Ray LaHood Think High-Speed Rail Should Be Our Legacy …

Ray LaHood

… and he’s right.

In a recent article, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pushes for the development of an efficient high-speed rail system in the United States to rival those of Japan and Europe.

Unlike most articles/letters of this kind, however, LaHood’s piece (originally published in the Orlando Sentinel) is compelling stuff, urging young (cynical?) people to consider their generation’s legacy and contribution to future generations of Americans.  It’s the kind of plea that begs for an “Ask not what your country can do for you …” reference, and one that is full of reason and pathos, invoking (as it does) both environmental and economic buzz-words, coming to conclusions that are tough to argue against.

I don’t mean for this post to be any sort of “love-letter” to Ray LaHood … but I do want high-speed rail.  I agree with every word LaHood says, when he claims that high-speed rail “will seamlessly integrate large metropolitan communities and economies through a safe, convenient and reliable transportation alternative.  It will ease congestion on our roads and at our airports.  It will reduce our reliance on oil as well as our carbon emissions.  And it will provide a much-needed boost to America’s hard-hit manufacturing sector during a time of economic struggle.”

How could it (high-speed rail) not deliver on at least two of those promises?  Consider:

  • Creating manufacturing (and other) jobs – unemployment is higher than it has been in my (and many of Gas 2.0 readers’) lifetime.  Someone will have to build the rails, blast the tunnels, construct the trains, etc.  This will be a long-term employment machine, as well, since others will need to clean the terminals, maintain the stations, repair and service the trains (and the power-plants serving the trains).  There will be jobs for graphic artists and web developers to promote the trains and educate the public and generate maps and apps and app maps … it just goes on and on.
  • Easing congestion – who would travel by car or plane on trips of less than 500 miles if there was an effective high-speed rail?  I certainly wouldn’t.

The last point LaHood makes is one, also, that should speak to some of the recent short-sightedness among the political reactionaries in Ohio and Wisconsin – and it’s a point that speaks to the idea of a future and a legacy:  many Americans my age (early-mid 30’s) can hardly imagine an America without interstate highways.  The interstates have – for better and for worse – shaped the American landscape for the last 40 years, and have altered our perceptions of distance and culture in ways that my generation simply can’t appreciate.  The interstates are the legacy of our parent’s generation, and the rails could be ours.

Nice-looking legacy, I think!

La Hood points to the notion of “legacy” again in his impassioned closing, which I’ve included below.

“When we look to America’s past, it can be easy to forget that America was never predestined to have the world’s best highways. Progress only became possible because generations before us dreamed big and built big – because they imagined, invested and sacrificed for the infrastructure on which we rely to this day.”

Like our parents and grandparents, we, too, must exercise the foresight and courage to invest in the most important infrastructure projects of our time. If we work together, a national high-speed-rail network can and will be our generation’s legacy.”

Well said, Ray.

You can click over to BizTimes for the original article:  by clicking here.

Source:  Orlando Sentinel, via BizTimes.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.