But as I look at the Congresswoman's info request in the agenda packet (pp. 10–15), I notice the parts about rail service, both commuter rail and intercity passenger rail. Now I've heard the stimulus package puts some bucks behind catching the U.S. up with the rest of the civilized world in efficient long-distance mass transit. I've also heard some stories from old-timers around town about the good old days, as recently as the 1950s, when they could catch a train here in Madison every day to head down to Sioux Falls or other exotic locales. One gal we know said that she used to catch a train each week in Sinai (!) to go to school in Canton.
So what if (ah, my favorite phrase, right after "I love you" and "Supper time!") our commission got creative and said, "Forget Highway 34; let's get some rails!" Draw up a quick plan to upgrade the BNSF line from Madison to Sioux Falls (with stops in beautiful Wentworth, Chester, Colton, Lyons, and Crooks!). Add a spur from Wentworth to create a Madison–Brookings connection. (See South Dakota rail map here). Think of the advantages:
- Regular rail service replaces hundreds of car trips a day, increasing safety and reducing wear and tear on Highway 34.
- Hundreds of commuters can talk on their cell phones on their way to work instead of yakking while driving (more safety!).
- More people can read books (or the Madville Times on their Blackberries!) on the way to and from work, increasing the general intelligence.
- Sioux Falls gets more rail commuters and fewer small-towners driving like honyockers on the big-city streets.
- Commuters get healthier as they walk and ride their bikes more from the train depot to their final destinations.
- The Dan Roemen selling point: Madison commuters buy less stuff in Sioux Falls and more here at home, since they go to their Sioux Falls jobs with briefcases and backpacks instead of cavernous SUVs just begging for a trip to Sam's Club.