11 August 2007
More trains, less traffic
This is, in fact, a slogan of Virginia's Independent Green Party, but it played well in downtown Oklahoma City this morning, as about a hundred rail buffs, progressive activists, and old-fashioned penny-pinchers the latter group includes me gathered in front of Union Station to "Save the Rails."
And it's probably a good thing that they specified "Rails," because the station itself is in no danger. Heck, it's on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been for nearly thirty years. But the New Crosstown Expressway, currently advancing beyond the drawing-board stages, was cunningly (I suspect) designed to rip out the railyard behind the station, turning it from a viable transport hub into a stately but static relic.
While it's not surprising that the left would pick up on this issue most of the support for public transportation comes from that side of the aisle there's a fiscal-conservative angle as well, and it comes at you from two directions:
I talked with J. M. Branum after the speechifying, and we took a walk to the back of the station where the passenger facilities are. They've been left to deteriorate, of course, but they're not beyond repair, and the rail lines themselves need only a freshening here and there.
And we had one actual Presidential candidate on hand: Gail Parker, who hails these days from those Independent Greens in Virginia but who spent some of her childhood here in the Sooner State, and who was well received by the crowd. (She also schlepped along a Draft Bloomberg sign, which if nothing else indicates that she's keeping the options open.) I was hoping to hear Rep. Andrew Rice, who's working up a Senate campaign against Jim Inhofe next year, but he was stuck in traffic or something. The local NBC and Fox affiliates sent cameras to cover the event; so far as I know, only Branum and I represented local blogdom, and I'm pretty sure no one expected me. Certainly Tom Elmore didn't.
As these things go, this one went pretty well; there may be more rallies in months to come as the price tag on the Crosstown continues to rise and some of its boosters start feeling the heat.Posted at 1:40 PM to Political Science Fiction , Soonerland