John Woods is chair of the Metropolitan Transit Commission’s Red Line Task Force and mayor of Davidson.
By JOHN WOODS
Everyone, please take a deep breath! There has been a great deal of discussion, and misinformation, regarding the Red Line Regional Rail Project, and I would like to set the record straight on several issues.
Let’s first remember that we are not debating whether to implement the Red Line. We are instead working together on how and when to bring this project to life. Our communities have twice voted in support of transit, and our citizens continue to voice their support for bringing passenger rail to the North Corridor. So now we are doing the hard work: Figuring out the details of how to fund this initiative and make it a reality.
All the partners who began this journey are equal partners, working together to create, fund, and implement a plan for our communities’ future. Every partner is still engaged and committed to seeing this process through to the end. We are involved in a process that is tried and true – one that helped our forefathers create great things and one that will work for us. It is neither a quick nor an easy process. But just because something is tough doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
The concept — regional rail and economic development — is not about who “wins” because there are not “sides.” This concept is about looking past our individual jurisdictions so we can develop a plan that benefits all our communities in the future. This is about coming together and having the courage to visualize what we will need 10 or 20 years from now and having the stick-to-it-ness to work hard to make that vision a reality.
Yes, Norfolk Southern has voiced concerns. Yes, some of our task force members have voiced concerns. But listening to concerns and addressing them is how you develop the best plan. We engaged in a process that welcomes open, honest discussion about every issue. That is what all our public meetings are about.
SLOWING, NOT STOPPING
To honor those concerns, answer as many questions as possible, and work to find resolution, we are going to slow down the process. But we are not stopping it.
We will complete the ongoing review of the Draft Business/Finance Plan by March 30 as planned. We then plan to delay the release and adoption of the Consensus Business/Finance Plan to allow more time for revised inputs by Norfolk Southern. Ongoing participation and input from each one of our partners remains critical to the process.
America was built by men and women who had vision and were not afraid to build consensus and do the hard work required to see that vision realized. None of us should be afraid to follow in those very same footsteps.
Only time will tell if, when and exactly how the Red Line will come to fruition. But we owe it to the generations that follow us to look at every possibility, every option, and work together to find out if it can. If not, we will be forced to look at the next generation and say, “It didn’t work because we were too afraid to try.” I, for one, believe we are made of sterner stuff.
Red Line Regional Rail Project website
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