Rail and Right-of-Ways

Tonight, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is hosting the second of three open houses to present the Intercity Passenger and Freight Rail Plan, a combined state freight and rail plan. The event aims to provide a blueprint for Pennsylvania’s rail investments, while accounting for the interests of both freight and passenger rail. PennDOT hopes to receive input from Pennsylvania residents, as a means of working toward a more efficient and effective approach to intercity rail transportation within the Commonwealth. Tonight’s open house starts at 6:00 p.m and is held in Harrisburg, at the C. Ted Lick Wildwood Conference Center (One HACC Drive Harrisburg, PA 17110).

Relatedly, while doing some research on state rail plans, I came upon a TransportPolitic post that touches upon the highway-transit connection that some states are implementing in determining right-of-ways for new rail infrastructure. In the most basic terms, a right-of-way is a strip of land that is allocated for transportation use. Since it is often very difficult to acquire a right-of-way for both highway projects and rail projects, some states have turned to using one right-of-way for both rail and roads. It’s the old adage at work: killing two birds with one stone. And while this might seem as a model of efficiency for some planners, the TransportPolitic writer believes it to be a matter of “political expediency,” rather than good planning. Rail stations on lines that run along a highway corridor must be placed along the highway, often in the median – not offering the most pedestrian-friendly access. While the rail line is a step in the right direction for reducing the amount of cars on the road and increasing mobility for more people, the access to the stations still serves the auto driver. The writer of the post poses a question: Is there any surprise that American cities have trouble attracting transit users, even after we spend billions building new lines?

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About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on September 15, 2009, in Public Infrastructure, Transportation, Urbanism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Beata, is this report something you’ve written an analysis of on this site? If not, could you link to it again and comment on any notable or newsworthy findings? What stage of the process are we at, and what exactly are the stages in the planning and building process? What can we expect the impact to be on the Lehigh Valley?

  2. Expect a full report by this afternoon.

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