Keep the good times rollin’

Shawn Magrath

The New York State Department of Transportation is going to invest in the restoration of local rail lines in several counties, including Chenango. It’s not enough to do much (less than 20 percent of what was being asked) but it’s still exciting news to me.

It seems economical and more environmentally friendly (Are 50 trucks, each pulling one trailer, better than one train pulling 50 cars?) and, of course… well… I just like trains. I love the way they sound (the engine, the whistle, the clatter of the rails, the warnings bells of the railroad crossing). I love the sight of them, leaving pennies on the tracks to flatten and counting the cars – even reading the graffiti on the sides (I can get a lot of good writing material from that). So I’m pretty excited to see when and if they move through the city, since I didn’t live in Norwich when the railways were functional.

I’ve heard some other options regarding the fate of the tracks, particularly some that suggest the ties be removed and replaced by a bike trail… A bike trail? Really? Come on, no one would use that. (A straight trail from the north to the south end of town? Weee! What a trip! I can’t wait to turn around and go back the other direction!) Not to mention, a bike trail that goes through the middle of the city might not be the best idea. What’s proposed to be done where this bike trail crosses (11?) busy streets throughout the city? Besides, most people that ride a bike in the city aren’t riding for recreation; they ride to get from point A to point B so unless their point A is Prentice St. and their B is someplace between Aim Fitness and Country Max, there’s not much use in it. A bike trail isn’t going to keep one of the local youth from pulling a kamikaze type move in front of a moving car on Broad Street. And for city based “bicycle recreationists,” there are other trails around town already open for everyone to not use.

I’m not expecting trains to roll through the city over night – again, that’s if they ever run again at all. I’m open to other possibilities for the rail lines (so long as their logical) but to phase out the railroad system completely would be (almost literally) burning bridges.