Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Progress. Just exactly what is progress? Webster's defines progress as an onward or forward movement, a gradual development, especially, the progressive development of humankind. We constantly talk about economic progress and economic development being of prime importance to Milam County. While it is important I often wonder if we do not need to be careful of what we ask for.

Being born in 1951 I personally have seen a lot of progress. Today we have hand held devices that can do more than the first computer that filled several rooms. Cell phones not only allow for mobile voice communication they also email, text, surf the net and take pictures. GPS devices can tell you your exact location within inches, and even tell you when and where to turn.

I grew up without air conditioning, no TV, and radio stations were few and far between. Not sure that we even knew what FM stations were back then. Central air and heat was unheard of, and air conditioning, or refrigerated air was in more cars then homes back then. But we progressed, or did we?

Progress is sort of like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. While technology was supposed to allow us more time for the good life, seems that many folks are chilling in front of the computer today on face book or surfing some internet site thousands of miles away. No doubt that we can communicate more effectively and technology has changed our lives.

Texas is continuing to grow, and some would call this progress. However, the exploding population growth is putting some strains on our infrastructure. Highways are more congested and our air is more polluted. We produce more garbage and use more water. One major area that I feel we have actually regressed in is transportation.

In 1969 when I first came to Milam County a person could easily get to many places now inaccessible unless you have an automobile. Buses stopped in many of the local towns several times each day. East and west bound as well as south and north bound passenger trains traveled through and stopped in Milam County.

Today there are no passenger trains traveling through Milam County and bus stops are a thing of the past. So have we progressed in the area of transportation? Have we helped decrease pollution or decrease traffic on the highways by making mass transportation available? We have actually reduced the number of ways rural folks can get to town.

Progress in mass transportation for the state is something that Austin needs to start thinking about. Personally I believe we are already late in beginning some sort of mass transportation agenda. We have talked about it for years, but have done little.

It is time to move forward in planning for long term development of mass transportation for Texas. I know we like our cars and pickups, but the truth is that there are many of us that today would opt for mass transportation if it was available.

I will not argue that much of the progress we have seen has been good. However, it is time to think about what the results of progress will be and how we can manage some of the negative effects that are sure to be the result of increased population growth. Efficient mass transportation programs are one way we can reduce the detrimental consequences of progress.

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