At one time riding the rails was a delightful way to travel; quick and easy as well as a reasonable and profitable way to move goods. Something happened over the last 50 years. Some people objected to railroads as unsightly. They also became crowded and in many cases run
New England has some hard learned lessons for the rest of the country when it comes to infrastructure. Boston is home to the nation’s biggest highway project, the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (a.k.a. “the Big Dig”).
The Big Dig has become synonymous with corruption, cost overruns, delays, shoddy workmanship and waste. It is a model for what not to do when building national infrastructure. High speed rail planners should review it step-by step and formulate a plan that is an exact opposite of the Big Dig.
Why was the Big Dig such a calamity? Many reasons can be singled out, but the primary one is that it’s the way we Americans do business: contract the work to the private sector that seeks maximum profit while giving minimum return.
Slow down, high-speed rail seekers. In the race for stimulus money, the Obama administration has received applications from 24 states requesting $50 billion for high-speed rail projects, reports The New York Times.
That’s more than six times the amount of money designated. Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration, told the Times that the selections will be merit based, and will be made this winter.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah Sen. Bob Bennett is involved in a fickle love affair with stimulus money. Two days before the Republican senator voted against the nearly $800 billion package – which he said would only stimulate the national debt – Bennett wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him to pay special attention to a few projects in Utah. He wasn’t alone, reports the Tribune. All four of Utah’s Republicans in Congress voted against the bill, before using congressional stationery to try to nab a portion of the stimulus package for their state.