Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Are Local Lehigh Valley Leaders Tilting Towards Passenger Rail?

RenewLV is not your typical grassroots organization. Its members include PPL's Bert Daday, Brown Daub's L. Anderson Daub and LVEDC's Raymond F. Suhocki. Many members are also part of the advisory committee behind the plan to widen Route 22. Advocates of that plan have dismissed any notion of rail service, especially light rail. I haven't seen Daday at too many oil independence rallies.

Is this mindset against rail service changing? RenewLV is actually sponsoring a transportation forum to promote passenger rail! On Tuesday, January 16, between 6:30 and 9 PM, state senator Rob Wonderling and Brookings scholar Robert Puentes will be on hand at the Hotel Bethlehem's Terrace Room. And we're all invited for free food and drinks.

Bethlehem City Council President J. Michael Schweder has already announced he prefers rail service to wider highways. This latest announcement from a group of business leaders indicates they may be changing their thinking as global warming and peak oil become reality.

28 comments:

Chris Casey said...

Bernie, I think I might have to pay a visit to this affair!

Bernie O'Hare said...

What's not to like? Free food? Beverages? The beautiful Hotel Bethlehem? I'd like to go myself. My suspicion is that the focus will be on rail service from PA to Jersey and NYC to help out our overburdened commuters.

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

If that is the case it can be leveraged to our advantage. If we follow this closely and make sure that the stations are located in (only) our cities downtowns it could be a boon for our cities.

Sure it would suck to see another big parking deck in downtown Allentown but it open up the door for all sorts of anther urban investment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:19, I agree with you. It could be a good thing that can solve several problems. And I actually think rail service from PA to NYC is a good thing.

Chris Casey said...

I say run it to Harrisburg, load up the legislature by telling them that Lobbyists are on board with free food, hookers, and checks for all of them. Then have it derail as it crosses the Delaware, letting the PA legislature plunge hundreds of feet to their demise!

Anonymous said...

we'll all be dead & buried by the time the first train makes its maiden run from the LV to NYC or vice-versa. in the end the expense alone will prove passenger rail service from the LV to NYC unfeasible.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 7:53, If we can't afford to fill up our gas tanks, those trains are going to look pretty damn appealing.

Anonymous said...

what kind of food are they serving? are the drinks the kind that i can get arrested for?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I expect lobster tails and champagne.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, RenewLV's been pro-rail for awhile; they're just getting a lot louder about it.

On the substance, I think Anon 1:19's got it right; downtown stations will spur economic development where it's much-needed (the old Easton one is in a perfect spot, with potential; the old Allentown one is in an area that desperately needs some business).

And commuters are here, for better or worse. Their commuting overburdens the rest of us, leaving us with pretty close to the worst air quality in America (bottom 10). Rail to the cities can start cleaning that up.

Anonymous said...

Rail can also make it easier for drug trafficking into Allentown. Because of our lower cost of living it will also bring more residents into the area, which means more development, more crime, eventually higher taxes. I have heard nothing but complaints about cleaning up Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton which has started, but this will just derail (no pun intended) the progress we have made.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:47, Look at it from another viewpoint. Rail service will make it easier for Allentonians to get to jobs in other locations. It could actually decrease drug activity in A-town and elsewhere as cheap transportation to jobs and educational opportunities become available.

Anonymous said...

Well, I lived in Lansdale and moved to the outskirts of downtown Allentown because when they put in rail stops all over the Lansdale area, it became a nightmare and the value of our house was decreased, because the neighborhoods became invested with drugs, crime and individuals looking for cheaper housing but still commuting to Philly for their jobs. I moved up here to save my kids from getting sucked in and now I will have to worry about my grandchildren.

What you are saying is to make it easier for the commuters, but you don't think it will make it easier for the drug dealers, to get their drugs to Allentown. Half the time you read articles in the MC about a drug deal gone bad or a shooting, one or more of the individuals involved comes from out of town, so now we are giving them a cheap ticket to get here.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:45, I see your point. I'm no expert and you raise an interesting question. I hope you can attend the session and make your concern known to the Brookings scholar, who may have an answer. My view, and it is not worth much, is that rail may help, instead of hurt, A-town. But I don't have your experience as a former Lansdale resident.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I will be there. I am open to hearing more about the plans but also am leary about what else it may bring that may not be in A-towns best interest.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm glad you're going. I plan on being there, too. And I'll be very interersted in the answer to your well-considered question.

Anonymous said...

I think it is great to see the conversation revolving around what people think is god for the queen city. Maybe people throughout the region are starting to want to see it be all it can be.

The way I see it, people, and possibly more problems, are going to come regardless. Do we want these inevitable changes to cause our are to look like Portland or Los Angeles.

My vote is not for Los Angeles.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon, Hope you're not talking about Portland, PA!

Anonymous said...

Bernie-

Thanks for the info on the meeting. My pals and I have kvetched for some time about the lack of rail service. I chalked up the situation to Big Interests beyond our control. So I'm pretty jazzed that, if you'll pardon the phrase, this line of thinking is working up a head of steam.

As for that Lansdale rail stop coment, I'm sorry about that situation... but I don't see this as a problem in say, for instance, Summit, NJ. Talk about real estate costs.

I do beleive rail service will be a HUGELY positive hting for the Valley. I've just returned form London and am still in the afterglow of having used their fabulous train system, so I am even more for this service.

Maybe I'll see you there!

best,
Donna
[now with a blog of my own]

Bernie O'Hare said...

Donna, Thanks for your comment. I am looking forward to this little shindig myself. The Lansdale question is a good one. I'm looking forward to a good exchange, although I confess I have a disposition towards rail. Now I have to check out your blog.

Anonymous said...

talk about working up a head of steam! glad you stopped by bernies place, brickgrrl, if only for a moment.

Anonymous said...

The people that are concerned about drugs being trafficked in are forgetting that I-78 and the turnpike already do a great job of bringing drugs into our area. Was 78 in danger of not being extended because people knew it would be a drug pipeline? Hardly. People forget also that the RR's were here along time ago. Bring 'em back, the sooner the better.

Bernie O'Hare said...

GOP4MassTran? Wow! Well, that's good news. I'm glad to see people from both sides of the political spectrum willing to look at this a little more closely.

Anonymous said...

Plan on being there. I am in the National Association of Railroad Passengers and look forward to supporting the RETURN of passenger rail to the LV.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Given the interst, I'll post this again late next week and will also put it up on another blog.

Anonymous said...

National Association of Railroad Passnegers? Who'd a thunk it? I learn somethin' new nearly every day on Bernies blog. Thanks, BO!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon, I didn't know this either. We both learn things thanks to the many interesting people who are nice enough to comment.

Anonymous said...

www.narprail.org. The Delaware Valley Association of RR Passengers is www.dvarp.org, and the New Jersey Association of RR Passengers is www.njarp.org.