Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Some shameless self-promotion from Pat Lynch

Those of you in the KARK TV Channel 4 coverage may want to check out the election night coverage Tuesday evening when  Bill Vickery and I add color and commentary to the evening’s election results. They may even have some video   segments online. Here is the link.

Filed under: Administration, Passenger Rail Politics

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    Ernest J. Istook?

    Despite Oklahoma’s longstanding wealth of rail assets, Fifth District Congressman Ernest Istook did all in his power to talk-down and impede rail development here for 14 years. While standing as a railway roadblock in his alleged home state, he was using partly-Oklahoma-derived tax dollars to fund extensive Light Rail and commuter rail development in the home of his “spiritual brethren,” Salt Lake City, Utah.

    He cleared the way for Salt Lake Light Rail funding in 1996 — so the services would be available in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics. He provided funding for the “Front Runner” commuter trains, 60 per day, linking population centers in Salt Lake / Provo to the south and Ogden to the north to HILL AIR FORCE BASE, competitor to OKC’s TINKER AFB. This makes the Utah base the only USAF Air Logistics Center in the nation with oil-crisis-proof-workforce-mobility.

    Simultaneously, he energetically funded ODOT’s needless destruction of Oklahoma City’s Union Station’s rail yard, last unused, grand, historic capital-city rail passenger hub in the West with all its original train-handling space intact — and center of the state’s unique, 900-mile state-owned railway network.

    Meanwhile, out in Arizona, Governor Janet Napolitano had hit static with her Phoenix-Tempe Light Rail plan. It was being blocked by her Mormon-stronghold state’s own “LDS-conservative-Republican legislators.” So — she made a pilgrimage to Salt Lake in September, 2004 to visit 93-year-old LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. Three months later, US House Transportation Subcommittee Chair Ernest Istook and Senate counterpart Richard Shelby appeared in Phoenix, reportedly with a pledge of $587 million for the project — which by then also included extension to the Mormon Regional Temple in Mesa. (See recent, related story, below this post…)

    Check it out for yourself, folks.

    Also, check recent business news to see how well Salt Lake is performing economically today — highly rated among “the first big post-recession jobs producers.” And Oklahoma? Well — if the “New I-40 Crosstown” opens in 2012 as promised, we’ll have another four miles of expressway we can’t afford to maintain — and no rail hub. Add that to the state’s existing $40+ billion “unfunded highway maintenance requirement” — and of course, the additional cost of creating a “new rail transit hub.” Yep. After last year’s complete obliteration of city-owned Union Station’s 8-block-long, 12-track-wide rail yard and its magnificent, hand-built arterial street underpasses, metro leaders now suddenly claim they’re “hot-on-the-trail” of a “real rail transit system.”

    And former congressman Istook? He’s working for the big shot corporatists at Heritage. They ginned up the “highways-only-monopoly” in this country, the “concrete cross” to which we are all nailed — and they apparently enjoy it. Nor do they mind sending “YOUR children” to war to prop it up.

    What do “Republican conservatives” like Istook mean when they say “no public subsidy?” They mean — “none for you.”

    It’s all reserved for “their special friends.”

    Not angry about this? Perhaps you just don’t understand the situation.


    Mormon Temple Light rail stop in Mesa AZ: Is it an answer to prayer?

    The Phoenix Metro light rail began service in December 2008. It began service with an impressive 20-mile starter line, going through the downtown area, Arizona State University main campus, and to an end station in one of the larger cities in the State, Mesa.

    One of the extensions that is under progress is a 3-mile addition to the current end station and with it will push the new end station next to the Mesa Mormon Temple. So, what about such a decision?

    The Mesa Mormon Temple is a gathering stop for church member throughout the year. There are thousands of visitors each week that will come to visit, some from miles around. In addition, there is an annual Pageant in March/April that draws 10,000+ visitors to the site. This extension would allow seniors and others from across the valley major Park N Ride lots to connect with this station. It promises to be a big hit with ridership.

    The City and region is trying to develop more transit friendly and transit oriented development in the light rail corridor. This is a ready-made solution to gather instant ridership on the trains. It portends to be successful. I am sitting on a Stakeholder Committee that is fine tuning some last minute options for the final plan.

    The project will take several years, but as the infrastructure is built, the tracks are laid down, and service extended, the community and businesses in the area will be favorably helped and supported by thousand of new customers and patrons.

    Bryan Watkins
    Designated Broker
    LRA Real Estate Group
    Phoenix-Tempe-Mesa Metro
    480.734.7878 text/cell
    Find us on

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