Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Scary" indeed

video


Amherst Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe was hardly soothed by the Town Manager's Report--or I should say update--concerning the twin train derailments and the resulting measures taken by New England Central Railroad to address them.

If the cause of both potentially devastating mishaps was a "high water table" (and that area is indeed a swamp) then simply replacing old rotted ties and fasteners does not address the underlying problem, although it certainly helps.

But if that was pretty much NECRs response--surface hardware replacement-- then if they had refurbished those long neglected rails a few months earlier, would it not have prevented both accidents?

A recent study by UMass Hydrogeologist David Boutt published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters demonstrates that as a result of rising temperatures and climate change, average precipitation in the Northeast has increase by 30% since 1900, and water tables have indeed become consistently higher over the past ten years.

Since this a long-term phenomena, chances are it's not going to reverse itself in the short-term future. Combine this soggy weather trend with the activity of beavers in that low lying area and you have a recipe for returning to the prehistoric days of Lake Hitchcock.

Perhaps when the tracks near Station Road are submerged, NECR or the Federal Railroad Administration will address the real problem.

Let's hope they do so before another accident occurs.

Trains, bike paths, beavers and global warming make for a bad mix

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, for everyone that does not believe in global warming, please note Larry's post.

Anonymous said...

I second that.

Ed said...

Long breath....

Folks, go buy a bottle of beer and a standard (large) cellulose sponge. Soak the sponge until it is fully wet, hold it up until it stops dripping, and place it on the surface of the sink. (Or your $1000 oak table if you like...)

Place the beer bottle on the sponge.

Notice how the weight of the beer bottle forces water out of the sponge.

Now drink the beer, stop calling me crazy, and consider the consequences of 3 centuries of development on ground that essentially is a sponge (eg almost all of Amherst). A lot of weight was put into various places (including the dump/landfills) and it pushed water out -- in some cases, miles away.

Take the Stop & Shop plaza and the Big Y and the rest -- that has made the land behind it wetlands. So too Route 116 -- to the point where MassHighway is now talking compensating property owners for now undevelopable land.

This isn't global warming, it is the beer bottle on the sponge -- same amount of water in the sponge, some gets pushed out of somewhere, it has to go higher somewhere else unless it is drained.

And have you ever noticed how all the brooks in Amherst tend to run in straight lines? They were hand dug to drain the town. And that wasn't global warming then, either...

Ed said...

One other thing -- the glaciers were heavy, heavy enough to literally bend down the rocks in places like Upstate New York -- as a result, the rocks around here was forced up.

Same sponge analogy, only now we are talking exponentially higher amounts of force and bending rocks.

Well the glaciers just left (a short time ago in geologic time) and the ground under them is now starting to come up == thus causing the ground around here to go down.

We are sinking. Quite literally, we are sinking. And that means higher water tables....

And if you are talking a track that has been there 100 years or more, yes, the water table really could be 1-2 feet higher and that has nothing to do with global warming...

Not to mention if it has been in a swamp for 100+ years -- all that heavy ballast and such -- how much has it sunk into the swamp? Heavy things sink into swamps over time -- and unless they have raised the track at some point, the whole thing has sunk down lower over time...

Anonymous said...

I get all my definitive science from Ed. I read him and swear by every word.

Anonymous said...

When I look at those four people sitting in Town Hall, I breathe a sigh of relief.

But none of this should be taken for granted. The forces of craziness in town government are always lurking, ready to assume their assumed position in one or more Select Board seats. The sanity could begin to erode around about 2013.

Anonymous said...

Can Ed take over this blog by eminent domain?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Ed. The Science Is Settled. Al Gore said so. Those trains derailed because of global warming. (Even though the planet's temperature has been pretty much constant for a decade now.) Just drink the damned Kool-Ade and stop confusing us with facts!

Anonymous said...

O...M...G...please never let Ed teach...

Anonymous said...

I think it's the beavers' fault. It's always the beavers' fault.

Ed said...

O...M...G...please never let Ed teach...

Heaven forbid anyone be able to understand the concepts of hydraulics -- that liquids can not be compressed (much) and that pressing down on water forces it to come up somewhere else...

Anyone stupid enough to be considering attending umASS need only look at that comment.

umASS -- an asinine cesspool of mind dead morons who can not tolerate anyone able to think for himself.

Fire Truck umASS and Fire Truck you. And I hear they have some nice cyanide-flavored Kool Aid in Berkshire....

Raoch. meet shoe said...

Ed, these vipers attack you because they need someone to hurt to be happy.


It has got nothing to do with fact(s).


Ever.

dominique said...

Amtrak has high standards and a lot of inspection requirements for passenger rail. The current MCRR line is shared with Amtrak and is supposed to meet those standards. But wait! Federal funding has been approved to improve the conditions of the Pan Am RR track running up the West side of the CT river, and when that happens, Amtrak will be routed thru Northampton and Greenfield northbound. The MCRR track in Amherst will be used for freight only. And freight track doesn't need to meet such high standards. Sooo . . . how much effort do you think MCRR is really willing to put into maintaining this track?

Anonymous said...

Oh all of you of the global-warming-causing-more-rain philosophy --- have you noticed how dry the ground is right now?

It is humid as h*ll -- but not raining. There are holes in your theory bigger than the theory itself...

LarryK4 said...

Although it is a tad warm at the moment in our part of the globe.

Anonymous said...

anthropogenic global warming...

is a hoax for gore and his cronies to bring in the carbon tax to charge you a fee for exhaling.

wake up.

there are many factors to consider such as the gulf oil spill stalling the haline convector, the use of haarp and chemtrails to modify the climate, the increased cosmic activity that happens in long cycles, etc etc.

step one: don't believe gore he is a politician

Anonymous said...

Today 3 p.m.(Friday July 22nd) I was at the Spfld Amtrak Station. There were 3 Vermont registered buses there to take the Northbound passengers from the train.
Don't know if this has been the new routine since the track problems in Amherst? or if this will continue for some time?

LarryK4 said...

According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette (July 1): "Spokesman Cliff Cole said passenger service through Amherst is expected to resume on Friday."

Maybe Amtrak knows something town officials do not.