Thursday, November 17, 2011

Word: Local Hero: Britta Franz

Built in 1918, Salem's passenger train stop se...Image via WikipediaSpeaking of energy problems, Britta Franz has a good approach to adaptation.
Franz is just one person — a longtime civic leader and retired Salem businesswoman — but she's savvy, innovative and persistent. More and more people are becoming converts to her idea that Oregon should embrace regular, dependable rail service and forget about high-speed rail.

Given Oregon's topography and relatively small population, high-speed rail doesn't look promising. But people would use better rail service connecting Salem with Portland and Eugene if it were dependable and on a schedule that met commuters' needs.

"Speed is not the issue. It's being on time," Franz said.
WORD.  We need to forget the high-speed rail fantasy, which is nothing more than a slight variation of the highway boondoggle ... a transit system designed in utter disregard of our economic and environmental limits.  What Salem needs more than anything else in 2012 is a rail system as good as we had in 1912.  We'd think we died and went to heaven if we could have that.

Naturally the Highway Department (cover name "ODOT" but really just the same old Highway Department it has always been) and its local front groups give Franz the old "yes, but" again and again.   But reality has a way of winning out -- as our budgets continue to melt down, we're going to find ourselves thinking back to rail more and more.

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