Get Big Rigs off the Road?: Railroad Infrastructure and Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan

An interesting article, in Washington Monthly, on why rail investment should be part of the Obama economic stimulus plan, is here.

Money quote:

[A] study sponsored by the Virginia DOT finds that a cumulative investment over ten to twelve years of less than $8 billion would divert 30 percent of the growing truck traffic on I-81 to rail. That would be far more bang for the state’s buck than the $11 billion it would take to add more lanes to the highway, especially since it would bring many other public benefits, from reduced highway accidents and lower repair costs to enormous improvements in fuel efficiency and pollution reduction. Today, a single train can move as many containers as 280 trucks while using one-third as much energy—and that’s before any improvements to rail infrastructure.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Get Big Rigs off the Road?: Railroad Infrastructure and Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan

  1. Stu says:

    And while we are at it, why don’t we totally ban all personal use of cars over 1.8 litres engine capacity with the only exceptions being for people that “have” to have the extra power like for towing or carting heavy equipment…….make it tough, and no ifs or buts. On top of that, increase rego fees for cars, and make motorbike rego free. Lets do away with plastic packaging and plastic bottles and go back to deposits on glass bottles. Ban disposable lighters, disposable pens…….disposable plastic plates…..cups…….etc etc. No petrochemicals allowed to be used in any disposable items………period. I bet our consumption of oil could actually be cut in half with no “real” reduction in living standards if we really wanted to get tough on waste through legislation. While we’re there, lets ban incandesant light bulbs…….and we can go back to using fluros mounted lower for street lighting in side streets…….and maybe only light up one side of the street………and put them on timers so that say…….midnight….there is no sidestreet street lighting accept via movement detectors. Bring in a host of other measures to force people to reduce power consumption and with the energy saves…..use all that coal for coal to oil conversion…….before you know it… independance. I like how people say that the US can not be energy independent every again because of peak oil………bullshit………we can use way less then we do now…….our whole society is full of wasteful practices…….if we really needed to……….we could cut to less then half our use of oil.

  2. santitafarella says:


    As a political matter, I think that most regulation has to be largely “invisible” to the consumer.

    Democrats open themselves up to political backlash if they do things that seem to reduce peoples’ convenience and lifestyle.

    LCD and incandescent lights, for example, provide no reduction of perceived lifestyle quality, and yet provide energy savings.

    I agree with you that the US can achieve energy independence.

    I hope Obama succeeds in finding infrastructure programs to support that will lead in that direction.


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