Riecks' presentation also will cite a study showing that unlike Baby Boomers -- for whom getting a driver's license and a car was a rite of passage -- members of the Millennial Generation (persons 18 to 34) prefer public transportation, with 70 percent using public transportation several times per week. He also cites a report showing that 25 percent of college-age adults do not have drivers' licenses.
Before burdening the state with a $1 billion road bond issue, Riecks states, "We need to be working toward a transportation system that the upcoming generation -- you know, all those young people we constantly hear we need to be keeping in our state -- are really thinking about."
Finally, having gotten a extensive background in railroads given his work with the Heartland Intermodal Gateway as executive director of the Wayne County Economic Development Authority, Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, sent along an interesting read about why railroad gauge (the distance between rails) adopted the unusual standard of 4 feet, 8.5 inches.
Long story oversimplified, American railroads adopted the gauge because it was the standard in England. Early railcar builders in England used that gauge because they used the same jigs and equipment they used to build wagons -- wagons that used the same dimension between wheels.
Wagons in England used that width because it was the only way to ride comfortably on rutted roads constructed during the occupation of Europe by imperial Rome, with ruts created by Roman chariots that traveled the roads hundreds of years earlier.
Seems that a Roman bureaucrat more than 2,000 years ago decreed that would be the standard wheel spacing for chariots, being the optimal width for a chariot pulled by two horses, side-by-side.
That ancient bureaucrat's decision continues to have impact to this day, including affecting the design of the most advanced transportation system built to date, the space shuttle.
The original shuttle design called for wider solid rocket boosters, but engineers for Thiokol had to scale back the design, since the boosters had to be shipped by rail from Utah to the Kennedy Space Center, and had to be able to clear tunnels along the way -- tunnels whose dimensions were determined by that four feet, 8.5 inch edict.
The moral of the story, or at least the version sent along by Delegate Perdue: "Horse's asses control almost everything ... "
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.