The owner and founder of Minden's largest business, Don Bently of Bently Nevada Corp., says county and state planners should stop preparing for a bypass for cars and trucks and instead consider a mode of transportation that was key to the founding of Minden in 1906.
"What is needed here is a railroad from Carson City to Topaz," Bently said. "The first part of the railroad should begin at Minden-Gardnerville, which was the termination of the old V&T right-of-way, and continue to Topaz on new easements."
Among other things, Bently's concerns about the highway bypass are based on considerations of the limited availability of fossil fuels to the United States and our continuing dependency on the importation of this product.
"I see us importing all these terrible amounts of fuel from other countries," he said. "We hurt our own economy terribly by importing so much fuel."
Bently, 75, said a railroad, which is generally run on diesel fuel or electricity, would be more efficient since more product could be carried in a single trip.
"I'm talking about a good railroad, running at a maximum speed of 80 to 100 miles per hour, not the high-speed ones that run 300 to 400 miles per hour," he said. "The high-speed railroads used in Japan, Germany and France are stupid because of the high casualty rates when they have accidents."
Bently said he knows the odds of county bypass planners switching tracks from road to railway are "zero to none," but he wants people to know that it should be considered as an alternative, especially in light of recent high fuel prices.
"I think we waste a lot of gas - everybody has a pickup truck, especially here in Nevada," he said. "But by the time it takes to build a four-lane highway bypass, there won't be fuel for the cars and trucks to drive on it."
Bently said his recommendation of a railroad instead of a highway bypass are not based on shipping costs for Bently Nevada, but rather the long-term economic and environmental health of the country as well as Carson Valley. Bently Nevada, with offices all over the world, ships mostly by air and ship, he said.
Bently said he is also concerned about the increase in carbon monoxide in the environment, something he says presents more of a health danger than most people are aware.
"In high enough concentrations carbon monoxide can be fatal to people and the concentrations in the environment go up one percent per year - people don't know that, so, in 25 to 30 years, we may be in danger," he said.
"Automobiles, as we know them today for individual use, are not a good solution because we have to import large amounts of gasoline from all over the world which contributes to the carbon monioxide problem," he said.
Bently, who lives in a home that is "essentially solar powered," and drives a smaller car that gets good gas mileage, said we should wake up and stop wasting gas soon.
"People have to learn a big lesson, and the government should start talking to people honestly about what is happening," he said.