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US DOT: $72.8 million for Massachusetts to cut travel time 30 minutes on Vermonter

first_imgUS Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced travel time on Amtrak’s Vermonter line will be cut by nearly 30 minutes through a $72.8 million grant to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  The project will restore a rail line, improving 50 miles of track and infrastructure on a direct route from Springfield to East Northfield, MA, along the Connecticut River Valley. ‘Thanks to President Obama’s commitment to create jobs and strengthen our manufacturing sector, these dollars are delivering more than 200 new jobs along with the purchase of 50 miles of American-made steel rails,’ said Secretary Ray LaHood.  ‘Coupled with previous federal investments along the Vermonter line, these improvements will bring almost a one hour reduction in travel time for passengers traveling in Vermont and Massachusetts.’ With more than a 16 percent ridership increase in 2010, the Vermonter line operates between St. Albans, VT and Washington, DC.  The Massachusetts portion of the rail line dates back to the mid-1800’s.  After track conditions deteriorated in the 1980’s, Amtrak service was shifted to a rail line farther east.  Work to restore the original passenger route on Pan Am Southern Railway’s Connecticut River mainline also includes construction of two new stations in Greenfield and Northampton, MA. Progress on the Vermonter service began last year with a $50 million grant to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, improving 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon, shaving 30 minutes off of travel time within Vermont.  Long-term, the investments in Vermont and Massachusetts will also increase reliability and for future expansion of service to Montreal, Quebec.  Until September, however the trip will require Vermonters to take an Amtrak bus, as work continues to upgrade the line.Source: US DOT. 7.1.2011last_img read more

Daniels: QB situation more confusing than ever

first_imgRedshirt sophomore Joel Stave will have to welcome another quarterback to the competition as junior college quarterback Tanner McEvoy announced he will be transferring to Wisconsin.[/media-credit]This time, when I heard the news a new quarterback had transferred to Wisconsin, I didn’t even blink.In what has become the third annual announcing of a transfer quarterback at UW, it came as little surprise when new football head coach Gary Andersen added yet another quarterback – junior college quarterback Tanner McEvoy – into the mix Monday for the starting job next fall.Following a season that saw three different quarterbacks take the helm for the Badgers in 2012, one of the most critical questions throughout this offseason and likely to continue into spring football was: Who could Badger fans expect to start come Aug. 31 against Massachusetts?And the speculative answers to that question were sharply divided.Some would pick redshirt sophomore Joel Stave for his strong and accurate passing, others would say senior Danny O’Brien deserved another shot, while another group would argue for sixth-year senior Curt Phillips after his ability to guide the Badgers to their third-consecutive Rose Bowl. Finally, a few might even hope for four-star redshirt freshman Bart Houston to get his first chance under center.In steps, McEvoy and the competition has just been stretched to five.But before everyone gets in a buzz about the new heights dual-threat, and former South Carolina recruit, McEvoy will be able to carry next year’s team to – as has been the case with each of the last two transfers – it seems at least worth mentioning a cautionary tale when this type of situation arises.For one prime example, look no further than Madison’s own Camp Randall Stadium.In 2011, after a disappointing loss in the Rose Bowl to Texas Christian, UW lost two-year starter Scott Tolzien – now a backup for recent Super Bowl starter Colin Kaepernick – and seemed destined to have a rebuilding year as a result in the 2011 season to come.But in stepped Russell Wilson, a transfer from North Carolina State, and everything changed.Wilson would go on to have one of the most successful years in Wisconsin quarterback history in 2011, throwing 33 touchdowns, completing 73 percent of his passes and winning 11 games on his way to Wisconsin’s second-consecutive Rose Bowl appearance.Unfortunately, Wilson was only eligible for a single year. So when it came time for offseason 2012, UW had yet another quarterback void to fill.This time, however, Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien couldn’t help the Badgers live up to the hype.Despite earning the starting role in September, a number of poor team performances – in particular a weak offensive line – and average statistics caused O’Brien to be replaced at halftime in only his third start of the season by Stave.O’Brien would not start another game for the rest of the season, and would appear in only a handful of games after that, falling all the way to third string when a Stave injury saw a third quarterback, Phillips, eventually become Stave’s replacement.If we fast-forward to 2013, even though McEvoy enters the mix with high expectations, he is by no means a guaranteed answer to the quarterback question, and it is important fans remember so this time around. In fact, his addition to the roster may actually be aggravating the problem, and that is before you even look at the talents he brings to the football field.While the addition of McEvoy certainly adds another strong candidate at quarterback, Andersen is now left with the tricky situation of evaluating four or even five quarterbacks this spring who all arguably have a solid shot at the starting role.If last year is any indication – when a three-way battle for quarterback proved too difficult to uncover the best fit at the position for UW right away – this spring will be even more difficult, especially when you consider it should be a higher-caliber and more experienced set of players this time around.It seems worth wondering: How will Andersen decide who gets enough reps under center to prove himself this spring?Fans will just have to sit back and hope the right fit for UW’s offense doesn’t get lost in the mad dash when the dust settles and the starting job has been handed out.This year’s transfer saga also has one other difference, and this one is not so trifling.Unlike the past two seasons, where then-head coach Bret Bielema – a coach known for his good player relations – already had the backing of his quarterbacks when each of his two new transfer quarterbacks were brought in, Andersen doesn’t have the same previous relationship developed with this group Bielema had.As a result, it begs the question as to whether Andersen may have jeopardized his relationship with his existing quarterback corps in a move that could be interpreted as him bringing in his own transfer quarterback before giving the other players a chance to prove themselves.And so with that all said, after a season full of controversy at the quarterback position looming over the Badgers’ heads and spring practice not too far off, it appears this spring will be no different.Will McEvoy swoop in and earn the job?Will one of last year’s starters get another try?I guess we will just have to wait and see.Nick is a junior majoring in journalism and political science. Have your own opinion on the new quarterback situation? Share it with Nick at [email protected] or on Twitter @npdaniels31.last_img read more

LA Lakers’ loss to Thunder features Kobe Bryant taking last shot despite Lou Williams’ career-high 44

first_imgThe Lakers’ leading scorer seemingly made every shot he took. He made countless baseline jumpers. He fooled opponents with his pump fakes to draw fouls. But it wasn’t enough as the Lakers fell, 117-113, to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday at Staples Center.The man was not Kobe Bryant. Instead, it was Lou Williams who posted a career-high 44 points by going 12 of 25 from the field, 5 of 14 from 3-point range and 15 of 15 from the foul line in 34 minutes.“I was just making shots,” Williams said. “Down the stretch, I made one, made two, get some free throws in and it snowballed from there.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error But it did not snowball into Williams taking the last shot. That still fell to Bryant, who went one-on-one against Thunder forward Kevin Durant. Though Bryant found space in the lane, his shot fell short with the Lakers trailing 115-113 with 3.2 seconds left. Afterwards, Lakers coach Byron Scott said it was up to Anthony Brown to inbound to either Bryant or Williams before adding he was “not mad either way.” Brown said he chose Bryant because he was open at the top of the key. And all of the Lakers believed Durant fouled Bryant before he even released the shot. “I did. It’s not a matter of opinion,” said Bryant, who posted 19 points on 8-of-20 shooting, six assists and four rebounds in 28 minutes. “You watch the play. [Durant] hit me right on the forearm at the end of the release. That’s why the ball went short.”Yet, Bryant clarified “it’s part of the game.” Williams thought the same thing about Bryant taking the last shot instead of him. After all, Williams took last-second shots in the Lakers’ season-opening loss to Minnesota and Thursday’s loss in Sacramento.“Obviously Kobe is going down as a Hall of Famer,” Williams said. “He has the confidence in me to take those shots. Some nights he’s going to take those shots. We live with the results either way.”center_img Williams nearly gave the Lakers (8-30) the result they wanted instead of losing their third consecutive game amid Thunder point guard and former UCLA product Russell Westbrook dropping 36 points on 11-of-24 shooting. He scored 12 consecutive points to give the Lakers a 98-97 lead with 6:26 left. He made a 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a 102-101 edge at the 5:13 mark. He converted on a layup for a 104-101 cushion with 4:18 left. He made six consecutive foul shots by baiting Andre Roberson and Serge Ibaka to foul him along the perimeter. “It seems like every game, he gets somebody” Scott said. “I don’t care how you scout him. He’s going to get you some way or another.”So much that Bryant argued Williams draws fouls better than he does. “My game has changed and evolved over the years from when I first came into the league as I am now. I’m not as athletic as I used to be and I cant play above the rim like I once did when I first came into the league,” said Williams, who then noted an ACL injury he suffered in the 2012-13 season. “I wanted to learn how to draw fouls and how to create contact and use my reputation as a scorer to bait guys into getting those fouls.”Add it all up, and Williams scored 23 of the Lakers’ 28 fourth-quarter points. Not bad for a player who has earned the trust of Scott as the team’s starting shooting guard despite shooting 41 percent from the field all season. “He kept us in the game. He was on fire,” Scott said. “Guys did a real good job of setting screens for him where he can get to a sweet spot. Then when he didn’t make it or had opportunities to run, we were able to find him.”The timing could not have been better for Williams, considering Scott said he would reevaluate his lineup following Friday’s game against the Thunder. That also coincided with Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell posting two points on 1-of-3 shooting and two assists in eight minutes after nursing pain in his right ankle. That happened a night after posting a career-high 27 points. Williams’ theatrics became so pronounced that it initially overshadowed the matchup between Bryant and Durant, who posted 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting in 39 minutes. “It’s always fun. I keep messing with him,” Bryant said, smiling. “I know what plays they’re going to run. I just try to take him out of the play and deny him the ball and force them to figure something else out.”Both Bryant and Durant had their moments against each other. In the second quarter, Bryant tried to get Durant to bite on a pump fake. But Durant swiped the ball away from him. In the third quarter, Bryant went one-on-one against Durant before sinking a right hook shot over him. Later in that period, Bryant drove into the lane over Durant to cut the Thunder’s lead to 75-74 with 4:43 left. Bryant also threw a bounce pass between Durant’s legs to set up Roy Hibbert for n open jumper, something Bryant credited toward playing soccer as a child in Italy.“I learned all the little tricks. Every time I play against him, he picks up some of those things,” Bryant said of Durant. “I had the good fortunate of playing with old guys. I learned a lot of old tricks.”But Durant provided the best trick. But unlike as he has done so many times in the past, Bryant could not carry the Lakers when it mattered. “I just didn’t want him to shoot a 3,” Durant said. “I applied pressure to him and forced him to a tough shot.”And in the Lakers’ eyes, a foul. So much that Scott argued Bryant “was fouled before he even shot the ball.” Yet, after the Lakers lost by 40 points and 35 points earlier this season to the Thunder, Scott told his team he “was proud of the way they’ve been fighting.”“If we continue to play that hard with that type of passion, that type of effort and intensity,” Scott said, “the wins will come.”last_img read more

Appeal of “ag gag” law has backing of pork producers

first_imgDES MOINES — The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is appealing the district court ruling that threw out Iowa’s Ag Protection Fraud Law, the so-called “ag gag” law.Drew Mogler, public policy director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says his organization thinks the state has an excellent argument to protect farmers from imposters and intruders from animal rights groups. “When we look at some of the pressures our industry is facing with foreign animal diseases in other countries,” Mogler says, “I think we’re all aware of the issue of African swine fever moving around lots of countries in Asia, biosecurity and protecting biosecurity in this state is definitely in the state’s interest.”Mogler says the state’s livestock producers need to be shielded from activists’ attacks, including the use of undercover videos on farms and ranches. “This law is designed to protect farmers from folks who are really driving an agenda to end meat production and meat consumption in this state and in this country,” Mogler says. “Farmers deserve that protection because they’re caring for their animals each and every day.”Mogler says if the court of appeals rules in favor of the state, then the ag-gag law will be reinstated. “If this appeal gets overturned in the Eighth Circuit, then the Ag Protection Fraud Law is back on the books here in the state of Iowa,” he says, “and producers will have protection under that statute.”Mogler says those who challenged the Iowa law originally claimed it was a violation of free speech rights, but he says that wasn’t the intention of the law, as it aimed to protect ag operations.last_img read more