Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Arkansas’ Highway to Nowhere

Move over Alaska, the Natural State of Arkansas has its’ own highway to nowhere. What does it cost? Only $600 million. This would fund the entire Amtrak system for six months. The Pine Bluff Commercial files this report on what should be a taxpayer outrage. Please note carefully the word  “future.”

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has continued to progress in the construction of a 38.5-mile road designed to connect Interstate 530 in Pine Bluff to U.S. 278 in Wilmar though much of the work is hidden from view. The connector is intended to provide easy access to future Interstate 69.

The Interstate 69 corridor from Indianapolis to Mexico is the pork barrel pipe dream of highway and trucking special interests in 20 states and it is a dollar sucking waste. It is a total boondoggle. Of course, highway backers are not accustomed to hard questions about their taxpayer funded play pretties.

Five years ago the connector was expected to cost $300 million, but that amount has since grown to $620 million due to a dramatic increase in construction costs over the past several years including the cost of oil-based asphalt, [Highway Department spokesman Glenn] Bolick said.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Amtrak equipment shortage

The decades of politically inspired neglect have had a consequence, and just at the time America faces impending $6 a gallon gasoline. As has been noted here countless times before, Amtrak does not have enough rolling stock to meet consumer demand. 

The Richmond Virginia newspaper carries a generally good story about the appalling situation of the National Rail Passenger Corporation.

Amtrak’s system has about 1,500 passenger cars. They average about 30 years old, while some of the dining cars serving Virginia rail travelers were built in 1949.

“We don’t have additional equipment” to pick up a big spike in travelers, Amtrak’s Connell said.

“They’ve got a very large number of cars that are out of service . . . in need of overhaul, and they have not had the money to fix them,” said Richard L. Beadles, a member of the state’s Rail Advisory Board and former president of RF&P Railroad.

According to Amtrak, 26 percent of its passenger cars are not in good repair.

Alas, it also includes the mandatory neo-con shot at long distance trains. Darn that Amtrak! A federally funded program that provides service to people outside the exalted corridors of power and prestige. People in Arkadelphia, Arkansas have transportation needs too.

Where are our congressional Democrats?

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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July 2008