So here’s my train of thought on the genius of “Mayors unite to back rail link” that was so grandly announced on my front page today – the lead story even. With a smiling picture of the Two Honors. Oooh, there’s going to be a partnership. Sure, a good 10% or more of Baton Rouge were recently residing in New Orleans. So, a rail link. Highspeed even. To go 80 miles. On old track which wends its way through the swamp and marsh. Yah. Right. Like how “highspeed” will that get? What, 70 or 80 mph? Just like the 70 posted speed limit on the interstate? Or the 80 that so many do in the same big flat empty lands that everyone pretty much drives if there are no cops a-stoppin’ ’em.
Surely not top speed through any part of the two cities. Surely not at the one or more stops that will almost surely be slipped in betwixt the two new mayor-friends, by other mayors, with the help of their friends. You think Gonzales or somewhere is going to miss out on the “federally funded” project which will, you know, “attract new businesses to the region.” Yah, right. Sure, in our economic times these attractees are busy like flowers looking for bees. You know, “grow it and they will come.” Or is it bees looking for flowers? You know, “attractees looking for great new highspeed rail lines that will zoom right past them.” Or be slow-speed rail lines as it petticoat junctions down the tracks. Hard to say. The two mayors are already talking to the rest of the mayors, lesser cities though they be, to “get past what the governor’s objections are.”
Which are what? Oh, yeah, the idea is nuts. Absolutely unsustainable at any cost, going where no one wants, not shaving one minute off the 1 ½ hour trip at all and in general being a boondoggle with no purpose other than the two mayors trip into federal money la la land – did these guys miss the $1.5 trillion buck deficit? This years? Or next’s? Onward and upward with Obama-Spend? Oh sure, what’s another $300,000,000 in the pond of red ink? Not much. And there’s contracts! To friends! Money to be made! That’s jobs! Right? Wrong.
It’s $400,000,000 in Louisiana funds that went on vacation to DC, and $100,000,000 got drunk and lost and couldn’t make the gravy train back home. Or if it is from some other state – suckers – they lose their $400,000,000 which goes to DC for vacation and then decides to move to the French Quarter for more drunken frat boy escades, though without that $100,000,000 in federal fund oversight charges.
Still it’s progress. No doubt. Well, yes, doubt. Lots of it, too.
By the way, the two mayor-friends are beaming too because it will take about $18,000,000 in state funds a year to operate. Not their money, they think. And one of the mayor’s so recently from the paltry pickings of the state budget. (Though he might have been too busy running for mayor while still lieutenant governor and didn’t notice.) Ah, but I can see all the new businesses pining to pay the extra taxes so they can subsidize the operation of the train that will zoom right past them, you know, in the region. Sweet. And the Northshore, where another 10% of New Orleans moved? Why, they get to subsidize a train that zooms far away from them. The same with the Westbank, though there be far fewer ex-NOs there.
Does anyone get anywhere easier or more quickly? Absolutely not. But it is shining and gleams as surely as the mayor-friends’ smiles do. Such swells. In a time of looming financial catastrophe, $250,000,000 in state deficit which can’t be had by law, $1.5 trillion deficits up in DC and these guys want to build a boondoggle. Yep, such swells. Mostly of ego at the thought of their names, together of course, side by side, on the shiny new gleaming stations at either end.
Now, if I was a friend of either of the mayors, or any one of them, or even of the governor’s, or really, a friend of anyone with a brain in this state, I’d suggest a spider web of really nice new eco-friendly buses to zip around from burg to ville to burb to city and you know, actually get people from where they are to where they might go and cost only, oh, I don’t know, $100,000,000. And actually be sustainable by fares. How about a bus from downtown New Orleans to their airport for instance? You know, a little rent-a-car shuttle thing, zipping to and fro, oh, every 20 minutes or so. But no. Not gonna’ see that.
How about a bus every say 20 minutes from a shiny new transportation center in Baton Rouge to Downtown New Orleans, and back, 25/7? Or to really boost “tourism” — as high speed rail will do somehow, it’s said right there in the article – will they flock to see the shiny new rails zooming into the distance? — how about a shiny new bus once an hour from downtown to downtown transportation center that goes up and down the River Road so that the tourists can get right to the things they come to see – the plantation homes along the river itself. Hmm. And to think Landrieu, newly of New Orleans, in his years as head of Culture, Recreation and Tourism would have thought up, proposed and implemented by now. No, the high speed rail will zoom right by the tourist sites, probably shaking their foundations in the process, I can’t be sure. But zooming trains do a racket make.
Oh well, there’s too many rational & reasonable ideas to actually make sense in Government Land. That strange place inhabited by High Speed Rail Junkees. Like pod people invaders long ago, they have now seized the two honors, who will honor us with years of studies done by cronies to see that no matter how you look at it high speed rail is pointless. Still, everyone I know seems to be in favor, because it’s new and shiny, and big and zoomy, and Europe has them. Now, a country, like the Czech Republic, smaller than Louisiana with a population three times as big and no swamps to speak of does have a slow-speed rail system, and France, with 75,000,000 people in an area smaller than Texas has a few high speed lines for their swampless flat countryside do well with rail. But between BR & NO it’s brainless. But I have no friends who are mayors who might bring this word of sense to the two boondogglers, who will ack, ack, ack ack ack, for federal boondoggle money, which Obama-Spend will dole out after borrowing it from the Chinese or sucking it out of some other state or of Louisianians themselves so we can zoom to bankruptcy high speed.
Oh yeah, the two local city bus systems are just shy of a million or two to keep functioning, no word from the mayors on that yet.
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