Rutland Herald, Letter to the Editor

Transportation absurdities

November 23, 2004

A few years ago, Rutland claimed its 15 seconds of fame when the multi-modal parking garage was honored with a "Fleecing of America Award," duly reported on the evening news. In comparison, however, it appears that the planned railyard relocation project has the potential to provide material for a major motion picture.

What got me thinking about this was driving by Rutland's admittedly attractive train station today at noon, and seeing the closed sign in the window, with the notice that no services are available the station, no one is on duty, and tickets can only be obtained by calling Amtrak's 800 number. So what Rutland has done is build a non-functional railroad station next to a completely serviceable parking garage, which for whatever reasons was never really used, then build a new parking garage several blocks away, then encourage the bus operator to move the nearby bus terminal to a more distant location at the new parking garage, and then make plans to demolish the old parking garage. I can only wonder if, in a final act of absurdity, the railroad tracks will now be relocated from the non-functional railroad station to the south side of the city as part of the planned railyard relocation project. Rutland could have achieved the same result by simply building a Mel Brooks-style false front train station out of plywood for a few thousand dollars.

As far as the rail yard relocation goes, the thinking seems to be "If you build it, they will come." With the recent announcement by Omya that they will not be pursuing their Danby operation, "if you build it they will go" might be more accurate. When this project was first dreamed up, a figure of $20 million was being kicked around, but it seems to have somehow grown to $100 million. In my opinion, it doesn't matter if the funding would be local or federal. My suggestion? Spend $1 million to staff the train station for the next 20 years, and use the remaining $99 million to improve every road in Rutland County.