The following is a guest post from Bob Brown.
To the Citizens of Ashland
I am writing this as retired from the practice of Urban Design, and as an Ashland neighbor. I urge all readers of this blot to see the Herald Progress Editorial on June 25, 2015 about the proposed “plans” for High-Speed Rail in Ashland, and to consider the following:
That Editorial was titled “High-speed rail could change town”. While I agree with that statement, I must note that if any of the options proposed by the DRPT for bringing the new, third, rail through town were realized, the Town would not merely be “changed”. It would be destroyed. Imagine the through-Town options that have been prepared by the VA Department of Rail and Public Transportation: 1) three rail lines that eliminate the adjacent roadways and shopping/residential sidewalks, or 2) a giant trench between two at-grade lines (with the accompanying elimination of the roads and sidewalks), or 3) an overhead “elevated” line above the at-grade lines (like those in Philadelphia and New York). Each of these options would eliminate the businesses in our historic Main Street Downtown, and would destroy the values of the homes in all the neighborhoods that line the tracks. This downward impact would spin off to England St., Rte 1, and Rte 54 – and perhaps even to the College…
If any of these happens we would no longer have an Ashland to love. Why would we live, or shop, or work – or go to school – here under these circumstances? Ashland as we know it would not exist.
I am truly surprised, and profoundly disappointed, that plans to destroy a community and to eliminate its businesses has been considered in any way by our public agencies. One of the High Speed Rail plan objectives is to stimulate Virginia’s economy. It is definitely not an objective to bring an economy down.
The only, and by far the best, choice (if indeed the government ultimately goes ahead), is to have the High Speed Rail go around the town, and leave CSX (on its own tracks) and the local Northeast Corridor Amtrak trains where they are now. We as Ashlanders must stand firm for this.
I repeat: the current through-train plans are totally destructive, and I am personally and professionally stunned that any public agency could not see this, and has not stopped considering these alternatives.
Robert (Bob) Brown
W. Francis St.