Why don't RRs pay for their own ROW modification and expansion in in the crowded and congested Chicago rail yard area? Recent news reports show tens of millions of dollar are going to be spent to improve rail traffic flow in and around Chicago over the next few years. Government underwrites too much spending in Americn transportation now as it is.
I dunno, Mr. Peters. The theory is that it can sometimes be cheaper to improve one part of an interrelated transportation system than another, and so public funds are better spent on that cheaper part, even if it is privately held. If it costs a billion to get the railroad out of the streets' way. that's a better deal than spending two billion to do street work around it, even if the railroad gets a freebie.
You also have real changes in externalities from rail operations by eliminating grade crossings, and these can come back directly to the surrounding neighborhoods -and their governments - as the property values increase. One study of the Alameda Corridor suggests it shuffled 200 million in residential property value from area to area as volume shifted.
The incremental cost of a grade separation over a controlled crossing, IOW, has an actual quantifiable return, spread out over the abutters, and the local government also shares in that return itself.
So, yes, this could be legitimate use of local tax money, and the same arguments, excepting the externalities, could also apply to federally supported transportation.
Now how much CREATE reflects honest analysis, and how much it was driven by the smell of other people's money lying about unsecured, I leave as an exercise for the reader - for now.
Jerry1066 reads like a tea party adherent, and one who doesn't know anything about railroad rights-of-way or investment. The CREATE project in and around Chicago includes federal, state, and local governments and the railroads that service the area. The railroads are providing the capital for thos specific projects where they receive benefit and the public agencies are paying for those that benefit the public. By combining in a public-private partnership, the entire Chicago metro area will see less congestion and far sooner than if each element is delayed until someone comes up with financing. And Jerry1066, do you take the same position about highway finance. You surely are aware that big trucks do not come anywhere close to paying their allocable share of the cost of building and maintaining highways and bridges. You do know that, right? To be just a bit general, you really need to remind yourself that government always is exoected to perform certain tasks that the private sector cannot, and taxes are simply the means of paying for the activities of government.
This is a problem that is going to fix itself. Chicago is being bypassed by two recent rail projects- CSX New Baltimore Intermodal and NS Rickenbacker Intermodal Yard in Columbus OH not to mention the CN aquisition of the EJ&E that loops around the city. Chicago itself is losing its manufacturing base in favor of high tech that does not use freight trains but does demand good commuter trains
"commoncarrier" must be Railwayists doppelganger. He is equally mindless. Don't hold your breath waiting for Chicago to fade as a railroad town. The CSX and Norfolk Southern intermodal facilities in Ohio are intended to make the transit to/from Chicago more efficient. The two big western carriers, UP and BNSF, have built their latest intermodal facilities west of Chicago - half way to Iowa - for the same reasons. CN's acquisition of the EJ&E was undertaken because CN got tired of waiting for the CREATE program to be funded, while it had a need to make its line to Prince Rupert, BC, viable into the U.S. Midwest and Southeast. There sure are a lot of trains going to/from Chicago for a city that supposedly is losing its manufacturing base. You didn't mention, commoncarrier, that Chicagoans have stopped eating, so I guess there is a lot more than just manufactured goods moving into and out of metro Chicago. If you knew twice as much as you think you do, you'd still only know half of what you should.
I believe many or most of the biggest ticket items in CREATE are grade separation projects to reduce street traffic snarl-ups caused by commuter train operations during the rush hours.
That is so, Bill. And some are extremely expensive rail flyovers for which the benefiting railroads are putting up most of the money. I'd like to see some of these tea party types who don't think there should even be a government be forced to do without school teachers, firemen, police, VA medical care, highways, anything that doesn't qualify as spending for military defense. They're quick to condemn government spending - until it's something from which they benefit. Can you say hypocrite?
Let's keep this controversy simple and uncomplicated! Chicagoland is the industrial and rail hub of America; always has been and always will in the future. I applaud the governing authorities in Illinois for their vision regarding the efficient operations of massive rail freight congestion in and about the Chicago area. The engineering term for the construction of rail bridge over rail-yard is the "flyover"! This type of huge infrastructrue promotes rail safety, cost of operations, and actually makes way for any planned expansion of passenger rail in and out of Chicago, both locally such as Metra, or for the continental traveler by Amtrak. Another factor not mentioned here in above commentary is that the city of Chicago has gigantic political clout regarding Federal government subsidy. All's fair in love and war; as the railroad corporations pay large taxes to state and federal government for their business, the feds owe it to the railroads to assist in infrastructure for the common good of the country...remember, the Interstate Highway System is totally owned and operated by the US government.
GS>Let's keep this controversy simple and uncomplicated!
Even if the reality behind it isn't?
From my perspective, Amtrak hasn't been very aggressive in taking the opportunity to improve the eastern corridor out of Chicago. High speed corridors to Detroit and Cleveland have been designated as well as the existing routes with 14 daily trains; but speeds of 30-45 mph plague much of the present NS alignment between 22nd St and 61st St. No improve has been proposed despite Illinois having a ranking US Senator who supports Amtrak and the pending Englewood Flyover project delayed due to a DBE issue.
A new connection from Union Station to the St Charles Air Line and CN offers advantages over the Grand Crossing connection that has been proposed as part of CREATE. The SCAL would eliminate the current backup move, afford a faster Amtrak route to Carbondale and New Orleans and an alternative for Indianapolis, and not complicate the NS 47th St inter-modal terminal expansion. The 6, and potentially 8, additional Amtrak trains with the Grand Crossing alternatives would aggravate conflicts with NS.
Furthermore, the SCAL connection would allow combining an Airport express service from McCormick Place and Union Station to O'Hare with the Metra North Central Service where Milwaukee District track capacity is limited. Connections between the Metra Electric, NCS, and other suburban lines at Union Station would provide better regional coordination, avoid a CTA fare, and in some cases eliminate a transfer.
Finally, the new SCAL connection would facilitate consolidation of Rock Island weekend service at Union Station and a possible Lincoln Service (Saint Louis) Corridor reroute between Joliet and Chicago. That's a complicated issue as well where saving the cost of grade separations on the CN Joliet secondary precludes development of the Metra Heritage Corridor that could relieve some of the demand for service on the BNSF that is near capacity.
Does Amtrak have the funds to pay its share? How aggressive one is usually is related to how much money it is contributing.
CREATE is controversial only because someone came on this blog and made what I consider a politically motivated comment questioning the whole project. CREATE is the result of about seven years of negotiations among the various participants. Simple? Hardly. But, when they finished their negotiations, each party was committed to pay for its share of each element that gave it benefit - including the public. All the tea party folks seem to do is oppose, oppose, oppose. Anyone seen anything positive from the radical right?
So, in short, the answer is, the public is paying for public benefits, the private RR's are paying for private benefits, and by pursuing it as a negotiated common package we get more bang for the buck for both the public money and the private money.
Well stated, BruceMcF. There also is the benefit to the entire society of getting projects completed far sooner than if various players had to wait until they had the money. Norfolk Southern, for example, might still be thinking about the Heartland Corridor if it were not for a public-private partnership. Why should the public pay for any of it? Because absent the corridor project NS might never see benefits that would justify its clearance of the route for double-stack operations. Why should public agencies participate and contribute financially? Because improved transportation infrastructure will benefit East Coast ports that soon will see an increase in ships having transited the enlarged Panama Canal. Major retailers like Home Depot, Wal Mart, etc., will consider locating regional distribution centers in areas of the Midwest that might not have been considered if the route were not cleared. The same applies to the CSX National Gateway.
A very important area of national economics has not been touched upon here! Railroad infrastructure assistance by the federal and state governments helps create JOBS! When the transcontinental railroad project was authorized by president Lincoln massive professional engineering and common labor jobs were realized. National transportation infrastructure improvement makes life more efficient and travel safer for all. I endorse every railroad "flyover" bridge that can possibly be dreamed of! I cheer for the prospect of huge new rail bridges over our country's major rivers! I support "genuine" high-speed passenger and freight rail that will require new bridgework as has never been imagined! Historically, our nation's rail network has been the largest sustainable job source in America. So let us build, build and build like never before! The historical study of our country's rail infrastructure reveals the best cooperation between federal authority and the private industrail sector of all time!
Oh, goldenspike, you are going to incur the wrath of the tea party movement with that comment. I happen to agree with you for the most part.
Hear,hear goldenspike and Larry, wouldn't it be great to see some aboveboard, straight out commitment to the common good by our elected Congress and Administration via a fair and balanced National Surface Transportation Plan of at least a ten year funded life? Larry, you are the pragmatist here but I would imagine that you too would like something more than an election cycle to develop a private/public collaborative transportation infrastructure plan. The misguided tea party types need not apply as they would not bring anything to the table beyond their nose tips.