Few outside the NYC megalopolis are aware of the dilapidated state of a good portion of the region’s infrastructure. At the top of the list are Penn Station (Manhattan) and the Hudson River Train Tunnel. Penn Station is the busiest ground transportation hub in the entire country, and is in dire need of repair, from the train tracks (the tracks as well as their technology) to the edifice itself to…the Hudson River Train Tunnel. Well over 100 years old (108 to be exact), it links Penn Station to North New Jersey, home to another 3.5M potential commuters. The tunnel barely withstood the ravaging force of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Shit, the tunnel was fucked up even before Sandy, truth be told, yet it’s still standing. But for how much longer? Former president Donald Chump, a native New Yorker, was big on the idea of a new tunnel before he took 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by siege. During his campaign and even in his victory speech election night, he pledged to rebuild highways, bridges, and tunnels. The process, dubbed the “Gateway Project,” was reportedly at the top of former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s agenda. Yet, tRump and his administration mysteriously went from salivating over “the most important infrastructure project in the country” to complete abandonment. Why? Many theorize that Cheesy’s only reason for talking big noise on the project was to gain favor from his (former) home state’s senior senator, Chuck Shumer in wake of the now infamous tax cuts that made the rich richer. In retrospect, the fact that the tax laws were passed through reconciliation and without a single Dem vote probably (no, definitely, dickheads) meant that 45 never had any intention to pull the trigger on a much-needed national infrastructure initiative, outside of it sounding “totally fucking cool” deep within his gelatin mass of a brain and him getting the “sole” credit for “rebuilding” this great nation. Anyway…I digress.
The jury is still out on the national infrastructure project (tunnel included). I, myself, have delved deep into the topic of infrastructure. I’ve studied China and how they are poised to dominate the global economy in upcoming years, chiefly due to their efforts in advancing infrastructure. They, like I, are big on the use of high-speed rail. I’ll skip all the technology and get to what you want to hear: many high-speed rails can travel in excess of 190 mph (300 km/hr). China isn’t the only nation that uses high-speed rail. There are plenty, from France to Russia to South Korea to Turkey to…you get the point. They weren’t the first to implement the technology, either. Japan was, in 1964. But what China is doing with high-speed rail is way more ambitious than any other country. They use high-speed rail most extensively, with over 23,550 miles (37,900 km) of track. They have designs for the HSR network, which boasts speeds of 120-220 mph (200-350 km/h). They also have strategically used the rails to interface diverse regions, linking technological, cultural, agricultural, industrial, and financial districts. The purpose of transportation is accessibility. By linking these areas, China can put a good dent in their perpetual population problem (say that 3 times consecutive for a prize). The renminbi can stretch a bit further for the person who makes a good yuan working in Beijing or Hong Kong but can’t quite afford to live in either city. Unskilled laborers can easily commute from the countryside to industrial districts to work factory jobs. Those living far away from the big cities can take day trips to see what all the fuss is about; little kids from nowhere can see what the lights of Hong Kong look like and become inspired to ascend to greatness from nothingness. Cargo can more easily be transported from the agricultural and industrial districts to other areas. Imagine living 150 miles away from your job but being able to make it in by 9:00 am after leaving the crib at 7:30 am, front doorstep to office/place of business front steps…
Before you get all upset and say, “damn, why can’t we…,” I’ll fill you in on a secret – we already have an initiative in place. The great state of Texas (home of the playas so there’ll never be no Plexus) is nearing go-status on high-speed rail, despite a handful of lawsuits from private landowners (the project has already received federal approval). Their high-speed rail plans to link Houston (SE Texas for the geographically challenged) to Dallas (Northern Texas). At operating speeds of 186-205 mph (299-330 km/h), it will make the 240-mile (390 km) trip from Houston to Dallas a 90-minute trip. Simple math says that trims what would be a car “day trip” by AT LEAST 2.5 hours. Now, I’ve never been to Texas outside catching a connecting flight at DFW (infinite love to big bro Skeet in H-Town and my bro Melvin Patterson, also a Houston native), but I’m pretty sure the traffic is a beeeaaahitch. I gotta ask my home girl Tiff for the scoop on Dallas traffic. So, in real time, we may be talking about a five or six-hour car trip. Now it’s time to make sure y’all strapped in because I’m about to take this blog high-speed. Ride witcha kinfolk…
We all know traffic is a dirty, dirty whore all around the country…but it’s especially shitty in high populated areas. So, let’s do some theorizing with high-speed rail…what if Sleepy Joe and Pete Buttigieg (Secretary of Transportation) pulled the trigger on a national infrastructure project that included extensive high-speed rail? Well, it would look something like this:
Let’s finish the Texas triangle off. Link Dallas to San Antonio/Austin (they’re in proximity) and SA/Austin to Houston. That would make the 274-mile car trip from Dallas to San Antonio by rail about the same length of time as the rail trip from Houston to Dallas. The rail trip from San Antonio to Houston would be even shorter, as the length is 197 miles by car. Imagine doing the Texas Triangle in slightly over FOUR HOURS! Let’s keep this going.
We gotta bring it to the beast, err umm, east coast, the Northeast Corridor to be exact. The first real segment of I-95 to be precise. Let’s link Boston to Providence, RI to New Haven CT, to NYC to Newark, NJ to Philly to Wilmington, DE to Baltimore to DC. That’s a total distance of over 450 miles (724 km). Amtrak Acela Express and other subsidiary services are already in place, but the lines only (only – lol) see speeds at a max of 150 mph (240 km/h), and that’s only in certain areas. Most US trains can only travel a max of 79 mph (127km/h). In addition, these services are limited. Very limited. But with complete high-speed rail? That’s a light 2.5 hours. No traffic. No traffic accidents. No lights. Just high speed. Y’all still not fucking with me? Ok. Let’s take it to killer Cali…
The last high-speed rail would link Northern and Southern California. It would begin in Sacramento and end in San Diego. In between stops would likely include Fresno, San Francisco, Oakland/Berkeley, San Jose, LA, and San Diego. I won’t even begin to do the city-to-city breakdown, I’ll simply mention the length in duration between the northernmost and southernmost points. Sacramento is about 504 miles away from San Diego by car. That’s well within range of a hotel/auntie or old college roommate house stay to break the trip up, considering traffic and meal/bathroom stoppage along the way. A high-speed rail trip would make it an under three-hour trip. I rest my case.
Traffic is still an evil bitch, gas and emissions are killing the environment, and patience is ultra-thin with everything under the sun these days. High-speed rail makes all types of sense in America. I’m guessing that a lot is riding on the Texas project. If it is indeed a go and is successful, it will put a lot of pressure on the national government to step up and make this a national endeavor. I plan to champion the cause when I’m elected to Congress in 4-6 years. Until then, keep reading my blogs. They’re the shiznahee.