Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wiser Development Has Ties to the Railroad (Times of Trenton, 2/19/07)

Thirty-six years ago, Arlo Guthrie sang of “the disappearing railroad blues.” Kudos for your February 9th editorial in support of Amtrak and rail transit, "U.S. should keep Amtrak on track."

To anyone who does not appreciate the importance of rail transportation, I have two words – Long Island . During my youth, a WOR radio traffic reporter would refer to the Long Island Expressway as “the world’s longest parking lot.” In his Pulitzer Prize winning “The Power Proker” (1974), Robert Caro detailed how inattention to rail transit led to what frequently seems to be a 120-mile-long traffic jam. In the era of Long Island ’s post World War II housing boom, Caro speculated that it was the racial prejudices of one powerful leader that blocked efforts to provide inexpensive, public transit. Instead of pristine, bucolic havens from the city, he damned Long Islanders to “the world’s longest parking lot.” Modern Islanders have to undo those mistakes.

Meeting another housing boom, Central New Jersey need not repeat Long Island ’s mistakes. Rather than throwing money at highway expansion, Central New Jerseyans would be wise to support a new rail tunnel into Manhattan , as well as the resurrection of the West Trenton line and the development of the Monmouth-Ocean- Middlesex rail project.

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