We have now been assured by Dr. Bethany Stich, assistant professor of public policy and administration in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Mississippi State University, that her services as a researcher are available for performing an independent analysis of the Pioneer’s potential. We feel the prospects are very good for obtaining an analysis that rises above the dismissiveness of the Amtrak-sponsored feasibility study of 2009.
A graduate of Virginia Tech, Dr. Stich has focused her research efforts on “the importance of retaining and revitalizing rail; inland waterway infrastructure; airports as economic drivers; globalization and international trade; freight-based economic development; intermodal development and planning; community development; industry recruitment and retention; sprawl; and citizen involvement,” according to her biography on the MSU website. She recently served as lead author of “An Analysis of the Economic, Workforce and Regional Impacts Associated with the Revitalization of the Columbus & Greenville [MS] Railroad.”
We reached her through the good offices of Gil Carmichael, long-time passenger rail advocate and former federal railroad administrator, of Meridian, MS, whose efforts we very much appreciate.
Next comes the question of funding. We estimate that the study will cost $50,000, and we will be contacting a couple of possible funding sources in the days ahead. Know anyone who wants to contribute $50,000 to a good cause? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.