From Dennis Roddy:
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Corbett gave a train-stopper of a speech this morning that was, in turn, punctuated by a speech-stopper of a train.
Outlining his 13-page transportation platform along the Norfolk Southern mainline on the North Side, Mr. Corbett called for a series of tweaks and shifts in the way the state funds transit and grows everything from roads to trains. The proposal had no price tag attached.
“We didn’t say we’re expanding – we need to rearrange how we spend it,” said Mr. Corbett who, if elected, would face a state with serious funding challenges.
His own biggest challenge yesterday was getting the speech done on schedule, in this instance, the train schedule.
Norfolk Southern hosted the candidate this morning at its Island Terminal, which, its 2800 Preble Ave. address notwithstanding, is located on Chateau Street. Even Mr. Corbett had a challenge finding it and the 10:15 a.m. press conference was postponed 20 minutes while supporters were located and redirected to the place.
Trainmaster Adam Paterline then radioed the oncoming 11-A freight train passing from Altoona to Conway, Beaver County. The train pulled up, providing a handy backdrop to Mr. Corbett’s speech, then geared down its engines to a mild hum.
Mr. Corbett began – saying that, as governor, he would convene a bipartisan transportation group to figure out how best to reconfigure the state’s formulas and existing funding lines to promote road, public transit and “intermodal” – read trains – transportation.
“I will support freight movement and passenger rail corridor initiatives,” he said. Similarly, he called for enhancement of both the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh ports and dredging of the Delaware River to accommodate larger freighters that will soon pass through the Panama Canal..
“We need to do it better, we need to do it faster, we need to do it cheaper,” Mr. Corbett said.
He also needed to do it louder. That’s because, even with the 11-A idled for a few moments, the 37-A freight lumbered and squealed overhead on an elevated bridge.
“Where’ the oil?” Mr. Corbett ventured as wheels let out a politician-stopping scream.
“I’m going to stop because I can’t talk over that,” he said. The train lumbered along before the candidate could resume.
“I always say this is a good sign. This is industry,” Mr. Corbett said. He gamely offered the podium to Bucks County Commissioner James Cawley, the endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor. Mr. Cawley opted not to challenge a freight train. The party endorsement provides only so much influence.
Photo: Dennis Roddy