This morning's Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on how some folks are trying to get Amtrack rerouted through Northampton. Right now, the trains travel from Springfield, take a detour to Palmer, then come through Amherst on their trip North. A while back I spent over an hour stuck on a siding in Palmer with two tired and cranky kids, waiting for a freight train to clear the tracks so we could proceed to Amherst, so I definitely see the benefit of taking a more direct route. Northampton isn't THAT far away, and I'm sure the students who take the train would adjust to riding a bus to the Northampton station.
So... one of the few Federal Stimulus projects for Amherst involves the train station:
FEDERAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY SPENDING. PRJ Number PRJ29116011 Title NEW ENGLAND DIVISION - STATION UPGRADES Description Upgrade platforms to conform with Amtrak standards and ADA regulations at stations in: Amherst MA, Hartford CT, Mystic CT, and Providence RI. Project detail MA Amherst MA Stations to receive a new ADA compliant, 550', 8" ATR concrete platform. $500,000Half a million dollars for a train platform sounds like a lot, but we're talking about a lot of train platform. Mr. Google tells me that the blue line I drew on the map over there on the right is 550-feet long.
One might argue that it's OK to build a train platform for a train station that may soon be closed; that the economic activity will stimulate the economy and make us better off. That's the Broken Window Fallacy (follow the link for a good description); spending money on useless projects is a bad idea.
UPDATE: basic arithmetic failed me again; I realized eating lunch that in the first version of this post I'd managed to divide 500,000 by 550 and somehow end up with about 10,000. Too many fives, I guess...