transportation figures show about 12,000 people boarding or getting off of Amtrak trains in Centralia last year, and Kelsheimer said that is the figure which is up an estimated 40 percent this year.

There is talk about expanding the depot’s parking lot because of all the passenger traffic, he noted. Some local merchants, including restaurants, are benefiting from Amtrak traffic, Kelsheimer said.

“We’re on the right track, no pun intended,” he said.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association was largely responsible for the lobbying which brought Centralia its third daily Amtrak train, Kelsheimer said. He said local legislators also were an essential part of that effort.

“Imagine being able to get from Centralia to Chicago in an hour and a half,” said Kelsheimer. Speeds like that are possible on other high-speed lines, he noted.

“It’s a very ambitious effort that’s going to take national support as well as state support.”

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

Talgo can repair cracks in its train cars

Some good news comes from the Pacific Northwest.


The Federal Railroad Administration agreed today to allow train manufacturer Talgo to repair cracks found in some of its passenger cars used on the Amtrak Cascades route.

But it’s not known yet how soon the distinctive train cars will return to the Vancouver, B.C.-to-Eugene run, said Ken Uznanski, passenger-rail manager for the state Department of Transportation.

The five train cars, known for tilting as they go around curves, have been sidelined since August, when the cracks were discovered.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

Corridors to nowhere

It’s bad enough that, as an Arkansan, I have to keep a constant watch over whatever anti-Amtrak point man John Boozman (R-Wal Mart) might be up to next. Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross, a Democrat, is generallly much better, but he has really stepped in it this time. Ross, undoubtedly, thinks he is doing just fine.

Here is tf his latest press release.

Ross Helps To Elevate I-69 To National Priority Status

Interstate Named One of Six National “Corridors of the Future”

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Representatives Mike Ross (AR-04), Co-Chair of the Interstate 69 Mid-Continent Highway Caucus, proudly announced Tuesday that Interstate 69 has been named a “Corridor of the Future” by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

“I applaud the Department of Transportation for recognizing the importance of this project and making Interstate 69 a national priority,” Ross said. “It is time to begin investing in America again, and as a Co-Chair for the I-69 Caucus I will continue working to secure funds and resources needed to move this essential interstate corridor forward. This project will also attract new businesses and jobs stimulating economic growth in thousands of communities situated along Interstate 69 from Michigan to Texas.”

In August, Ross led the 56-member I-69 Caucus in sending a letter he authored to the Secretary of Transportation emphasizing the need to designate I-69 as a “Corridor of the Future.” As a “Corridor of the Future,” I-69 would become a nationally-recognized priority, making it eligible to receive the necessary resources to accelerate its construction. This designation will ensure that I-69 — which is important to Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan — will continue to be funded in future transportation reauthorization bills.

“I would like to thank my colleagues in Congress who represent the many districts which would benefit from this important project for signing the letter I authored in support of this much-needed interstate corridor,” Ross said.

The I-69 Corridor will receive $800,000 which will be split up by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department on behalf of the Interstate 69 Steering Committee which includes Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan.

The I-69 project was one of six interstate routes chosen from 38 applications to participate in the DOT’s new “Corridors of the Future” program. This new federal initiative aims to develop innovative national and regional approaches to reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of freight delivery.

Ross has been a member of the I-69 Caucus since he was first elected to represent Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional District in Congress in 2000, and was recently selected to Co-Chair the Caucus.

The Interstate 69 Mid-Continent Highway Caucus is a bipartisan group of 56 Members of Congress interested in promoting the development and completion of Interstate 69, a true north-south highway linking Port Huron, Michigan to Texas’ border with Mexico.

The portion of I-69 from Port Huron, Michigan at the Canadian border to Indianapolis, Indiana was completed and opened to traffic under the Interstate Construction Program which began in 1956 and ended in 1995.

The I-69 Corridor is the only direct national link to two of our major trading partners, Canada and Mexico.  The corridor has the nation’s busiest border crossings on both borders, accounting for 49 percent of the nation’s trade with Canada and 49 percent of the nation’s trade with Mexico. I-69 is a major national freight corridor linking manufacturing and agricultural centers.  It will provide a direct route for domestic and international commodity flow, relieving congestion on many less direct routes – reducing travel time, fuel consumption and costs – and increase the reliability and efficiency of the nation’s freight system.

Who needs I-69? Well, for one thing there are the people who will benefit designign and building another interstate highway.

But who, exactly, needs this highway?

Would any federal expendatures not be better directed toward repairing existing bridges and other elements of our aging highway system?

I-69 will breed congestion and pollution, and one does not exactly feel like the Grinch that stole Christmas for being against it. Ordinary folks would benefit much more from the kinds of transportation improvements proposed by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

OK, Ross is not as bad as Boozman.

Check your calendars, fellas, it’s 2007 and this stuff just does not get an automatic pass any more.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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September 2007