In designing the downtown portion of the Central Corridor, there's going to be an attempt to avoid a mistake made with the Hiawatha Line in downtown Minneapolis. Ramsey County is studying a proposal to have the line make a loop around the downtown. This will not only make more of the downtown area accessible but will also result in conserving space in the narrow downtown streets. http://www.startribune.com/462/story/719749.html http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/15672583.htm
Charlie said: > In designing the downtown portion of the Central Corridor, there's going > to be an attempt to avoid a mistake made with the Hiawatha Line in > downtown Minneapolis. Ramsey County is studying a proposal to have the > line make a loop around the downtown. This will not only make more of the > downtown area accessible but will also result in conserving space in the > narrow downtown streets. http://www.startribune.com/462/story/719749.html > http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/15672583.htm No matter what they say, this is in response to an issue that, as far as I know, I have been the only person to raise: The turn from Cedar onto Fourth Street which was part of the Draft EIS was technically impossible without removing a building or, at the least, elminating a substantial amount of sidewalk and threatening a building on the National Historical Register (the Saint Paul Athletic Club). It is worth noting that they still will not admit this, although they are clearly abandoning the Draft EIS in this section. That a Draft EIS was allowed to proceed without including the high cost of building removal OR a Section 106 Historical Reviw in the first place is scandalous. Apparently, it's time to move on. Nevermind what we said before. While I applaud their abadoning the original alignment, and lifting the smokescreen, it should be noted that there is still a lot of cost associated with the proposal that has not yet been accounted for. At least this proposal makes entry to the concourse of Union Depot more feasible as well.
I am not sure of the deomographics around the new route. I do know that routing it around dowtown makes a lot more sense than a straight line system. The first thing it does is bring the line closer to housing and the main venues in St. Paul.
--- <email obscured> wrote: > Charlie said: > > In designing the downtown portion of the Central > Corridor, there's going > > to be an attempt to avoid a mistake made with the > Hiawatha Line in > > downtown Minneapolis. Ramsey County is studying a > proposal to have the > > line make a loop around the downtown. This will > not only make more of the > > downtown area accessible but will also result in > conserving space in the > > narrow downtown streets. > http://www.startribune.com/462/story/719749.html > > > http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/15672583.htm > > No matter what they say, this is in response to an > issue that, as far as I > know, I have been the only person to raise: > > The turn from Cedar onto Fourth Street which was > part of the Draft EIS was > technically impossible without removing a building > or, at the least, > elminating a substantial amount of sidewalk and > threatening a building on > the National Historical Register (the Saint Paul > Athletic Club). > > It is worth noting that they still will not admit > this, although they are > clearly abandoning the Draft EIS in this section. > That a Draft EIS was > allowed to proceed without including the high cost > of building removal OR > a Section 106 Historical Reviw in the first place is > scandalous. > Apparently, it's time to move on. Nevermind what we > said before. > > While I applaud their abadoning the original > alignment, and lifting the > smokescreen, it should be noted that there is still > a lot of cost > associated with the proposal that has not yet been > accounted for. At > least this proposal makes entry to the concourse of > Union Depot more > feasible as well. > > > - - - - - - - - - - - > > Erik Hare > West End (Irvine Park), Saint Paul > http://www.allsaintpaul.com/ > More info: > http://forums.e-democracy.org/stpaul/contacts/erikhare > > - - - - - - - - - - - > To post, send your message to: > <email obscured> > > To unsubscribe type "unsubscribe" (without the > quotation marks) in the > subject line and send to: > <email obscured> > > This topic's messages may be viewed at: > http://forums.e-democracy.org/topic/103342 > > For digest or to update bio options (must log-in): > http://forums.e-democracy.org/stpaul/groups/stpaul-issues/ > > E-Democracy.Org rules: http://e-democracy.org/rules > - - - - - - - - - - - > > Citizens Guide to St. Paul > http://e-democracy.org/wiki/Citizens_Guide_to_St._Paul > > Questions about rules violations? Send complaints > and items > for investigation to: <email obscured> > - - - - - - - - - - - > Mike Fratto Payne Phalen 651-771-4972 http://oyh.org The future depends more on what we do between now and then Than what we did in the past. __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around http://mail.yahoo.com
Mike Fratto wrote: > I am not sure of the deomographics around the new > route. I do know that routing it around dowtown makes > a lot more sense than a straight line system. The > first thing it does is bring the line closer to > housing and the main venues in St. Paul. I agree with this. It will also hit the X, science museum, cathedral and places lots of people actually go. I think it will help downtown tremendously. I want to address Charlie's opinion that the Minneapolis route for Hiawatha was a mistake. I certainly understand his point but I think the geography of the two cities is very different. Most of the high-traffic areas in downtown Minneapolis are in fact along the current Hiawatha alignment: the Metrodome, Target Center, new baseball stadium, the Guthrie, the Central Library, etc. There are a few places like Orchestra Hall and the convention center that are unfortunately quite a bit off the line. The Hennepin Ave. theater district is walkable, but not for the elderly or physically impaired. Still, I don't think the Minneapolis downtown alignment is as bad as the original proposed downtown St. Paul alignment. My fear is that due to shortsighted federal cost effectiveness metrics, the new alignment will be too expensive for the increased ridership it might generate. I would wager that the new alignment wouldn't really increase ridership all that much (it will help, but not a lot). What it does is make the line more convenient for the riders that would already use it. But this would totally fail the federal requirements because it wouldn't increase the "goodness number" that in the feds' eyes is based solely on cost of time saved per trip over other options. I wonder how the new alignment will work. My best guess is that an eastbound train would head south from University at Rice street, approaching the depot from the west. If that's the case, it really increases the trip time of those heading to the capitol from Minneapolis. The other option would be to have the east/west tracks cross each other near Rice St. & University so that the downtown loop would run the other way (east-to-west into the depot). I don't know how practical that is. Anyone have any insight? Erik's comment about access to the depot is a good one. I recently talked to Steve Morris (CC project manager) about how the depot would work since it wasn't on the table when the DEIS was drafted. He said they were looking at alternate alignments. I don't know if the loop was one of them. He mentioned the possibility of going all the way down Cedar St. to the river and cutting over to the depot concourse. Finally, I don't believe that the corner from Cedar to 4th is an issue. Hiawatha makes a very tight turn into the Mall of America that should easily fit into a conventional intersection. But if it is an issue, the new proposal certainly solves it. David Greene The Wedge, Minneapolis
According to the Strib, Ramsey County has "approved $40,000 to pay for additional studies by New York-based engineering and consulting firm DMJM Harris to look into" re-routing the train through downtown St. Paul. How much $ has Ramsey County already paid "New York-based engineering and consulting firm DMJM Harris" to propose this assinine concrete project? How much $ was spent on the silly computer cartoon, which was a gross misrepresentation of the motor vehicle traffic on University Ave. and failed to show any of the 5 major access points along the route? How much public $ has "New York-based engineering and consulting firm DMJM Harris" already collected to produce the scandalous DEIS which proposed entire dumb LRT route, including the turn down 4th Street from Cedar? Years ago, when the FTA refused to allow release of the scandalous DEIS, it should have been clear to everyone that the proposed University Avenue road construction project didn't look like a very good transit investment. Sheldon Gitis South St. Anthony Park
Good Morning: Although I do not think the total cost of this project needs to "go on a diet" like Peter Bell said, I have thought about the alternative of the LRT not going all the way in to Downtown to conserve expense. The University LRT could terminate at whatever location on grade near Dowtown, and a streetcar line could continue a route to the Union Depot. Subsequently a well planned route underground would be built to continue the LRT to the Union Depot. The continued LRT route could be partly above grade and partly below grade if that is best. I do not know if combining a streetcar line with the LRT route would qualify for the fed standards, but the streetcar route into DT could be well planned and possibly alighn in part with the Grand Avenue/Downtown streetcar line. The underground passage for LRT would be a more expensive separate project. The basis of my thinking of a possible below grade route is based upon and depends upon the geology of what is below ground. When I was age eight or nine, I was downtown with my mother, problably after a doctors appointment. My mother would go shopping at Grants or one of the department stores after the doctors appointment in the Lowry Medical Arts Building. On this occasion she was shopping at the "Next-to-New Shop", and across the street was a huge building construction project with a deep hole being dug to build the footing, probably for a tall structure. My mother said: "Take a good look: that is what Dowtown Saint Paul is built upon, that is what is below the ground". What I saw was solid rock being cut all the way to the bottom of the pit, about sixty feet below the surface. Some or much of the geology of DT Saint Paul is solid rock and might be ideal for tunnel building. Anyway, the cost of building LRT on at least some of the downtown streets is more expensive than building on University Avenue per unit of lenght because of what is below the street surface. The old streetcar track is still below University Avenue and easier and cheaper to remove than rerouting utility lines below the street. An undrground alignment DT might be worth the consideration. Just an idea. All The Best - Paul Nelson Ward One Hyde Park District 7
I've added the RCRRA map of the proposed loop route for LRT in downtown St Paul to the files. It's in a file folder named CC Alternative Alignments -- http://forums.e-democracy.org/stpaul/groups/stpaul-issues/files/CC_Alternative_Alignments/view-files. It's very important that alternative alignments be studies ASAP, given Chair Bell's determination to decide on major cuts to the project within the first six months of Preliminary Engineering. Anne White Merriam Park District Councils Collaborative
I find I put the wrong link for the Alternative Alignments folder. It should be http://forums.e-democracy.org/stpaul/groups/stpaul-issues/files. Anne White Merriam Park
I'll put my concerns as succinctly as possible. The problem I see with LRT is: The first thing we chose, for a number of reasons, is that we will be using a Bombardier Flexity Swift K-4000 platform LRV. There are some nice things about this technology, such as a very low floor, but it also requires an 81 foot turning radius and a minimum of 11 feet right-of-way per track (14 reccomended). Once that choice was made, we began scouring the city to decide just where we want to put it. Doesn't this entire process seem incredibly bass-ackwards to anyone other than myself? I see this as something like having a mid-life crisis, and deciding that you're going to buy a BMW M3 no matter what. Let's ignore the budget problem, since in America we can put anything on credit. The real issue comes when you get it home and your wife asks, "Where are we gonna put the kids?". "Well," you say, "We can strap them on the back ... somehow ... we just need to think this through a bit ..." No, what you really should have done was swallowed your foolish pride and bought the Dodge Caravan you know you really need. But jeez louise, the beemer looked so cool sitting there on the lot ... Back to the LRT - I still think this isn't going anywhere. Now that I have a bit of an understanding of both the District Energy issue and the fact that the designers all realize that you can't turn from Cedar to Fourth even if it wasn't just about the central hub of the city's utilities, I can see that this project is indeed going to die. I do appreciate the effort to route it around, but frankly it's hard to contemplate losing that much of Kellogg Boulevard, let alone the well-intentioned but very unlikely idea of using Second Street to get up from the UP right-of-way. It's just not going to happen. Now, there are technologies that can handle just about any of these ideas, and we could retrace our steps and think them through. We haven't signed on the line for that M3 just yet, and lot with the Caravans on it isn't going away, either. If we're going to spend a lot of time thinking this through, let's do that. Let's start with what we want it to do - let's START with where we want it to go, and what it will do for us when it gets there. Then ... well, if the M3 is the way to go, perhaps we can talk about budgets. I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm trying desperately to be practical. I want a rail system as much, if not more, than anyone. And that's why I want a proposal that is going to work, and is going to be FUNDED. That's all I'm asking for here. It's not about our own image crisis, it's about getting the kids back and forth to school. What you might WANT is one thing, but what this city desperately NEEDS is another.
The District Councils Collaborative has not taken a position on the looping alternative to the alignment downtown, but it's critical to note that Peter Bell has declared that no reconsideration of alignment will be on the table as we enter the Preliminary Engineering phase of this project. This declaration, of course, will discourage few critics who feel the current alignment along the corridor should be part of the review and possible re-design. As Erik Hare has pointed out, light rail's problems with 90-degree turns are legend. Four 90 turns are planned for downtown St. Paul on the original alignment, despite the knowledge that 90turns create all but intolerable wheel squeal. The city staff's recommendations for partially remedying this issue were submitted to the now-defunct Central Corridor Coordinating Committee as comments to the DEIS. The turn from Cedar to 4th, in particular, was the one that mitigated the wheel squeal by making the turn more gradual - theoretically accomplished by starting the turn at around 5th heading south and swinging behind the Athletic Club on its way to 4th Street. A 60's-style steel bank building sits on the corner and it could be removed without destroying the downtown ambience. Another mitigation further north would start the turn onto Cedar near 12th St. in much the same manner, taking out the old National Guard armory building to accommodate this. Still, not all of those turns are relieved of their 90status - the turn east of the Capitol and the one just south of that back toward Cedar. In any event, there is little question that Peter Bell and the Met Council (say, the Governor) are out to cut costs rather than finding the funding that would make this even the Caravan Erik feels is adequate. In play are the connection to Union Depot, the tunnel under Washington Ave. at the UofM and several other items most people thought were givens. Funding is a matter of political will, not merely the current availability of funds. The funds can be raised/found if citizens and people in power believe this should be a line that builds on the success of the Hiawatha Line (already 14 years ahead of ridership projections for 2020 - one million riders last month alone). This line will be the vital backbone to the entire regional system, anchored at hubs in both downtowns where connections to planned and building commuter rail systems are underway. As such, it should be the primary connector for urban and suburban dwellers alike to the regional grid, with plenty of access (every half-mile) for transit dependent workers and residents all along the line, beefed-up and synchronized bus service running on all north and south arterials (e.g., Dale, Snelling, Lexington, etc.) and circulating shuttles throughout neighborhoods in both cities. But the most important ingredients in this process will be how this line will serve people - including small business people and residents throughout the Twin Cities - and that their voices be heard in determining how the line will be designed, constructed and operated. That means strong voices from all affected neighborhoods and businesses communicating with the Met Council's Central Corridor Management Committee to ensure access, safety, and convenience along with incentives to get out of our cars and onto environmentally sound and efficient mass transit once and for all. It won't be easy, but we will work with the communities and individuals to help monitor and affect decisions and events as they progress, providing well-researched information and argument to convince decision-makers that this cannot be done on the cheap, unless the goal is to cheapen us all. You can help us by feeding us information (not just speculation) and important perceptions over the next few years. Andy Driscoll, Community Liaison District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul & Minneapolis 651-249-6877
Andy Driscoll wrote: > In any event, there is little question that Peter Bell and the Met Council > (say, the Governor) are out to cut costs rather than finding the funding > that would make this even the Caravan Erik feels is adequate. In play are > the connection to Union Depot, the tunnel under Washington Ave. at the UofM > and several other items most people thought were givens. If this is important to any of you, I urge you to support the Transportation Choices 2020 bill that will be introduced in the legislature this coming session. It proposes a 1/2 cent 7-county metro sales tax dedicated to transit capital and operating costs. Not only would it construct a Central Corridor line that really serves the community (instead of the no-tax crowd), it would construct several other transitways (bus and rail) and double the local and express bus service throughout the region. When you meet with candidates prior to the election, challenge them to support this investment. It's not just Republicans that need convincing, either. Mike Hatch has not demonstrated any commitment to transit in the state, and there are many suburban and rural Democrats (and Republicans) who want to use transportation to maintain a harmful imagined urban/rural divide. In fact, Ron Erhardt, Republican Rep. from Edina, is one of transit's strongest allies in the legislature. This is not and should not be a partisan issue. Many of our peer regions use a sales tax (most more then 1/2 cent) to fund transit. It is well-understand and (very importantly) well-accepted by the feds as proof that they can feel comfortable investing federal dollars in the region. We're going to need people to call their legislators, call the governor (whoever that may be) and show up at the capitol to lobby for the common good. I hope you'll join me and others in a fight to make the kind of transportation investment that benefits EVERYONE. David Greene The Wedge, Minneapolis
The work of Andy Driscoll and all the people who are providing input into this process should not be underestimated. I do think that if we're going to get the service we need, it will come from this effort. I see two possibilities. One is that the process we have working now with the neighborhood collaborative builds so much support for the project that it does indeed go through. The other is that all this information will provide the background for what will come after this project is declared unworkable, meaning that we will have a good start for trying again with the real grassroots understanding of what is needed. Either way, things are moving the right direction. I shouldn't carp too much. My complaint is not with the basic idea, but with the process that handed down a large number of parameters from above. That has been reversed now, and the public is part of the process. It's good.
<email obscured> wrote: > The work of Andy Driscoll and all the people who are providing input into > this process should not be underestimated. I do think that if we're going > to get the service we need, it will come from this effort. Please don't put all the effort onto Andy and the DCC. ALL of us need to be involved, from the planning effort right up the chain to funding at the legislative and gubernatorial level. We need lots, lots, lots of people to be engaged and pushing this session and throughout all of the preliminary engineering and final design process. Andy and the DCC do fine work, but they can't do it alone. It's OUR (all of us) responsibility to do this right and that means taking time and effort to get involved. The 2007 session is going to be critical. Either you support transit or you don't. We all have to decide whether we care about having a just transportation policy or not. If you want to see it happen, you've got to take action. No more sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do it. David Greene The Wedge, Minneapolis
I am sorry, I have been too busy to read all the postings for about 3 months. With the approach of winter, I can't do outdoor work anymore, so I am getting caught up. ASIDE:I think that one of the first actions of the new Governor (Hatch) will have to be to remove Mr. Bell as the head of the Met Council. His uninspired leadership of that ever increasingly important group is dangerous to our regional growth. His consistent anti-transit stance will result in a line that won't meet the communities' needs. He has worked to raise rates, cut service and derail transit planning. Anyway... We need to stop thinking about the Central Corridor LRT/Streetcar route as a unique entity. St. Paul needs a transit system. How well does the route as currently planned meet our need for a line on University? What we are trying to do is get double duty from the LRT solution. On the one hand, we want a high volume people mover to reduce congestion and on the other hand, we want to provide a high quality transit option to the residents and businesses along University and Downtown St. Paul. I don't think that either streetcar, or LRT can do both of these things in a completely successful way. Here is my suggestion to resolve the impasse: Proponents of LRT don't believe that we will be able to get two lines built, given the difficulty and huge expense of line building. They don't want to lose the benefit that a rail line can provide to a neighborhood and surrounding areas. If either streetcar or LRT is put in on University, there will be a boom like the good old days with people rushing to buy the houses and patronize the businesses along it. I think that LRT is most effective at high speed delivery of large numbers of people to infrequent stops. San Francisco has a great system, BART, built for this, and it does its job admirably. But, that isn't all they have. What University Ave. needs is a return to the streetcar days of the 20s and 30s. The current bus line along University is the most popular in the city for a reason, it goes where many people live and shop along the corridor. It just does it poorly. A streetcar can do this so much better than a bus AND will have a similar economic impact as a LRT line. It can share the road with cars and requires much less in up-front construction costs. Jay Benanav's office estimated a few years ago that we could do streetcar on University for around $50 Million all the way to Hwy 280. It would surely be more now, but still way less than LRT. IF YOU WANT TO SKIP TO MY IDEA HERE IT IS --> Since we seem to be going the way of LRT we can lay out the track and budget and plan for bare bones LRT. Don't tunnel, don't take down expensive buildings and keep the 90 degree turns. The LRT won't be able to get up to speed anyway downtown since the stops are so close together. Do the cheapest we can, but don't sacrifice route at all! If the funding gets cut, we will have planning, right of way etc ready for streetcar. It uses the same gauge track, so we can use that if it comes to it. If not, we can put in LRT and be happy for 5-10 years. After we realize that we actually want LRT to go in a more direct high speed route, we can convert the University LRT track and line to streetcar and then put the LRT into the US 94 corridor. The two lines would complement each other wonderfully. The 94 LRT line will work as intended - a high speed people mover which will travel at high speeds and stop only at high traffic stops like Snelling, Downtown, UofM, etc. The University line would do the circulatory duty it wants to be doing. If you look at most transit systems around the world, it isn't an either/or LRT or Streetcar, but rather an attempt to solve existing transit problems. We need to start planning for regional transit needs and not as though we will only have a single solution that will do everything for everyone. That is also why I disagree with the roundabout plan for downtown. Just put in the straight line. Future lines will go where needed (7th, Arcade, Capital/Rice, etc). One line can't serve all needs, especially not downtown! I just want to get this started so we can get to work on the next line! Feverishly waiting in Dayton's Bluff, Jacob Dorer
Jacob Dorer wrote: > ASIDE:I think that one of the first actions of the new Governor (Hatch) > will have to be to remove Mr. Bell as the head of the Met Council. His > uninspired leadership of that ever increasingly important group is > dangerous to our regional growth. His consistent anti-transit stance > will result in a line that won't meet the communities' needs. He has > worked to raise rates, cut service and derail transit planning. Anyway... Unfortunately, I believe the governorship will remain with Pawlenty. However, you are right on about Peter Bell. As much as he likes to portray himself otherwise, he is no friend of transit. But rather than new appointees, what we need is an ELECTED Met Council. It was absolutely ludicrous for Peter Bell to actively testify AGAINST a bill that would have given his organization more funds for transit. No elected official in their right mind would have done so unless they were elected on an anti-transit stance. And the way the metro is going, we're seeing less and less of that sentiment in the general population. > We need to stop thinking about the Central Corridor LRT/Streetcar route > as a unique entity. St. Paul needs a transit system. How well does the The METRO needs a transit system, not just St. Paul. We must think regionally. > route as currently planned meet our need for a line on University? What > we are trying to do is get double duty from the LRT solution. On the one > hand, we want a high volume people mover to reduce congestion and on the > other hand, we want to provide a high quality transit option to the > residents and businesses along University and Downtown St. Paul. I need to correct this. Expanded transit does not reduce congestion. At best it slows its growth. What transit does is provide an alternative to avoid congestion entirely. That's a better goal than reducing congestion. While transit should have minimal impact on our automobile transportation system, it should NOT be designed to make driving cars easier or more attractive. Not because driving cars is a bad thing. Some people don't have a choice and/or there are times when the flexibility of a personal vehicle is important. Transit should not be designed to make driving easier because it is too difficult or impossible to do so. If the goal is to make driving easier, transit is the wrong answer. We should just lay asphalt all over the place. > What University Ave. needs is a return to the streetcar days of the 20s > and 30s. The current bus line along University is the most popular in > the city for a reason, it goes where many people live and shop along the > corridor. It just does it poorly. A streetcar can do this so much better > than a bus AND will have a similar economic impact as a LRT line. It can I don't think a streetcar does any better than a bus as far as efficiency of service. A streetcar on University won't be in a dedicated right-of-way, so it will have to contend with traffic just like buses. The advantage of the streetcar in this situation is an economic one, as you pointed out, but also a psychological one. People just like to ride rails more than tires. > share the road with cars and requires much less in up-front construction > costs. Jay Benanav's office estimated a few years ago that we could do > streetcar on University for around $50 Million all the way to Hwy 280. > It would surely be more now, but still way less than LRT. $50 million sounds way too cheap to me. That's the estimated cost of the Midtown Greenway streetcar, where there's no road or utilities to contend with. I don't know if modern streetcars are heavy enough to require utility relocation given that University hosted a streetcar in the past. > IF YOU WANT TO SKIP TO MY IDEA HERE IT IS --> > Since we seem to be going the way of LRT we can lay out the track and > budget and plan for bare bones LRT. Don't tunnel, don't take down > expensive buildings and keep the 90 degree turns. The LRT won't be able As far as I know, the only building that might be taken down is the bank on the athletic club block IF they eliminate the 90 degree turn onto 4th and they don't go with the alternate alignment. I agree with you that the tunnel can probably be dispensed with. It might even make for a nicer campus experience. But it would be a real shame to throw away the new alignment. With Bell at the helm we probably won't get it, but the new alignment is so far superior to the current one that it would be foolish to go with what's on the table now. But this administration is hardly known for its good, logical public policy. There may be even better alignments, but I haven't heard anything about that. > to get up to speed anyway downtown since the stops are so close > together. Do the cheapest we can, but don't sacrifice route at all! If > the funding gets cut, we will have planning, right of way etc ready for > streetcar. It uses the same gauge track, so we can use that if it comes > to it. If not, we can put in LRT and be happy for 5-10 years. After we > realize that we actually want LRT to go in a more direct high speed > route, we can convert the University LRT track and line to streetcar and > then put the LRT into the US 94 corridor. The problem is utility relocation. Much of the cost of LRT is due to the need to move utilities out of the way. We'd have to do that if we built a system to handle LRT or streetcars. The actual vehicles are a small part of the total cost. > The two lines would complement each other wonderfully. The 94 LRT line > will work as intended - a high speed people mover which will travel at > high speeds and stop only at high traffic stops like Snelling, Downtown, > UofM, etc. The University line would do the circulatory duty it wants to > be doing. If you look at most transit systems around the world, it isn't > an either/or LRT or Streetcar, but rather an attempt to solve existing > transit problems. We'll still have the 94 express buses with the University route and I think that's adequate for our needs. We don't need an expensive rail system to go down I-94 because we will get none of the value-added benefit of rail: economic development, revitalization, etc. Putting rail down I-94 would be a tremendous waste of resources that could be better spent developing entirely new rail lines like the Southwest, Dan Patch and Riverview corridors. > We need to start planning for regional transit needs and not as though > we will only have a single solution that will do everything for > everyone. That is also why I disagree with the roundabout plan for > downtown. Just put in the straight line. Future lines will go where > needed (7th, Arcade, Capital/Rice, etc). One line can't serve all needs, > especially not downtown! Those future routes you mention should definitely be streetcars. That doesn't conflict with a circulator LRT route downtown, it complements it. Here's the deal with University: any system will be a compromise between speed and accessibility of service. Streetcars and buses don't have the capacity to handle the projected ridership 30-50 years out. If we penny-pinch now, we will pay even more later. We have to build this thing at least 50 years out. The current downtown alignment has too many stations. We ought to move one or two of those to University, probably somewhere in the Midway industrial district and maybe one at Western or somewhere near there. I haven't studied the circulator alignment enough to form an opinion about station placement there. One thing I do know: LRT is the right technology in the corridor. It's not an absolutely perfect fit, but nothing ever is. It's the best technology available to meet our needs. David Greene The Wedge, Minneapolis
On a recent trip to Los Angeles I took an afternoon light rail excursion on a total of four different lines utilizing combinations of tunnel, freeway medians, as well as street alignments, depending upon what made sense; I'm certain they goofed here or there, but we can learn from their successes as well as their failures. I now think our approach to alignments has been myopic and our penny pinching in not going underground where it makes sense is just plain silly; it just doesn't seem rational to me now to use the University Avenue route above ground. If we don't dig under this allignment, we might as well be going with an elevated system or a freeway alignment. We need to revisit this stuff in a process that is adaptive rather than slavish in applying the will of stakeholders ten to twenty years in the past.
On Oct 17, 2006, at 11:59 AM, David Greene wrote: > > Here's the deal with University: any system will be a compromise > between speed and accessibility of service. Streetcars and buses > don't have the capacity to handle the projected ridership 30-50 > years out. If we penny-pinch now, we will pay even more later. > We have to build this thing at least 50 years out.
> David Greene said > $50 million sounds way too cheap to me. That's the estimated cost > of the Midtown Greenway streetcar, where there's no road or utilities > to contend with. I don't know if modern streetcars are heavy enough > to require utility relocation given that University hosted a streetcar > in the past. $50M sounds cheap to me, too. University Ave is about 8 miles long, and at the same rate Portland saw, adjusted for inflation, we're at about $14M per mile. We're looking at probably $110M for that stretch. It's still quite a bargain at that price, IMHO. > The problem is utility relocation. Much of the cost of LRT is due to > the need to move utilities out of the way. We'd have to do that if > we built a system to handle LRT or streetcars. The actual vehicles > are a small part of the total cost. Not necessarily. We should pick a technology/system BASED ON our requirements, and not simply insist that a Bombardier Flexity Swift LRV is the way we have to go. If we want to avoid utility relocation, I happen to think that the Skoda cars used in Portland will be fine. If that is incorrect, there are other systems we can use. Because there are so many utilities under University, any sensible set of engineering specifications would start with design guidelines that include minimizing the relocation. We have not done that. Why hasn't this been done? Why has our leadership failed to do the smallest things to at least be aware of the cost/design choices? This is what baffles me about this whole "process". > Here's the deal with University: any system will be a compromise > between speed and accessibility of service. Streetcars and buses > don't have the capacity to handle the projected ridership 30-50 > years out. If we penny-pinch now, we will pay even more later. > We have to build this thing at least 50 years out. The current > downtown alignment has too many stations. We ought to move one > or two of those to University, probably somewhere in the Midway > industrial district and maybe one at Western or somewhere near > there. I fully agree. If you continue down this line of thought, and think out to a system that serves the whole city and suburbs, you will realize that speed and accessibility are just oil and water - they don't mix. To be able to adequately serve everyone AND have appropriate speed, two different technologies will have to be employed. That's tricky, and the crossover between the two of them is the hard part. This is what we need to be working on, because it will not only improve service but allow us to use cheaper technologies where we can, and thus our scarce $$$ to go further into the neighborhoods. The basic idea here, which is a fast LRT in a dedicated (and ultility-free) corridor coupled with a streetcar on the streets is a critical one. We should ALL be supporting that, rather than the one-size-fits-nothing approach we are going with now. And yes, the riders two generations from now are the ones we need to be thinking of. It's for them that we need to have the whole system designed with appropriate technologies in each location.
It's true that there are tradeoffs between accessibility and speed but it's also true that those tradeoffs can be minimized. E.g., the number of stops along University Ave. could be increased for accessibility's sake but have individual trains not make all the stops to maintain speed. Designate alternate stops 'A' & 'B' and have 'A' trains make half the stops and 'B' trains the other half. Speed is maintained and accessibility increased. And, of course, you could operate this way only in rush hours having "AB" trains in off-peak times.
M Charles Swope wrote: > It's true that there are tradeoffs between accessibility and speed > but it's also true that those tradeoffs can be minimized. E.g., the > number of stops along University Ave. could be increased for > accessibility's sake but have individual trains not make all the > stops to maintain speed. Designate alternate stops 'A' & 'B' and > have 'A' trains make half the stops and 'B' trains the other half. > Speed is maintained and accessibility increased. And, of course, > you could operate this way only in rush hours having "AB" trains > in off-peak times. This makes a heck of a lot of sense if it can be done. Building two complete parallel rail systems costs more than it is worth. As I said earlier, it's better to invest those dollars in areas without any transit corridors at all. The A-B idea is in fact what Minneapolis is looking at for downtown bus service. They'd like to move most of the bus traffic onto one or two N-S and E-W corridors, possibly dedicating multiple lanes to buses to allow the A-B bypass operation. This is how things work in Seattle and it is very effective. This does increase the cost of the rail system because you need to add tracks to bypass stations. It's not clear to me that there's enough room on University Ave. to do it. And digging a subway is DOA. It's been said that the D.C. metro is that last new subway system we'll ever see. It's just too darn expensive to tunnel all that way for very little benefit. I think a tunnel or bridge at Snelling makes some sense but we still have to keep costs within federal guidelines, regardless of how ill- conceived those guidelines may be. David Greene The Wedge, Minneapolis
I would like to clarify and correct my previous statements. Grade separation underground is best if it is truly necessary or desirable. *On grade* is by far the best when it it works well. I failed to express the reason I thought of underground for the downtown alighnment. I am fairly certain we will benefit from planning for a four car, of even five car train length for LRT on University. The blocks DT are shorter than the lenght of University Avenue blocks, and I think University can accomodate four car trains just fine. However, there is a block and a couple of sections DT that will accomodate the length of four car trains due to a street being blocked off since my childhood that eliminated the "loop" that dragsters raced around years ago. This block is now long enough I think to perhaps accomodate four car trains. It is simply not necessary to go underground on University because there is plenty of room for *on grade* operation. Eric Hare wrote: "Because there are so many utilities under University, any sensible set of engineering specifications would start with design guidelines that include minimizing the relocation. We have not done that." That is incorrect. As I have written here previosly and has been published in the newspapers, the LRT alignment in the middle of University goes over the old track that is still below the street taking up about six to eighteen inches of depth space. It is alot easier and cheaper to remove the old track for the circa 24 inches of LRT footing than it is to re-route utilites below the street. There are very likely quite a few more utilities below the street surfaces DT than on University Avenue. This ongoing confusion about streetcars vs LRT on University is rather old and exausting. The expressed application for streetcars on University is in the outside lane with frequent stops. In actuality LRT on University Mirrors the old TCRT streetcars on Univesity in the 20s and 30s, specifically a rapid transit in the *middle* of the street. I have written about this previously too. The transit repair/developement sequence for University Avenue will be/should be, as I see it: First, LRT on University. Then improve transit everywhere possible in Saint Paul, including the north/south mess for transit and walk/bike transportation. By whatever means possible, find ways to provide highway/greenway and bikelane corridor access North/South through Saint Paul for walking and bicycling. At the very least, correct the many dificiencies throughout the city. The Ayd Mill problem is just one example and result of how far we have let things go, making it nearly impossible to traverse north-south in Saint Paul any way except by car. Improve N/S transit. A streetcar on Lexington would be ideal and is needed. Observing the at-capacity traffic on Snelling Avenue at 5 PM yesterday, it is clear Snelling needs LRT too. However, there would need to be grade separation there to accomplish this, ie two lanes of traffic elevated above Snelling from I-94 to Hewitt with LRT on grade with bike lanes, or some other variation. After about ten years, assess the traffic on University to reduce the two lanes to one in both directions. Currently, there are long stretches on University that by traffic count can accomodate single lane traffic in both directions, but not the entire length of University. This of course will make construction of LRT on University easier. At the time we can determine if we can reduce to one lane in both directions on University, *THAT* is the time to design and implement a *streetcar* on Univsrsity, a bikelane and wider sidewalks. Implementing a streetcar in the outside lane on University before LRT is the wrong sequence, and streetcars in that application cannot be structured for four car trains. On another issue, I would like to give this warning to the neighborhood groups that are pushing for more stops for LRT on University: be careful what you wish for. I do not recall any neghborhood pushing for more stops for the #50 bus. The prelimanary stops proposed to fulfill the fed cost effectiveness guidelines for LRT roughly match the #50 stops. The justification for a stop for LRT is the presence and exchange of alot of people and commerce, etc. - like about 20 to 30,000 per day, and transit crossings. Between Rice and Lexington on both sides of University, the density is not great and the businesses are mostly smaller. There is not transit on Western, Victoria, Lexington, or Hamiline. There are no bikelanes on those streets. If you want to grow, and replace single family homes, duplexes and small businesses with tall buildings, bigger business, etc, then push for an additional stop. I think a better approach for the District Counclils Collaboative and the neighborhood groups is a "wait and see" approach. A station can be added anywhere along the line any time after the LRT is built, and the track alignment can be engineered for different station designs before being built. It would be wise to look for improved bus service alongside LRT first, and hope to anticpate a streetcar replacing the busses adjacent to LRT in the future. The District Councils Collaborative should work on fact learning and community education. This task should not be the responsibility of the city and county alone. The apparent attitude that "we want these stops to recognize us" rather than from a developement perspective, is rather sad. There are other communities that see that LRT near them is truly "being considered". And there are communities like Edina that wish they were being considered. Perhaps it serves Edina right in view how aggressive Edina was in removing the streetcar track on France Avenue when Minneapolis wanted to wait on *their* side of France Avenue. Today, Edina has traffic spilling off of the main routes on to the neighborhood streets. Yes, rail transit can and does reduce congestion, but it should not be implemented with that goal and expectation as the main reason. When Charlie Hales was here he said in reference to the Pearl District in Portland, "the automobile traffic is so low it is a differnt kind of world". It was the Portland Streetcar that caused the decreased auto use and need for parking ramps. Keep in mind that Portland has been working on these issues for 30+ years. We will see what happens to traffic and parking when LRT is built on University. And the result is likely to be an intersting mix. Wihtout rail transit to get to the stations, there will be people using their cars to get to the LRT. But the LRT on University will take away other needs for parking on University. As far as funding is concerned. LRT building is fairly cheap considering where our tax dollars go. When the people realize we are being taxed to subsidize auto use, then we will vote for our leaders accordingly. Our auto system is the "loss leader" here. The Hiawatha LRT cost just 3% of what we spend in one year on surface transportation for cars. That means we could 25 LRT lines a year with the same money. Highway 100 was just rebuilt for about seven million tax dollars but not with user fees or the paltry gas tax that pays less than 60% of maintnance costs. Much to learn we still have. All The Best Paul Nelson Ward One District 7 Hyde Park
David Greene wrote: >> speed. Designate alternate stops 'A' & 'B' and have 'A' trains make >> half the stops and 'B' trains the other half. Speed is maintained and >> accessibility increased. And, of course, you could operate this way >> only in rush hours having "AB" trains in off-peak times. > The A-B idea is in fact what Minneapolis is looking at for downtown > bus service. They'd like to move most of the bus traffic onto one > This does increase the cost of the rail system because you need to > add tracks to bypass stations. It's not clear to me that there's > enough room on University Ave. to do it. As both Charlie and Bob Spaulding pointed out to me privately, there's no need for side trackage at stations to do the A-B skip-stop operation. Because LRT is on a fixed guideway within its own dedicated right-of-way, scheduling can be done to guarantee that no train ever has to pass another. Both trains operate faster because they skip every other stop. Anyone know if the Met Council and others involved in planning are considering this option?
Thank you, Mr. David Greene: And thank you Bob Spaulding and Charlie. I would like to add that when I lived in Oak Park outside of Chicago some years ago, the "Lake - Dan Ryan" line during rush hour would run an "A" train, a "B" train, and an "AB" train that hit all stops. This system worked fine. For the planners and engineers working on this, I think it is enough to know that an A-B skip-stop operation could be an option at any time once the line is built. It does not need to be considered now. Rail transit provides many options and flexibility after being built, like where staions are located, speed and timing options, redesign of car function, gates, etc. These are issues that can be changed or adjusted for years to come. The alignment and where the track is located is much less flexible to change after the line is built, and far more important to be resolved before and during construction. Any issue or problem for the Downtown Saint Paul alignment needs to be worked on and resolved before the building starts. Saint Paul has a right to get the best alignment possible. The loop route looks very interesting to me. Some sections of that route I am very familiar with are very wide. The cost might be less per unit of distance with a single ROW, and my guess that in some locations there may be avoidance of utility relocation that would be more likely in the central dowtown streets. I agree with previous comments here about Peter Bell. It was my initial perception that Peter Bell did not have a background in transportation. In addition to being elected, anyone holding the position of Chariman of the Met Council needs to have a strong background and knowledge about transportation, including Transit. The same applies to the Governor of the state. In my judgement, neither Tim Pawlenty or Peter Bell are qualified for their positions with respect to transportation. If absolutely necessary, a streetcar line could follow the central alignment DT, and the downtown loop alignment could be extended/built later. However, I certainly hope not. We should spend 930 mil to 1.2 bil as needed. The money is available to do this. All The Best Paul Nelson Ward One District 7 Hyde Park
I would like to encourage everyone with an interest in the future of the Central Corridor LRT and University Avenue to attend one of two Open House sessions being offered this weekend. The two sessions will be Friday, Oct 27th, 8-10am and Saturday, Oct 28, 10am-1pm. Both will be held at the old Lexington Library, 1080 University Ave, and the same material will be presented at each open house. Urban Strategies, the Toronto-based consultants to the Central Corridor Task Force, will propose some quite specific options for development in different neighborhoods along University Avenue. Their presentation includes maps and illustrations to help people visualize what the avenue might look like, depending on choices to be made by the Task Force. In addition to the formal presentation, there will be time for Q&A, and for informal discussion with the consultants, Task Force members and other interested attendees. Comments and suggestions are invited, and will be considered in the next round of planning discussion. If your time is limited, the formal presentations will be 8:30-9:30 am Friday morning and 11 am to noon on Saturday. Please join us and be a part of the development visioning for the Central Corridor. Anne White Merriam Park District Councils Collaborative University Avenue Task Force
In today's issue of Mic Check Radio, it is reported, among other transportation information related to the two conventions, that "In St. Paul, participants are encouraged to use the new light rail line to get to the Xcel center, and shuttles will be running between parking lots and the convention site." Either the RNC is planning to shuttle delegates and others from Minneapolis to St. Paul or someone built another system while we debated the Central corridor. Mike Fratto Payne Phalen Please help those who don't get enough to eat. http://oyh.org http://hungersolutions.org The future depends more on what we do between now and then Than what we did in the past.