The first article deals with the ongoing attempts to build a light rail system in South-Central Pennsylvania. One part of this light rail project, the “Red Rose Corridor,” will connect Harrisburg and Lancaster. At the moment, this project is moving forward and is under review by federal authorities. The other major part of this project is a rail spur that would run across the Susquehanna River to Carlisle. At the moment, the Cumberland County commissioners have yet to throw their support behind this project. My own town of Mechanicsburg would benefit from this Cumberland spur. Organizing for America–Central PA, an organization associated with the Obama campaign, has been holding public meetings to raise grass roots support for the spur. They argue that the Cumberland light rail will reduce traffic, improve air quality in the region, and provide economic development.
It seems to me that this is a no-brainer. I am sure it would be popular among West Shore commuters to Harrisburg. It will take traffic off the highways during rush hours and do some environmental good. (My favorite writer and activist on these issues is Thomas Hylton. His website is worth a look). But most of our local politicians, including my own representative, Republican Sheryl Delozier, are opposed, preferring to put money into road improvements. Most of them feel that people will not use light rail because they prefer to travel on their own time, in their own way, and on their own schedule. Those who make this argument are probably right, but at what point should people make a few minor sacrifices for the common good of the community? And it does seem that there will be environmental and economic benefits.
Stay tuned. There is a meeting on June 23, 7:30pm, at the local Giant Food Store in the community room. I am going to try to make it.
The second article focuses on Sally Holbert, a Mechanicsburg mother who moved from Upper Allen (where I live) to downtown Mechanicsburg so her kids could walk to school. Holbert has spent the last five years educating the local community on the virtues of walking to school. Now Mechanicsburg has been awarded nearly one million dollars from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to repair and build sidewalks.
While we are not yet ready to move from our neighborhood so our kids can walk to school, I applaud Holbert’s efforts.