The development of a high-speed rail system in New York state has been discussed in one form or another for years. A system which would enable passengers to travel from Syracuse to Buffalo in an hour, or to New York City in a couple of hours, has incredible potential to transform the way we live, the way we work and the way we do business in Upstate New York.Transform the way we live? How?
High-speed rail represents opportunity in Upstate New York at a time when we need it most, not unlike another infrastructure project that, 200 years ago, also seemed unlikely at best — the Erie Canal. The creation of the Erie Canal in the 1800s demonstrated the best of New York state.
Mr. Valesky needs to think about another Upstate canal from the 1800s -- the one for which Utica passed up an opportunity to be capital of New York State -- the one that was supposed to transform Utica's economy and perhaps even let it rival New York City: The Chenango Canal. The thinking was, the Erie Canal brought such success to Utica, imagine how much more success there would be if two canals joined here!
The Erie Canal worked because it filled an existing need. The Chenango Canal failed because the need did not exist.
Now even the railroad (on this route anyway) doesn't get very much use now, railroad use being largely supplanted by personal automobiles, trucks, and the interstate highway system.
Which gets us back to the Thruway. All of Upstate New York lost its competitive advantage over other parts of the country with completion of the interstate highway system. Simply, other places became as easy to get to and travel through as Upstate.
But what have we done in New York? We placed a tax on our interstate highway -- the Thruway Toll -- which puts Upstate at a distinct DISADVANTAGE to other parts of the country.
I mean no disrespect, but it seems that we really have put a bunch of idiots in charge.