|Time to hook Montreal up with that big group of dots below|
It's surely a lovely little town full of interesting things, but alas one that most of us will never visit because we don't want to fire up the car to drive to a smaller city six hours north.
Alas, we are Chicoutimi to the northeast megalopolis, which is the most important place in the world.
Though only 600 clicks down the road, travel between New York and Montreal is currently painful.
One must strap in and drive a tedious and arduous six hours. It's long and tiring. You've got to figure out how to get by the border guard, not run out of gas, not slide off a mountainside in a storm, not fall asleep at the wheel, and so forth.
The alternative? An 11-hour train ride that stops at the border for over an hour and every small town along the way.
The obvious solution? Build a high speed rail line between Montreal and New York.
Now would be a great time to do it, as money has been allocated in the States for just that thing in the 2009 stimulus package.
Connecting Montreal to New York by high speed rail would generate something like 500,000 - 700,000 trips a year, which would be great for tourism, it get us out of our bubble and put us in the megalopolis loop and put us on the map for cities that haven't heard of us since we lost the Expos.
A Montreal - Big Apple HSR link would be our Chunnel.
It would be massively transformative and would do us limitless good.
Once built, the idea of not having it would seem pathetically barbaric.
The proposed route involves three sections. The southernmost section is New York City - Albany and it's already equipped with some pretty high-standard railway lines and further improvements could easily be greenlighted by American authorities.
The issue is what happens between Albany and the border, ie: the Albany-to-Rouses Point section.
There's insuffiicient critical mass for the Yanks to justify building high speed rail through that part of the country and that's quite a distance. (Although the Americans could probably be convinced to extend HSR from NYC to say, Saratoga, still a signigicant town beyond Albany).
The third section from Montreal to the border would be easy and relatively cheap to do.
So the issue would be to somehow get that tricky Albany-Rouses Point section built and that's the dealbreaker right now.
Here's what I propose: we drop our conservative naysaying and take some of the cash we put aside for needlessly grandiose projects like the new Champlain Bridge and or the Turcot rebuild, both of those local road structures could be patched up and repaired for much less.
We then tell the USA that we'd be willing to put up maybe a billion or two to build that section of the railway (perhaps even with our own workers) if they'd in turn commit to buying trains from Bombardier once it's built.
We would then be able to get to New York in something like four hours rather than the almost 12 hours it currently takes.
And of course New York will likely be hooking up soon enough with other sections of the heavily-populated east coast via fast train, so travelling from Montreal to Washington or Philadelphia would be an easy and fast task.