Before I get started on my next series of posts beginning either later this week or early next week, I came across a couple of posts related to my recent series on Transportation that are worth noting today.

First up is another informative piece by Chris Nelder (here) in the form of an open letter to Congress. It contains some very straightforward information about the state of our energy future, and as I discussed in my last post also, he calls on our leaders to begin thinking long term, and to make rail transit a fundamental part of our economic revitalization. (Growth of rail transit infrastructure = jobs.) Of necessity, he is blunt in warning Congress not to make decisions that are only “politically expedient.” That approach, the one Congress is far more comfortable in adopting, simply won’t get it done.

The process of transforming our infrastructure will take decades, and as I continue to insist, waiting to formulate the plans we’ll need to guide us is sure to make things worse.

Just as important, Nelder makes it clear that all Americans need to understand what is at stake here, as I and others continue to urge as often as we can. We’re all in this together, much as we may think—or wish—that the solutions are in the hands of “others.”

It’s well worth the read.

This weekend, I also came across this terrific article from early in 2009. Anyone looking for a solid primer on the basics and importance of high-speed rail can’t do much better than this one.

The author also makes clear the challenges faced by rail proponents (including, shocking as it may be, shortsighted Congressional opposition). Understanding those issues moves us many steps closer to finding solutions and overcoming obstacles that simply should not be factors at all. Narrow-mindedness usually doesn’t get you very far, and so education remains a vital component in the process of economic renewal and future prosperity.

The vital message in author Craig Canine’s article on the critical importance of high-speed rail is this:

“…countries that aspire to participate fully in the twenty-first-century economy are coming to see that a high-speed rail network is as essential as a robust Internet or mobile-phone infrastructure.”

No one is saying any of this will be easy, or quick. But if we truly want this country to return to solid economic footing so as remain a world leader, the re-building of our infrastructure, with rail transit as one of its most essential components, is simply not negotiable. We need to understand this yesterday, and start working on making this happen today.