Webinar Materials Available: Access vs. Isolation: Preserving Rail Connectivity

On April 21, 2017, the NADO Research Foundation held the free webinar Access vs. Isolation: Preserving Rail Connectivity. As regional economies change over time, the demand for transportation facilities and services also evolves. Nationally, coal’s share of electricity generation has decreased over time, but production remained fairly steady until 2007. Beginning with the recession in 2007 and other factors, the domestic and international demand for U.S. coal decreased, leading to a dramatic decline in coal output. As a result, the demand for transportation also decreased sharply and led to reductions in private sector transportation service. During the webinar, three speakers will talk specifically about how the shifting economy has affected rail service in Appalachia, a concern for maintaining and growing future economic activity that might rely on access to active rail lines.

Since rail lines and service are a valuable transportation network asset, the webinar speakers used Appalachia as an example to frame the issue of rail preservation for attendees within the region and elsewhere in the nation. The speakers will provide context for the economic changes that led to a change in transportation demand as well as suggest public sector strategies to preserve rail connectivity. This webinar provided information for executive directors, economic development, transportation, and regional planning staff of regional development organizations and their regional and local government partners, as well as planning and multimodal staff of state DOTs, and others interested in preserving rail transportation.

1 AICP CM credit is available for attendees of this webinar.

Webinar speakers included:

  • Scott Hercik, Trade and Transportation Advisor, Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Mark Burton, Director of Transportation Economics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Laura McNichol, Vice President of Government and Industry Relations, Watco Companies

View the report Access vs. Isolation: Preserving Appalachia’s Rail Connectivity in the 21st Century. Presentation materials and the webinar recording are available below.

Access vs. Isolation: Preserving Rail Connectivity from NADO on Vimeo.






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Joe McKinney has served as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations since 2012. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville, North Carolina from 2003 to 2012. Under his leadership, Land of Sky became recognized nationally for its innovation in program areas including planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, aging services, volunteer services, and geographic information systems. Joe has also held various other roles in city, county, association, and government management. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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