Sen. Roy Ashburn's letter justifying his obstruction of high-speed rail explains more of why The Bee's front-page story the day before identified much of his district as worse off than Appalachia than his letter does to explain high-speed rail.
After decades of economic stagnation, the Valley's best hope to stimulate economic vitality is to restore the region's complete loss of business-class access to prosperous regions of the state. With short-haul airline service gone forever, the only viable means of accessing the Valley is a punishing, gas-guzzling, eight-hour round trip on gridlocked highways. What investor would ever want to locate a plant, hire employees and try to grow a business here faced with such a nightmare?
High-speed rail would make the Valley accessible. As a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, I am ashamed to see Valley Republicans like Dave Cogdill and Jeff Denham voting with Sen. Ashburn. Their districts, too, are becoming Appalachia West. Public interest should transcend their partisan Republican loyalty.
President Lincoln understood the inherently distasteful aspects to the financing of the Transcontinental Rail Road. But he knew the urgent need for its construction far outweighed his personal objections. Sen. Ashburn could learn from Lincoln.