Transcontinenal Railroads, Chinese High Speed Rail, California High Speed Rail and the 2nd Avenue Subway in New York City

What is wrong with this picture? NOTHING! It is an example of something getting done.

The US Transcontinental Railroad was built between 1863 and 1869. Lincoln didn’t say “Let’s study it”, he said “Let’s build it”. In building the Transcontinental Railroad. What if THEY had to follow current environmental, employment, etc laws? What if they got sued by every town for either going through it, or not going throuh it.

I saw a good article about how the Chinese built their high speed rail system. Picture showed a bunch of nice condos underneath a viaduct. The owners did not know what was coming until a Red Army construction battalion showed up one morning. And they talk about the Chinese corruption. Understand the Transcontinental Railroad was pretty crooked too?

In 2008, President Obama said he was going to build high speed rail. See any of it? California is the worst example. They have spent billions of dollars on study and planning. Maybe by the Year 2020 they will have a few miles of track running from nowhere to the middle of nowhere.

Another example of rail construction is the Second Avenue Subway in NY City. The need for one arose in the late 1930’s when they scrapped the elevated railway to sell scrap metal to Japan. Actually, it is a very complicated story . The Third Avenue elevated lasted until 1955, wiuth a “promise” to build a new subway. It left the East Side of New York with poor transportation and pushed an unreal number of riders onto the Lexington Avenue Subway. Plans for a Second Avenue subway existed as early as 1929 (but never any money). There was some construction in the 1970’s that was halted for “lack of money” in 1975. 20 years later, in 1995, it was realized that the need for the subway was worse. But instead of treating it as a revival of an old project, it was treated as a new project with years of studies and deal making, until work finally resumed in 2007. 12 years is a long time to jump start something that had already been started. Plus, it can be asked why it took 20 years to get back to this. Finally, it hasn’t helped to get this done that money from the 1951 and 1967 bond issues that should have been committed to this was gone and it was considered appropriate to issue a third bond for the same project when taxpayers are still paying on the first two.

Groundbreaking for the original IRT Subway in NY City was in March of 1900. In October, 1904, trains were running between the original City Hall Station and West 145th Street. It was like this: build the thing, put up a sign, collect money.

Why do we have such a problems doing what we once did and an “underdeveloped” country can still do: (1) existing infrastructure; (2) labor unions – labor was cheaper a century ago and nowadays we care about frivolous issues such as “vacation time” and “health care”; (3) OSHA; (4) environmental concerns. While construction techniques have become more simplified and affordable, the political needs for a massive capital construction project has become significantly more complex.

Maybe Robert Moses could have built it?

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