If you built a transcontinental railroad today from scratch, how long would it take, given the regulatory environment of the modern world? Nobody knows for sure, but the best guess is about 57 years. Here’s a look at how it might just play out in headlines:
Jan. 1, 2019 Trump proposes transcontinental railroad
Jan. 2, 2019 Federal court enjoins railroad plan
Dec. 12, 2022 Supreme Court OKs new railroad
Jan. 16, 2023 Environmental study will take 10 years
July 30, 2033 Environmental study raises emissions concerns
Aug. 1, 2033 EPA moves against rail line, citing emissions
Feb. 13, 2040 President proposes electrification of new railroad
June 14, 2044 Electrification financing collapses
March 2, 2054 GOP Congress: No federal money for new rail line
March 2, 2056 Democratic Congress: No federal money for new rail line
Aug. 17, 2060 President Jenna Bush declares new railroad dead
Nov. 24, 2062 China will finance transcontinental railroad
April 30, 2064 Railroad groundbreaking!
May 1, 2065 EPA sues to stop construction
Oct. 31, 2066 Congress abolishes EPA
Nov. 1, 2066 Construction resumes
Nov. 2, 2067 Sierra Club sues to stop new rail line
July 24, 2068 Sierra Club settlement truncates railroad at Reno, Nev.
June 10, 2071 Bald eagle nest stops construction
April 20, 2074 Eagle nest mysteriously destroyed by fire
Feb. 21, 2075 Last Interstate highway crumbles
May 8, 2076 Transcontinental railroad completed in Utah
Interested in learning more about the history of the Transcontinental Railroad? You’ll find it in our special issue, available online.