Only one in our office who remembers is our boss! So this is for him.
Today I did find one. Always promote Lackawanna Railroad
In earlier articles I have written about the Lackawanna, mention is made of the 34-mile former branch to Ithaca. Not only was it significant historically, but it was also a very interesting operationally. It ran between Owego on the DL&W main line and the college town of Ithaca on Cayuga Lake.
It was the second oldest railroad in the state and was constructed in 1833-34 by the Ithaca and Owego Railroad. This road had originally been chartered in 1828. In 1843 the Cayuga & Susquehanna Railroad acquired it through a mortgage foreclosure. In 1855 it was leased to the Lackawanna but did not become officially owned by the DL&W until July 23, 1946.
Into the 1920’s Ithaca was busy with several passenger trains pulled by 4-4-0 camelbacks, a daily freight, and a yard switcher which doubled as a pusher on the switchback leading out of Ithaca. There were even automatic…
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If you are interested in national issues such as defense, foreign policy, and trade, and want to hold public office, you should run for Congress. If you are interested in roads, beaches, subways, and policing, you should run for city council or the state legislature.
The push to restore earmarks in Congress is led by politicians who got elected to the wrong democratic body. In a pro-earmark story today, the Washington Post highlights projects that members say justify the narrow spending set-asides:
“There is a 14-mile gap in Interstate 49 outside Fort Smith, Ark., and Rep. Steve Womack, who represents the area, would very much like to secure the estimated $300 million in federal taxpayer money needed to fill it.”
“Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), who is pushing a proposal that would allow Congress to earmark money for … a pair of water projects he said have been neglected in his district: a beach restoration in an area where the Gulf of Mexico is starting to lap at homes, and repairs to the massive Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee.
“The Second Avenue Subway in New York City, which opened last year, received more than $600 million.”
“Dozens of police departments received money to improve their equipment and communications systems.
I have questions for the members supporting federal spending on these projects:
Why doesn’t the Arkansas legislature fund the I-49?
If Florida beach restoration is important but neglected, why don’t landowners and city councils along the coast fund it?
New Yorkers may support their subway project, but why should taxpayers elsewhere pay for it? And when asked to vote on it, how could members from other states judge whether it made any sense?
Since policing is a crucial function of local government, wouldn’t citizens support local taxes to buy needed equipment?
The earmark issue is usually framed as a battle of the purse between federal politicians and federal bureaucrats. But the more important issue is ensuring that activities are funded at the level of government that makes the most sense. I discuss here why state and local funding makes sense for state and local activities. As for Congress, it suffers from structural failures that cause it to spend wastefully much of the time, so the less money flowing through it the better.
Envisions eventually connecting Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
In September of 2017 the ‘Toronto to Montreal route’ was chosen as a winner of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. The AECOM Canada team proposal beat out hundreds of other submissions for what could some day be one of the most ecologically and technologically significant transportation projects of all time (read more here). 10 teams were chosen as winners in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, with routes encompassing the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, India, and Canada. According to Hyperloop One, the company would “…commit meaningful business and engineering resources and work closely with each of the winning teams/routes to determine their commercial viability.
It is interesting to note that Hyperloop One has named Buffalo as one of the cities that would, most likely benefit from the Tor-Mon route, as additional US extension routes would only be a matter of time. Buffalo/The Falls would be highly considered as an entry point into the US.
According to Hyperloop One, a route between metropolitan areas of Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal would encompass the fourth most populous area in North America. It is namely for that reason, the route has been named as one of the winners in the Hyperloop One competition. AECOM Canada’s proposal was selected out of the 2600 teams that submitted entries.
Can you imagine traveling at 700 MPH in a ‘vactrain’? It’s a heck of a lot better than sitting in hours of traffic every day (if you’re working in Toronto), that’s for sure. Currently, there are 450,000 vehicles within city limits on Highway 401 in Toronto on any given day, and those numbers are still increasing. Not only would people ditch their cars to take the clean and efficient Hyperloop One to work, a trip from Montreal to Toronto would be reduced from 5 hours to 39 minutes. It’s also cheaper than other high speed modes of transportation, including travel by plane. Just think about that for a minute.
Incredibly, this futuristic mode of transportation is 100% emissions-free. The Tor-Mon route would also service one of the largest bio-clusters in the world – the Québec-Ontario Life Sciences Corridor. For years, cities such as Toronto and Montreal have been researching high speed train options as the solution to the transportation problems that they face. There have been roadblocks along the way, including issues with land acquisition. If these governments are to retrain their focus on the Hyperloop One option, thus creating the nucleus of a true mega-region, then Buffalo’s future would certainly shine a lot brighter in the realm of transportation potential.
Silicone Valley NewsSilicone Valley News
For the last few years I’ve heard and read that St. Louis just might be the next Silicon Valley.
I haven’t just heard that about St. Louis. I’ve heard the same thing about Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver, Houston, Columbus, and just about every decent-sized city in America.
Of course, Silicon Valley has a lot going for it. The region is a source of a whole lot of innovation, and the people who work there can become (or already are) very, very rich. But even if we could make St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, or any other midwestern city the next San Jose, would we really want to? Silicon Valley isn’t exactly problem-free. Some of the challenges facing residents and communities of the Bay Area prove that a staggering amount of money isn’t just a blessing.
It can also be a curse.
The cost of housing in Silicon Valley is astronomical, forcing many relatively well-paid workers into less-than-desirable living situations. In fact, Silicon Valley is one of the most economically unequal places in the world. There’s a reason why Task Rabbit thrives in the Bay Area: Teachers, police officers, nurses, and other employees working in professions that are critical to a functional and safe society often cannot afford to live in the communities they serve without trying to monetize their every waking minute.
Personally, I’m glad I live in a metropolitan area where I can afford a decent home without having to pick up someone else’s dry cleaning. In fact, earlier in my career, I had opportunities to move to California for jobs that offered a significant salary increase. However, that salary increase was more than eaten up by the cost of living. In other words, a 20% raise and a move to Silicon Valley would end with me, my wife, and our three kids moving from a home with enough space for all of us to a 600-square-foot apartment.
When I envision that scenario, I immediately think of those movies where unsuspecting tourists get sent to a cramped prison cell in Thailand.
For a whole lot of people, Silicon Valley is exactly the community they want to live in, and they can either afford the high cost of living or find Task Rabbiting their way through what little off time they get to be a perfectly acceptable way to live.
And that’s okay.
However, it doesn’t mean that other cities should strive to recreate Silicon Valley. Branding your city “the next Silicon Valley” is also an exercise in futility. Silicon Valley has its roots in the defense industry and the need to protect the West Coast during World War II. Before the Japanese blew up Pearl Harbor, the west coast wasn’t the center of American innovation. Instead, cities like Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit were the birthplaces of some of the country’s biggest and most innovative companies.
We should build a Silicon Prairie that isn’t an imitation of Silicon Valley, but instead is a place where a low cost of living means that a full-time worker (whether he or she is a programmer or 4th grade teacher) can afford to buy a home and spend their off-time enjoying the community they live in.
A few years ago, I was invited to visit the San Francisco offices of LinkedIn. During my visit, several employees mentioned the extraordinary cost of living, the fact that they knew they could never afford to raise a family in the city, and how frustrating and demoralizing it was. They had great jobs, could smell the ocean 24 hours a day and lived in one of the world’s most beautiful and unique cities—but many of those workers couldn’t afford to enjoy it.
I can’t smell the ocean from my front yard, but I do live in a unique and beautiful city. I don’t want to see that city become the next Silicon Valley. I want to see it become the best version of itself it can possibly be, and I believe that making that happen will depend on creating a base of technology-focused jobs.
Let’s let Silicon Valley be Silicon Valley. It can be the place where you find gigantic social media companies, good seafood (it’s true), and teachers living in vans.
And the Silicon Prairie can be home to great cities, good BBQ, and communities where teachers can still afford to live down the street from the founders of pretty exciting startups.