Letter: Railroads could be more cost-effective way to move freight

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It seems that at least annually since we retired here in 1997 discussion arises about what to do with Interstate 70. Surely it is obvious something must be done.

However, it is questionable if the best response is building additional lanes for trucks at a projected cost of $3.5 billion from St Louis to Kansas City. Not only is there the first cost of building the truck lanes, but there is the ongoing additional cost of inefficient, expensive interstate truck transportation. With fuel costs zooming upward, now more than ever we need to consider the concern for efficiency in freight transport.

When the city or state wants major industry to come they often give special tax deals to encourage them. Is it possible that railroads might be given special tax deals to increase their capacity for interstate freight transport? Certainly rail transport is much more efficient than trucks, and in the long run such a move would not only save money for taxpayers but reduce the number of trucks on I-70. If even half of the present interstate truck traffic went by rail instead, what a difference it would make for travel on I-70.

Perhaps this is too large an issue for one state department to decide. Perhaps our highest elective state officials need to look at the larger issue of how to most efficiently and cost-effectively move freight across the country. Perhaps leaders in all kinds of transport could join in a summit conference to explore options, not just to keep doing it the way we have done it in the past, but what will be best for the future and a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.

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