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Old February 15th, 2011, 09:18 AM   #141
Liam0711
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LaHood says high-speed train plan won't be derailed

O'Malley among governors seeking funds, secretary says

February 09, 2011|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON — — At a time when several newly elected Republican governors are turning their backs on President Barack Obama's ambitious plans to build a high-speed rail system, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the administration would press forward in a patchwork fashion if necessary — drawing on the support of other chief executives such as Gov. Martin O'Malley.

During a wide-ranging briefing Wednesday, Obama's transportation chief said he had spoken to O'Malley this week about the prospects for further federal spending on several big-ticket projects in Maryland, including the century-old Amtrak tunnel in Baltimore that is an impediment to high-speed rail operations in the Northeast Corridor.

"There's a high level of interest from him in high-speed rail," LaHood said.

Erin Henson, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation, confirmed that O'Malley had talked with LaHood and urged continued funding for the replacement of the Amtrak tunnel as well as a proposed rail-truck freight facility serving the port of Baltimore and two transit projects — the proposed east-west light rail Red Line in the city and the Purple Line in suburban Washington.

The secretary's briefing came a day after Vice President Joe Biden outlined the Obama administration's plan to spend $53 billion over six years to push forward with a 25-year vision of connecting 80 percent of the nation's population with high-speed rail networks.

The Democratic administration made the announcement in the face of increasing opposition to Obama's rail plans in the wake of Republican gains in statehouses and in Congress in the November elections. Since the election, new GOP governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have refused federal funding of proposed rail projects in their states.

In some cases, the withdrawal of one state's support has affected its neighbors' plans. For instance, Wisconsin's new governor has dropped the state's support for the middle link of a proposed high-speed rail line between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago despite continuing support from Democratic governors in Minnesota and Illinois.

On Wednesday, LaHood said that doesn't necessarily mean that Minnesota and others in a similar position are out of luck. He said he expects a high-speed rail system will eventually be built in a manner that might at first look piecemeal, much as the Interstate Highway System was built. The former Illinois congressman, a Republican, said an early leg was criticized initially because it did little more than connect Peoria and Bloomington. The leg was later linked to Chicago and the rest of the nation, he said.

One of the prime candidates for high-speed rail development under the Obama plan has been the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington. The Obama administration has allocated large sums for corridor-related projects, such as planning an Amtrak project in Baltimore, but has been criticized by some Republicans who contend that the Amtrak line has been given short shrift as the Transportation Department has promoted new passenger rail projects in other regions.

LaHood denied that the administration was ignoring the Northeast Corridor and proclaimed support for Amtrak that was all but absent under President George W. Bush.

"We have a tremendous partnership with Amtrak. On my watch we have never turned a blind eye toward Amtrak," LaHood said.

But LaHood said that when governors such as Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Ohio's John R. Kasich have refused federal funds, the money has been redirected into such states as California, Florida and Illinois rather than the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak, which owns most of the Northeast Corridor's rail infrastructure, faces a potentially enormous investment in order to enable its trains to run at the speeds for which they are designed if the tracks were in better repair. One of the slowest spots is the B&P Tunnel south of Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station, which Maryland wants to replace. The state received $60 million in stimulus money to plan the project, and Henson said the governor was lobbying LaHood for further support.

LaHood touted changes the Obama administration has made to streamline the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts process — to which Maryland is looking for 50 percent financing of three projects — the proposed Red and Purple lines and another transit line in northern Montgomery County.

"It doesn't take the 12 years anymore," LaHood said. "We can get a new start going pretty quickly."

LaHood urged Congress to pass a new, six-year federal transportation spending authorization bill but sidestepped the thorny issue of how to pay for it.

The secretary reaffirmed Obama's opposition to an increase in the federal gas tax, but turned aside questions about alternatives the administration would support.

"We're going to work with Congress to find the revenue," he said.

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Old February 15th, 2011, 09:08 PM   #142
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MARC needs to be electrified, especially the Brunswick Line to at least Germantown so as to be able to run with faster trains at lower headways. If anything, that'll relieve pressure on the Red Line by creating essentially an express service that connects Rockville with Silver Spring and a faster trip to Union Station.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 03:55 AM   #143
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If MARC extends all the way to Hagerstown wouldnt it be over 100 miles from DC? Far unreasonable distance for daily commute no matter how fast the train is, unless its a HSR train which is even stupid to suggest.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 04:19 AM   #144
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MARC already operates a train to Martinsburg, WV so it's not that unreasonable, plus alot of people live in Western Maryland/West Virginia and commute in because of the high cost of housing in that area.

It's not more different than say the Metro North line to New Haven, CT.

Last edited by diablo234; February 16th, 2011 at 04:27 AM.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 05:21 AM   #145
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If MARC extends all the way to Hagerstown wouldnt it be over 100 miles from DC? Far unreasonable distance for daily commute no matter how fast the train is, unless its a HSR train which is even stupid to suggest.
The Port Jervis , Harlem and Hudson lines are 93-96 miles long and used by 120,000 daily....people will commute far if its cheap , semi fast and comfortable and if there are cheaper areas to live.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 05:32 AM   #146
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Quote:
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If MARC extends all the way to Hagerstown wouldnt it be over 100 miles from DC? Far unreasonable distance for daily commute no matter how fast the train is, unless its a HSR train which is even stupid to suggest.
People in the UK commute from all over the country to London on a daily basis to avoid living there.

My old town, Northampton, has a very busy rail service to London and it is absolutely packed during peak period (despite the peak period surcharge on the railway). Even further afield, people commute from Birmingham quite happily to London too. If a service is convenient enough then people will use it.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 03:34 PM   #147
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Quote:
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If MARC extends all the way to Hagerstown wouldnt it be over 100 miles from DC? Far unreasonable distance for daily commute no matter how fast the train is, unless its a HSR train which is even stupid to suggest.
And to throw the little cherry on top: Hagerstown is ~70 miles, not over 100
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Old March 8th, 2011, 06:05 PM   #148
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Old March 8th, 2011, 10:56 PM   #149
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The difference between the 'European' and 'American' Van Hools is quite significant.
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Old March 8th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #150
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Quote:
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And to throw the little cherry on top: Hagerstown is ~70 miles, not over 100
From where? Martinsburg? Which is 90 miles from Union Station.

Quote:
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The Port Jervis , Harlem and Hudson lines are 93-96 miles long and used by 120,000 daily....people will commute far if its cheap , semi fast and comfortable and if there are cheaper areas to live.
Harlem line and Hudson lines in reality isnt more than 30, 40 miles. A lot of trains terminate at last stop before the electrification ends. The ridership north of the electrification is limited.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 02:01 AM   #151
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Some recent streetcar construction shots.....







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Old April 4th, 2011, 04:19 AM   #152
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Hmm, a couple of those pictures show the problems that will be associated with that line. Correct me if I am wrong, but the tram won't be segregated from the traffic?
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Old April 4th, 2011, 04:38 AM   #153
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Hmm, a couple of those pictures show the problems that will be associated with that line. Correct me if I am wrong, but the tram won't be segregated from the traffic?
Streetcars / Trollies run with Traffic , Light Rail is the one that is separate form Traffic.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 04:47 AM   #154
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I am guessing that the photos show the future H Street streetcar line. The streetcar tracks are being installed along H Street as part of a road reconstruction project. My understanding is that there are some major issues regarding the design of the streetcar system that remain unresolved. In particular, there is a law prohibiting overhead wires in much of the District of Columbia. Either the law will have to be changed, or some other means will need to be found to power the streetcars. The Anacostia line is likely to be the first streetcar line in service. The Anacostia line is in an area not subject to the prohibition on overhead wires.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 04:53 AM   #155
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Hmm, a couple of those pictures show the problems that will be associated with that line. Correct me if I am wrong, but the tram won't be segregated from the traffic?
Driving in Washington, DC is already a nightmare. There is so little parking available that delivery trucks typically just stop in the traffic lanes. The added impediment to traffic created by the streetcars likely won't make things noticeably worse. Just don't expect the service to be fast.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 05:01 AM   #156
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It seems that the plan is to change the laws to allow overhead wires:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/...treet-trolleys

D.C. Council approves wires for H Street trolleys

By: Kytja Weir 06/30/10 3:00 AM
Reporter

The plans for streetcars running along H Street received a jolt of momentum Tuesday when the D.C. Council approved emergency legislation to allow overhead wires as a power source.

The initial vote, which still requires the approval of permanent legislation on July 13, signals a key leap over the long unresolved hurdle of how the trolleys will run.

It makes legal the overhead lines on H Street, according to D.C. officials, which had been banned under 120-plus-year-old federal laws. More urgently, it makes the city more competitive for a $25 million federal grant, which is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

It doesn't mean overhead wires everywhere in the city's 37-mile streetcar plan. "We're not trying to put wires on the National Mall or by Abraham Lincoln," said Charles Allen, the chief of staff of Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, who pushed the bill.

The city is planning to build a $1.5 billion network of eight streetcar lines around the city by 2020, providing transit links in spots lacking Metrorail access. The first two lines -- H Street/Benning Road in Northeast and Martin Luther King Boulevard in Anacostia -- are scheduled to begin ferrying riders by spring 2012.

But even as the H Street line is being built, the city has grappled with whether it has the authority to power the streetcars with overhead wires.

Federal laws from 1888 and 1889 have restricted such overhead wires in many areas of the city, clearing the views of key monuments. The D.C. bill repeals those laws and reinstates them locally -- with the caveat that the lines be allowed on H Street, Allen said. The law also says the city must look into replacing those wires with alternative technology if it becomes available and go through a public process to get overhead wires for the other lines.

The city consulted with several legal experts and interpreted that the city had the "legislative and legal authority" to make the changes, Allen said.

But it may not be a done deal. The National Capital Planning Commission, which is the guardian of the federal laws, urged the council in a written statement Tuesday evening to "expand its wireless zone to other important areas of the city."

Chairman L. Preston Bryant said the NCPC "remains committed to working toward a solution that is mutually agreeable with the city."

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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:35 AM   #157
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Driving in Washington, DC is already a nightmare. There is so little parking available that delivery trucks typically just stop in the traffic lanes. The added impediment to traffic created by the streetcars likely won't make things noticeably worse. Just don't expect the service to be fast.
Then why not just put in a rapid bus transit? Tram seems like a huge waste of money.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:54 AM   #158
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Streetcars / Trollies run with Traffic , Light Rail is the one that is separate form Traffic.
Definitions and terms are different in each country. There are numerous places around the world where trams are also segregated (and the term Streetcar isn't seen outside North America). Sorry for my confusion.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 02:40 PM   #159
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Quote:
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Then why not just put in a rapid bus transit? Tram seems like a huge waste of money.

The theory is that a rail vehicle can attract "choice riders" (people who own cars), whereas a bus can't. I have to admit that I am dubious that a streetcar stuck in traffic will be any more attractive than a bus stuck in traffic. At least the buses can change lanes to get around double-parked delivery trucks. The decision to build the streetcar network has already been made, so we will see how it works in a few years.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 02:50 PM   #160
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Right! If it were segregated from car traffic it would be right, but this ... is just stupid.
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