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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:36 AM   #721
Jaxom92
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Latest news about Sound Transit's agreement with the University of Washington. They've finally come to an understanding... which will be officially approved on June 14th. Check out the news release here.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:41 AM   #722
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Great news! I have a question related to University Link. I read that they will have tunnel from Capital Hill to University of Washington campus. Does it mean it will build a twin tunnels under the river between Lake Union and Lake Washington?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:15 AM   #723
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its about time, that Chicago also gets a brandnew light rail....

and yes, those "gras-tracks" are very popular in europe.
I hope they will have their break throuhgh in the US soon....


Last edited by pflo777; June 7th, 2007 at 02:24 AM.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:46 AM   #724
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What is Chicago's new light rail system like? Does it will go everywhere in Chicago metro area?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:49 AM   #725
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Chicago planned a citywide lightrail system, and then, short before realisation, they dropped the plan

But I keep on waiting----mybe the city was just not ready for the idea...

Chicago would be the perfect city for light rail, and as addition to the EL and Metra....
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:52 AM   #726
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Awww that sucks! Chicago needs light rail system so bad. I went there once. It wasn't too bad since it is already connected O'Hare International Airport to all the way to downtown Chicago. I am so not sure about the suburbs in Chicago because I never had chance to get around since I spent 95% of my time in donwtown Chicago.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 03:24 AM   #727
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Originally Posted by CrazyAboutCities View Post
Awww that sucks! Chicago needs light rail system so bad. I went there once. It wasn't too bad since it is already connected O'Hare International Airport to all the way to downtown Chicago. I am so not sure about the suburbs in Chicago because I never had chance to get around since I spent 95% of my time in donwtown Chicago.
Having lived in the Chicago area, I tend to disagree about light rail. Chicago already has one of the best "heavy" rail systems in the U.S. Not only from CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), but from METRA, another heavy rail system with an impressive route structure throughout the metro area. It is completely workable and efficient (With the exceptions of grade-crossing accidents with vehicle traffic that seem to happen frequently.) There was one real bad one there a year or so ago involving something like 30 vehicles. The money isn't quite there to rebuild (either under or over-pass), all these crossings, I think hundreds of them around the metro, to make them safer, but that is the ultimate goal.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 05:41 AM   #728
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Light-rail debt a 50-year ride

Brace yourselves! The election campaign is just starting.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...podebt04m.html

Light-rail debt a 50-year ride
By Mike Lindblom

Seattle Times transportation reporter

If Sound Transit wins voter approval to extend light rail far beyond Seattle at a cost of more than $23 billion by 2027, taxpayers would still owe an additional $14 billion in construction debt afterward.

Financing costs mean that voters in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties will be looking at a half-century commitment when they decide on a regional-transportation measure in November. The last bonds for the 50-mile rail plan, and other transit projects, would be paid off in 2057.

By then, Sound Transit's spending would exceed $37 billion, counting inflation and interest charges.

Agency leaders say a more accurate number is $10.8 billion, representing the cost of construction and trains in 2006 dollars.

As with a home mortgage, it makes sense for voters to focus on the current sales price, said spokesman Ric Ilgenfritz. People who cite the long-term, inflated numbers "make the cost seem misleadingly high," Sound Transit says.

The plan would extend light rail east to Overlake, south to Tacoma and north to Ash Way at 164th Street Southwest, near Interstate 5 in Snohomish County.

Sound Transit's proposal will be linked in a single ballot question Nov. 6 with regional highway projects.

Bottom line?

Add $37.9 billion in transit dollars to $16.1 billion for the roads, and the tally reaches $54 billion, including debt and inflation.

For the average household, this would mean $150 in new sales taxes next year and $68 in new car-tab taxes for the average automobile — figures that would go up with inflation until at least 2027.

Sound Transit leaders have said that with the expense, they're offering a far-reaching rail system to satisfy popular demand. "You've got a big problem, and you've got a big solution to solve the problem," Ilgenfritz said.

The multibillion-dollar totals, far into the future, are little more than educated guesses.

Nonetheless, they're politically loaded. Sound Transit's supporters and critics will likely cite whichever figures fortify their campaign arguments.

Comparisons will be made to the Seattle Monorail Project's short-lived, 50-year finance proposal, whose $11 billion total (to pay off a $2.1 billion Green Line) torpedoed the project's political support two years ago. More recently, a proposed six-lane Alaskan Way tunnel in Seattle foundered after the state changed its cost estimate from $3.6 billion to $4.6 billion, to fully account for inflation.

Michael Ennis, transportation analyst for the fiscally conservative Washington Policy Center, said the monorail and viaduct episodes prove that voters care about the totals, and understand them.

"They do not need to be babied," he said.

Sound Transit's finance director, Brian McCartan, said its policies are much more conservative than the monorail project, which considered some high-interest "junk bonds" to make up for a shortage in car-tab tax revenue. Sound Transit has a larger tax base, and McCartan said it can sell bonds at low interest rates, in line with most transportation projects.

Some bond debt would linger until 2057 because Sound Transit would wait until the 2020s to sell some 30-year bonds.

"We think they're building a towering pyramid of debt and taxation," which limits future expansions, said John Niles, a bus-rapid-transit advocate and Sound Transit critic.

Sound Transit is building light rail from Westlake Center to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and intends to bore a tunnel to Husky Stadium, using sales and car-tab taxes approved in 1996.

The road debt would end by 2037, or two decades before Sound Transit bonds are paid off. That's partly because the proposed highway tax covers construction only, while Sound Transit also has operating costs, said Amy Arnis, a state Department of Transportation finance expert.

Sound Transit predicts that after construction ends in 2027, debt payments each year would gradually decline. So it could either reduce the sales tax or ask voters to apply the tax to additional projects.

But if the transit lines get slammed by construction cost overruns or by high operating expenses, state court rulings have given Sound Transit permission to keep collecting taxes at the full rate — for as long as it takes — to finish whatever projects the voters approved.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or [email protected]
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Old June 7th, 2007, 05:49 AM   #729
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Cost per Mile

The above Seattle Times article on the debt for the ST2 light rail expansion describes it as a "50-mile rail plan." The article goes on to state, "Agency leaders say a more accurate number is $10.8 billion, representing the cost of construction and trains in 2006 dollars."

- ST2 Light Rail Expansion
$10.8 billion / 50 miles = $216 million per mile

The initial segment of Central Link is 14 miles in length and cost $2.1 billion. (Some sources state the cost as $2.4 billion.)

- Central Link Initial Segment
$2.1 billion / 14 miles = $150 million per mile

It appears that there is no longer any hope that light rail would get cheaper once it reached the suburbs. The cost of the now defunct Green Line monorail was significantly lower.

- Green Line Monorail Construction Contract
$1.6 billion / 14 miles = $114 million per mile

The really annoying thing is how much cheaper the light rail projects are that are presently under construction in other cities.

- Charlotte
$462.7 million / 9.6 miles = $48 million per mile

- Phoenix
$1.3 billion / 20.3 miles = $64 million per mile

I have not yet checked the numbers cited in the newspaper article against the information in the ST2 project descriptions on the Sound Transit website < http://www.soundtransit.org/x3951.xml >. The $10.8 billion quoted in the article might include some items not related to light rail such as parking garages for Sounder. Also, I am not sure if the 50 miles of light rail quoted in the article includes the First Hill Streetcar.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:50 AM   #730
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50 miles does not include the street car and the 10.8 billion figure includes Sounder and express bus projects as well as light rail. Still, your point about the expense of our light rail line being considerably more than other cities is valid... to a point.

We have extremely hilly topography in Seattle and as such much of the line requires tunneling. Phoenix is at the opposite spectrum - it's flat, and therefore doesn't require the expensive tunnels. I believe Phoenix might also be less dense, and thus right of way acquisition and clearing is easier and cheaper.

Part of the light rail line isn't really out into the burbs. The east-link line to Bellevue is essentially out to another city. Not as large as Seattle, but it's not really a suburb in the traditional sense. And that portion will require a tunnel as well (or elevated, but probably not surface), not to mention the cost of retrofitting the I-90 floating bridge which includes adding outer HOV lanes to replace the express lanes used by the future trains.

All in all, the site specific realities make the ST line here in Seattle considerably more expensive than it might be in other places, particularly Phoenix.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:07 AM   #731
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I agree.

That's funny no one mentions about the profit that might help pay off the debts earlier than estimated deadline... They can turn it into profit by fares.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:09 AM   #732
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Originally Posted by CrazyAboutCities View Post
I agree.

That's funny no one mentions about the profit that might help pay off the debts earlier than estimated deadline... They can turn it into profit by fares.
That all depends on what the fares are and what the operating costs are. Dunno what kind of numbers we're expecting for Seattle, but I gather most light rail lines (most mass transit in general for that matter) operate at a loss. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, and please show us if there's any data on how the Link line will do financially.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:13 AM   #733
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I like the look of the grassy medians for the rail lines, but how difficult is that to construct? Do they just put soil down on the concrete slab? Are the rails shimmed up a ways to clear a small layer of soil? Anyone have any info on this?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:04 PM   #734
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I like the look of the grassy medians for the rail lines, but how difficult is that to construct? Do they just put soil down on the concrete slab? Are the rails shimmed up a ways to clear a small layer of soil? Anyone have any info on this?




http://www.sedra-wiesbaden.com/SEDRA...asengleis.html



thats one way how to do it.

Another way is to build the tracks completely on concrete and then filling it up with soil.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:13 PM   #735
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That all depends on what the fares are and what the operating costs are. Dunno what kind of numbers we're expecting for Seattle, but I gather most light rail lines (most mass transit in general for that matter) operate at a loss. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, and please show us if there's any data on how the Link line will do financially.
Think math. Supposely if this new light rail system open from Sea-Tac Airport to Downtown Seattle.... It should have about 40,000 passengers a day... If the fares costs about 1.50 each... 40,000 x $1.50 = $60,000 each day. Try again for a week... $60,000 x 7 = $420,000 per week. For a month... $420,000 x 4 = $1,680,000 per month. For a year, $1,680,000 x 12 = $20,160,000 per year. My question... What is the average cost of maintenance and labor?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:16 PM   #736
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Originally Posted by pflo777 View Post



http://www.sedra-wiesbaden.com/SEDRA...asengleis.html



thats one way how to do it.

Another way is to build the tracks completely on concrete and then filling it up with soil.
Thanks for showed it. I learned alot from it. It would be very challenge for lawnmowers to mow the grass while light rail system is in operation. Also the trains would get wet by sprinklers too.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:24 PM   #737
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re.nice

hym a:yes::doh: :dance: :old: :dj: :lock:
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:36 PM   #738
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
The above Seattle Times article on the debt for the ST2 light rail expansion describes it as a "50-mile rail plan." The article goes on to state, "Agency leaders say a more accurate number is $10.8 billion, representing the cost of construction and trains in 2006 dollars."

- ST2 Light Rail Expansion
$10.8 billion / 50 miles = $216 million per mile

...

The really annoying thing is how much cheaper the light rail projects are that are presently under construction in other cities.

- Charlotte
$462.7 million / 9.6 miles = $48 million per mile

- Phoenix
$1.3 billion / 20.3 miles = $64 million per mile
A couple of things to keep in mind about this:

- Seattle intends to run a metro-style light rail: frequent (every 3 minutes at peak), long trains, fully separated right-of-way (except a small part of the initial line), etc. I don't know a ton about Charlotte and Pheonix, but my understanding is that they're running at the surface, in the streets.

- North Carolina and Arizona have significantly weaker labor laws than Washington. Labor is not an insignificant cost on a project this size.

Seattle's streetcar is costing on the order of $40 million per mile. This is still more than comparable systems in places with cheaper labor, but it might make a closer comparison to Charlotte/Phoenix's light rail systems (i.e. with shorter trains running at longer headways and at grade).
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Old June 8th, 2007, 12:37 AM   #739
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyAboutCities View Post
Think math. Supposely if this new light rail system open from Sea-Tac Airport to Downtown Seattle.... It should have about 40,000 passengers a day... If the fares costs about 1.50 each... 40,000 x $1.50 = $60,000 each day. Try again for a week... $60,000 x 7 = $420,000 per week. For a month... $420,000 x 4 = $1,680,000 per month. For a year, $1,680,000 x 12 = $20,160,000 per year. My question... What is the average cost of maintenance and labor?
I read in an old government New starts Link profile that it'll cost around $68 million a year to operate. But that was an estimation done in the 90s when it was the 20-some mile plan to Northgate...so the numbers are probably totally different now; but just giving you a ballpark idea.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 12:43 AM   #740
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I read in an old government New starts Link profile that it'll cost around $68 million a year to operate. But that was an estimation done in the 90s when it was the 20-some mile plan to Northgate...so the numbers are probably totally different now; but just giving you a ballpark idea.
Heh. That doesn't sounds good to me. It needs to become into profit so they can continue expand its system without having to ask everyone in The Puget Sound for more and more taxes or we will be in serious debt for over 50 years from now.
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