Category Archives: Transportation

Dreaming in three dimensions

I don’t intend for this to become a transportation blog, but seriously, even such a modest uptick in commercial shipping on the Erie Canal becomes vastly more interesting when you throw Oswego’s future container port into the mix, and then Fault Lines adds Griffiss Park to the vision:

Griffiss IS a port, with the potential to be a very good one. . . . for cargo. It has not only rail and highway connections, but it’s on the Erie canal. Dropping “air” from “airport” allows for the intermodal nature of Griffiss: it can be a rail port, highway port, and canal port all at once. Calling it a “port” also suggests its importance for cargo (which I think is the only niche this airport will successfully fit into) without limiting it to cargo. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents: Griffiss Port. Simple, honest, and a name that can be grown into. . . and bought into by all of Central New York.

The gathering economic clouds don’t have too many silver linings, but one of them may be this: We might start paying a little less attention to Richard Florida-type schemes, which presuppose the existence of easy leisure-spending cash that it’s now clear that most Americans don’t have, and in which college students and others on top of the creative career food chain ride in and save the day while the “uneducated” classes serve them coffee. And we might start paying a little more attention on economic fundamentals, like dignified jobs with living wages that high school graduates might get (and can’t get right now). Granted, that too is a pipe dream (especially the “living wage” part). But as long as we’re pipe-dreaming, we might as well dream comprehensively.

Atlantica

Last night’s Channel 9 newscast and this morning’s Post-Standard both had stories on the big doin’s up at the Port of Oswego. The TV report focused on the increased current traffic at the Port, and the PS story was about how Oswego has been selected for one of the first container-shipping terminals in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system. This is indeed big news, especially since the new, Nova Scotia-based enterprise would shave a day off of container shipping to New York City. (NYC, I believe, also has some issues with the depth of its harbor — some expensive dredging still needs to take place to accommodate the newer breed of container ships. I wonder if Halifax has solved those issues.)

The local news stories are no doubt prominent because of the possibility of increased jobs at the Port. However, there is a much bigger picture and it’s one that I dimly recall blogging about some years ago — a new North American economic region some call Atlantica, supported by some big-business interests and decried by others. Oswego, and Syracuse and other parts of Central, Western and Northern New York lie within Atlantica’s proposed economic sphere of influence. (Think of an economic engine that had the port of Halifax, not New York City, at its head.)

It’s a radically new way of thinking about Upstate New York’s possible future (and the future for all the Great Lakes region and many depressed Rust Belt cities), although most of the talk about it focuses on Canada.

A streetcar named DestiNY

A somewhat major news story that’s been utterly lost in the Wall Street chaos is a fairly widespread and persistent gasoline shortage across parts of the inland Southeast, due to some refineries not being up to speed after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The shortages seem especially bad in metro Atlanta, which doesn’t exactly have the best public transportation system serving its far-flung exurbs, and now that gasoline has just disappeared there, some are wondering why not.

I love maps, and recently on Steve Balogh’s blog, a commenter posted this proposal for a streetcar route serving the major transportation centers (airport, bus, train), Carousel Mall, the War Memorial and other attractions. Here’s the original post with the comment below it; the commenter estimates a $250 million cost. Good idea, or not?

Updated: On the general subject of transportation – here’s some interesting news about the state’s plans for the Tappan Zee Bridge, one of the most critical pieces of infrastructure in the state (and you could even look at it as the symbolic link between Upstate and Downstate). It’s a hugely expensive plan to replace the bridge with a new structure that permits high-speed bus and (regular speed) rail corridors. (This news bit really deserves its own post, so maybe I will return to it at a future date.)

More beef

In the comments of the previous post, Simon notes the big trucker rally in Albany today protesting Thruway tolls and gas prices (are they also protesting the Finger Lakes trash truck agreement?) Hate to say it, but I wonder if that honking sound you hear is the sound of dying dinosaurs. I was on the Thruway yesterday and it occurred to me that this might be the last generation to see so many trucks on the highways. Even if the Chinese raise the price of fuel for their own consumers, thus temporarily lowering global demand for oil, rail will probably be the future of freight.

I was at Letchworth State Park earlier in the week. If you are camping at Letchworth, and can’t hike 17 miles or more, an automobile is required to see all the sights (it takes a couple of minutes to drive even from the camping check-in to the actual campsites). As far as I could tell, the park has no shuttle service between its major attractions, which would seem like a no-brainer just in terms of being eco-friendly, not to mention kinder to visitors’ gas budgets. Letchworth has cute warning signs written in a vaguely 1950s-style Populuxe font; but the park still exists in a 1950s-style time warp where the personal automobile rules. Maybe it’s time to re-think that.

So, that’s my first beef. My second beef is with beef. I got mild food poisoning from a hamburger during my stay. Just enough to make me consider going a little more vegan on these trips.