Sunday, February 14, 2010

59. DuBose Porter: Rail. Yes. Now.

We just can't say it enough. We need rail. We need the boost it will bring to the economy by attracting industry and creating jobs. We need to put people to work now and to keep our future on par with our neighboring states. As the article states below, ' This is how Birmingham felt in the 1960s, when it realized that airlines were indeed serious about big jets and big airports.'
If we don't act now, federal money for rail will, I repeat, will be going to other states and not just this year, but in the future. We will, I repeat, will be having to help pay for it anyway.
All of us are not just realizing we need rail. We had the chance to start our rail project in the mid-nineties. I worked on the route to Macon and another to Athens. Several of us did, but until you have someone in the Governor's office who is willing to set a course and put up the effort and do the work to bring a vision in, it just can't take off. As your Governor I will make sure that happens.

Another article you may have missed on rail:
Welcome to Georkansas: Suddenly, we have a rail gap
Excerpts from AJC, 11:27 am January 29, 2010, by Jim Galloway
...North Carolina has spent more than $300 million since 1992 to bolster its passenger rail service. On Thursday, it saw a return on that investment: a $545 million slice of President Barack Obama’s $8 billion high-speed rail stimulus.
Florida got an even bigger piece of that pie — $1.25 billion. The Sunshine State may have helped its case by boosting funding for mass transit after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned that it needed to get its act together to compete for high-speed rail funds.
Georgia got a similar warning but didn’t jump to action. It got a $750,000 sliver.
Welcome to Georkansas.
This is how Birmingham felt in the 1960s, when it realized that airlines were indeed serious about big jets and big airports. Rail is the next big thing, and we have dug ourselves a large philosophic hole. Sam Williams, head of the Metro Chamber of Commerce and a longtime advocate of rail, said this morning that it will be years before we can crawl out:
“The first criteria that we’ve heard from the feds is that you have to have a state rail plan thoroughly written and presented. And you have to also have congressional support, and you have to have state government support. We’re so underfunded on infrastructure that, at this stage of the game, I don’t see them diverting any other funds to do the upfront work that North Carolina and Florida have done.
“Those states have spent hundreds and millions of dollars of their own money in the last decade. There may be specific projects – certainly there’s a lot of hope right now over the Peachtree-Auburn trolley project coming out of stimulus money. But stimulus money? We’ve gotten all the money we’re going to get.”
Renay Blumenthal, senior vice president at the Chamber, added this:
“We’ve got to put skin in the game. Which really comes back to why this regional T-SPLOST is so important. The only entity that’s got money to put into transportation right now is the federal government. We need to align our state transportation priorities with the federal transportation authorities to get access to that money. “
Which means that Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposal for regional transportation districts will have to include language that permits expenditures on rail, or there isn’t likely to be a deal.
The End

We have yet to see Gov. Perdue's bill. For the future of Georgia, let's hope he puts rail in it.

Before the train leaves the station,
vote for DuBose Porter, July 2010.