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Old November 24th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #721
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Originally Posted by brianmoon85 View Post
I don't know about that. Most US cities are not biker or evne pedestrian friendly. Plus, it would take the entire day to go from one place to another since everything is so far away. Why can't they construct subway lines in each mid-scale to large cities that connects to important business, historical, and residential places like other countries do??? In the US, it is so hard to get around if you don't have a car. I live in DC and it's a pain, and NO the DC metro doesn't even stand a chance to Seoul or Tokyo's subway system. You can NEVER walk to a subway system in the USA, you need a car, park at the metro parking garage and then ride the metro...which is RIDICULOUS

Some cities, such as Denver, CO, are too heavy to put in a subway. The soils in different parts of the country don't allow for the same transit solution to be built everywhere, why else would there be so many different examples of mass transit? I think cities should put in more rail because the traffic engineering is more productive per mile than road. If the ridership is there, some light rail systems could eventually become above ground metros.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 07:03 PM   #722
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So, we should concentrate on cycling infrastructure and pedestrian infrastructure first?
That will work in urban areas, but unlikely to make much of a difference in suburbia where people still need to drive long distances to work.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 02:13 AM   #723
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What about using a hybrid system of U-behn and S-bahn just like Germany and Austria? The U-bahn serves the needs of metro systems in the US, and the S-bahn serves the needs of a commuter rail system. What we forget is that many cities in the Sun Belt and the West are experiencing explosive population growth, and those same cities are now planning new transit systems. The challenge is that many of those cities have no large natural obstacles, which allows them unrestrained growth in all directions, we first need to reign that in and increase the density of the city, and along with that, plan for rapid transit corridors connecting neighborhoods and businesses from the furthest reaches of the growth to the downtown core. For instance, the furthest reach of the Denver Metro area is about twenty or twenty five miles from the CBD. The furthest suburb of Chicago, in comparison is about sixty miles from The Loop. This is two to three times the distance, and people commute to downtown Chicago from the far suburbs. The light rail systems currently in place in the Western US serve the current population well, but the expected growth will push the system to the limits of its current state. There needs to be a comprehensive system that combines both methods of rail travel U-bahn and S-bahn. The light rail that is currently in place could serve well as the U-bahn service, but the S-bahn service would have to be created from scratch. Combining that with other modes of transportation, like buses and bicycles would greatly improve the quality of life in any major city in the US, and provide a platform for other cities in North America and the Caribbean. Its time we put our money where our mouths are and take a leaf from Europe and certain parts of Asia and completely revamp our perceptions of public transportation.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 07:59 PM   #724
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Yes U-Bahn/S-Bahn is a great complementation

As far as I know eg Paris has something similar with metro/RER

In Vienna some S-Bahn lines are pretty close to U-Bahn like coverage like the S45 which has an interval of 10-15 min (10 min at peak time in the morning and evening). Other S-Bahn lines are more like regional trains in terms of coverage.
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Old February 13th, 2010, 10:23 PM   #725
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I just found this great documentary on PBS about Detroit city, its present state, the mistakes that were made, and the revitalization plans to come in the hope to someday save this city. An hour and a half long, but an interesting watch.

"Beyond the Motor City"
http://video.pbs.org/video/1409024983/#

(give the player a minute to load)
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Old February 14th, 2010, 02:18 AM   #726
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Substructure View Post
I just found this great documentary on PBS about Detroit city, its present state, the mistakes that were made, and the revitalization plans to come in the hope to someday save this city. An hour and a half long, but an interesting watch.

"Beyond the Motor City"
http://video.pbs.org/video/1409024983/#

(give the player a minute to load)
Wow, great video. With stories like that, you can't help but get really pissed off at people that still oppose public transport for their own selfish interests.

I really hope Detroit can rise again. At the moment it's the city many non-Americans look at as being 'the real America'. Prove everyone wrong, and show the world what America can do.
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Old February 14th, 2010, 03:32 PM   #727
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Substructure View Post
I just found this great documentary on PBS about Detroit city, its present state, the mistakes that were made, and the revitalization plans to come in the hope to someday save this city. An hour and a half long, but an interesting watch.

"Beyond the Motor City"
http://video.pbs.org/video/1409024983/#

(give the player a minute to load)
I thought the documentary was pretty depressing. I don't see how the plan, such as it is, can work. More likely the operating costs of the new light rail line will put further strain on Detroit's transit funding, leading to further cutbacks in bus service. That's what usually happens.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 06:52 AM   #728
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Originally Posted by Tom 958 View Post
I thought the documentary was pretty depressing. I don't see how the plan, such as it is, can work. More likely the operating costs of the new light rail line will put further strain on Detroit's transit funding, leading to further cutbacks in bus service. That's what usually happens.
Agreed , The Northeast is becoming a showcase for new Transit and Regional Restoration and New Connections. NJ's Light Rail networks together will grow by 300 miles by 2025 , and 2 new networks will form , the demand has grown and the roads can't handle it anymore. So the NE will have alot of its discontinued network come back or we will build a new network. Becuz Majority of Suburban / Urban and Rural connector highways and roads are maxed out.

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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:07 AM   #729
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Originally Posted by chicagoboulder View Post
Some cities, such as Denver, CO, are too heavy to put in a subway. The soils in different parts of the country don't allow for the same transit solution to be built everywhere, why else would there be so many different examples of mass transit? I think cities should put in more rail because the traffic engineering is more productive per mile than road. If the ridership is there, some light rail systems could eventually become above ground metros.
You're right. Tunneling the Rockie's fringe is feasible, but utterly expensive. That is the reason by which, for instance, there are far fewer road tunnels in mountanious regions in US than in Europe. It's just too strong.
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Old April 8th, 2010, 10:36 AM   #730
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I typed this on another site that i use daily...

The Best States are ,by Regional Rail , Bus , Light Rail & Streetcars systems & Metros

Lower New York
New Jersey
Southeastern PA
Eastern Mass
Rhode Island
Northern Delaware
75 % of Maryland
Northern Virgina
Coastal Maine
Coastal New Hampshire (along the Downeaster corridor)
Northern Oregon
Northern Illinois
Northwestern Indiana
40% of California
Dense Suburban / Urban Washington State

Future States for Best Transportation systems

2020 70% of Virgina at the current rate
Upstate New York by 2030
Western Mass by 2020
Vermont by 2020 or 2025
70% of California by 2030
80% of Dense Urban / Suburban by 2030
Urban / Dense North Carolina by 2030
All of Urban / Dense Suburban Texas by 2030
All Cities in Minnesota by 2025
All Urban areas of Florida by 2035
Western , Northeastern PA by 2015 or 25
Central Delaware by 2020
Majority of Georgia by 2025

For Cities here are my picks.

NYC
DC
Chicago
Portland
Boston
Philly
SF
Dallas
Jersey City
Baltimore
Atlanta
Newark,NJ
Phoenix


Now For the future cities that have plans to build Streetcars / Light Rail , should all be in place form what i'm reading by 2030.

Providence
New Haven
Worcester
Springfield
Stamford
Des Moises
Elizabeth,NJ
New Brunswick,NJ
Reading,PA
Temple,AZ
Fort Worth
San Antonio
Austin
Atlanta
Orlando
Richmond
Hampton roads
Lancaster,PA
St. Paul,MN
Kansas,MO
Tampa
Jacksonville
Harrisburg
Allentown
Scranton-Wilkes Berra
Albany
Rochester
Syracuse
Binghamton
Portland,ME
Paterson,NJ
Wilmington,DE
Annapolis,MD
Alexandria
Raleigh-Durham
Augusta,GA
Boise
Colorado Spring's
Albuquerque
Prescott
Las Vegas
Reno
Kansas City
OKC
Tulsa
Birmingham
Honolulu
Mobile


I might have left some out.......I collected the majority of those cities & Towns form there regional 2020 / 30 plans. Notice how a big chunk of the Northeast is in there, we here are forging ahead with our restoration and system expansions.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 10:29 PM   #731
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UNITED STATES | Urban Transport Compilation

Searched 5 pages for anything for the Midwest, could not find anything so I will just make this.


Ohio Hub Advances as Passenger Rail Connections to Toledo and Pittsburgh Studied


Image: Ohio Hub potential corridors, from Ohio DOT

» Governor Ted Strickland’s push to connect state via intercity rail is likely to go beyond initial Cincinnati-to-Cleveland corridor.

Following through on a years-long promise to include fourth-city Toledo in the next phase of rail investment in Ohio, the administration of Governor Ted Strickland has announced the awarding to an engineering firm an $8 million study of future intercity routes that would connect the Lake Erie city to the rest of the Buckeye State. A line into Pittsburgh is also up for evaluation.

Because of its geographic position between the Chicago-based Midwest rail network and that of the East Coast focused in New York, Ohio could serve as an essential link in a national rail network if the state makes the right investments.

In January, Ohio received $400 million from the federal government to implement intercity rail service on the 256-mile 3C rail line between Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton — the state’s four largest metropolitan areas. According to current plans, initial 79 mph operations would begin in 2012 on an improved freight corridor, bringing trains to the state’s capital in Columbus for the first time since 1977. The 3C project does not qualify as high-speed rail under anyone’s definition, especially considering its 6h30 estimated travel time, but future investments could increase speeds to 110 mph. The FRA is expected to approve the first direct grants for the state sometime in the next few weeks.

The 3C corridor, however, is not the be-all and end-all, since it lacks connections to Toledo, Akron, and Canton, three other large metropolitan areas. In addition, it does not provide for direct links either to Pittsburgh (and the East Coast network) or Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis, three major Midwest cities. Thus the newly announced study, which builds upon the larger Ohio Hub proposal, illustrated above and studied repeatedly over the past decade.

Consultant AECOM will specifically consider potential upgrades for the 3C route, plus new 110 mph links between Detroit, Toledo, and Cleveland; Cleveland and Pittsburgh; and Toledo and Columbus.

The new study is the long-expected next step for Ohio, but it comes at a fortunate time for Governor Strickland, a Democrat who is running for reelection in a tightly contested race against Republican John Kasich. Depending on the timing of the study’s results, Strickland may be able to claim that his administration aims to spread rail throughout the state; Toledo was especially frustrated by the fact that it wasn’t included in the state’s initial priorities. Though the Ohio Hub’s current plan suggests that the next major investment in the state will be connection between Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit (arguably the more important link from a national perspective), other sources suggest that the new study may prioritize a capital-centric line between Columbus and Toledo.

But Ohio is not steps away from a massive rail network. The 3C corridor has been subject to relentless criticism from state Republicans, who claim that it is a boondoggle since operations would require an annual state subsidy and train running times between termini in Cincinnati and Cleveland would be a full two hours longer than typical car travel. Republican Kasich has been no major supporter of rail (and has posted an anti-rail editorial from another source on his site), so if he were to win the election, the federal government’s $400 million grant and the 3C line in general could be abandoned, leaving any rail improvements considered in the new study by the wayside.

Nonetheless, assuming Strickland remains in the Governor’s office (no sure thing), rail service along 3C will begin as expected. All of the major connections considered in the Ohio Hub plan seem worthy of eventual use as part of the national rail network, especially those that eventually lead to major cities outside of the state, like Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Chicago. Ohio is relatively dense and many of its cities, despite losing population in the last few decades, have strong urban cores (or at least the potential to restore them).

Moreover, Ohio’s position as the connection point between the Midwest and East Coast rail networks cannot be passed over; any trains between Chicago and the East Coast would have to pass through the state. As part of what is truly a national imperative to improve intercity rail service, the state has an obligation to restore its system. The 3C plan, followed by the investments to be proposed by AECOM’s study, are the right ways to begin.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 10:33 PM   #732
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Readying Streetcar Plans, Cincinnati Considers Reducing Parking Requirements
http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...-requirements/
» With municipal and state funds aligned for transit project, a more livable downtown on its way.

Cincinnati is thinking seriously about how to make its proposed streetcar system a vital element of a growing downtown, not simply a trophy piece to parade around in demonstration of its progress. The city’s Planning Commission has taken a major step in that direction by signaling its support last week to significantly reducing parking requirements in areas within two blocks of future streetcar stops. The city council will have to approve the decision for the zoning code to be altered.

If it goes through with the change, Cincinnati will be demonstrating its support for a new type of urban living and promoting a model for other cities looking into funding inner-city transit systems like streetcars.

With $86.5 million currently reserved for the project and $25 million more likely to be awarded to it by the federal government later this month, Ohio’s southern metropolis is virtually assured to have a streetcar system up and running in the next three years. Cincinnati hopes that the streetcar will help spur regeneration of the communities along the line, including the riverfront area, downtown, and Over the Rhine, three areas that have significant potential thanks to beautiful existing building stock intermixed with vacant plots.

Yet a streetcar in itself will provide no guarantee that those neighborhoods will see redevelopment. Transit may encourage some people to build new housing and retail, but it certainly compels no one to do so. Just as problematic, even if the new construction comes, there is no promise from future residents or office users that they will actually use the streetcars to get around; the vehicles could be underused if implemented poorly.

That’s why the city’s decision to reduce parking minimums would be a reassuring sign that local planners understand the necessity of designing neighborhoods to encourage transit use. Today, the city requires one to two parking spaces per housing unit, even for apartment buildings constructed right downtown. The new law, if approved as likely later this year, will halve those requirements in all new construction within 600 feet of streetcar stations, even reducing them to nil in some cases for buildings with six or fewer units.

As the Cincinnati Streetcar Blog points out, this change may have the positive effect of reducing the cost of new development in Cincinnati by allowing builders to avoid building underground garages or acquiring adjacent sites for surface parking. This will reduce not only the initial investment necessary to construct in neighborhoods near the streetcar but also the cost of individual purchasing or renting, making it more likely that there will be a market for new housing in the area.

In turn, by reducing the number of parking spaces per unit, the city is encouraging people who live in downtown areas to use transit to get around — and they’ll be getting a high-quality service through the center city with the new streetcar, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem. Though some may argue that Cincinnati could have gone a step further and eliminated all parking minimums to areas near the streetcar, the initial line is short and won’t even reach the University of Cincinnati north of downtown; if and when the system is expanded, the city council may want to reevaluate the use of parking minimums at all along this corridor.

What seems likely is that by making it more difficult for people to park their cars when they decide to live in apartments along the line, they will also be more likely to take advantage of the streetcar system, take advantage of nearby retail, and generally lead a walking life. Such communities are more likely to be self-sufficient in the long-term because of support for local shops and restaurants, and they will contribute to Cincinnati’s clear interest in developing for itself the image of being an “urban” city. This is a net positive for a place that is investing a large amount of local funds in this project.

Other cities planning new modern streetcar systems — Detroit, Dallas, Tucson, and Washington, for instance, have lines mostly funded — should examine Cincinnati’s proposed zoning changes and evaluate whether they could enact similar alterations in their municipal parking requirements to encourage around the new transit lines the creation of inner-city neighborhoods in which automobile use comes second to walking and alternative transportation.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 10:34 PM   #733
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Minneapolis Advances Streetcar System Plan

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...r-system-plan/

» With approval on Friday, council will endorse 30-year proposal for street-running rail after neglecting the project for a year. The city is expected to move forward with one route in the fall.

When Minneapolis released its seven-line network plan for urban streetcars back in 2007, the city appeared to be at the head of its game, likely to follow Portland as one of the first U.S. cities to develop a modern trolley system.

Unfortunately, when the economic crisis hit and the lack of interest from the Bush Administration made clear to the city’s leaders that the only way their project would be built would be to sponsor it entirely with local funds, the program was “filed” away, to be revived at some more prosperous time. In the meantime, after Ray LaHood took reigns of the federal Department of Transportation, Detroit, Dallas, Tucson, Portland, and New Orleans received millions of dollars for their respective streetcar lines and other cities have applied for $130 million in inner city circulator grants the DOT expects to reward later this year.

All of which leaves Minneapolis a little behind in the game.

Nevertheless, tomorrow the City Council is expected to approve the 30-year vision for local rail transit corridors first laid out in 2007 and passed by the Public Works and Transportation Committee last week. In addition, it will take the first step in readying one “starter” corridor for further planning later this year, with plans to eventually ask Washington to fund 50% of construction costs.

The Minneapolis streetcar route network would extend the reach of the region’s existing and planned rapid transit lines by connecting stations in the city’s dense urban core.

Three routes would run along Hennepin Avenue through downtown, allowing a transfer to the Hiawatha Light Rail line at 5th Street and extending south to Lake Street along Hennepin Avenue, north to 44th Avenue along Central Avenue, and east to the University of Minnesota along University Avenue, connecting to the planned Central Corridor light rail line.

Three other routes would also connect to the light rail line at 5th Street and transform the existing Nicollet Transit Mall into a streetcar route. Lines would extend south along Nicollet Avenue to 46th Street, southeast along Chicago Avenue to 38th Street, and northwest along Washington Avenue towards Crystal Lake, linking to the planned Bottineau Transitway.

A final corridor would renovate the Midtown Greenway by adding east-west streetcar service from the Lake Street Hiawatha Line Station to the planned Southwest Transitway just west of Lake Calhoun.

These routes are well-designed because they don’t duplicate existing or planned light rail lines and they limit themselves to the city’s densest areas — exactly where streetcar lines should go if they’re going to attract adequate ridership and spur increased development. Six of the seven lines would directly replace popular bus routes. If constructed correctly, the lines could make up for some of the region’s bad decision-making in route alignments for light rail lines.

The seven-corridor network described by the city’s planners, however, is a long way off, primarily because its several-hundred-million cost is out of reach. As a result, the city has developed a series of starter lines that could be implemented more quickly, short segments with respective construction costs of $100 million or less that could be built in a few years and extended later on. Each would provide access just to the city’s downtown and not be long enough to replace any existing bus service.

The council will narrow the potential lines to two or three this summer after conducting further research on the project and then select one line for investment this fall. None of the corridors could be built today unless the federal government steps in with significant monetary support. If the city commits adequate financial aid for the project and if it is capable of submitting an application by September, it seems likely to win a grant from the National Infrastructure Investment Program (formerly TIGER) for construction beginning in early 2012.

A funding study released last week indicates that one line could be funded if the city increases revenues through a 12.5% increase in parking fees downtown as well as either through a dedicated TIF tax-reallocation district in affected areas or a special streetcar benefit zone assessment. The latter two options would encourage the construction of streetcar lines through the wealthiest areas of the city since it would rely on moving any increases in area property tax receipts from the city’s general fund to streetcar construction. The parking surcharge, which would increase the cost of downtown spaces by about $50 a year, would require state legislation to be implemented.

Minneapolis could advance its status among a large field of competitors for limited federal streetcar funds by proving that it has a reliable local revenue source. (A majority of urban areas demanding grants have made no such commitment.) Once it has settled on a preliminary route, the council should approve such a financial device quickly. Of course, long-term financing for the entire network is not assured.

Initial planning documents show that the city is likely to pursue a combination of the Hennepin Avenue and Central/University Lines, a 2.3-mile alignment that would cost about $100 million to construct and which would link the Walker Art Center southwest of downtown with the East Bank of the Mississippi River, via downtown. Other routes are either too short to provide adequate benefits and provide a model for future expansion, or, in the case of the Midtown Greenway, too expensive to implement without an additional revenue source (because of the lack of adequate property tax revenues).

The Hennepin Avenue line is an appropriate selection for a starting segment, running roughly perpendicular to the existing light rail corridor downtown and reaching some of the city’s busiest neighborhoods. A Nicollet Line, the other serious contender for initial construction, would likely disrupt bus service along the downtown mall, not necessarily a good idea. But, if selected, the Hennepin project should be prioritized to reach the vibrant Uptown Midtown district south of existing route plans as soon as possible; it may even make sense to build that southern link before connecting the line north over the Mississippi, in opposition to current proposals.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 10:50 PM   #734
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I'm assuming this thread is for the MidWest region in general: applying to all forms of rail transportation RATHER than the Chicago Hub Network High Speed Rail proposal. If so, each city deserves its own individual thread, especially with this many different plans and proposals.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 11:16 PM   #735
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IDk, I mean I posted some stuff that spans a few months. This site does not have THAT much mid westerners(especially if you exclude Chicago). Check out the SkyScraperPage transit page where there is tons more info on US rail than here. There also is the fact that the little US rail threads that get made get lost due to the tons more of other city/country rail threads that exist.

However, if you wish to, you can turn this thread into a thread for Ohio (first article deals with Ohio intercity Rail).
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Old July 20th, 2010, 11:50 PM   #736
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I guess what we could have is a Midwest thread but I don't see the point of that, esp when I believe Chicago has its own thread already. You can always post this in the Urban Transport Discussion Bar.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 12:06 AM   #737
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Sorry, I don't know under what is Urban Transport Discussion bar (could you link it please), I can't find it.

I would rather (if its ok with you) just keep this here as a place for MidWest rail. Perhaps you could say "MidWest Rail News -Excluding Chicago" Or "Midwest General Rail Transit News -Excluding Chicago".

It would be great if we could make threads like that for the major regions of the US here:
  1. SouthEast Rail News thread- Maybe minus Miami since we have decent rail Thread.
  2. Midwest rail News Thread -Minus Chicago
  3. Northeast Rail News Thread-Minus New York
  4. West Coast Rail News thread - Minus Los Angeles.


Take away those cities(maybe I missed one or two), and you have very little activity or post for rail transit for any threads that includes any other cities. The threads that include those other cities get lost or get very little attention. Plus it might help un-clutter the Subways and Urban Rail Transport section a tiny bit, as well as help others find stuff more easy. The reason I added "News" was to exclude threads that are mostly just pictures/videos of a certain cities rail transit, like the New Jersey Rail thread.

Just my opinion though, don't mean to impose on you.

Last edited by xerxesjc28; July 21st, 2010 at 12:23 AM.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 01:15 AM   #738
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My memory is dying. Chicago doesn't have its own thread since the new forum structure was introduced. Thread has been renamed already and follows the structure of other regional-wide forums, such as Japan, Korea, and Russia.
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 03:25 PM   #739
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Streetcars on track for Minneapolis
If granted federal funding, project analysis will focus on starter lines.
Picture of proposal streetcar route here:http://http://www.sj-r.com/top-stori...of-Springfield

Published: 07/21/2010
By Danielle Nordine

Although the last streetcar rolled out of Minneapolis in 1954, city officials are moving forward on plans to bring the city’s extensive streetcar network back to life.

The city recently submitted an application for $900,000 in federal funding to study the details of the project more closely, Minneapolis Transportation Planner Anna Flintoft said.

The analysis would include costs for construction and operation, environmental effects, community input and possible economic development related to rebuilding the network, she said.

"It’s the next logical step in terms of the technical analysis that needs to be done," Flintoft said.

Plans to revive the streetcar system in Minneapolis date back to 2006, when the city began a feasibility study to determine if rebuilding the network would be possible and beneficial to the city.

The study, completed in December 2007, was part of Access Minneapolis, a 10-year plan to address issues and options related to transportation.

The streetcar study examined several aspects of the project — from basic cost estimates to possible track locations to ridership numbers — and found that rebuilding the streetcar network could ultimately be beneficial for the city, Flintoft said.

Streetcars set off economic development because of their permanence and frequent stops, Flintoft said.

Additionally, other cities that have rebuilt their streetcar systems, such as Portland, Ore., have seen higher ridership than on similarly located bus lines, she said.

Improving public transit, including streetcars, has also been a long-term goal of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. Rybak has said streetcars could reduce the city’s oil dependency and create more of a community downtown with the shorter lines and more frequent stops.

If the city receives the federal funding for the analysis, it will focus most of its resources on two starter lines — the Central Avenue line, which would run along Central Avenue Northeast from Washington Avenue to the Columbia Heights Transit Center, and the Nicollet Avenue line, which would run along Nicollet Avenue from 46th Street South to Washington Av enue, according to the 2007 Streetcar Feasibility Study.

The city won’t know whether it will get the funding until fall of this year, Flintoft said.

Streetcars land between buses and light rails when it comes to cost, Flintoft said, although the price can vary depending on the line’s location.

While the upcoming study would determine more specific costs, the project could run between $40 million and $50 million per line, according to the 2007 study. Each line is between two and 3 1/2 miles long, and there would be seven lines total.

By comparison, the 11-mile Central Corridor Light-Rail Transit line is projected to cost $957 million to construct.

In addition to the two starter lines, five other potential track locations, including two running through the University of Minnesota campus, are being considered.

Funding is a concern for the project, Flintoft said. In the past, other cities that have tried to rebuild streetcar lines have had to completely finance the projects, although within the past year the federal government has started supplying grant money for streetcars, she said.

Streetcars essentially use the same technology as light-rail trains but stop more frequently and run in the streets instead of in separate, designated tracks, said Aaron Isaacs, a historian at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum and a retired transit planner.

"You could take that old wood streetcar and put it on the Hiawatha line, and it will run," he said.

The problem comes from the fact that streetcars run on tracks in the streets, subjecting them to traffic delays while not

allowing them to take different routes or easily maneuver like buses, Isaacs said. The city will examine this issue in the upcoming study, Flintoft said.


Minneapolis’ streetcar history

Streetcars in Minneapolis were built mainly between 1870 and 1930, Isaacs said, and were popular during that time due to the lack of automobiles and the ease they provided for traveling through the city.

In their heyday, Twin Cities streetcars had more than 500 miles of tracks, Isaacs said, most of which ran in the city, though some extended to nearby suburbs.

"If you see a Metro Transit bus route today, there’s a pretty good chance it was a streetcar line," Isaacs said.

Streetcars maintained their popularity through World War II because of rationing on gas, rubber and other automobile supplies. After the war, however, many people moved to the suburbs and purchased vehicles, decreasing the need for streetcars.

The city began to tear out streetcar lines after 1945, and by 1954, the last of the streetcar operations had been shut down.

In 2001, though, Portland, Ore., set off a trend by rebuilding its streetcar system, and many cities have been following suit due to its success.

The permanence of rail attracts businesses, Isaacs said, and is more attractive to visitors and occasional users.

Streetcars also offer a smoother ride than buses, Flintoft said, and the tracks and cables make it easier for users to spot stops or routes.

In addition to concrete benefits, though, streetcars seem to have an intangible appeal for people, Isaacs said.

"People just seem to like rail more than they like buses," Issacs said. "There is this sort of undefined sizzle factor when it comes to rail."
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 03:29 PM   #740
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High-Speed Rail work to begin in September
http://http://www.sj-r.com/top-stori...of-Springfield

Work will begin in September on a high-speed rail line between Chicago and St. Louis, Gov. Pat Quinn announced Tuesday.

The $98 million for new rail and concrete ties on 90 miles of Union Pacific tracks between Alton and Springfield and between the capital city and Lincoln is just a fraction of the $1.2 billion in stimulus money the federal government awarded Illinois in January.

The announcement comes despite lack of an agreement between the Federal Railroad Administration and freight rail companies that have balked at federal demands that they either repay stimulus money or pay for additional infrastructure improvements if passenger trains don’t run on time.

Without an agreement, more than $1 billion in federal funds can’t be released, and railroads can’t be forced to allow high-speed rail projects in their rights of way. However, Rob Kulat, FRA spokesman, said the federal government has agreed to pay for the improvements announced Tuesday.

The conditions under which the federal government will pay for the rest of the work on the entire St. Louis-Chicago corridor are not yet final. Kulat confirmed that the FRA has not reached agreement with freight rail companies that own rights of way on high-speed rail corridors throughout the nation that have won federal funding.

City route undecided

Christina Mulka, spokeswoman for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the senator who has long supported high-speed rail in Illinois is confident any outstanding issues between the FRA and Union Pacific will be resolved.

“High-speed rail is an exciting thing for Illinois,” Mulka said. “If there are issues that come up, Sen. Durbin will certainly monitor the situation.”

According to the news release from the governor’s office, the project set to start in September “will support an estimated 900 jobs.”

No work is planned for Springfield, where Union Pacific has already upgraded tracks and the state is paying for a study to determine the best route through the city. Civic leaders have objected to using Union Pacific tracks along Third Street, saying that rail traffic should be consolidated on tracks along 10th Street to avoid dividing the city.

Complete plan needed?

Supporters and critics of high-speed rail, respectively, hailed and panned Tuesday’s announcement.

“This is a key step forward,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and high-speed rail between St. Louis and Springfield and Chicago isn’t going to be built instantaneously. … It breaks the ice.”

Learner downplayed the lack of an agreement between the FRA and Union Pacific that would allow the entire corridor to be completed.

“Not everything needs to be resolved at once,” Learner said. “What we need to do is move the process forward in a responsible way.”

But Kristina Rasmussen, executive vice president of the Illinois Policy Institute, which opposes high-speed rail funded by the government, said a more complete plan should be in place.

“It sounds like the governor’s getting ahead of himself — it sounds like we’re on a high-speed trip to disaster here,” Rasmussen said. “We’ve got concerns about high-speed rail, but I think everyone can agree this should be done in a prudent manner, and we should get our ducks in a row.”

Bruce Rushton can be reached at 788-1542.

Railroad, IDOT agreement a mystery

According to a news release from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, $98 million in publicly funded improvements to Union Pacific track will be done pursuant to an agreement between the railroad and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Just what that agreement says is a mystery.

IDOT did not provide a copy after The State Journal-Register requested one in telephone calls to press offices for the agency and the governor. IDOT spokesman Josh Kauffman did not return messages left on his cell and office phones, nor did he respond to an e-mailed request for a copy.

The newspaper subsequently submitted a formal Freedom of Information Act request, and Kauffman followed up with an e-mail stating that the FOIA request has been sent to the agency’s FOIA officer.

Mark Davis, Union Pacific spokesman, declined to discuss the contents of the agreement with the state, referring questions to IDOT.

— Bruce Rushton
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