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Published on August 6th, 2009 | by Derek Markham


High Speed Rail Dreams For The Keystone Corridor

August 6th, 2009 by  

This post is dedicated to my hometown, Hazleton Pennsylvania
This corridor hits close to home for your humble correspondent as I, Alexander John Lennartz, am a born and raised Pennsylvanian…who did not step foot on a passenger train in the state until age 25 when I moved to the greater Philadelphia area.
In my part of the country there is no passenger rail. A fact of life for the good people of Northeast Pennsylvania is that you cannot live without a car. This was, is and for the foreseeable future will be to only mean of transportation over mid to long distances. Pennsylvania’s proud locomotive heritage has fallen to the point that many in the state regard trains in the historical sense, no longer are a form of modern transportation. The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Lancaster Country is a testament to when rails crisscrossed the Keystone State and help build and power America, moving goods and people quickly and efficiently.

After a long period of decline that led to the discontinuation of passenger rail in most of Pennsylvania, there are faint signs of a comeback for trains in the Commonwealth. This can be attributed in large part to the efforts of the governor, the honorable Edward G. Rendell. Former Mayor of Philadelphia, mass transit advocate and a man who does not hesitate to voice his displeasure at the sight of something he does not like (he admitted to booing Santa Claus at an Eagles game in 1968), Rendell is the first governor to take action against the death spiral rail has been on for decades. Even more encouraging is the support of both US Senators for rail projects that would link the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh together through the high speed Keystone Corridor, plus other rail projects in the state like the Scranton/New York City rail link.
James Carville is famously quoted as saying Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. That is an exaggeration but contains within it a grain of truth. Driving through Central Pennsylvania is one of the most mind-numbingly boring exercises a person can go through. During the winter when the interstate is covered in ice and snow it can also be one of the most dangerous. The Keystone Corridor would be a boost not only for commuters between the state’s two biggest cities, but if it were to be connected to mid-sized cities in Central PA like Williamsport, Hershey and State College, the state would have an element of interconnectivity not seen in ages.
Pennsylvania has a rich history from the colonial period all the way through the contribution the state made in World War II. It was fitting Tom Hank’s character in Saving Private Ryan, Captain John H. Miller, was from a small town in Pennsylvania. Despite being the state that was a pillar of building the most powerful nation in the world, Pennsylvania standing in the Union is in decline. It desperately needs this project to inject jobs, vitality and a sense of pride in itself.

This is the 11th of a 13-part series on high speed rail in the USA. Read previous articles:

[photo credit: Flickr]



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About the Author

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

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