Expanding Amtrak: State to spend $93 million to emulate our train

news-amtrak-passengersDespite a pot-holed parking lot, 58 percent of the ridership between Lynchburg and Alexandria comes from the Charlottesville station.
FILE PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

In an effort to give another city what Lynchburg and Charlottesville have already shown to be wildly popular, the state recently approved a $93 million outlay to upgrade private train tracks to enable a daily roundtrip train to run between Norfolk and Richmond. The expenditure, approved June 16 by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, would bolster a vast market for the northeast rail corridor, the busiest passenger rail line in America.

"The rationale was that it would provide infrastructure improvements to expand Amtrak passenger service to an under-served market in South Hampton Roads," says ardent rail-pusher, Meredith Richards, who notes a market of over 1.5 million citizens whose only Amtrak service currently lies in Newport News, across the mouth of the James River for much of that population.

Richards, a former Charlottesville City Councilor, says the General Assembly believes so strongly in augmenting Tidewater's Amtrak access that it exempted the usual 30 percent funding match by the host railroad–- in this case Norfolk Southern–- with a project-specific budget amendment. Richards notes that the same 2010 amendment guarantees up to $6 million in state funding for the two new "Northeast Regional" train extensions: the one based in Lynchburg that serves Charlottesville (and which handily smashed ridership expectations) and a new Richmond-to-DC daily set to launch in July.

lostchar-chessierichmondThis 1959 ad in the Daily Progress touts the now-moribund passenger service .
PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

So when can Charlottesvillians ride the rails to Norfolk? They'll have to upgrade the rails to Richmond first.

"The question of rail from Charlottesville to Richmond is one I hear often," says Richards, "but I confess that I do not have strong hopes for this in the immediate future."

A reporter recently found a 1959 advertisement in the Daily Progress touting a midweek special that gave Charlottesville ladies the chance to make a round-trip excursion to Richmond for $3.90. But the state has yet to even study the prospect of upgrading the low-speed freight rails that currently move freight–- not passengers–- between the two cities.

"It would be a win-win for the region," says Richards, who believes that daily rail service could strengthen the regional economy and encourage residential growth around the stations in neighboring towns, as well as in Albemarle County's designated growth areas.

If a study were to be done, Richards hopes that it would include analysis of stations in Staunton, Waynesboro, Crozet, and Gordonsville to fully understand the region.

As for Norfolk, despite the $93 million capital expenditure, the new line has not yet been guaranteed an operating subsidy, something it will need to launch. As for the Charlottesville success story, technically the Lynchburg extension of a “Northeast Regional” train, it may not end up using its guaranteed subsidy if ridership continues so strong. Amtrak had predicted  ridership of 51,000 people annually. But by March– just six months after the October 1 launch– it had served 55,025 passengers.

Read more on: amtraktrain

80 comments

Ah, brilliant government plan. It saves me so much time and money - while saving the universe from the big conspircy - to ride an Amtrak train from Palmyra to Earlysville to Waynesboro and to my dentist's office.

Oh, never mind, I was only dreaming.

PS: Why not spend a few billion creating straight roads for the first time ever in Virginia, roads which actually go someplace.

Friday, June 15, 2007

PrintShareThisWASHINGTON � Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton liquidated the contents of their blind trust upon learning it contained investments of $5 million to $25 million that could pose conflicts of interest or prove to be embarrassing to her presidential campaign

AP story

The tracks between here and Gordonsville are really bad. The Amtrak train that uses them now has to crawl over them. Not sure about the tracks from there to Richmond, but I think they are better as I think they are used by the trains to/from the Inland Port in Front Royal. But Richmond is not that far, and it's worth a try.

There once was a rail connector from C-Ville to Scottsville where the tracks to Richmond are much better. They were extended from the old Belmont Railroad. The passageway under the tracks across from Ventanna was ehere it started, but those tracks were ripped up not long after the trolley tracks in town were paved over when the trolley stopped running in 1935.

As we can all see at rush hour now, these were mistakes. Fixing them is going to cost money, no matter what. But local train service is the answer to so much traffic. We've got to get back to the mindset that more parking and more cars doesn't solve anything. A good first step would be to eliminate the parking on University and Main street and make room for continuous bike lanes - and contemplate the relaying of the trolley tracks. JPA was a railroad before it was a road. That's why it's so wide - the rail bed in the grassy median now.

Stamford, you just don't get reality. Have a look at how many new cars the Chinese are putting on the road a day. You're going to have a really tough election this year..

The real truth about oil prices is that they will be what they will be and everything else will follow just like it has for the last 50 years. If oil goes to 200 bucks a barrel then natural gas will go up 2.5 times also. There is no magic bullet. Energy prices will be determined by what people are willing to pay to get to work or the store. If it cost 20 bucks to get to the store for a 20 dollar bag of groceries people will take fewer trips which will lower demsand which will cause prices to drop. A year and a half ago gas was 4.50 a gallon. people stopped driving and down it came.

As far as suv drivers being selfish, yes I am. If I get in accident with someone I would rather be the windshield than the bug. I would also just as soon use up the oil for my benefit rather than conserve it so china can use it to fuel their tanks and battleships.

Im sorry it's "what is a" liberal leech
Has to be in the form of a question.
Sorry, jees next catagory please...

I will give you a break with Bit-me right now.
Im sure that Dupont keeps his pockets full.
The state of Delaware is just a PO box for Dupont

1992 Gore owned Occidental stock worth $680000. ... In reality, it is to make sure that Al Gore's oil wells and pipelines are firmly ...

not a bad take for the Carbon Poodle

@carter
A blind trust and a limited partnership are not synonymous. Ever-reliable Fox News reported the following on this trust: "The Clintons have had a blind trust since former President Clinton was governor of Arkansas in 1983 and had no control over its transactions. Once they peered inside it, they discovered it included investments in oil and drug companies, military contractors and Wal-Mart, campaign spokesman Phil Singer said." Note that they had no control over its holdings and when they discovered the contents, they dissolved it.

I manage client wealth to suit their needs and preferences, not yours. This is business, not personal aggrandizement.

@very old timer
Is your thoughtful solution to this problem a suggestion that we pollute the air and water, destroy wetlands, and decimate species before other nations can do these things? We have been driving relentlessly down Henry Ford's dream highway for over a century and it has now become a nightmare. We need to turn around, turn off the ignition, and think of a better way. Mass transit, as cpcville indicated, is an excellent start. Populations will need to live more compactly, street cars and trains will replace automobiles, goods will be delivered, and the only folks rumbling down country roads in Albemarle will be real farmers, not fake ranchers who live off government subsidies.

Who in their right mind would ride a train when you can take an SUV?

@Caesonia
Thank you for the expansion on these concepts. You are correct in suggesting that behavior changes that are much resisted in this country will encourage people to buy smaller homes near transit-oriented development areas and reduce our need to drive cars everywhere. My reference to labor costs was not in automobile manufacturing but in all commodity markets where subsidies disguise the real cost of production. Take something as mundane as a donut and then factor in the costs of sugar, corn syrup, corn flour, whey, sorbic acid, etc. For sugar harvesting alone, a worker in the Brazilian cane fields makes $25.00 a week. If workers in the Southern hemisphere were paid the same as workers in the North the cost of imported items would be ten times higher than they are.

Stamford50 hey buddy how have you been? Still cursing the SUV as the reason for all of the worlds problem? By all means lead the way my friend, stop using any and all oil products. I will join you as soon as you do. (cricket.......cricket...cricket)
"it will be the American people who will take it in the teeth " that's fine with me because with the guys in charge right now it's my backside I'm worried about, not my teeth.

@whateva!
This transportation issue has political overtones because certain politicians have made their fortunes in oil, gas, and drilling. They seek political office to solidify their economic base and they care nothing for the infrastructure or for the American people.

When you have three feet of snow, stay home.

Get over it- oil products are a way of life- driving is a way of life. Until the government limits its use of oil, we cannot.

Let's look at "O" power- oats!

Obama- back to a wagon train instead of AF1 for all of those real important trips and Nancy P, let's get rid of your hungry jet too.............

for you advocates of getting rid of the use of oil to power anything, give it a try someday- bikes, walking, horses.........

@very old timer
Why do you think that oil wells drilled by multinational corporations will be beneficial to Americans? The oil that BP produces here does not necessarily remain in the U.S. supply chain; it enters the global market where everyone has an opportunity to purchase the commodity. It seems obvious that the patriots on this blog have only a fleeting comprehension of international economics. By driving armored cars to the nearest stop-and-rob, you are helping your imagined enemies.

@Carter
Your loyalties are with the oligarchs of the GOP, regardless of how criminal their behavior.

Actually, jeezlouise, most people do live in or near urban areas. Look it up. Sorry, but we can't let you short-sighted country folks get in the way of good policy. Maybe you don't like mass transit subsidies, but I sure don't like all those crop subsidies. So I guess we are even.

People take high speed electric trains into and out of New York City today only because in the early 1900s, steam locomotives were outlawed, forcing the railroads to electrify. That was the origin of today's northeast corridor. There were people who fought building the METRO in Washington. Without it today, DC would be complete gridlock. You don't build for today; you plan for tomorrow. Our neighbors to the south in North Carolina embarked on an ambitious passenger rail program 15 years ago (and people made fun of them). Today you can't drive on the Interstate(or fly) between downtown Raleigh and Greensboro or Charlotte as quickly as their trains. Who cares? Businesses looking to build or relocate consider a region's transportation infrastructure as important and almost anything else. Keep your SUV. You or your children will need it some day to drive to DC or Carolina to your job if Virginia listens to the naysayers and decides to focus on yesterday. Andy, Barney, Gomer and Aunt Bee are laughing at US now. They're progressive. We're the backwoods rubes.

stam stop your killing me, ha ha, Mason jar, man your witt is second to everyone

@carter
Whatever gave you the idea that we do not have the money to invest in Virginia? We may need to allocate funds from other projects, but the money is there for our use. I suspect that you support a new American austerity and for you, it is easy to confuse bad economic conditions with an improving direction while forgetting how much worse it could be. The unyielding criticism from those of your clan who opposed all economic stimulus from the beginning � laissez-faire economists, Libertarians, and Congressional Republicans is significant. You scream louder than the data.

@Sean
I appreciate your thoughtful evaluation and suggestions to remedy the existing transportation malaise. I agree that proper steps must be taken and so I am not clear why you think that I "just don't get reality." The reality is that selfish individuals in the GOP and Libertarian parties want to continue living like it's 1955.

The Chinese may be building cars but they also lead the world in alternate energy sources. If it's "a really tough election this year" it will be the American people who will take it in the teeth.

HYPOCRITE

@Sean
I do get it and I have said as much earlier in this blog. If you want to tar Barack Obama with failure to oversee his bureaucratic minions and failure to act, while accepting oil company contributions and expanding off-shore drilling leases, then I see no reason for the right wing to complain about him. He is simply doing what George W. Bush did, only with greater panache. So, I am not defending Obama; I am asking people to do better than scream "hypocrite" from the cab of an unnecessary humvee.

Hey Stam
You said before about how you make lots of money and live ââ?¬Å?very comfortable” right? (a little self centered but OK)
You also said that you are an investment manger, right.
With the views that you spue Im sure you never would invest in an oil company.
Or a car company (they make your hated SUV)?
Or a chemical company?
Or a paint company?
Or a tire company?
Or a defense sector company?
Or any oil related conpany??
Or are you just a hypocrite like the rest of the left, one hand out like you want to help
The other stuffing your pockets, while you cry about the right.
HYPOCRITE
Talk amongst yourselves.

Gore has held these apocalyptic views about the environment for some time. So why, then, didn't Gore dump his family's large stock holdings in Occidental (Oxy) Petroleum? As executor of his family's trust, over the years Gore has controlled hundreds of thousands of dollars in Oxy stock. Oxy has been mired in controversy over oil drilling in ecologically sensitive areas.

jeezlouise
Come on "In Al Gore we trust!!!!! "

you looking for a back rub or something???

@jeezlouise
@carter
This blog discussion is aimed at the serious transportation and energy problems that we face in the region. You two seem determined to conflate your misguided and opaque conservatism with the issues that we are addressing here. Have another Mason jar and think through your next response more judiciously.

Stamford50,

I agree that most people screaming about business from the right have very little understanding of economics. That's why under the guidance we have gutted our infrastructure and our manufacturing base. But don't be too hard on us Libertarians. We do not agree in subsidies for anything, including the roads. I have said before a tax should be placed on gasoline to cover not only the costs of roads but the wars we fight to get oil reserves for the Western Oil companies. That captures the true cost of a product in the marketplace.

Then the marketplace will solve itself.

I also believe in tariffs when countries like China heavily subsidize things like oil for their industries. Dumping distorts the marketplace. The only reason the CHinese are driving so many cars is their fuel is heavily subsidized.

Whateve,

I didn't see any Subarus driving through 3 ft of snow this winter. Something I remember very clearly was the number of SUVs including Outbacks and Foresters stranded with their owners begging to be rescued all out 20S/N and pretty much everywhere else in Albemarle County and Charlotteville. SUVs of all kinds were off in ditches and bogged down.

I did notice them driving on the partially plowed to fully roads, which I navigated with my 2wd vehicle.

I knly saw

I lived in DC for many years before moving to Charlottesville, and having easy train access is a wonderful thing. It beats flying, and it sometimes is faster, once you factor in security, shuttle parking, and sitting around on the runway. And trains have a lot more leg room!

No one is going to take away anyone's precious SUV, but it's irresponsible to assume that oil is anything but a finite resource that will become more and more expensive to extract. We don't have to wait for government to limit our use of oil--individuals are perfectly capable of exercising a little self-restraint and choosing modes of transit other than their cars when they can. Nothing wrong with building new habits.

@nbc29fan
While I agree with you that the pot holes in the "parking lot" resemble a battlefield, the property belongs to Mr. Gabe Silverman and he is unwilling to make improvements. This is an issue that everyone on council knows but cannot fix unilaterally. As noted in the Daily Progress last May "The West Main property that also includes the Amtrak train station and Wild Wings Caf© building is owned by local developers Gabe Silverman and Allan Cadgene. In January, the city signed off on final plans and indicated that, based on talks with the owners, the lot seemed to be headed for a smoother fate when the weather warmed. But then new plans were given, the final version of which had not been submitted and signed as of last week, meaning the lot’s status has gone back to not yet being qualified for paving. The city government only has the preliminary version of the plan. Asked if whether submitting new plans was viewed as a delay tactic, [Jim] Tolbert said, ââ?¬Å?I don’t know what they’re doing.” (Jim Tolbert is director of Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services.)

nbc29fan I have to say Stam is correct, if you want someone to "get with it" it would be Silverman/Cangene. Give them a call. If I were Wild Wings I would start holding back a bit of the rent. That might get the ball rolling.

The service that connects C-Ville with DC was a success. I hit its ridership goal for a year in 6 months. I think any plan that limits the use of petroleum products is s good plan. Remember we have a disaster with oil in the Gulf. A disaster that each and every one of us who drives is responsible for.

So, 93 million dollars divided by 200k passeger rides a year (doubtful)

for 1 year $465.00 per ride
fpr 10 years $46.50 per ride
for 100 years $4.65 per ride

and that is assuming the 93 million would include all the fuel, labor, maintainance, updating, insurance etc etc...

They admit that it will still need a subsidy every year.

This is a giant waste of taxpayer money. They would do better to bring the stores to the people.

A better way would be to offer poor folks discounted bus tickets and give Greyhound a tax break for servicing outlying areas.

Old Timer, the highways are subsidized heavily by taxpayers. Are you saying highway subsidies are ok but rail subsidies are not? Why is one better than the other? Seems to me the greater good is with rail subsidies. By promoting car travel at the expense of mass transit, taxpayers pay huge additional costs in lost time due to traffic, reduced health from air pollution, and increased risk to life and limb from crashes. Not to mention the waste of resources (oil) car travel requires.

There is no one magic bullet, and buses to outlying areas would be a good thing. In parts of Europe, regular intercity bus service is available for distances like Staunton-Waynesboro-Crozet-Charlottesville. The buses run several times a day and connect with rail to bigger cities. That's what intermodal transportation is all about--using different modes of transit to ensure access. Anything that encourages people to leave their cars behind has innumerable benefits.

Here's a bit more information for those frightened "conservatives" in this crowd: it might surprise readers to know that the most recent development in transportation technology has been high-speed rail. Cars and trucks predate diesel locomotives; electrified freight rail is more than 10 times more efficient than trucks. An efficient car wastes 99 percent of its energy, using only 1 percent to actually move the human occupants. And critics don't even consider looming, permanent price increases in oil as it becomes harder and harder to find more oil -- even in places one mile under the Gulf of Mexico.

We need more government spending for years to come and massive public investment in infrastructure that increases long-term U.S. economic growth. That’s exactly what a multi-trillion dollar, multi-decade program of building high-speed rail, intra-city rail such as trolleys and subways, wind farms across the country and off-shore, and myriad other renewable energy and rail-based projects, would accomplish. These systems use all parts of the core of a modern industrial system -- machine tools, semiconductors, high-skill labor, advanced materials, cutting-edge engineering, and more.

Crop subsidies benefit every single person in the country. Amtrak subsidies benefit roughly 2% of the population.

If you consider a 100 mile radius of a major city as urban you are correct.

@carter
While we cannot expect pristine actions from politicians of any party, your team blatantly distorts reality to rally its gullible acolytes. This may be a shock, but multimillionaires named Bush and Cheney hold rustics in low regard. Have you any information, other than accusations from Dick Morris, that the Clintons, Mr. Gore, Mr. Biden, or the president have invested in oil and gas limited partnerships?

Thats only one easter egg I left you. You missed one, keep looking.

How is your BP stock doing today? Up a $1.30 ata boy.

Stam I happened to see this a wanted to make sure you have first dibs.

2010 stainless steel Hot dog cart made by Ben's Carts. Five pan setup for boiling & steaming. Condiment shelf with ice reservoir. $480.00 in extras included. Used twice. $3000.00. Email popp98@hotmail.com

Why would the state spend 93 million so a few people could ride a train. It just goes to show how out of touch Richmond is with normal people. They did it for Chville and how many people will it take to make it cost effective. If it was cost effective it would pay for it self. Meredith Richards another liberal that knows how to spend money.

This is the future, look at europe and other industrialized countries, Japan for exapmle, and the high speed rail infrastructure they have built up. For those that think otherwise for political reasons are just missing the point....

What happen to the original story line. Are we still talking railroad?

@old timer
How about extending your theory of commodity pricing and including the elements of which consumers are blissfully unaware: the underpayment of labor, environmental costs, direct and indirect governmental subsidies, and health damage? How do you factor these elements to arrive at the real cost of alleged free choice?

stamford: every barrel of oil will eventually be pulled out of the ground. Just because Democrats think that taxing it in this country will actually make a differnece does not mean that it will. In fact taxing it in this country will simply lower demand HERE and cause the price to drop and the rest of the world will use it to industrailze and modernize their economy which will... wait for it.... cause them to use more of all types of energy.

So doing it YOUR way means that Americans will pay more for all types of energy and the rest of the world will buy it cheap because we lowered our standard of living, the skys will still be polluted, the oil wells will still be dug and the only benefit I see for Democrats is that the difference between the rich and poor may decrease. Of course it wil be because the rich lost wealth and the poor stayed the same. (except for the working poor who clean rich peoples houses pools and porsches, they will join the 10 million unemployed when the rich become semi rich)

I have zero problems with oil rig regulations but fair is fair as bad as BP screwd up there were Government workers who had the responsibility to prevent this and looked the other way. BP is justifiably losing billions and billions of dollars. The government workers are probably getting early retirement with full benefits.

This train will still be costs 46.00 per ride for the first ten years BEFORE any subsidy. Absurd.

Stamford50, thanks for your answer! I, too, agree that the wars were unnecessary...guess we had to strike back at SOMEBODY since we couldn't get to Osama...kinda like hitting the kid across the street because you couldn't get to the kid that stole your bike. Somehow I think your analogy concerning the double-dip recession is right on. Since the generation that lived the Great Depression is mostly pass on now (some still around), no one remembers what it was like. If my history is correct, the only thing that pulled us OUT of the depression was a World War - that was more government spending on the war effort (factories opened up and there was actually a deficit of the workforce that started the female movement out of the kitchen and into the work place). After the war, a boom in housing started as the service men came home and kept the economy moving (provided my history is correct) and we didn't have any money flowing in when World War II started. I guess we could consider this a war on our ailing and out dated infrastructure. While I don't like anyone telling me that I shouldn't drive an SUV (mine's small and doesn't get driven most of the time, I have fun car that gets 30 MPG), I did decide to live only 10 miles from where I work and my husband works out of our home. I can't really see that any mass transit system would be benefical to me, but as a taxpayer it is my duty to pony up and put my "2 cents in" like everyone else. I would prefer THAT to another World War as it will likely be the end of our lifestyle...period. Just sayin'..... With this I challenge anyone to come up with an alternative plan to what has been passed or purposed....I consider any input constructive.

The money comes from us. Given the deflationary trend that we now confront, the only sensible solution is to use deficit spending and thereby create a market for business output, boost income and encourage increases in consumer spending. Our GDP can easily accommodate this approach, which differentiates our economy from the U.K., Spain and Greece.

This is where I LIKE the fact I can come and go as I please and NOT have to wait on the next train (thank you Hummer Dude!)....why would I take the train? Since I am an American and have come VERY accustomed to the "want it now" way of life (yeah, I admit it!), the train would just not appeal to me. I would rather the money be spent to find alternatives to fossil fuel that would be more green and economically friendly to my bottom line. Mass transit just seems to be more of "fit" for people with a long commute or live in the city.

Don't look at the numbers or the logic or the money thats NOT there....
remember its the "feel-good-guys" in charge.

The Radical Right Wingers do not care about anything other than their own precious superstitions, the most prominent of which is that oil products will continue to be available at cheap prices during their lifetimes. Anyone who drives an SUV today is grossly selfish and insulting to the moniker "conservative." These characters care nothing for taxes that are spent to support a bloated military complex; they just dislike taxes for infrastructure. What a laugh.

@Stamford50 - 1. why does everything have to have a political note to it? 2. "Anyone who drives an SUV today is grossly selfish and insulting to the moniker ââ?¬Å?conservative.” Thanks, I resemble that remark, 2002 Subaru Outback Sedan (which is classified as an SUV). I will remember you when we have another 3ft. snow this winter. 3. and most important I do agree with you about taxes for our infrastruce. America has been ignoring its infrastruce for far too long...remember the Romans....

Sorry infrastructure! I typed it wrong twice!

Stam - Okay I understand your political issue now and definitely agree with you. and as far as staying home, wish I could but I have to get back and forth to work...regardless...since I live in the "sticks" but only 10 miles from where I work, I have a SMALL SUV....unfortunately I live in VA and since the infrastructure is what it is...I still will keep my SUV. Have a great day!

Stam - PS. I would more than GLADLY convert my small SUV to an alternative fuel source if I could find one that didn't take away any power. :)

Carter - ” that’s fine with me because with the guys in charge right now it’s my backside I’m worried about, not my teeth.
Somehow I am beginning to feel the same way!

ââ?¬Å?Certain politicians have made their fortunes in oil, gas, and drilling.”
Like Clinton--Bush--H. Clinton�-Cheney�Gore---B.H. Obama---Biden if you mean all then you are correct.
The difference is when a Dem is found to be getting $$$ it's "well I didn't know" or "it's a blind trust", etc.
When a Rep gets money they say "yes I received money"
When both sides have their hands in the cookie jar I would pick the ones that fess up to it.

You must keep listening to the progressives. Let us spend a fortune on something that has no real benefit to the masses who live outside of an urban area.
We must put forth an extra energy tax!
We must drive current energy costs so high so that the inferior Solar/Wind systems appear to be reasonably priced!
We must not use or research ways to make use of our most abundant resource!
We must not secure our borders from the illegals that are bankrupting our state governments!

In Al Gore we trust!!!!! Amen.

In case you libs didn't get the jist of this rant. I mock you.

"oligarchs of the GOP"

It's both sides sweetheart
You'er just addicted to the sugar coating your side puts in it. Sugar makes you fat and lazy, kick the habit.
(or you have made your money and want others to stay put)
You should move to India, their caste system fits your thinking much better.

Stam, I happen to have a degree in international economics. But I don't need one to point out that you really just don't get it. Your partisan fantasies that the party you don't like is entirely responsible for us using so much oil is just plain silly if you consider who it was that vastly expanded offshore drilling by executive order, who got the lion's share of BP's campaign cash, the one whose administration gave BP it's most recent environmental review waivers, and the one who has been a bystander for two months while the gulf is destroyed. (hint: the guy I'm talking about here is not George Bush)

Now then, back to railroads..

Our tax money is spent every day on infrastructure, and indeed more of it will be spent soon - the first of which will be on bridges for what I hope are obvious reasons. Th Belmont bride needs to be replaced, and the JPA bridge over the tracks urgently needs to be replaced. That bridge replaced a rail bridge back when the Fry's Spring railroad stopped chugging up and down JPA and turned around in the Fry's Spring parking lot.

We can either design both these bridges to perhaps someday accommodate rails on them, or we can be foolish and pretend our growing traffic problems on our major arteries are going to go away by doing nothing. UVA had its head up its ass when it designed the South Lawn project. They could have allowed more space between the pillars on either side of JPA to allow for a rail line and 4 lanes of traffic - but they didn't. But there is still enough room there to squeeze in rail and two lanes. Bad design is bad design. Eliminating parking on university and main streets would free up enough space to allow for rails and a sidewalk on ONE side of the roads. But getting under the 14th. street bridge and up into the corner would be a task. Beyond the bottlenecks, it would be smooth sailing down JPA (IF we put the right bridge over the NS tracks!), out to crozet, and up 29 to the airport.

As for a train to Richmond, it would be great to take our great old train station back from the lawyers across from the $16 million bathrooms for the pavilion (otherwise known at the Downtown Transit Center), but that's probably a pipe dream similar to getting the C-Ville dust bowl by our current train station turned into a parking garage.

A train from Staunton to Richmond (or VA Beach) is doable as the tracks are there via Gordonsville and Doswell. But the state might prefer to have a train that served southern VA instead that runs from Bristol through Roanoke and Lynchburg. From there, it could get as close as Scottsville to here - or take a more southerly route.

But I can't pretend I know the conditions of all those tracks and what it would cost to lease space on them from their owners.. I just know that it is time for us to consider not limiting our future options as we design bridges that need replacing now.

ha ha ha you crack me up I bet you have a blow-up SUV doll under your bed.

oh and as I said before, many times, its both sides.
Yes they both do it.
The difference is the Dems till you how bad it is as they are doing it. Kind of like telling people how bad suvs, and big oil are. Then cashing a paycheck from their profits. What's a word to discribe a person like that? hummmmm

"What’s a word to discribe a person like that? hummmmm"

I know. I know. Call on me!

Liberal leech. That is my final answer.

If it were to be serious then you would be saying things like
"I'm glad to see the ridership numbers on the Lynchburg line to more then expected, but this is only a six month span. I think it would require a bit more time to see the true figures, before we dump $93,000,000 more we don't have."

Old timer, I was on route 522! In Orange and Culpeper counties in my little Outback...and I was smart enough to wait for the plow! Yeah, I would have had to turn into a snow plow myself to get outa that one. However, I didn't like being told I should drive this or that or even ride the train to be called "conservative". I doubt the train is going to stop in Orange anyway....However, my hubby was driving around in a 2W drive FULL SIZE 8 cylinder pick up in the three feet and didn't have an issue and less of one when the plow came by!! So much for my wanting to be called conservative! However, if we get that kinda snow again, I will be glad to go over in the hubby's big ole gas guzzling truck and pick ole Stamford50 to get him to the train station!

@carter
To which Witt do you refer? The HVAC or the refrigeration unit?

Just ran back and read JeffD's comments...Straight roads in VA??? Now where's your sense of adventure!! Just kidding, wishing here too, but knowing it'll never happen.

Carter, BP stock is looking up today because Exxon made a bid.

whateva! I tend to agree with you on not dictating what people drive. OTOH, I find that too often people in such vehciles then complain about the cost of fuel.

Basically, for me, if the costs of oil and thus gas were fully captured in the price, - and theya re not in this country - then you should let people decide what they want to drive. They won't get a free ride. At 4$ a gallon you'll see the SUVs disappear pretty quickly.

stamford. if your going to get all anal-litical with your theories why not factor in the total cost per mile per car including maintanace, body repairs in accidents and hospital bills for people injured because they drove a crackerbox. Most SUVs go at least 150-200k and have suspensions tha last longer. They survive fender benders cheaper and the air bags go off less often in accidents because they can take a crunch. if they are carrying around a little league team that 15 miles to the gallon x 9 exceeds 25 miles to the gallon x 5.

Additionally, although I don't "charge" for it my suv is the neighborhood transport van thus allowing my friends to buy smaller vehicles. The world needs suvs and the difference in fuel on the whole scheme of things is comparable to one extra night in a hookers career.

Screw the railroads. That was my point to begin with.

Well according to you stam nothing is real. Your good economic stimulus plan is starting to unravel. The money is running out and the Dems are going to be close keeping up this charade till November. Markets are falling and the suckers are wising up.

I bet you made plenty of cash rehashing what the WH has been feeding the public. Cash is king.

@What Happen
The original story has been obscured by commentators who see mass transit generally, and rail transporation in particular as demonic liberal plots to take away imagined freedoms of the SUV, .99/gallon high test, and low fat Twinkies. In the meantime, the rail operators, CSX and Southern, collect Rail Enhancement Funds each year and do next to nothing to improve passenger rail service through Amtrak.

@very old timer
You should factor the entire cost of your vehicle, including maintenance, repairs, and medical coverage, but I have to differ with you on your mileage model: a tank that gets 15 mpg does not get a brownie point for carrying dozens of people. The crate gets what it was engineered to get and no more. Somehow, the perfumed charms of the assault vehicle have eluded me, as have the semi-pros to whom you refer in your last line.

@jeezlouise
We understand your point all too well. You are flat out wrong, but we understand you.

So were do these trillions come from? Just fire up the printer? Working real well for Spain, Greece.
Every ââ?¬Å?green job” created with government money in Spain over the last eight years came at the cost of 2.2 regular jobs, and only one in 10 of the newly created green jobs became a permanent job, says a new study released this month. The study draws parallels with the green jobs programs of the Obama administration.
Been there done that in the real world, your world maybe, but not the real one.

Stamford50, while Old Timer did not get into as many as specifics about spill over costs as you claim, he/she did say that gasoline is subsidized in this nation. From the subsidized roads, to the cost of wars, gas is subsidized. If a tax capturing those spillover costs were applied to fuel, you'd see behaviour change. Forms of public transit like trains would become more popular.

The biggest change though is that people would buy smaller houses, closer to their place of employment. They would choose more pedestrian friendly forms of existance, isntead of the suburb commuter lifestyle still being forced on this region, even when neighborhoods try and push back against it and be more pedestrian oriented.

Not sure about the labour costs you refer to. Are you eaing in the cost of manufacturing cars, or what?

Stamford50, agreed we need to find a more suitable energy source than oil...giving you props for your ideas about the wind farms (I had never heard of the offshore type, interesting, now I am educating myself on net).. I understand what you are saying about the decade long program, I can see how this would boost jobs, increase consumer confidence and spending...however, again I don't see with the job situation as it is, there just is no money flowing in to start this in motion...people aren't working so they aren't paying taxes...do we just allow our government to run on a line of credit (the deficit is already high enough, don't ya think)? Sorry for the confusion, I only was require to take economics 101...past that, I am a bit foggy.

@whateva!
Thanks for your commentary. When there isn't enough tax money to cover outlays, the government must borrow and this increases the demand for loanable funds. So, the direct answer to your concern about the government running a line of credit is exactly right, and it must be done until the economy is self-sustaining. If we cut expenditures too soon, we'll end in a double-dip recession that could be worse than the Great Depression when the administration obeyed defict hawks and curtailed funding prematurely. We could also consider raising taxes now to pay for two unnecessary wars. Until Mr. Bush, our nation had never cut taxes while waging war.

Whateve!,

I think we have to be very careful about assuming WWII specifically pulled us out of the Great Depression. A lot of stuff was already being doneby FDR and working, it just didn't go quite far enough. In that case, we also already had a tremendous amount of industry and far less debt. Today, we have given away industry, and people have been using debt to make up for their lack of cashflow and subsidizing the lifestyle they believe they should be living.

WWII helped the US because places like Britain were buying our products, before we entered.

perhaps the real solution to the unemployment and carbon issues would be for us to outlaw bulldozers and hire the unemployed to excavate using shovels after walking to work.

If 20% of the vehicles are fuel hogs and the owners sold them and replaced them with vehicles that got 50% better mileage what would the net reduction in fuel be?

Example "a" 100 vehicles that get 25 miles to the gallon equals 100 gallons of fuel used to drive 2500 miles.

Example "b" 80 cars get 25 miles to the gallon and 20 cars get 16 mpg so to drive the same 2500 miles you have 80 cars using 80 gallons of fuel and 20 suvs using 31.25 gallons for a total of 111.25 gallons.

So If you eliminated every SUV you could reduce gas consumption by 10% UNLESS of course you factor in all the delivery costs for people who cannot fit things in their cars.

We could reduce fuel consumption by ten percent by simply avoiding unessasary trips.

Seems like sme people just love to hate suv's because they can.

I notice they have no problems firing up their ac in their house all summer which runs on electricity created with coal.

"I notice they have no problems firing up their ac in their house all summer which runs on electricity created with coal."

I always get a good laugh every time I drive by houses and notice one or more small cars in the driveway but the house is a "bragging rights McMansion". Talk about using gobs of coal...

nicknameoscar

"Do what I say, not what I do"

Either Amtrak, the City, or the Wild Wing Cafe need to take responsibility of fixing the pot holes in the parking lot there. And I've decided that the City should. Why? Because you can't expect waiters and waitresses to pay for it, drive trains, AND wait on customers. So get with it, Mayor Norris! Start filling holes.

if we can dare take a break from the beloved partisan tennis match for just a second or two...

Silverman has been sitting on that piece of land for many years now asking a ridiculous price for it, and hoping that the city (not known for being frugal) will eventually pay up. There's really nothing anyone can do until Silverman needs the money, or just gets sick of the complaints. Not likely in either case.

To me, it would be an ideal imminent domain spot for the feds to gobble up for MARKET value. If we're honestly going to get rail service to Richmond back and make trains much more a part of how we get around, we're gunna need that real estate to help make it happen.

As for light rail, there's another possibility in using the tracks that are already here. But that would make for some major (expensive) changes to the bridges over Robinson Blvd. and our beloved, rock solid 1901 bridge over 14th. street. Probably not doable. Adding an addition rail or two between Beer Run and the train station that then goes up on to Main Street would probably be a better option.

The fact remains that rail is by far the best way to move both freight and people. WAY more efficient than any other on land. I used to live in Holland where rail and bike lanes rule. It isn't terrible. In fact, it makes for communities that know each other.