This blog started just over three months ago (Christmas Eve 2015 to be precise). Since then 39 posts have been published — that’s nearly three a week— too many. (A summary of them can be found at our Welcome page.)
I am (ahem) running out of steam and need to slow down.
The objective of the blog was and is to demonstrate that running a third track through the center of Ashland as a part of what was then known as the “High Speed Rail” project would be unsafe, hugely destructive to our cultural heritage and very costly. The project would destroy the town of Ashland as we now know it. It created an existential crisis.
From the beginning I have attempted to focus on facts and verified statements and to avoid emotional responses.
So let’s review what has been achieved and consider where we go from here.
When we started — a mere three months ago — the normal response of people in the community to this proposed project was generally on the following lines,
- They’ve been talking about this for years — nothing is going to happen.
- They’ll never get funding — nothing is going to happen.
- That’s absurd, they couldn’t do that — nothing is going to happen.
These responses may be correct, and, there again, they may not be correct. But they make me uneasy. I felt then, and I feel even more strongly now, that we as a community should respond energetically to the challenges that this proposed project poses and that we should take nothing for granted. In particular, we should control the narrative and not let others do that for us.
Much has happened in the last three months, including the following.
- Awareness has increased. It would be an exaggeration to say that, “everyone is talking about it” but concerns are increasing. Probably the most important single event that shifted this way of thinking was the arrival of letters stating that inspectors would be visiting homes and land in order to conduct surveys.
- The people living to the west of town have become vocal in their opposition to the project. Their voices can be heard at the web site Families Under the Rail and the Facebook site No High Speed Railway.
- Public meetings, such as this one, have drawn large numbers of people and have raised the awareness among community leaders.
The Holy Roman Empire
Already we have had our successes. Three months ago everyone, including myself, referred to the project as the “High Speed Rail” project. That is changing. Since it was pointed out that the journey time of this so-called high speed train after the project is completed will be longer than normal driving time I am already finding that people are looking a little sheepish when they use the term.
One of the quotations for which the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire is famous is,
This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.
(In his time the political organization known as the Holy Roman Empire was a loosely structured collection of nation states and local governments located in central Europe.)
The “High Speed Rail” aspect of the project is starting to look like the “Holy Roman Empire” of Voltaire’s time.
When analyzing the proposed project it is useful to organize our thoughts into the following categories:
- Safety (the most important);
- Culture (such as the destruction of Civil War homes);
- Economics (the loss of the businesses in the center of Ashland (including the second oldest grocery store in the United States); and
- Engineering codes and standards used in the Basis of Design and the Federal Railroad Administration Regulations and Rulemaking.
I have already written quite a few posts on these various topics, and there are more to come.
I started this post by saying that I needed to slow down. I have little doubt that the topic of “High Speed Rail” (or whatever it will be called in the future) is one that will continue to be front and center for a long time; we need to pace ourselves. Therefore my plan as of now is to publish once a week (with breaks). I will also write bulletin-type posts that provide information to do with events such as upcoming meetings.