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Brattleboro Rail Forum on Nov. 9

Transportation Board holds Brattleboro Forum on Rail

The Vermont Transportation Board at 6 p.m. on November 9 will hold a public forum in Brattleboro on transportation policy associated with trains, both passenger and freight. The Board wants to discuss railroad related issues with the public – including rail-side economic development and the possible initiation of commuter rail service to Massachusetts – to determine how future policy can be shaped to best position Vermont’s rail interests to meet the needs of the state residents.

The forum, which will be held at the Brattleboro Museum & Arts Center at 10 Vernon Street, is one of seven such public conversations the Board is holding around the state. Topics the Board plans to discuss include:

• Living with railroads as neighbors, and the issues they present.
• Starting commuter rail service linking Brattleboro to various points in Massachusetts.
• Passenger rail expansion along Vermont’s western corridor between Rutland and Burlington.
• Passenger rail expansion from various points in Vermont to Montreal.
• Truck traffic through villages and town centers, and the effect of rail expansion.
• Adjacent rail-side economic development and planning for increased rail activity.
• Rail Safety, including crossings, trespassing and response to potential emergency incidents.

“Vermont is poised to significantly expand passenger rail in the very near future, while at the same time the state also is seeking growth opportunities for both the movement and off-loading of freight,” said David Coen, Acting Chair of the Transportation Board. “As a result, we want to have a conversation with Vermonters to both hear their suggestions as well as understand their concerns regarding these new services and how the state uses its rail lines.”

People who cannot attend a hearing can submit written comment by visiting the Board’s website at http://tboard.vermont.gov/. For more information, contact John Zicconi at john.zicconi@vermont.gov or by calling 802-828-2942.


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Written comments taken, too

Note that written comments are also being accepted... this is a good chance to weigh in on all things related to trains.


To determine how future policy can be shaped

It makes me wonder how all comments will be tabulated.


mtgs and trains

There are some great ways to gather comments. The Planning Dept did a good job preparing for the rewrite of the Town Plan a few years ago.

One exercise I liked was allowing people to generate a "blue sky" list of everything they could possibly think of related to a topic, then afterwards, people get to go put stickers on the white board lists to "vote" for the ideas they liked best. With enough people, consensus around certain themes becomes obvious. The end result is a list of everything, plus a ranked list of the top choices.

Assigning a person to keep an inventory of all comments becomes very useful.

I really like trains. Still relatively affordable travel, comfy with lots of leg room and the ability to get up and wander, fairly quick and easy, provides a good window view of America, and it is all rather old-fashioned at the same time.

In an ideal world, I'd be able to catch a trolley or monorail at the end of the street to get to the train station, which could then get me to any nearby local community, with connections to other trains to more distant destinations.

If the core routes could be improved to super train speeds, and hubs and spokes could be expanded and improved, we'd have quite a system. With excellent public rail, the need for a car drops.

One thing Vermont could do would be to look back at the early trolley lines. They would put amusement parks at the end of the lines, to give people a reason to go the full route and to increase income on weekends. It worked! Today we could invest in better stations and reasons to travel by train to locations, and advertise heavily.

Vermont artists could certainly create beautiful train station posters. I'd hop on a train today if Sabra Field directed me there... : )

A celebration of trains is called for. Brattleboro really began to grow once we got rail. It's in our local DNA.


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