Stop with the Great Trench Debate

Dig. Don’t dig. Who cares? Just quit the bickering

Can you think of anything more boring than a conversation about a depressed railway in downtown Reno?

I’m not for the trench or against it. Leave the railroad tracks as they are, or somebody pick up a shovel and start digging. Just quit talking about it like it’s the one thing that’s going to make or break Reno.

Are people not aware that there are ways around a pesky downtown train? Head east to the Wells Avenue overpass. Or head west toward Micasa Too where Second Street runs into Fourth—you can duck under the train tracks and get a peek at the Truckee River while you’re at it. Reno is not so big that an eastward or westward detour is going to slow you down any more than getting stuck behind some utility vehicle. Besides, detours are good: You get to see things you wouldn’t otherwise see when you’re on the worn path. If all you need is to keep moving, to feel like you’re getting where you’re headed, even if it means stopping for red lights—while the train roars through town—then appease yourself with a little different scenery.

Other times, especially if you’re the first car at the gate, put your car in park and try to read the boxcars as they whiz by. Daydream about those SUVs headed down to the Bay Area or empty boxcars headed back to who-knows-where. Or try to guess what BNSF and UP really stands for. Is that container full of natural gas, crushed cardboard boxes or Tabasco sauce? Let yourself wonder about our obsession with commodities and how the transference of such goods works. Try to list all the ways that Tyson chicken breasts can get from Springdale, Ark., to Costco. Is via the rail the fastest and most affordable option for the folks at Tyson Foods, Inc.? If so, do you blame them, then, for this train hurtling through your town, delaying you by five or 10 minutes?

Or if you are feeling less than considerate, call a friend to complain that you’re stuck behind a train. You’ve seen the new Volkswagen commercial where the guy is sitting inside a car complaining to someone on his cellular phone about his car not being ready yet. He honks the horn, and we discover he’s sitting in the car on the assembly line.

Sure, go to town. If you’ve got friends/spouses/children who are willing to listen to your hysterical dribble about a train on its way from here to there—well, I wish they had the confidence to tell you to call back when you have something worthwhile to say.

But then imagine the nightmare downtown would become if a trench were built. Do you think you would ever drive downtown during the construction? Remember: Construction doesn’t speed by at 45 miles per hour for 15 to 20 minutes maximum. The orange and yellow roadblocks and detour signs will be there until the job is finished. You’d find new ways of getting from California Avenue to Center Street, wouldn’t you?

A friend told me she heard that conversations about the trench have been going on since the 1930s. Enough is enough. Shut up, already!

Catherine Greenspan, formerly Catherine Atkins, is an RN&R contributor and office/distribution manager.

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