The Missouri Department of Transportation and Amtrak are exploring the possibility of expanding passenger rail service between St. Louis and Springfield. This is meant to relieve congestion on Interstate 44 because of the growing popularity of the Springfield/Branson area. It would also provide service to four other towns along the way (6/16, St. Louis Business Journal).
With the increased cost of gasoline and a greater awareness of energy conservation and efficiency, Amtrak expansion is a good idea.
But it appears that Republican U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri doesn’t share that vision. Recently he voted against the bill that increased the 2007 Amtrak budget from $900 million to $1.14 billion. (6/17, Star, A-11, “How They Voted”).
Without Graves’ vote, the bill passed. But Amtrak needs more money to avoid bankruptcy. If the House could have added funds equaling the “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, $230 million, Amtrak could dodge bankruptcy next year.
Congressman Graves continues to promote oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Expansion of Amtrak service in the U.S. would provide Americans an alternative to driving. But it would appear that Graves doesn’t understand the concept of energy conservation and efficiency.
Charles L. Beucher Jr.