Now that the election is over, it is now more than clear that Evansville is divided by more than US 41. Yesterday's election was gut wrenching if you supported Rick Davis for mayor (as I did) or it was legendary if you supported Lloyd Winnecke for mayor.
First and foremost, thank you Treasurer Rick Davis for running for mayor. Of all of the campaigns I have worked on, which includes several in Lexington, KY, a few in Seattle, WA, and a few here in Evansville, this has been the most fulfilling one for me. I will never forget it and I am thoroughly saddened that it's over. At Rick's town hall meetings, several rail supporters came to him with questions about Evansville's future in passenger rail. Rick gave his full support for high speed rail and he said he would fight for it. Thank you Rick for listening to the High Speed Rail Movement!
Next, I would like to congratulate Commissioner Winnecke on becoming our 34th mayor. Commissioner Winnecke has worked hard for Evansville, and I appreciate him willing to take on the task of being mayor for Evansville.
So with all of that being said, Evansville is at a crossroads (no pun intended) when it comes to transportation. We can continue going down that same path known as the interstates that aren't safe, they aren't productive for job creation, they aren't clean, they aren't fast, they aren't cheap or affordable, and they have taken their toll on the environment.
Or, we can choose to go down a new path. That path is high speed rail. High speed rail offers Evansville a chance of a lifetime. With high speed rail, we have the opportunity to create jobs by the thousands with a slack water port next to our rail lines (both passenger and freight), the opportunity to transport residents safely as high speed rail has only had one fatal accident in its 47 year history, the opportunity to clean up our environmental emissions, the opportunity to save farmland, the opportunity to prevent urban sprawl, the opportunity to work in Bloomington while living in Evansville, and the opportunity to finally join the rest of the U.S in the 21st century.
During this past election, Commissioner Winnecke indicated support for both I-69 and high speed rail. Although we are a divided city right now, we absolutely, positively need to make Commissioner & Mayor-Elect Winnecke aware of the benefits of choosing rails over roads.
In his plan "Moving Evansville Forward," Commissioner Winnecke said the following about high speed rail...
"Passenger rail in Indiana is currently limited to the northern and middle sections of the state. INDOT released the Indiana Rail Plan in 2009. The report acknowledged the potential economic benefit an increased passenger rail system would have on Indiana. This is why it is imperative that Evansville be included in any future plans for an extended passenger rail network. Current plans for improved rail coverage in Indiana woefully omit Evansville as a stop on any potential passenger rail system. As mayor, I will insist that Evansville be placed on any map as a stop on a new Midwest rail system.
There has also been a push at the federal level to encourage the development of high speed rail in the middle region of the country. The Federal Rail Administration has identified High Speed Rail Corridors throughout the country. One of these corridors connects Chicago, IL to Louisville, KY. The latest plan also neglects Evansville as a primary or secondary hub for this system. Once again, I will fight for the people of Evansville to be certain that our city is properly connected to a Midwest High Speed Rail system and takes full advantage of any economic benefit. "
This is a very well-written and thought out statement from Mr. Winnecke. I thank him for his willingness to embrace high speed rail in a town that doesn't like change. I, and I hope you will join me, must make sure Mr. Winnecke sticks to his campaign promise once he becomes mayor.
For those who aren't familiar with the Midwest High Speed Rail Movement, please check out these links in this post...
Those who oppose high speed rail have tried all kinds of scare tactics. They have tried the following...
1. Claiming high speed rail is only being pursued in the Northeast Corridor and California. They are wrong, high speed rail is coming to the Midwest, and we must build into the system.
2. Said high speed rail is unaffordable. Yet, on average, high speed rail costs 1/4th the price of interstates.
3. Said high speed rail is a money loser. They are wrong big time on this claim. High speed rail is profitable while interstates don't even come close...
I have no doubt that high speed rail opponents will continue to use these scare tactics as well and many others. For this reason, if we are ever going to get high speed rail in Evansville, our leader and our mayor Lloyd Winnecke must be in full support of high speed rail. This is what happens when you don't prepare for high speed rail...
I trust Lloyd Winnecke will make the right decision on high speed rail. He has the ability to influence our economic development coalition, our chamber of commerce, the Evansville Courier & Press, our state and federal leaders, and many more who have the power to pursue high speed rail.
Congratulations Commissioner Lloyd Winnecke and I hope you will give high speed rail a chance!