Transportation can no longer be thought of as an entity unto itself – in a vacuum, in other words. It must be considered within the context of mobility, and, beyond that, environmental-friendliness or impact, and, even bigger, land-use impacts. Planning today should reflect this and take this into account.
In the United States, no new infrastructure package has been approved for better than four years now. These days there seems to be disagreement principally along party lines as to what qualifies as infrastructure. Infrastructure, in my mind’s eye, includes all things transportation-associated such as roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads, pipelines, and non-transport-related like buildings, and sewage, waste and water systems. You no doubt get the idea.
Eventually a comprehensive infrastructure bill will get Congress’ blessing, that then sent on to the president for signing or rejecting – the former, preferably. That time will be soon, hopefully.
Interestingly, and coincidentally, there appears to be varied opinion regarding California’s high-speed-rail project which is currently undergoing construction in the state’s central and southern San Joaquin Valley for 119 miles between Shafter and Madera.
Some feel the project should be completely abandoned and there are those in that camp among others, presumably, that are thoroughly convinced that the funds to complete this first section, just are not there. Meanwhile, among others who believe otherwise, their argument is that by continuing construction, once the central section is completed and available for use, they fear that money that had already been spent up to this point and is being spent currently will have been totally for nought and/or that too few will ride the trains. Those are perhaps the biggest fears out there.
Personally, I don’t have those reservations. I mean, look at all of the high-speed-rail systems that are in operation elsewhere on the planet.
People use them. In fact, in some corridors, high-speed-rail travel is replacing short-haul-aviation flights. That’s because, in those service lanes, over those distances, high-speed rail has become the preferred method of travel.
Besides providing a viable and suitable alternative to flying and, of course, driving, many continue to hold fast to the belief that high-speed-train travel is the most efficient in a surface-based-transportation application, myself one among a number that embrace this position. The reason being, it is due to the technology’s/mode’s making use of electricity as the sole means to move the trains. Not only does this make the trains outstanding at moving the masses over considerable distances in relatively short spaces of time and achieved without introducing much or anything in the way of pollution into the air, but the trains themselves are uniquely quiet.
Now, in getting back on the infrastructure track if you will, it goes without saying that building and maintenance projects bring jobs. And, as it relates in reference to bullet-train systems, where they had never previously existed and where a new service goes in, permanent positions are created in operations, equipment assembly and maintenance, payroll and accounting, train dispatching, these in addition to the creation of jobs in supporting industries, all of which assists in helping strengthen those economies so affected.
Furthermore, it is sometimes the case that regarding a high-speed-train station and even an air terminal in some situations, by virtue of their presence, these can facilitate the construction of other types of infrastructure, such as a station- or air-terminal-service/connecting light rail system, for example, or in the case of airports exclusively, an airport-based people-mover system. These can be either roadway or railway-based.
And, finally, the decisions cities make in terms of how they develop and grow, with thoughtful and forward-thinking consideration paid, cities can grow and develop productively, efficiently, resourcefully, environmentally responsibly, thus enabling prosperity and less encumbered mobility for its citizens, workers and visitors.
However, before any of this can come about, there must be a foundation upon which all of this rests. A foundation, as it happens, all revolves around infrastructure. And, here at home, especially at this time, infrastructure is the word.
As far as an available and suitable infrastructure package goes, let’s get this done. We can do this!
A reminder: May is National Bike Month.
Updated on Sept. 7, 2023 at 7:05 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
– Alan Kandel
Corresponding, connected home-page-featured image: JGHowes via Wikimedia Commons