• Amtrak: Connects US // American Jobs Plan Infrastructure Legislation

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Arlington
 
Connect Us will work where states want it to work: California, Michigan, Virginia, Maine, Illinois, Vermont, New York, Washington, Oregon, Colorado (and even Wyoming) and probably some routes but not others in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Then it might work if the pro rail coalition can hold on long enough in places like New Hampshire, or get formed in Wisconsin and Minnesota and Massachusetts

If the locals are hostile they are not going to facilitate the kind of “solution package” (money) that host railroads demand in return for happy cooperation

Frankly the Interstate Highway System worked the same way: it included negotiation with land/ROW owners and some were easy and obvious (When everyone’s interests were aligned) and some were painfully delayed and some never happened (I-84 from Hartford to Providence; I-95 between Downtown and Maryland)
  by eolesen
 
It might work in the states who can absorb the costs. Right now that's not CA NY IL. They needed serious bailouts not because of COVID but because they have huge financial obligations and a shrinking tax base. They each lost Congressional seats due to declining population (or by not growing as fast as other large states) and there have been some notable big company exits for lower tax states.

That all trickles down into less money for discretionary projects like new rail corridors. Hope might spring eternal, but the flow of "free" money doesn't.

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  by Rockingham Racer
 
It's not simply the states' lack of cooperation that poses an obstacle. The host railroads have a lot to say also.
  by Arlington
 
California had a budget surplus of $76B because tech employees Had higher incomes due to Covid and paid higher income taxes. (About $50B seems locally produced and $25B is federal aid)

And From what I’ve seen Connect Us requires what amount to “normal” levels of State suppprt which in CA, IL, NY do seem capable of (eg California will spend its previously committed $4B on HSR)

This also answers the “Can they cooperate with the host railroads?” question. States that already have a working relationship with their host railroads will have an easier time expanding service.

States that don’t have an ongoing relationship (no commuter rail and no State Supported Amtrak like MS, AL, GA, OH) are Probably not going to be able to formulate I solution with their host railroads even with the federal help that is being offered.

In the Middle, you have states like Colorado and NH whose effort may be backed by just enough prior study and political will to pull it together with Federal help.
  by cle
 
I do think certain routes like Rockford and New Hampshire should be more regional. And Metra / MBTA should frankly be electrified and run with EMUs. That would boost ridership a lot more than Amtrak projects, and help regional car traffic in a huge way. Get rid of locos on suburban routes, FFS.

Boston - Nashua - Manchester - Concord would be 2tph in many countries.

Identifying and nurturing these mini corridors offers the biggest opportunities, in my view. But they need speed to compete (plus the ability to work comfortably during commute i.e. nice new stock).
  by Arlington
 
I respect those who say that Amtrak has correctly identified priority corridors like Concord NH, Scranton, Reading, etc as Federal priorities but probably won’t succeed in converting to Amtrak what really should be run by local district commuter authorities.

For Concord NH, the MassDOT/MBTA negotiated unlimited passenger rights and is therefore the natural operator
  by cle
 
If there was seamless national ticketing - mode and operator agnostic, then the likes of Ronkonkoma to Philly or Nashua to Providence (minus Boston station shenanigans) would be as easy as any other interchange. Applies even more to a basic journey like Newark to Jamaica/JFK with NJT, or even intra-MTA operators (White Plains to Jamaica) - shocking.
  by Ken W2KB
 
Arlington wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 6:19 am Frankly the Interstate Highway System worked the same way: it included negotiation with land/ROW owners and some were easy and obvious (When everyone’s interests were aligned) and some were painfully delayed and some never happened (I-84 from Hartford to Providence; I-95 between Downtown and Maryland)
Eminent domain laws vary considerably among the states. Some allow for delays, others do not. For example, the process in New Jersey is that the State unilaterally determines that real property is needed for a state purpose, such as a highway, railway, school, etc. The State then deposits with the Court the dollar amount the State, in its sole discretion, has determined the property to be taken is worth. Thereafter formal notice is served upon the landowner and the landowner must vacate the property within 30 days of receipt of the notice. The landowner cannot contest the taking, the state gets immediate possession at the end of the 30 days. The landowner can only contest the amount of the payment in court at the landowner's expense. No delays.
Last edited by nomis on Thu Jun 03, 2021 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Fixed quote
  by scratchyX1
 
Ken W2KB wrote: Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:32 pm
Arlington wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 6:19 am Frankly the Interstate Highway System worked the same way: it included negotiation with land/ROW owners and some were easy and obvious (When everyone’s interests were aligned) and some were painfully delayed and some never happened (I-84 from Hartford to Providence; I-95 between Downtown and Maryland)
Eminent domain laws vary considerably among the states. Some allow for delays, others do not. For example, the process in New Jersey is that the State unilaterally determines that real property is needed for a state purpose, such as a highway, railway, school, etc. The State then deposits with the Court the dollar amount the State, in its sole discretion, has determined the property to be taken is worth. Thereafter formal notice is served upon the landowner and the landowner must vacate the property within 30 days of receipt of the notice. The landowner cannot contest the taking, the state gets immediate possession at the end of the 30 days. The landowner can only contest the amount of the payment in court at the landowner's expense. No delays.
https://www.cnu.org/highways-boulevards ... tures/2021
And then there are the highways that were partly built, as some were able to fight, and others not.
Like I70 through baltimore, which was partly built in west baltimore, even as it had been stopped in fells point.
(if I'm looking at the timelines correctly.)
  by STrRedWolf
 
scratchyX1 wrote: Fri Jun 04, 2021 11:56 am https://www.cnu.org/highways-boulevards ... tures/2021
And then there are the highways that were partly built, as some were able to fight, and others not.
Like I70 through baltimore, which was partly built in west baltimore, even as it had been stopped in fells point.
(if I'm looking at the timelines correctly.)
Yeah, I-70 ended up being stub-ended inside 695 and the intended part in the city (would-be connected through a park) became the "Highway to nowhere" that's slowly getting dismantled now.

Would of better been served by rail.
  by eolesen
 
If you don't want a highway or railroad to claim eminent domain, find somebody willing to declare a section of said land as wetlands. That will tie it up for at least a decade...

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  by John_Perkowski
 
As GBN knows, this was the problem that hit Kansas 2007-2011. There were folks who wanted an extension of the Heartland Flyer. They didn't line up all their political support. They failed.

Any interest group which wants to add passenger service with a State having a shared payment must find political backing for that payment. The or else is the the service will not come to pass.

That may seem like a blinding flash of the obvious, but Kansas, a conservative state, and California, a progressive state, both learned it to their peril (see also the HSR to nowhere...).
  by David Benton
 
eolesen wrote: Fri Jun 04, 2021 6:30 pm If you don't want a highway or railroad to claim eminent domain, find somebody willing to declare a section of said land as wetlands. That will tie it up for at least a decade...

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Just full them all up with concrete to avoid this.
  by eolesen
 
Nah, protecting actual wetlands and maintaining clean waterways is entirely justifiable. But what passes as a Federally protected wetland or a "navigable waterway" has been a political football going back and forth on the field between rulings from EPA and Army Corps of Engineers under the Obama, Trump, and now Biden administrations.

The Obama era rule from 2015 vastly redefined navigable waterways, to the extent that it now included ponds and ditches on privately owned land and other areas where rainwater would collect, with or without an actual connection to the previously held definition of a navigable waterway. One study claimed that over 90% of Iowa's farmland became Federally protected waterways... That rule was immediately challenged in multiple courts and stayed by judicial order in about half the country (currently AK AL AZ AR CO FL GA ID IN KS KY MO MT NC ND NE NM NV SC SD UT WV WI WY). As those work their way thru the Federal court system, it's likely that SCOTUS will need to issue a final ruling. It's "only" six years into the appeals process, so my implication of decades is not that far off.

Trump did issue a redefined ruling in Jan 2020 which reversed some of the Obama over-reach (that's a judge's description, BTW, not mine), but Biden reversed the reversal in Jan 2021, so all the legal challenges revert back to the Obama 2015 rule. There are moves afoot in Congress to try and uphold portions of the Trump rule, but given the Biden initiatives to erase anything done under Trump (be it good or bad), I'd say it's unlikely to go anywhere unless control of the House and Senate changes in 2022.

Cross-referencing another thread... neither LA or MS are included in those stays, so the Obama ruling means that Federal approval would be needed for any construction facilitating the expansion of the NOL-MOB "corridor" for Amtrak. Most of the development that CSX and NS are calling for to accommodate Amtrak involves adding passing sidings at/near drawbridge approaches, which would presumably require infilling of wetlands.
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