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Railroad improvements encouraged in U.S. Senate Transportation Bill (MAP-21 - S.1813)
Prospects for the Steel Interstate Prototype railroad system proposed by Rail Solution could receive a boost from the transportation bill passed last week by the U.S. Senate. The bill may be taken up by the House of Representatives very soon.
The Prototype, would operate between Memphis, TN, and Harrisburg, PA, to demonstrate the Steel Interstate concept for a newly revitalized national system. It would parallel I-40, I-75, and I-81, and serve Tennessee, northern Mississippi and Alabama, western Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
“The Senate legislation lays a pathway to initiate feasibility analysis and preliminary engineering for the Steel Interstate Prototype,” observed Rees Shearer, Chairman of Rail Solution. “The House needs to climb on board this legislation. Get America moving like it should in the 21st Century.”
Rail Solution proposed to the I-81 Corridor Coalition that it lead such a study to determine the feasibility of the project including financing options. Those would include revenue from diversion of trucks to rail, regular rail freight, and the implementation of rail passenger service. The Steel Interstate concept features at minimum a two-track railroad, grade separation between rail lines and roadways, automatic train control, and electrified motive power, with track speeds ranging between 79 to 110 MPH.
The transportation bill passed last week by the Senate envisions a more comprehensive approach to transportation in the U.S. Although the bill mostly concerns highways, it opens the way for funding groundbreaking projects that would increase movement of goods and people by rail transportation. A key multimodal approach would allow states to opt for rail investments where the return to taxpayers will be greater than a highway widening project in a freight corridor. Rail Solution strongly endorses continued operation of American rail systems as private, for-profit enterprises with financial support for infrastructure improvements through government-private partnership.
I-81 in Virginia and Tennessee, and I-40 and I-75 in Tennessee shoulder very heavy through-state truck traffic. The Federal Highway Administration projects that traffic to increase significantly as the economy recovers. Rail Solution contends that, in moving large volumes of freight in the future, rail capital costs will be far less of a burden to taxpayers and communities than building more highways. Rail will also be less costly to operate, have less impact on the environment, will reduce the consumption of oil, and offer the option of fast passenger train service, the group asserts.
Additional references and information-
More on the Steel Interstate concept at this URL: www.steelinterstate.org
More on Rail Solution at this URL: www.railsolution.org
I-81 Corridor Coalition
The I-81 Corridor Coalition is an organization representing the departments of transportation of the states in which I-81 is located. States represented include Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Steel Interstate- Summary of Concept
The Steel Interstate System concept calls for a minimum of two grade-separated through tracks, engineered, signaled, and dispatched for 79 to 110 MPH, offering frequent, reliable service. The electrified Steel Interstate System would create adequate capacity to divert most non-local truck freight to intermodal trains, and would accommodate passenger trains without impairing freight operations.
About Rees Shearer
Rees Shearer, Chair of the Board of Directors of Rail Solution, lives in Emory, Virginia. Rees founded RAIL Solution in 2003 and has served since as the organization’
About RAIL Solution
Rail Solution, chartered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is a grassroots advocacy group with over 900 individual participants and a coalition of allied organizations. Rail Solution emphasizes balanced transportation planning, with a leading role for railroads.