The growing issue of the potential expansion of train tracks for the DC2RVA Rail project being run through Ashland/Hanover is a terrible idea. The proposals have been slowly evolving as there is some public feedback given. The general gist of it is that they want to add a new train track or two through the area, for a commuter train to go between Richmond and Washington D.C.. The new track is suggested to either go through downtown Ashland along the existing rails, which would likely completely change the adorable and historic downtown of Ashland, or to go West around Ashland, which would slice and dice people’s farm land, homes, and section off properties potentially making them inaccessible and devalued.

Unfortunately the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) aspect of human nature has been exploited to divide the people of the affected regions in Hanover County.

 This is best shown by the bizarre nature of the website “Save Downtown Ashland”. This website is terrible. Apparently the Town of Ashland is happy to throw everyone potentially affected by the Western Bypass idea under the bus, or train in this case. If you take a look at the website you will quickly see how one sided the issue is presented, and how little information about the issue is given. If you want to have your voice heard by the folks in the various transportation boards, the website tailors you potential responses to fit their agenda. If you choose the option of writing your own email, it still auto fills your subject line with a pro Western Bypass message. This website is a super example of NIMBY behavior. The problem is, you don’t want to BE a super example of NIMBY behavior. Especially if you are interested in things like building healthy communities, good communication, and mutual respect.

 The greater good of the people in Ashland AND Hanover is not supported by the train plans that have been proposed. 

 
I doubt that all of the potential solutions to the train needs have been explored. In my experience with politics, often viable solutions are ignored if the people who are adversely affected by the easiest/first suggestions are not valued. Let me repeat that, the needs and wants of people who are not valued are often ignored. Therefore, those people should all work together in solidarity to protect one another.

 I don’t want a train to run through Ashland, but I also don’t want it through Western Hanover. Honestly I am anti most development, period.  We need to preserve rural farm land. Eminent domain is frequently used to screw over rural folks to benefit City folk. I have always felt that way. I believe this happens so often because rural folks are not as valued by the decision makers. Rural towns are flooded to make reservoirs for big cities. Time and time again it is folks in the country who take the eminent domain blow, when they aren’t benefiting.

Often these developments which are done on the backs of and against the wills of rural and poor people aren’t necessary, or even well thought out. In this case, the trains to be run through the area aren’t actually high speed by most countries’ standards. I am a huge proponent of public transportation. One of the reasons I haven’t spoken up on this issue before is because  I was seriously considering the potential need for our  area to make a sacrifice for the greater public transportation good. However, I haven’t seen proof of this reality. I also have concerns about Richmond being gentrified more by becoming a commuter town for DC.  If we want to increase public transportation, whether because it is good for the environment or because it is good for people, we could do a lot more regionally, with many fewer negative effects. Being anti DC2RVA does not mean being anti public transportation.

There is sense in the process that there is an urgency which prevents all avenues from being explored. I am not sure why this is. I would encourage everyone in the area, and those in Richmond, who allegedly would be some of the folks benefitting from this development, to attend upcoming meetings to talk about the issue. I also especially encourage folks to lose the NIMBY attitude. It is all of our’s back yard. We have to learn to share, get along, and respect each other and nature. If us rural folks want answers, better processes, and better outcomes, we have to stand together and work for solutions we can all live with. 

The conversation does not need to be Town of Ashland versus Western Hanover. Let’s derail that. Let’s talk as a larger community about what our needs and desires are, and what we can do in solidarity with each other to achieve them. 

Information about upcoming meetings and some background website links can be found here: DC2RVA Info

Alternate source for information is the Families Under the Rail page found here: Families Under the Rail

Check out the divisive website here: Save Downtown Ashland 

I had to see the website to believe what one friend told me about it. I used the option on that website to write my own letter to the train people. Of course the website automatically made my subject line say something about don’t ruin downtown Ashland, support the western bypass. I deleted that subject before sending my email. I said:

Hey Yall

You are probably receiving a lot of form letters thanks to the Town Of Ashland’s vast misrepresentation of the train track issue on their website Save Down Town Ashland. Their website clearly propagandizes people to support a Western Bypass. This approach sucks. We need solidarity among the people of Hanover County, to say NO. Period. Don’t do this to my neighbors, don’t do this to me, don’t do this to the guy across the street. I don’t think you should do it to the folks of another county either. The need for this to be the only approach has not been proven. It is your burden to prove that these are the only options. I don’t see the benefit here. The plan and technology will be out of date before they are completed. I love public transportation and think car culture freaking sucks. I don’t think your plan adequately makes up for the losses people will face because of it. 

The Western Bypass, Eastern Bypass, Quadruple Bypass, whatever all sound bad, so does a trench through town. The people facing this outside pressure need to stand together to demand better answers, and a more democratic process. You are asking a lot of the people in this area, they have the right to ask things of you back. Respect that.

Mo Karnage

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