Press-Republican

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October 20, 2009

Montreal-New York City high-speed rail a priority for Quebec

<img src="/homepage/images_image_276103054" alt="&#149;">&nbsp;&nbsp;Quebec minister cites high-speed NYC-Montreal service as future key

PLATTSBURGH — High-speed rail service between Montreal and New York City is one key way to make North America's first green transportation corridor.

Pierre Arcand, minister of international relations for the government of Quebec, said that was one of the topics of discussion when Quebec Premier Jean Charest and New York Gov. David Paterson met two weeks ago.

Charest noted that former Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau called for high-speed rail in the 1970s.

High-speed rail between Buffalo and Albany is almost a certainty, Arcand said at a lunch sponsored by the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Canadian Studies at Plattsburgh State.

The same is needed between New York and Montreal, and he urged local leaders to increase their support for it, despite concerns about how much it would cost.

"If there is a will, there is a way."

Arcand said he believes the New York-Albany high-speed line will also be built, but a few challenges exist with construction of a line between Montreal and Plattsburgh.

The main problem is the section between Plattsburgh and Albany, specifically through the Adirondacks. The corridor along that section is very narrow between Lake Champlain and the mountains.

The high-speed rail service available in Europe shows it is a driving force in economic development, Arcand said. It helps with freight transportation but also boosts human resources and culture.

"This is a chance for us to deepen and expand our bilateral relationships," Arcand said.

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Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said the chamber is very much on board with the prospect.

He said people opposed to high-speed rail are similar to those who said it was ridiculous to build a new airport in Plattsburgh or to spend more than $100 million on the Port of Excellence border at Champlain.

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