High Speed Rail gathering speed – Op-ed

News in the USA and UK over the last few days has been humming about High Speed Rail initiatives in both countries.

In the USA news is reaching fever pitch over High Speed Rail as the details of submissions for the US Government’s $8 billion high speed rail initiative start to appear.

Routes currently being reported are the $830 million route between Chicago and Detroit a new 110 M.P.H. train that will cut the travel time from Detroit to Chicago from 6 hours to 4 hour.
California  applied for
$1.1 bullion for including San Jose to San Francisco line (Bizjournals),
New York State applied for $565 million of stimulus funds for 38 passenger rail projects (NYDOT),
Pennsylvania submitted applications to the federal government for $28.2 million(PR-USA)
NJ seeks $38.5M in high-speed rail funding (NJBiz)

Virginia wants $75M for high-speed rail (Washington Business Journal)
Maryland seeks $360 million for rail upgrades (The Baltimore Sun)
Texas Requests $1.8 Billion For High Speed Rail Project (KWTX)

Florida asks feds for $270 million for commuter rail (Orlando Sentinel)

These are just some of the submissions for the stimulus. I find it an amazing about of money to spend on commuters across such a vast country. One has to hope that this is not all just spent on high-speed trains between cities but also improving of city suburban rail systems. I look forward to the next round of submissions for more rail stimulus funds in October.

Today in the UK, a report was released by Network Rail for plans of a £34 billion, 200m.p.h. high speed rail line running along the west coast on the UK from London to Scotland. The interesting thing is that the train is not only being seen as a commuter train but also as the low carbon option to cutting emissions from domestic flights, cars, trucks. The train will run from central London to Manchester with a diverging line to Birmingham. The line will then continue to Preston with lines diverging to Warrington and Liverpool after which the main line will continue to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The plans in the USA and the UK are very impressive, however I have wonder how much is achievable with so many projects being submitted at the same time with large monetary figures for high speed rail weighted against the demand over the next 5-10 years for expertise, skilled technicians and engineers. Will there be a shortage or will this put more people back to work?

I think these projects will take a long time to implement as there are a limited number of train companies Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, etc who only have so much capacity within their factories. This factor is critical as currently there is a large demand from China, India, and Brazil for high speed trains and expertise.

I hope that governments will achieve these ambitions not just because it will stimulate the economy of the cities and companies building the networks, but will also have some impact on reducing emissions. Lets’ hope these projects are fulfilled and they don’t get lost inside the bureaucracy of governments.

SOURCES:
Freep.com, BizjournalsNYDOT,, PR-USA NJBiz, Washington Business Journal, The Baltimore Sun, KWTX , Orlando Sentinel, Network Rail (UK)

By Damian Holmes – 26 August 2009

County so short of cash its closing parks

King County announced that they are going to close 39 parks to cut $4.6million from the $56.4 million budget shortfall for 2010. Some of these parks had been newly upgraded such as White Center Park(2007 upgrade).

All of the 39 park land will remain open however not maintained and in December all facilities such as playgrounds, toilets, carparks will be locked or fenced off.

King County Executive Kurt Triplett called for possible proposals from cities and taxpayers to transfer the park ownership for free. Some cities have looked at annexing the parks from the county however this would often take more than 18 months.

SOURCE: King County Government

Kentucky surface mined mountains whats left behind?

Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald Leader at Kentucky.com has written the interesting article titled The plan: Plant 125 million trees which is the first in a an occasional series of stories about what happens to the land left behind after the mountains have been mined.

A group promoting reforestation in Appalachia is seeking more than $422 million to plant trees on mountains that were cleared or leveled for surface mining, a program that could have far-reaching impact on the economy and environment of the region……..

Read the first article in a series at the SOURCE:  Lexington Herald Leader at Kentucky.com - The plan: Plant 125 million trees

IMAGE SOURCE: Flickr – The Sierra Club

Designs on Policy – Allison Arieff Blog – NYTimes.com

A great opinion piece about a need for a Design Policy by Allison Arieff  of the NYTimes.com

Some designers I spoke to are less than thrilled with the whole design policy idea. An architect said emphatically, “Good design needs no spokesperson, needs no voice other than itself.” Yet I’m not convinced that’s always the case. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be living in, as I’ve heard one homeowner describe it, “a house with a Spanish Gothic front”, or driving Pontiac Aztecs through poorly designed intersections……..

read the full op-ed piece at the SOURCE: NYTimes.com – Designs on Policy – Allison Arieff Blog

Group presents recommendations on improving Port Angeles – Peninsula Daily News

Peninsula Daily News reports

“Creating a presence of both Port Angeles and the downtown area would be one way to create a more inviting city, a group of architects told Port Angeles leaders and citizens on Wednesday night.

Carol Mayer-Reed, Portland, Ore.-based landscape architect as a member of the consultant team.

read the full article @ the Peninsula Daily News – Group presents recommendations on improving Port Angeles

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