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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Light rail in Michigan? GOPers want to know more

    By Nick, Section News
    Posted on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 07:15:02 AM EST
    Tags: Rogers, Schmidt, light rail, Kenyatta, foreclosure, Detroit, Conyers (all tags)

    No, I don't want a green bagel and I don't drink beer, whatever the color.  Thank you.  

    Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, too, though.  Be careful on the roads, pals.  Especially those of you who are getting an early-bird jump on the festivities at oh, 8 or 9 this morning.

    Now... since I'm not a lush,  Irish or Catholic, back to business.

    Yesterday we discussed how Detroit Democrat Kwame Kenyatta was adding his name to the list of over 50 liberal candidates for the office of Mayor come August.  Today we learn that the man just defaulted on his mortgage and isn't paying his bills.

    But like yesterday, I still can't muster the cynicism and snark to discuss the foibles of Michigan Democrats with the vim and vigor the issues really deserve.  Besides, I have zero doubt whatsoever that Monica Conyers will pick up the slack.  Heck, the woman made fun of Kenyatta because she thought he had cancer... does anyone think getting kicked out of his house is going to be off limits?

    Besides, there's this whole "light rail" thing that's sort of got me intrigued.

    Republican Representatives Wayne Schmidt and Bill Rogers held a presser yesterday announcing the formation of a task force to study the feasibility of a light rail system connecting Lansing with metro-Detroit and maybe Ann Arbor, to boot.

    If you've lived in Michigan long you've heard about the light-rail concept more times than you've seen the University of Michigan in the NCAA basketball tournament.  Every couple of years it becomes someone's pet project but there have always been three big issues standing in the way.  (Frankly, there may have been a million and three big issues, but there are three that always seem to pop to the top.)

    First you've got to deal with the projects feasibility.  Can anyone even construct the thing and make it work?  Second, you've got the whole question of who is going to pay for it and then there are the Big 3.  

    Read on...

    Take the state's biggest highway and offer commuters a chance to cut their travel time in half without racking up miles on their cars and Detroit is going to sell fewer of them.  

    Well darn it all if there might not be a chance, now, that someone has ironed out issues one and two.  According to the Associated Press:

    Supporters say the elevated rail line, powered by hydrogen made with solar power, could move passengers at about 200 miles per hour. It also would include stainless steel conduits to move electricity, fiber optics, hydrogen gas and other materials to generate revenue.

    The Michigan-based Interstate Traveler Company LLC says the project would be financed by private investors. But the company would need access to rights of way along interstate highways to make it work, so the project would require a public-private partnership.

    Is it weird that that sort of project actually gets me a little geeked?  I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that it all sounds a little too much like pie in the sky at this point, but that's what Schmidt and Rogers' task force will be looking into.  Is it possible?  Is it cost effective?  Can it work?

    Knock out those issues and you're left with the unions and the Big 3.  Do we let a good idea (if it IS a good idea) evaporate and blow away because we want to play protectionist and kill consumer options?  Depends on your political Party, I suppose.  The "China" lesson of 2006 sure seems to indicate that anything even tangentially related on the word-association level with a move that might in other situations spell an end to Michigan jobs will automatically raise the ire of the xenophobes in the Democratic Party.

    But daydream with me for a moment... couldn't this be an issue that divides Big Labor from radical Greens?

    A lot more questions than answers at this point but now that a private group has come forward with a concept I find the entire discussion fascinating on so many levels.  All we need now is the luck of the Irish.

    < Follow-Up Protests | Tuesday in the Sphere: March 17 >

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    You might not be a lush (none / 0) (#2)
    by jgillmanjr on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 08:49:16 AM EST
    But I am...

    Oh, wait, can I say that?


    This idea belongs in the dumpster! (none / 0) (#3)
    by Eric T on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 09:08:05 AM EST
    I'd side with the Big Labor guys saying, "just buy that new car, and drive that to work instead."

    The Greens should just buy a hybrid and drive that to work.

    What if you don't live in Ann Arbor, or what if you live in Ann Arbor, but are not going to Detroit. Or if you are going that way but, the point you are going to, is still 5, 10 miles away from the station. You'd still have to catch a cab or something. Seems like a massive, expensive project that will only benefit a few people.
    I'd bet you'd only get a handful of people that would actually ride it everyday, I'm sure alot of people will say, its a great idea, but they won't really use it. It doesn't get you where you really need to go, only in that general direction, unless you work right next to the station, you'll still need to get from the station to your job, And people like the freedom of driving there own car, they may want to stop and eat, go to the doctor's, go shopping, hit the strip club, ect... after work.

    Those who fail to learn the lessons of history... (none / 0) (#4)
    by KG One on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 09:22:38 AM EST
    ...you know the rest.

    Let's jump into the DMC-12 and take a trip to Detroit about a century ago.

    Back around that time, there was a rail system around the Detroit, and a rather large and extensive one at that; stretching from Detroit out to Port Huron, Detroit to Monroe and Detroit to Pontiac (much of it was electric-powered).

    The problem here is that is was so long ago, that most people have forgotten about it.

    Fortunately, a recap of what happened can be found here.

    The problem here is that like all government ran entities (it was originally a private entity until the government took it over around the '20's), it wasn't properly managed and couldn't compete very well with busses or automobiles.

    It eventually ceased operations around '56.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, Nick, but this is just Lansing throwing money down yet another rat-hole, much like AIG & Wall Street.

    And invoking eminent domain to build a RR for the radical greens (i.e. hydrogen power made from solar cells)...Hello, McFly!

    I'd rather they concentrate on more pressing matters like their looming budget deficit.

    The cost of a "feasibility study" can easily be applied to that.

    Valid points... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Nick on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 09:24:01 AM EST
    on the land issue, the company that's making the proposal claims they could build it to run along the highway on state land.  

    Also talking about building stations along the way with restaurants etc. and leasing the land from the state.

    All in all it'd be a maaaaassive undertaking.

    One Word... (none / 0) (#6)
    by WadeHM on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 11:41:36 AM EST

    In other words, government subsidized with taxpayer money.

    • exactly by Eric T, 03/17/2009 12:09:12 PM EST (none / 0)
    Thanks for the DSR Link (none / 0) (#8)
    by RightMacomb on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 12:37:27 PM EST
    The story of the old transit system is fascinating to read..it shows no matter how many years go by, that whoever leads Detroit is doomed to be a failure.

    Not with government involvement (none / 0) (#9)
    by Rougman on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 05:32:15 PM EST
    I could never support light rail in Michigan if the government had one iota of control over its planning, operation, or finances.  

    While a private company has come forward and proposed the project to be privately financed, I do not believe that for one second our esteemed leaders in Lansing will allow such a thing to exist outside the steering hands of our overlords, and their goals are never to efficiently run operations but rather to please particular constituencies with money and services earned by and paid for by others.  

    Seriously, how many things do we need to see the government screw up before we learn our lesson?  

    There was more to the story @freep&DetNews (none / 0) (#10)
    by Theblogprof on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 06:39:02 PM EST
    I made some observations on my blog on this very technology:


    My guess is that it will be far more expensive than $0.05 per minute. Solar power in the big equation is a gimmick at best.  The whole fuel cell/hydrogen thing is going to be a mess.  If they get rid of that, then it might be feasible, but I quetion the volume they will get to cover such a huge investment.  That being said, it's possible simply on the grounds that it is a private investment rather than a government boondoggle...

    So yes, they can build it and make it work.  But pie-in-the-sky technology to deliver the energy just won't cut it.  I say build Fermi 3 to help power the thing, but that's just me...

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