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Some exciting news! I've recently been hired on a new position as chief executive to the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Irvine, California. I look forward to this new position as it takes me back to my transportation industry roots, as I will be overseeing the operations and construction of Orange County's toll roads. An excerpt from the thorough article written by Jane Yu of the Orange County Business Journal can be found below, as well as a link to the entire story on ocbj.com.
New CEO for Toll Roads
Friday, May 17, 2013
Transportation industry veteran Neil Peterson has agreed to take the chief executive post of the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Irvine.
He will start on June 3, succeeding Tom Margro, who retired last year. The agencies' chief communication officer, Lisa Telles, has been serving as interim CEO.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies are two joint authorities formed by the state legislature in 1986 to oversee the construction and operations of Orange County's toll roads. Transactions on toll roads brought in $237.5 million in revenue in the 12-month period through June.
I recently received a very nice testimonial from one of my last events where I was keynote speaker. I was able to speak at the Western Winter Workshop 2013 for the AACE International. It was a fun event and I enjoyed every minute of my presentation, and so did the audience. Below is a testimonial from Julie Owen who organized the event.
"We were extremely lucky to have Neil Peterson as a keynote speaker for the 2013 Western Winter Workshop. He spoke of the terrifying experience he and his family experienced in surviving the rogue wave and being trapped in a cave. Neil has a fantastic talent to connect with every member of an audience. His speech had our group of over 150 attendees mesmerized. Our group will never forget his performance."
I have always loved trains – they have always occupied a sweet spot in travel for me between the intimate contact with the land that car travel offers and the fast, but depersonalized and remote sense you get from air travel. I had resigned myself to the fact that passenger trains might one day disappear altogether. But a confluence of political, environmental and economic factors has the potential to return the train to a prominent spot on the nation’s transportation agenda.
Recently President Obama announced $8 billion in grants for high speed rail. The program is aimed at creating high speed intercity rail in a number of regions across the country. In particular, the grants will give a boost to projects already underway in Florida, Illinois and California. At the same, the President hopes to provide some job stimulus. Some of the potential high speed rail lines are shown in the map below.
Joe Biden summarized the vision of a true high speed rail network:
What we’re talking about is a vision for high-speed rail in America. Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city. No racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes. (Laughter.) Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination. Imagine what a great project that would be to rebuild America.
Now, all of you know this is not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future. It is now. It is happening right now. It’s been happening for decades. The problem is it’s been happening elsewhere, not here.
However, the plan has its critics. For example, Representative John L. Mica from Florida doubted whether the planned line from Orlando to Tampa, which received $1.25 billion in government funds, was a worthwhile investment since it would only save travelers about 30 minutes on a trip that normally takes 90 minutes by car. Other criticisms have focused on cost to benefit considerations and the poor track record of passenger rail service.
High Speed Rail in the US
But sometimes the ROI for infrastructure investments is difficult to assess. No doubt there were critics of our investment in the national highway system, but its benefits have been immense. A well conceived high speed rail system could yield similar benefits over time. We just need the wisdom, tenacity and courage to get started and see it through.
A while back I had the honor of being selected as one of the "80 Men to Change the World". The site is in French, but you can use a translator to read the article. It covers my work with a car-sharing program called "Flexcar", now known as "Zipcar".
In our technologically advanced age, it may be argued that science has taken the faith out of miracles. (This could be dangerous territory, so please note, in using the word faith, I ask that you apply your own definition. I am not attempting to start a grand theological debate.) From a rational standpoint I can understand the reasoning.
Many of the phenomena and natural mysteries ascribed to a higher power in centuries past have now been stripped of their supernatural explanations. The progress made in the last fifty years alone has brought us to a deeper level of understanding of – and control over – the world around us. We are able to cure hundreds of diseases previously thought to be fatal, watch atoms as they collide, and land unmanned craft on Mars. In his most fanciful writings, Jules Verne may have predicted some of our most incredible achievements, but we have made them a reality. Do we still have room for faith in this new world?
Fortunately, I do not think this argument is an either/or situation. Science and faith can, and maybe should, coexist. I think it is important at times to put aside our rationale, our reasoning, and our logic, and acknowledge an occurrence that has all the characteristics of a miracle.
A miracle, as defined by Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary is “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” Or, if you prefer its second definition, “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.” (Webster’s is nothing if not all-inclusive.)
Before the sun set on January 15, newscasters around the country were describing the crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 as a miracle. And indeed, whichever definition you choose, the successful “ditching” of the US Airways flight into the Hudson River, and the subsequent water rescue, was an extraordinary and outstanding event.
US Airways Flight 1549 Crash Lands in Hudson River
After encountering a flock of birds just moments after takeoff, the Airbus A320 lost thrust in both engines, forcing the crew to prepare for an emergency landing. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, a leading expert in aviation safety, realized that he would be unable to pilot the plane to any of the region’s airports, and chose instead to put the plane down in the icy waters off midtown Manhattan.
Sullenberger managed, to land the plane going in excess of 150 miles an hour, in close proximity to several boat terminals. A water landing, no matter what the circumstances, is always a high risk endeavor. An aircraft hitting the water at the wrong angle or speed, can easily break apart. Sullenberger’s decision, based on his training and experience, was made to ensure that rescue for his passengers and crew would be almost immediate. For the 155 aboard the flight, waiting on the wings and the inflatable slides of the aircraft, hypothermia was a very real, and potentially fatal threat. Within 4 minutes of the ditching, a ferry boat was able to reach the downed plane and start loading passengers.
In the weeks since this event, Sully Sullenberger has been hailed a hero, as have the members of his crew, and the first responders who reacted so quickly to an event that would seem impossible for many of us to comprehend. And while the NTSB and the FAA will write up their reports on the facts and figures of what went wrong, I hope that people will not forget all that went right that day. That on January 15, under extraordinary conditions, we witnessed a miracle.