We already know the Lehigh Valley is a great and truly unique place to live, even in these times. And so do our many new neighbors from around the area & accross the country and all over the world. Much of our Nation,s culture, history, and achievements have occurred right here where we all are lucky enough to live. From building the countless Battleships, Tanks, Trucks, Planes and other technology to win two World Wars, to making the steel to build half of Manhattan, and Bridges all over the World, ( we actually built the Golden Gate Bridge right here in South Bethlehem ) we have helped lead the way to real progress and prosperity, even back to the Conestoga Wagons bulit here.
What enabled all that has been our transportation network that nature provided us with; the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers. That led to the Delaware and Lehigh Canals and on to the roads, airports and railroads that would move all the people and goods between the Lehigh Valley and literally, the rest of the world.
But right after World War Two, with gas being cheap, the Intertstate Highways System under way, G.M. replacing our trolleys with buses, and our railroads worn out from wartime traffic, we mostly began to move away from moving ourselves by rail in any form, except in and between our biggest cities and population centers. Fortunately, the freight Railroads did recover, and even with the mistake called ConRail, The Lehigh Valley once again has excellent and innovative freight service, BethIntermodal being one of the best examples anywhere.
In terms of moving people though, we have regressed to having only roads like Rt. 22, Rt.309, The Pa. Turnpike, & I-78 that are congested and in bad shape, and we just can’t afford them anymore. We have become a vurtual island onto ourselves, surrounded by lots of roads that are inadeguate, dangerous, and unaffordable, right in the middle of millions of people who have had access to rail service that is just second nature to them. An awful lot of our newest freinds & neighbors that have come here to live, can’t imagine an area our size can’t get anywhere by train. We have become Pennsylvania’s own “mini L.A.”, and it’s no joke.
The upside, though, is that we are far more capable of planning, designing, building, and operating a modern Inter-city Rail system for ourselves than we have been told, including paying for it, right from within here at home. It has been hammered into us for decades that all we need is more roads, wider roads, to accomodate unsustainable traffic loads and that’s it. We all know that’s not true, but our leaders and planners only seem capable of doing the same things over and over, while hoping for different results. Nonsense. And expensive nonsense at that.
Fortunately, the Lehigh Valley has all the talent, ability, and expertise to take on this challenge and opportunity & do it really well, and that’s exactly what SMART/LV will be drawing on; our ability to rise to the occasion. We do need and deserve to have this vital part of our transportation mix brought back, and soon. We at SMART know we cannot do this alone, and nobody else is going to do it for us. We’re looking forward to making this journey together with the Lehigh Valley on board right from the start.