Monday, November 05, 2007

Building rails

In the 1860s, in the middle of one of the largest wars America has ever been involved in, a 690-mile railroad was built in a period of seven to nine years (depending on how you count), a rate of about five days per mile of track. Now, it's certainly true that this was accomplished through labor practices that were, by today's standards, more than a little bit questionable. However, I still am amazed that it's apparently going to take us twenty years to construct fifty miles of track in the Seattle area. By my count, that's a hundred and forty six days per mile of track. And I haven't even mentioned the harsh environmental conditions the transcontinental line faced, which a line in the Seattle metro area by and large does not.

I haven't decided how or whether to vote in the election tomorrow, but the timescale they're projecting is ... astonishing.


At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


partly you are right, but back in the days, they mostly but the rails to the ground without too much groundwork beneath it. Nowadays I think, trains are heavier and more importantly want to run faster than in the mid 19th century. This requires quite a bit of groundwork before the rails can be put on the ground! But still 20 years for a few miles is really long!

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