Over the phone, it’s clear that Bill Moyer is frustrated. “We’re not talking about some kind of Elon Musk-vacuum-tube-Jetsons-freaking-cartoon fantasy,” the Northwest resident says. “We’re talking about something that has a proven history.”
Moyer has been begging Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to invest in a renewable energy-powered freight rail line from Seattle to Chicago. But the governor has shown little interest, although he recently asked the state Legislature to approve $1 million to study an ultra-high-speed passenger train from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. “We’d love for him to show some leadership for the entire state on something that’s not so pie-in-the-sky,” Moyer laments.
Futuristic commuter trains are one thing, but Moyer has his sights set on an idea that is at once larger in scope and more firmly grounded in existing technology.
Moyer is a good-natured musician and progressive activist who has lived on Vashon Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, since 1989. He has a mop of curly dark hair and speaks in the laid-back tone you’ve heard at your local bike shop. These days, he often sports a black T-shirt that proclaims the name of his progressive advocacy organization, the Backbone Campaign.
It was that group that researched and authored the recently released Solutionary Rail, a 126-page book filled with charts, maps, graphs, and tables to support the feasibility of a bold electrified rail proposal.
The idea seeks to address two significant problems facing the country. On the one hand, the overwhelming scientific consensus warns of an impending climate catastrophe for which we are woefully unprepared. On the other, the country’s bridges and roads are, in fact, crumbling. The American Society of Engineers awarded the country a D+ in 2016, as it has consistently since 1998. During his first address to Congress in…