Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New Traffic Cameras On Interstate 77

Additional signs, weather stations and variable speed limits system to be installed this summer
SALEM – The Virginia Department of Transportation has added 15 new traffic cameras on Interstate 77 to its 511 travel information system and will add an additional nine over the next few months.  The cameras can be viewed on the 511Virginia.org website which provides real time information about road conditions and traffic congestion.  
The camera’s locations on I-77 are between the North Carolina state line and mile marker 14 in Carroll County.  The cameras will help VDOT to monitor traffic and weather conditions such as fog on Fancy Gap Mountain.  Each camera site cost approximately $40,000.
In late 2014, VDOT completed the last components of $6.3 million in infrastructure installation to support the cameras and an Active Traffic and Safety Management System (ATSMS) that will be installed this summer.  The support infrastructure included 17.5 miles of utility conduit and fiber optic cable and a 15-mile electric power grid.
Now that the new infrastructure is in place, an ATSMS will be installed this summer and become operational this fall.  The ATSMS will include a network of signs, additional weather detection stations and a variable speed limit system.
In February 2014, the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded a $7.5 million contract to G4S Technology, Inc. from Springfield, to design and build the ATSMS.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

VDOT Marks 90 Years Of The Jamestown Scotland-Ferry

More than 100 attend celebration and ceremonial ferry crossing of the James River
See the photo album for the 90th anniversary of the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry
JAMESTOWN, Va. — With the Cape Henry Ford Model A Club in the lead, 50 cars boarded the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry vessel Williamsburg today, and traveled from James City County to Surry County to commemorate 90thanniversary of the first automobile ferry crossing of the James River in 1925.
“Being out on the James River and riding one of our ferries is like tearing a page out of a history book, and VDOT is proud to be leading the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry system into the future,” said VDOT Hampton Roads District Administrator James P. Utterback.
Utterback was joined by Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, VDOT Commissioner Charles A. Kilpatrick and other state and local leaders, as well as 16 living descendants of Albert Jester, the first captain of the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry.
Before the ceremonial ferry crossing, guests gathered at Jamestown Settlement for a special presentation honoring the Jester family. Attendees heard from Secretary of Administration Nancy Rodrigues, who shared her experiences commuting on the ferry to and from her Surry County home, as well as former deckhand Rodney Taylor, who worked alongside Albert Jester in the 1940’s. Secretary Layne also presented a proclamation from Governor Terry McAuliffe, marking the 90th anniversary event.
“The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry system is such a unique part of our transportation landscape here in the Commonwealth, and it is something we should treasure and continue to grow,” said Secretary Layne.
After the ceremonial ferry crossing, the Surry County Historical Society and Museums opened up their newest exhibit for a special preview event. Dozens waited in line to catch the first glimpse of the newly-restored deckhouse of the “Capt. John Smith,” the original Jamestown-Scotland ferry vessel. The restoration project was partially funded with local assistance funds from VDOT.
“VDOT has been operating the Jamestown Scotland Ferry for 70 of the last 90 years, and we will continue to invest millions into the ferry system, so we can keep Virginia moving for decades more to come,” said Commissioner Kilpatrick.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Transportation Board Awards 16 Contracts Worth $173.6 Million

RICHMOND, Va. – At its monthly meeting today, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) awarded 16 contracts worth an approximate total of $173.6 million for major infrastructure work.
The projects will improve mobility, enhance safety and extend the life of the state’s transportation network
The contracts are for projects that will:
  1. Construct a diverging-diamond interchange at the intersection of the U .S. 460 bypass and Southgate Drive (Route 314) in Blacksburg, Va., in the Salem District of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $38.7 million to Branch Highways Inc. of Roanoke, Va., to build a grade-separated diverging-diamond interchange at the intersection of the U.S. 460 bypass and Southgate Drive at the entrance to Virginia Tech. The at-grade T-intersection has the only remaining traffic signal along this limited-access highway.
In addition to constructing the diverging-diamond interchange, the project, known locally as the Southgate Connector, will:
  • Widen the right and left shoulders on the bypass within the project limits
  • Add entrance and exit ramps at the Southgate Drive interchange
  • Relocate and widen Southgate Drive to a four-lane divided highway with a median between the bypass and Duck Pond Drive
  • Build two roundabouts with bypass lanes at the proposed Southgate Drive intersections with the relocated Research Center Drive and Duck Pond Drive
The interchange project will include building two new double-span concrete bridges over the U.S. 460 bypass to accommodate future widening. An existing and expanded shared-use path network will serve pedestrians and bicyclists.
The entire project is scheduled for completion in December 2019. More information is available athttp://www.virginiadot.org/projects/salem/southgate_connector_-_blacksburg.asp.
  1. Improve traffic flow in and around exit 150 on Interstate 81 in Botetourt County in VDOT’s Salem District
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $17.9 million to Branch Highways Inc. of Roanoke, Va., to increase safety and reduce congestion at exit 150 on I-81, which includes the intersection of U.S. 11, U.S. 220 and U.S. 220 Alternate. Average daily traffic through the intersection is about 38,000 vehicles.
The project will:
  • Relocate entrance ramp to northbound I-81 (from northbound U.S. 220 onto northbound I-81) so it is adjacent to the exit ramp at exit 150B
  • Construct a roundabout at the intersection of exit 150B and U.S. 11 to improve traffic flow, enhance safety and increase capacity
  • Build a new loop road – Gateway Crossing – to extend from the new U.S. 11 roundabout to U.S. 220 Alternate
  • Provide better access management on U.S. 11 by installing a raised median and reducing the number of entrances
  • Modify the entrances onto U.S. 11 so they require right turns both to enter and to exit
The entire project is scheduled for completion in June 2018. More information is available athttp://www.virginiadot.org/projects/salem/i-81_exit_150_improvement_project.asp.
  1. Widen one mile of Turnpike Road to four lanes in Portsmouth, Va., in VDOT’s Hampton Roads District
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $23.4 million to E.V. Williams Inc. of Virginia Beach, Va., to widen a 1.08-mile section of Turnpike Road in Portsmouth from two to four lanes and add a center left-turn lane, sidewalks, curbs and gutter.
Turnpike Road, which is being reconstructed in phases, connects Frederick Boulevard to Interstate 264, the Downtown and Midtown tunnels and Route 164. In addition to increasing capacity to reduce congestion, the project also will improve vehicle and pedestrian safety.
The project is scheduled for completion in May 2018. More information is available athttp://www.virginiadot.org/projects/hamptonroads/turnpike_road_reconstruction.asp.
  1. Replace the bridge on Lewistown Road (Route 802) over Interstate 95 just south of Ashland, Va., in VDOT’s Richmond District
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $18.2 million to W.C. English Incorporated of Lynchburg, Va., to replace the bridge on Lewistown Road over I-95 in Hanover County.
The new bridge will provide at least a 16.5-foot vertical clearance to reduce strikes from tall vehicles on I-95. The project will widen the structure to four lanes, add turn lanes and shoulders and relocate one of the adjacent exit ramps.
The project will be completed in November 2017. More information is available athttp://www.virginiadot.org/projects/richmond/i-95_lewistown_road_bridge.asp.
  1. Widen sections of U.S. 360 in Hanover County in VDOT’s Richmond District
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $9.4 million to J.L. Kent & Sons of Spotsylvania, Va., to widen and improve U.S. 360 in Hanover County.
The project will include constructing eight lanes from Interstate 295 to the proposed Bell Creek Road intersection and six through lanes from Bell Creek Road through the Wynbrook Lane intersection.
The project will be completed in May 2017. More information is available athttp://www.virginiadot.org/projects/richmond/route_360_and_bell.asp.
  1. Restore pavement on ramps on Interstate 64 and Interstate 295 and on I-64 in VDOT’s Richmond District
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $5.3 million to American Infrastructure-VA Inc. of Glen Allen, Va., to restore the pavement on the I-64 ramps at exits 190, 195 and 205; the ramps on I-295 at exit 28A and at U.S. 60; and pavement along eastbound I-64 in New Kent County.
  1. Pave and resurface interstates, primary roads and secondary roads throughout the state
The CTB awarded 10 contracts worth a combined total of approximately $60.7 million to various contractors to pave and resurface roads and highways throughout the state. The purpose of these projects is to apply preventative, corrective and restorative overlays to maintain a safe driving surface and to extend the life of the roads.
The chart below tracks the dollar amount of major contracts the CTB has awarded in calendar year 2015:
In advance of each CTB meeting, VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick also approves contracts up to $5 million in value. From the Feb. 27 bid lettings, the commissioner approved 46 contracts worth an approximate total of $68.7 million for construction and maintenance projects on Virginia’s interstates and primary and secondary roads.
Appointed by the governor, the 17-member CTB establishes the administrative policies for Virginia's transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation. The board normally meets on the third Wednesday of the month in months when action meetings are scheduled,
For more information:
  • Final bid results and projects:
  • CTB meeting, times and locations:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

VDOT's Shailendra Patel Recipient of Leadership Award

RICHMOND, Va. – Shailendra Patel, P.E., DBIA, Alternate Project Delivery Director for the Virginia Department of Transportation, has been honored with a Design-Build Leadership Award in the Individual Owner Category by theDesign-Build Institute of America (DBIA).

The Design-Build in Transportation Leadership Award winners are selected by DBIA’s Transportation Committee comprised of design-build professionals and industry experts from across the country. The winners were honored on March 10, at the DBIA Design-Build in Transportation Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
“Shailendra represents VDOT extremely well,” said Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick, P.E. “We are a leader in design-build and are extremely proud of his commitment and dedication that continues to guide our success and growth of the design-build program.”
Shailendra is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s policy on procurement and execution of thedesign-build program. He provides technical support and guidance for Public-Private Partnerships (P3). He is a member of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Subcommittee on Construction.

“The Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance (VTCA) Design Build Committee was excited to nominate Shailendra for this year’s DBIA Leadership award,” said Tom Witt, engineer director, VTCA. “Virginia’s Design Build program has encountered many challenges since its introduction. Shailendra’s dedication and willingness to engage VDOT’s partners throughout the evolution of the program has been a key component of its growth into a valuable project delivery method for Virginia’s transportation program.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

National Work Zone Awareness Week is March 23 - 27

Virginia hosts 2015 national event Tuesday, March 24 and memorial vigil Wednesday, March 25
RICHMOND — With the arrival of Spring and the warmer weather comes the beginning of highway construction season…and that means more active work zones.
During National Work Zone Awareness Week, observed this year from March 23 to 27, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) joins the highway contracting community and federal, state and local transportation officials to educate motorists about the potential dangers we all face while driving through work zones.
This year’s national theme – “Expect the Unexpected” – emphasizes the changing conditions that occur during the busy roadway construction season. Virginia hosts the 2015 National Work Zone Awareness Week event on Tuesday, March 24, at 11 a.m. in Northern Virginia.
“We are happy to put the snow and ice behind us and get down to the business of repairing and improving our roads,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Please be alert to additional work zones this spring as the men and women of VDOT complete this important work to make travel through the commonwealth safer and smoother.”
In Virginia last year, there were 4,068 work zone crashes resulting in 1,857 injuries and 15 fatalities. In 2013 nationwide (the most recent available data) there were 579 work zone traffic-related fatalities, 28,630 work zone injuries, 105 worker fatalities and 186 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses. 
By comparison, in 2013 there were 21 fatalities in Virginia that involved work zone crashes. In 2012 nationwide, there were 609 traffic-related fatalities, 32,000 injuries, 130 worker fatalities and 132 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses.
“When you see signs for work zones ahead, please slow down and stay alert,” said Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “These work zones are in place to make needed infrastructure improvements and make your travel more reliable and efficient.”
VDOT’s research arm, the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research, is developing work zone safety performance measures that will provide a standard approach to evaluating work zones that will lead to safer conditions for both drivers and workers. VDOT is also partnering with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to examine nighttime work zone lighting to evaluate current practices and develop the most effective lighting requirements in Virginia.
“As we continue to research the latest techniques and methods to make our work zones a safer environment for workers and motorists, please also do your part to help minimize dangers on Virginia’s highways,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “Never drive distracted and watch out for slow-moving equipment entering and exiting project areas.”
VDOT Memorial Vigil – March 25, 6:30 p.m.
Each year in recognition of Work Zone Awareness Week, VDOT holds an evening vigil to honor its employees who lost their lives in work zone crashes. This year’s event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, at the VDOT Workers’ Memorial. The public is invited to attend. The memorial is located on Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain (milepost 102 eastbound) in Albemarle County.
Support Work Zone Awareness Week
Support Work Zone Awareness Week by participating in “Go Orange Day” on Wednesday, March 25. Send your photos to VDOTPhotoRequest@VDOT.virginia.gov (with your name and location) and they will be included on VDOT’s Flickr site.
Social Media Tools
  • VDOT supports work zone safety through updates Facebook and the agency’s district and 511 Twitter accounts.
  • Follow VDOT Use the hashtags: #WZAW and #expecttheunexpected
VDOT offers the following tips to increase safety as you navigate highway work zones:
  • Expect the unexpected. Keep an eye out for workers and slow-moving equipment.
  • Follow the signs. Signs and flaggers will direct you through the work zone. Expect changes in traffic patterns as the project progresses.
  • Don’t tailgate. Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
  • Don’t speed. Enhanced fines of up to $500 may be levied for speeding in a work zone.
  • Focus. Focus your full attention on the road and those traveling around you.
  • Never change lanes in the work zone.
  • Minimize distractions. Avoid changing radio stations and using phones.
  • Be patient. Crews are working to improve the safety and comfort of your travels.
  • Call 511 (when safe!). Receive up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information from any phone in Virginia. Before you travel, log on to www.511Virginia.org for road and traffic conditions, weather forecasts and livetraffic cameras on many major highways. 
More information about Work Zone Awareness Week is available on VDOT’s website:www.virginiadot.org/programs/prog-wzsa-default.asp
Find out about the VDOT Workers Memorial, including information about some of those individuals memorialized on the monument: www.virginiadot.org/about/is-worker-memorial.asp

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

VDOT Issues Notice To Proceed To Route 29 Solutions Contractor

Engineering, survey work will begin this month on three design-build projects
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Virginia Department of Transportation has given official Notice to Proceed to Lane-Corman Joint Venture to begin design and construction of three Route 29 Solutions projects.
The design-build team is comprised primarily of three companies: Lane Construction Corp., of Chantilly, Corman Construction Inc., of Chesterfield, and engineering firm RK&K of Richmond. Preliminary engineering began in June of 2014 and final design will be completed by the design-builder.
Lane-Corman’s contract includes the following:
• Rio Road grade-separated intersection – utility relocations begin in May and roadway construction begins this coming fall.  Click here for a rendering of what the improvements will look like. Drive through the project.
• Route 29 widening – utility relocations begin this summer, followed by roadway construction.
• Berkmar Drive extension – roadway construction begins in the spring of 2016.
The $116,746,000 contract for delivery of those three projects has a fixed completion date of Oct. 30, 2017.
The Route 29 Solutions program includes eight highway projects to improve safety and increase mobility along the Route 29 corridor in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. In addition to the design-build contract, adaptive traffic signal technology is being installed at 21 intersections on the corridor, Hillsdale Drive will be extended south to Hydraulic Road, the Route 29/250 interchange project has been awarded and construction has begun. Preliminary engineering will be done to recommend improvements to the Route 29/Hydraulic Road intersection and an additional extension of Hillsdale Drive. The initiative also fully funds a second daily passenger train between Lynchburg and Washington, D.C.
For more information go to www.Route29Solutions.org.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Transform 66 Inside the Beltway Plans Launched

Virginia Secretary of Transportation and project leaders kick off project to provide congestion relief and support multimodal improvements
FAIRFAX – Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne today announced a plan to ease congestion on the traffic-clogged Interstate 66. Proposed improvements would move more people, enhance connectivity and provide new travel options on I-66, from I-495 (the Capital Beltway) to U.S. Route 29 in Rosslyn.
Tolling is proposed on this section of I-66 in both directions during rush hours to deliver free-flowing and more reliable travel, and support multimodal improvements that benefit I-66. Vehicles with three or more people would travel the lanes for free during peak periods, while other drivers would pay a toll to use the lanes. The lanes would remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods. 
“Drivers traveling on I-66 inside the Beltway face serious delays in both directions ranging from 2 to 5 miles each day,” said Layne. “Bus service and other transit options face connectivity challenges and are greatly impacted by this congestion and unreliability. Improving these conditions is going to take a transformation of the entire I-66 corridor, and it’s going to take more than one solution.  Governor McAuliffe is committed to implementing the right solutions to improve this vital transportation corridor.”
By converting the HOV lanes into tolled express lanes during peak periods, traffic would move more efficiently providing reliable trips for carpoolers, buses, and toll-paying drivers. Critical multimodal improvements will also be implemented within the I-66 corridor or on surrounding roadways. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) would manage the tolling.  Tolling during peak periods and the first group of multimodal improvements are expected to begin in 2017.

(VDOT) and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation are working closely with the region’s transit partners and surrounding localities to identify the most effective multimodal improvements.  Initiatives such as new priority bus routeson I-66, Route 29 and Route 50 are under consideration, as well as Metrorail station improvements at Ballston and East Falls Church, and the possibility of eight-car Metrorail trains.

For more information, go to www.transform66.org.   

Monday, March 16, 2015

Potholes No Match for VDOT Repair Crews

Call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 800-367-7623 to report potholes or use online form
RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews and contractors are tracking thousands of potholes to fill them in order to reduce road hazards. 
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said, “Governor McAuliffe and I are committed to keeping the state’s roads safe. A major part of this effort is pothole repairs. VDOT crews did a stellar job clearing snow from Virginia’s roads this winter, but the agency takes no break between plowing snow and patching potholes. With more than 57,000 miles of pavement to take care of, VDOT crews continuously monitor conditions and make repairs.” 
Each motorist is another line of defense in helping VDOT to spot potholes.  VDOT has easy ways to help report potholes so crews can repair them more quickly.
VDOT crews are always on Virginia’s roads addressing various maintenance needs, so when they see a pothole or get a report of one, they will repair it as quickly as possible or call for a crew with the proper materials to patch it.  Last year, VDOT patched more than 146,000 potholes statewide between March and May. 
“VDOT depends on drivers to stay alert when they see a slow-moving vehicle or other equipment repairing our roads,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “We need to keep everyone – you and our crews – safe on the road year-round.”
Potholes are created when moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes, expands and then thaws. This weakens the pavement. Traffic loosens it even more, and it eventually crumbles and pops out. This graphic illustrates how potholes form.
The pothole repairs VDOT makes during the winter and early spring are mostly temporary, using a material called “cold mix.” Materials used for permanent pothole repairs typically require warmer weather.
VDOT repairs potholes on state-maintained roads, which include interstates and most primary and secondary roads.Local governments, plus Arlington and Henrico counties, are responsible for repairing potholes on their streets. Residents in cities or Arlington and Henrico counties should contact their local public-works agency for pothole repairs.
To report potholes
·         Use VDOT’s Web-based form to report potholes and other road problems, athttp://www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp.
·         You also can click on “Report a Road Problem” in the top right corner of the home page on VDOT’s website atwww.virginiadot.org.
·         Call 800-367-7623 (800-FOR-ROAD) 24 hours a day to reach VDOT’s customer service center to report road hazards or ask road-related questions.
More VDOT information

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guerrilla Public Service 2011

A North panel and 5 shield were fabricated and attached to the existing overhead sign because the information was missing. It was done as an art project, without permission, called Guerrilla Public Service. The signs were manufactured and installed to the same specifications used by Caltrans (California Transportation Authority) with the intent on safety and aesthetics.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Crossing guards save child from red light runner

Brooksville, Florida -- Thanks to the quick reflexes of two crossing guards, a young boy on his way to school made it there safely on the morning of Feb. 20. 

 Hernando Sheriff's deputies say two school crossing guards were manning the intersection at Ken Austin Parkway and Sunshine Grove Road when the driver of a truck traveling along Sunshine Grove Road initially failed to stop at a red light.

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Polk County Judge Upholds Red-Light Safety Camera Violations

On February 26, 2015, Polk County Judge Robert Grode, of Florida’s 10thJudicial Circuit, upheld a red-light running violation issued through the City of Lakeland’s red-light safety camera program and ordered the defendant to pay the fine. After a thorough review of the protocols established by Lakeland, the judge determined that the recent City of Hollywood v. Arem decision issued by the state’s Fourth District Court did not apply.
“I think in this case, it’s very clear the City of Lakeland has set out very clear standards for a third-party vendor to follow; and failure to follow that means that the third-party vendor is no longer going to be doing that work,” Judge Grode said in court transcripts. 
In reviewing the vendor’s role in the violation process, Judge Grode said the evidence and information presented in the City of Lakeland v. Robert Meador case indicate the vendor’s role to be a “ministerial or secretarial function.” He went on to distinguish this role from a decision-maker’s role. Lakeland’s red-light safety camera vendor is American Traffic Solutions.
ATS General Counsel George Hittner said Judge Grode’s decision affirms the clear distinction in responsibilities between vendor and client.
Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Protected Lanes Preview: Boston, Detroit, Indy, Minneapolis, Denver & More

Spring is three weeks away, and that means it’s time for one of American cities’ newest rituals: announcing the year’s protected bike lane construction plans.
Every few days over the last month, another U.S. city has released plans or announced progress in building protected lanes. Even more excitingly, many are in downtown and commercial areas, which tend to have the highest latent demand for biking. Let’s take a scan from east to west of the projects that popped onto our radar in February alone, to be built in 2015 or 2016:
Boston is “heading toward” a firm plan for protected lanes on the crucial Commonwealth Avenue arterybetween Boston University Bridge and Brighton, Deputy Transportation Commissioner Jim Gillooly said February 9. In column the day before, the Boston Globe’s Derrick Jackson endorsed the concept on the strength of a trip to Seattle, where he rode a Pronto! Bike Share bicycle down the 2nd Avenue bike lane.
Read the rest of the story at Protected Lanes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Stay Safe and Informed: Va. Dept. of Emergency Management's Blog

RICHMOND, Va. – Wise County residents in need of snow removal assistance are receiving aid from several voluntary agencies following more than a week of heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. Households with special medical needs will receive priority assistance.
The following organizations are assisting with snow removal and other requests for assistance: Team Rubicon, AmeriCorps, Belmont Christian Church from Christiansburg, Camp Bethel from Wise County and other local community organizations. Team Rubicon will also provide emergencyoperations support and volunteer management assistance. The Virginia Baptist Mission Board is providing meals for volunteers and the American Red Cross is providing refreshments at the volunteer worksites. 
Additional volunteers are not needed at this time. Any residents in need of snow removal assistance can call 276-328-7114 or damage@wiseso.net.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

What Long-Distance Trains Teach Us About Public Space in America

"What people don’t like about the train is the time lapse. People don’t have time to tie their own shoes these days.” Trent, a fellow passenger on Amtrak’s Sunset Limited from New Orleans to Los Angeles, was philosophizing about the train. Trent is a middle-aged African-American man from California with whom I struck up a conversation in the observation car, which, for those of you who aren’t versed in the lingo of the rails, is the living room of a long-distance train, heavily windowed and designed for friendly interaction. Rolling through the desert, Trent and I talked for more two hours about family, spirituality, and all the other things that come up when you have opted to ride across the country with strangers and without WiFi.
“People [usually] just want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. We don’t give ourselves the chance to be in the moment,” Trent says. “Whether it’s good or bad, you grow. It’s about experiences.” He was describing something special about the long-distance train: It is a place to slow down and experience the present.
The long-distance train is one of America’s greatest and least heralded public spaces..
Read the rest of the story at Next City...