Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Blast of the Horn

(Valparaiso, IN)- My friend Greg put me up for the night in his home and treated me to the bounty of his garden- homemade pizza, complete with homemade sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes and other garden veggies piled high atop. The night was made complete with the blast of the horn every half-hour, thanks to three railroad mainlines to Chicago. Some people hate the sound, calling it "noise". I love it, and slept very well with the window thrown wide open.

At long last, some folks along the Nickel Plate corridor are weighing in with their concerns about railroad noise, plus pollution, declining property values, and eyesores in general that would inevitably come along with a light rail passenger service on the tracks between Noblesville and Indianapolis. 

An Indy Star report covers the concerns. Those who read regularly know that I've been advocating for a Nickel Plate greenway and trail for the last five years, on the basis that it would be the best overall use for the corridor. 

With a greenway and trail, property values go up. Look how the area around the Monon has become so vibrant. Pollution goes down. Tree lined corridor? Hello? And, it promotes healthy living besides, as locals flock to the trail to walk, jog, bike, or blade.

The public hearings are coming soon. Now, I believe these will largely be dog & pony shows, where disinterested public officials suffer through the hearing out of the NIMBYs. they've already made up their minds that this is going to happen. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing people come out to speak against this. Who knows, maybe it could make a difference.


varangianguard said...

Frankly, I would give more credence to either side of the argument, if self-interest didn't seem to take precedence over a perceived societal need.

A) For the "pro" faction, there must be some big money involved for the "players". Otherwise, I cannot imagine what they are thinking. Heavy, fixed rail will be a bankrupt project for central Indiana. Central Indiana would be a better "fit" for some kind of transit plan that would be flexible, and of moderate cost. This ain't it.

B) For the "anti" faction, it either sounds like they want to be let off the hook for gambling on the rail RoW becoming a greenspace, or that they are ensconced in Hamilton County, and simply don't care to venture southwards. NIMBY argumentation falls flat for me. It's not that they don't want something, just not where it causes them personal inconvenience.

I am not in favor in heavy rail because I don't believe it to be a viable economic alternative for the greater community, not because it scares the sparrows away from Old Man Wilson's backporch, or because somebody gambled on a house hoping for a yuppie trail next door.

I understand about the bored officials doing the Dog & Pony shows. But, their "interests" are being met by instituting heavy rail. If anyone really wants to persuade them differently, they have to recognize that NIMBY isn't going to change any official's mind.

Mike Kole said...

I don't think any of these presents a tremendous societal 'need'. Societal 'want' or 'ideal', perhaps.

Seems that anyone who is arguing either way on this is really pragmatic. "Best" is light rail, for those who would take the train. "Best" is nothing at all for the NIMBYs. "Best" is a greenway, at least for me. I'm certainly interested in the bump in property value and the easy access to a nice, long trail.

What happened here? We switch places on the idealist/pragmatist deal?

varangianguard said...

Ha-ha-hah. That would be a funny thing, eh? Role reversal.

The "best" thing for me would be something flexible (which means no rail at all)(NIMBYs rejoice!), that would be easy to alter the mode, route and/or equipment with a minimum of fuss and cost.