Friday, April 21, 2006
I'm guilty!........of N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Backyard!)
It all started innocently enough, a casual conversation with a realtor lead to the inevitable question 'do you own', to which I answered yes, and of course got the follow up question 'where'.
I mentioned the area, part of Fall River's south end near the Taunton River. He knew it well and said it was nice and then said 'you know they're trying to re-establish rail service to Newport(R.I.)?
I told him it will never happen. The tracks, which run through my neighborhood, have been unused for at least 30 years. It would cost a fortune to get them in working order AND the Sakonnet River Swing Bridge would need to be replaced and THAT would cost a fortune just by itself.
He restated that it's in the works and despite my earlier confidence I felt a bit rattled.
A quick google search came up with a few hits, a recent letter to the editor in the Providence Journal (registration required) in which a Rhode Island resident touted how rail service from Boston to Newport (going through Fall River) made sense. A forum community talked about bantered about how a Boston to Newport line was possible and echoed some of the sentiments in the projo letter. The forum also furnished a link to a Rhode Island Department of Transportation report from 2002 that promoted the feasibility of Fall River to Newport line with also sorts of facts and figures related to the expected number of passengers and the revenue that could be generated. My google search at least showed that there has been an interest and discussion.
What if this gains momentum in Rhode Island? What if this does happen? Well, I doubt the city of Fall River would object. After all, it would seem pretty hypocritical to cry out that we need commuter rail to Boston and then deny it to Newport. On top of that on many levels this makes sense and could be an economic catalyst for Fall River.
Still, reports and forums and letters to the editor aside, the reality is Fall River to Newport rail service will come down to the almighty dollar. Fall River has been pushing and fighting for rail service to Boston for a decade now but it hasn't happened yet, despite commitments from the state and the efforts to secure federal funds the best we've gotten is a promise of 'by 2011'. This promise is one in a list of promises that have been matched by the list of broken promises and delays. A Fall River to Newport extension would require even more money from Massachusetts and Rhode Island and I'm sure some sort of Federal funds. Even if such a project could secure funding I'm sure there would be all sorts of legal battles from people who just don't want this to happen. In short, if it does happen it won't be for a long time.
Of course I hope it never happens, go ahead, accuse me of N.I.M.B.Y. I can't deny it. I don't want this in my backyard and it literally would be!
Along the Taunton River and the Mount Hope Bay is a terrific place to live. Too much of Fall River's waterline has been spoiled by industrial and commercial use. It would be a shame to see what pockets of residential areas exist ruined by an active rail line. It would be a shame if the stillness of a glorious sunset was interrupted by the sound of the train.