Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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All Abourd?

Robert Downes - March 23rd, 2009
All Abourd
Robert Downes 3/23/09

Wouldn’t it be nice to travel from Northern Michigan to Detroit or Chicago at 200-300 miles per hour on a magnetic levitation train?
That’s still in the realm of science fiction, but last week’s announcement of plans for a hydrogen-powered MagLev train linking Detroit, Ann Arbor and Lansing does get the wheels of possibility spinning for the future...
Last week, State Representatives Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) and Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) announced the creation of a bipartisan task force to study the possibility of building a MagLev rail system down the medians of Michigan’s freeway system.
“The elevated rail, designed by Michigan-based Interstate Traveler Company, would not need any federal, state or local funding,” stated Rogers and Schmidt in a news release. “The project could create thousands of jobs for Michigan residents, allow for clean, inexpensive travel, and provide a conduit to distribute electricity, potable water, fiber optics, hydrogen and oxygen.”
Information about the magnetic train line seems a bit half-baked (as evidenced by the above claim that it will somehow be useful as a “conduit for potable water“). It would be built at a reported cost of $2.3 billion, and the hope is that a “HyRail” system could eventually be built across the U.S. State Democrats are also on board the task force, including Reps. Jimmy Womack (D-Detroit) and Mike Huckleberry (D-Greenville).
“We’ve been following the Hydrogen Superhighway for five years now,” said Rep. Huckleberry. “The devil will be in the details, of course. But this concept has enough potential to make it worth pursuing. I’m hoping that we can develop this technology and transportation idea into Michigan jobs.”
If and when the project is built, hydrogen-powered MagLev trains could whisk passengers between Detroit, Ann Arbor and Lansing at 200 mph. Assuming it’s a success, it’s no stretch to imagine that other links would surely extend to Grand Rapids and the cities of Northern Michigan.
The task force is holding four public hearings on the train project: in April, a hearing in Lansing will consider passenger and safety issues. Thereafter, hearings in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit will address energy concerns, environmental impact and financing.
But, as Mike Huckleberry notes, the devil is in the details.
For starters, it’s hard to imagine that a private company could build such a train for $2.3 billion, which seems to be pocket change these days. One can only imagine that Uncle Sam will be tapped on the shoulder at some point during construction of the “Hydrogen Superhighway.”
Fair enough; there are plans for a high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to L.A., and Michigan deserves to be on the same federal gravy train (pun intended).
But what about the train itself? In an artist‘s conception provided by the company, it doesn‘t look any bigger than the Detroit People Mover. Compare this to the vast bullet trains of France or Japan which move hundreds of people at 120-150 mph, with dozens of trains arriving at the station, one right after another. One can only imagine that scores of the MagLev train pictured would be needed to move passengers and recoup the company‘s investment.
There will also be safety concerns. What happens when a trailer truck goes careening into the freeway median on an icy winter night and hits one of the train supports just as the 2 a.m. run is rolling down the tracks? Many of us have seen these jackknife accidents, so the prospect of truck-train collisions is no fantasy.
One can only imagine, however, that people with the know-how to build a MagLev train will be smart enough to find their way around these obstacles. Let‘s hope so, because Michigan‘s future depends on this sort of new technology to get us back on track.

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