This week brought us the unsurprising news that Vermont earned a grade of C on the latest "infrastructure report card" issued by the Vermont Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This isn't some esoteric piece from a think tank on the other side of the world, but a document that comes through the work of skilled engineers right here in Vermont. Noting some progress but also the scope of challenges ahead, the report gives the state the same grade it did four years ago. Within the report card, roads get a C+.
Perhaps many of you (like this writer) recall what a C looks like on a report card, and that it did not always yield happy parents. And even if you were one fo those kids who aced everything, as an adult you probably know what a C level road looks like, and how incredibly challenging road upkeep is for our town and state Vermont road crews, whose diligent work is an uphill battle against our transportation mentality and our changing climate.
Does it have to be this way? What if the 2027 report card said that Vermont's grades were improving, with a key factor being that our roads and bridges were less stressed now that we've found a way to transport people together on two rails, in a system that stopped in our communities and was available to all?
Whether you brought home A's, C's or less back in the day, you know where we are going with this one. We as a country and Vermont as a state know how to do rail. The technology is here, existing tracks follow our Vermont rivers and population centers to a remarkable extent, and riding a train is an experience that transcends our demographics and our political beliefs. It takes planning and courage to accept and embrace the concept of "forward to the past," but it makes a heck of a lot of sense. Let's get going before the next report card!