Supports Commuter Rail Plan

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 26, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I support the commuter rail plan even though I voted against light rail in 2000. Here's why:
   Commuter rail isn't light rail. This means roads won't be ripped up for years as track is being laid. Commuter rail will use existing track that already runs freight; this plan simply adds passengers to the mix. This translates into less disruption to existing traffic and lowered costs than light rail.
   Commuter rail isn't expensive. While light rail would cost about $1 billion, the commuter rail plan costs $60 million to $90 million (roughly the cost of 1 to 2 miles of light rail). Capital Metro won't have to raise taxes since it has already collected enough money from the one-cent sales tax and federal matching funds.
   Commuter rail gives people transportation choices. This is achieved not only with hybrid-diesel trains equipped with wi-fi, but by the 32 miles of pedestrian and bicycle pathways that will be built alongside the rail corridor. This will be achieved by the park-n-ride lots that downtown revelers can use instead of endlessly circling for parking. This will be achieved by providing rail service that is grade-separated, meaning the train won't take up any lanes currently used for cars.
   Finally, commuter rail will affect our region's growth. While some believe the issue is getting people to trade their car for rail, I believe the issue is preserving what we have while preparing for the 1.5 million people coming in the next 20 years. Commuter rail will change the highest-and-best use of tracts along the railway, spurring the sexy kind of mixed-use development and density our city needs to avoid making sprawl our legacy.
   Take it from someone who voted against light rail in 2000: Commuter rail is worth supporting. To see for yourself, check out
Lonny Stern
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