The Feb. 13 op-ed piece by Fred Millar, “Danger on the Rails,” was familiar to me as I have seen similar pieces written by him throughout the country. This raises the fundamental question: “What if Pittsburgh got exactly what Mr. Millar is asking for?” namely the rerouting of hazardous materials through other, presumably more expendable, communities, or moving the traffic by highway? I am guessing that even as I write this, he is warning another community that hazardous materials should be rerouted away from their back yards (and instead through Pittsburgh?).
No mode of transportation is risk-free, but by the numbers, rail’s safety record is excellent and beats the alternatives such as trucks. In the case of oil, pipelines do not exist in many markets and so the main alternative to rail is importing it from the Middle East by tanker; this alone could inspire a new rash of Tom Clancy scenarios.
Mr. Millar’s solutions at best move the problem around and at worst introduce the prospect of unintended consequences that could severely compromise rail’s ability to perform its role as a network industry capable of responding flexibly to shifting demands in markets such as fuel transportation.
HENRY POSNER III Chairman Railroad Development Corp. Green Tree
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