SolarBullet Campaign Energized by Meeting with Route Representatives
Organizers of the Arizona campaign to build a high-speed solar-powered bullet train between Tucson and Phoenix held a very constructive roundtable with more than a dozen representatives from city, county and state agencies along the route last week. Hosted by the cities of Casa Grande and Eloy, participants previewed the public awareness campaign soon to be launched by solarbullet.org and covered the practical steps to keep this project on track.
Hosted by the cities of Eloy and Casa Grande last Thursday, Jan. 28, more than a dozen city, county and state agency participants met for a SolarBullet update, beginning with a preview of a public awareness campaign to be themed "Tucson to Phoenix in 33 Minutes: Imagine the Possibilities." The group then discussed the steps it will take to move the entire project from imagination to action.
According to new campaign chair, Ted L. Hullar, a Tucson resident and chancellor emeritus of UC Davis, the SolarBullet group is eager to launch the studies Gaither had planned, including an analysis of the economic potential of very high speed rail intercity rail in central Arizona.
As conceived, the Arizona SolarBullet would travel at speeds of up to 220 mph with express trains and local runs along the I-10 corridor, powered by miles of rooftop panels on a "solar shed" overhead. Another near term objective of the group is to complete the conceptual engineering that Gaither began.
For such analyses, Hullar suggested reaching out to specialists at all three public universities in the state -- UA, ASU and NAU -- a proposition endorsed by all the roundtable participants.
Travel between Tucson and Phoenix in less than 35 minutes will generate positive impacts in every direction from commerce to jobs to tourism and the arts, added campaign manager Carla B. Nelson. After presenting an overview of HSR plans in the US and operational high-speed rail abroad, she emphasized that the Arizona project offers an opportunity none of the others will have: to be first in the world to build a solar-powered bullet train with a zero energy footprint.
"How often does Arizona get the chance for this kind of world-wide impact, while doing so much good at home?" Nelson asked the participants.
To build the momentum needed to keep the project on track, Hullar foresees a potent convergence of complementary interests.
To develop a very high speed train that runs on solar power would bring together a broad coalition of public, government and business interests, from parties engaged in solar and green R&D, to high speed rail and train enthusiasts, to the rapidly growing groups concerned with smart growth and sustainable transit. For all these constituencies to work together to benefit Arizona could invigorate the whole state, Hullar said.
Roundtable participants also heard from Mike Normand of the Arizona Department of Transportation with an update on ADOT plans to date for intercity rail in the state. Next, Eric Anderson from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) shared information about the Western High Speed Rail Alliance, which is also working to bring regional HSR to several western states.
The SolarBullet campaign aims to forge alliances within and between all these arenas and more, and will launch their public awareness campaign with a Facebook page to supplement their web site and news feeds at solarbullet.org. By leveraging online networks, the group also hopes to build a strong base of high speed rail fans among students.
After the roundtable, Hullar said he felt very encouraged by the enthusiasm and interest from all the roundtable participants. "People have been so intrigued by Bill Gaither's dream that they arrive ready to listen and brainstorm, and that keeps us energized too," he said.
In coming months, several roundtable participants will be working together to hold an informative series of public and agency meetings.
For further information:
Carla B. Nelson
Campaign manager, solarbullet.org
Ted L. Hullar
Campaign chair, solarbullet.org
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