Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Vision for American Development: My guest post on

I've recently written a guest post for the SinceSlicedBread movement's website, which is located here. It starts with this opener:

The basic premise of the New Vision for American Development is that this country needs to move away from the auto-centric patterns of development that have been destroying our communities since the end World War Two. That's not to say that cars are bad per se, but that we have an imbalance of auto-centric infrastructure and we must now seek a return to equilibrium by turning our focus to other modes and patterns of development.

Read the rest here. And please let me know what you think in the comments below!



Chris Lowe said...

Garlynn, I like the proposal as outlined -- haven't looked at the detailed link yet.

It reminds me of a conversation about 25 years ago with a college friend's father, who was a rail partisan. He argued that if rail got the same kinds of subsidy as the highways -- i.e. the tracks and beds built and maintained by government entities, with private carriers competing focused on the actual transport of people and goods -- that rail could outcompete truck transport for freight. Not quite the same as people moving, but probably related.

Perhaps airports are another analogy, more comparable in terms of smaller number of carriers & different kinds of entities managing, public provision of neutral traffic management, fees charged to carriers etc.

I am curious about the ecology of power to run the trains. Overall I suppose it is a net gain if it reduces auto & truck use, but it is not insignificant. Are the trains electric? My recollection is that there is a lot of electric power loss over long transmission distances, and there are considerable problems already facing us about growing demand for electrical generation -- manifested as pressure for either more coal-fired generating plants, or revival of nuclear fission generation despite lack of solution to waste problems, public health threats in transport of fuels & waste, & potential security concerns.

Garlynn Woodsong said...

I would think that a holistic plan for powering a new national electric train system would need to be a part of the plan for constructing such a system.

I've previously suggested covering the ROW for such a system with what would amount to a really long carport system covering the tracks, and covered with solar panels. This would probably provide more than enough electricity to power the trains themselves, perhaps even running a surplus to sell back to the grid, during the day. And at night, for the most part, our nation has excess grid capacity.

Of course, detailed production and load analyses would need to be run to confirm these speculations, but that would be my off-the-cuff recommendations.