Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008...

Single-level DMU demonstratorImage via WikipediaAs we leave 2008 and enter the New Year it is time to look back at one of the most important years in Utah transportation history.

Let’s look at some of the big stories of the year locally:

1. Construction started on not one, not two, not three, but four rail lines within a few short months. While many cities are still trying just to get rail off the ground, the Wasatch Front is quickly moving to having an outstanding rail system.

2. The opening of the Front Runner Commuter rail line and the extension of TRAX to Central Station. While in any other year this would rate as the news story, it took a back seat to the groundbreaking that took place this year.

On the national side there is so many stories that can be included I will just include the ones I think as most important:

1. Funding for transit projects were approved in multiple locations despite the state of the economy. This includes what could be America’s first high speed rail line in California if the Governor doesn’t steel the money for highways.

2. Opening of the Phoenix light rail system was also big news that just happened last week. Phoenix is a very auto oriented city so seeing it finally get its light rail system is a major victory to sensible transportation planning.

3. On a negative note, we lost one of the few US based rail car construction companies. Colorado Railcar shut down operations just last week after an extended period of financial problems. Colorado Railcar built excellent rail cars for such trains as the Rocky Mountaineer and was the only manufacturer of US spec DMU units. Hopefully

2009 will probably be a quiet year on the local front. While construction will continue on our new light and commuter rail lines, we only have the ground breaking of the Draper extension to look forward to in the New Year.

Meanwhile on the national front, we will see if the new administration will be anything different than the ones that came before it. So far we are not seeing many positive signs but by this time next year we will have a clear picture of what is to come.

Happy New Year to all my readers.

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