The California High Speed Rail Authority is committed to breaking ground on a leg of the train that will serve passengers between the unincorporated town of Borden and the half-incarcerated town of Corcoran.Corcoran!
Whether you call it the train from nowhere or the train to nowhere, nobody will be riding it even when it’s done. That’s not libertarian cant: The actual plan for the $4.15 billion leg is that upon completion it will sit idle until other sections of track are completed.$4.15 billion!
Background: The CHSRA needs to break ground by September 2012 or lose $2.25 billion in federal funds. The U.S. Department of Transportation has for reasons of its own favored the sparsely populated Central Valley for this first leg of the thinly imagined high speed rail project.Reasons of its own? Can we get an investigation?
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, we just elected a new governor whose central election promise was to say no to $810 million connect Madison and Milwaukee by high-speed rail:
Scott Walker has made no secret of his aversion to high-speed trains, but before he goes any further with his plans to derail the planned Milwaukee-Madison line, Walker might consider some earlier chapters in Wisconsin's transportation history. They indicate that the governor-elect could be putting his state in reverse.Connections! We're all about relationships among people.
As long as there has been a Wisconsin, residents have labored mightily to establish connections with each other and with the world beyond the state's borders. Although disputes often arose in working out the details, the general trend was unmistakable....
The idea seems oddly nostalgic at first - why build passenger trains in the 21st century? - but it actually fits an emerging settlement pattern. Not in my lifetime but perhaps in my grandchildren's, and for better or worse, an interconnected megalopolis will sprawl from Benton Harbor, Mich., to Minneapolis-St. Paul. As the empty spaces fill in, there will be a demand for some form of transport that's faster than cars but has more frequent stops (and fewer exasperating waits) than airplanes.The columnist — John Gurda in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — is imagining a megalopolis in the future and telling us what people then will want. But people don't even want trains now. We drive cars. Or we take planes. There's also the bus. True, a bus doesn't go at a speed in between the speed of a car and a plane, but come on. Pick one. Road or air.
But, anyway, we have a nice train in Madison:
A train and a Christmas tree in the Wisconsin State Capitol.