Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When Can We Start and How Long Will It Take

Fact of the matter, is that coming up with an idea is the start of anything and that has already been done, so the more relevant question is what to do next. There are several things I plan to undertake simultaneously immediately. In addition to writing in this blog and commenting on news stories, I am collecting information for a better cost/benefit analysis, looking for others (individuals and groups) interested in participating in design, education, lobbying, and setting up a nonprofit (hopefully in the next week or two) to promote the idea of a national personal transit system. I expect to have enough written and edited within the next year to publish a book with as many of the details about the system as possible. Within two years I would like to see such a system being widely discussed as a serious alternative especilly in political campaigns, a very ambitious goal I realize, but time is not on our side against the looming energy and environmental crises, especially if human population continues to grow at its current prodigious rates. Within five years, I would like to see design plans substantially finalized and commitment by the federal government to giterdone, as some friends of mine like to say. This may be the hardest part since there may be politicians who adamantly oppose the system and it only takes a few to obstruct change of any kind. Also, congress tends to only work on things there is widespread knowledge and support, making the first part of becoming a major topic of discussion even more important. In an ideal world, construction could begin by 2010 but if it takes until 2020 we will be moving too slowly, the underpinnings that support our current system are already beginning to show signs of crumbling at many levels. Once building begins it will have to average 10 miles of construction every day for a bare bones national system of around 17,000 miles to be completed. While this is an ambitious construction goal, I believe it is both possible and necessary and once real construction has given enough people the experience required. It should be possible to approach or exceed 200 miles per day, a rate that will put the system at the vast majority of Americans doorsteps within 20 years. This high rate of construction will be facilitated by prefabricating sections of the roadway in sections, like a childs car track, so that all that has to be done is level the area and put the pieces into place and align them. If that sounds simple or easy, make no mistake that it is neither, it will take every bit as much effort as winning World War II or sending astronauts to the moon, but it should be worthwhile even if it weren't necessary. To finish the system to the point where nearly all that is being done is upkeep may take 50 years or more but I dont think 20 years for the vast majority of Americans to be served by the system is at all an unreasonable goal.

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