The development of high-speed train epitomizes China’s rapid emergence as a great power. It should also serve as a wakeup call for U.S. policymakers, who seem to be losing their ability to do what is right for the country. Early this month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided to halt a project that would add two more tracks to more than double the number of NJ Transit trains that could pass under the Hudson River (currently NJ Transit commuter trains and Amtrak cars share a century-old, two-track tunnel beneath the river, so when an Amtrak train is choked in the bottleneck, it causes significant delays for NJ commuter trains to and from New York City). Believe it or not, the project had been in the works for about two decades and had received a $6 billion commitment from the federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Alas, we have money to fight two extremely expensive wars, but we do not have money to add two more tracks. Where is that “can-do” and “get-it-done” attitude that had characterized America’s state-building experience?Mark Di Ionno, in the Star-Ledger puts it this way:
After 53 years of talking, 17 years of actual studying and planning, and $478 million spent, this is what we got: a dirt lot, a shuttered storage center, and a new concrete overpass.
It’s sad, and it speaks to what we’ve become: 53 years of talking, studying and spending, lead only to a Tunnel to Nowhere.
In the first 50 years of the last century, here’s what was built: The first railroad tunnel under the Hudson was completed in 1908. The second opened in 1909. A third in 1910. The Holland Tunnel opened in 1927. The George Washington Bridge, 1931. The Pulaski Skyway, 1932, The Lincoln Tunnel’s first tubes, 1937. The second, in 1945. All took about 10 years from drawing board to ribbon cutting, some less.
You get the idea.
There was a spirit then that seems to have died. Look at those years, and think of all the excuses those leaders could have used to fail. World War I, The Depression, World War II.
Still, it got done.
There was vision, and growth.
And now, we have dysfunction and inertia, no matter whom you blame.
And a Tunnel to Nowhere.