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Everything posted by sax184

  1. There's also a new flyover of the line on YouTube. I tried to embed the video in the post but could not figure it out. If someone is more skilled at these things, please do so!
  2. There is a set of public meetings coming up on the Durham-Orange light rail next week: According to the OurTransitFuture website, the meetings will be at the following dates/times/locations: Tuesday, Nov. 18, 11:00 – 2:00 PM Durham Station Transportation Center, 515 W Pettigrew St, Durham Tuesday, Nov. 18, 4:00-7:00 PM Friday Center, 100 Friday Center Drive, Chapel Hill Wednesday, Nov. 19, 4:00 7:00 PM SpringHill Suites, 5310 McFarland Dr, Durham (south of 15-501 between Mt. Moriah Rd. and SW Durham Drive) Thursday, Nov. 20, 4:00-7:00 PM Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St, Durham
  3. Durham and Orange County are not constrained by the Wake County plan in any way except on projects that have one end that begins/ends in Wake County. This means that the Durham-Wake Commuter Rail line is held up while Wake County does not have a consensus on how to proceed, but that the Durham-Orange line has no constraints on it whatsoever by Wake County actions. Given these conditions, I encourage the moderators to consider if the Durham-Orange corridor should be broken off into its own discussion thread from the broader discussion of regional transit plans.
  4. The document of record on potential investments like Eastrans is the Capital Area MPO 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. (MTP) At the link below, you can see the MTP (assumed to be able to be funded, though that assumption includes local tax increases for transit and roads which have not been approved in Wake County) and the CTP (Comprehensive Transportation Plan-a sort of "wish list" that is unfunded) http://www.campo-nc.us/MTP/2040-mtp-public-draft/updated-4-26-2013/2040MTPRail-PPA-and-AIT.pdf You will see that the Eastrans project is not in the MTP, but is in the CTP (wishlist) bin. CAMPO has designated several areas as "Premium Transit Study Corridors" where they are likely to compare road and rail transit alternatives over the next several years. Bottom line- it is unlikely that the viability of Eastrans as a project will be a controlling variable in the wye or at the Glenwood Yard in regards to decisions about track developments.
  5. Green_man has a good summary above. To respond to Euphorius and others, a lot has happened since that 2009 map was created. The most up-to-date information can be found at www.ourtransitfuture.com. On election day (11/6/2012) in Orange County there will be a vote whether or not to approve the 1/2-cent sales tax for transit. If it is approved by the voters, the Durham-Orange Light Rail project will begin moving forward in earnest. The Wake County Commissioners have not taken action on the Wake County plan at this time. Regarding cost, the 17-mile light rail corridor from Durham to Chapel Hill has been projected to cost about $1.4 billion.
  6. kdub1 - wow, good catch in the Rhino. In related news, the PART website indicates the offices are moving from what looks like Class A/B office space to a significantly shabbier property on Arrow Rd, and there is a RFP asking for a response by Oct 29 to run the entire fixed route system, including the shuttles near PTI and the medical connector route to Duke/UNC hospitals. The office relocation suggests they are trying anything to save a buck on the back office side, and the stubborn clinging to the non-PTI shuttle and the Duke/UNC service suggests they're still not thinking about service planning carefully. Will be interesting to see if they're still here in 2013. I hope they are, and I hope this crisis yields some needed changes.
  7. I'd say there's still hope for AVL in your lifetime, though later on. It's probably the off-the-NCRR-line destination that gets the biggest boost if SEHSR is successfully implemented. AVL is improving its transit while the Triad is increasingly failing (see PART topic in Triad forum). The WNC stations are more or less already refurbished, and the line is mostly active. The Wilmington line has more challenges on these counts. Also, 39 inches of sea level rise ain't helping down there. The other wildcard is that I-40 is likely to be a toll road from end to end of NC by 2025, and while there is more than one way from Raleigh to Wilmington, that's not really the same without heavy travel time additions to AVL. This will change the calculus for intercity bus and rail in NC like nothing has in generations. Gas prices will also play a role, but if cars go electric, it's hard to figure out the impact of that. But SEHSR needs to be open first. Once CLT-WAS has a fast, reliable, rail link connected to the NEC, even if it is diesel-powered and at 110 or lower top speeds, it will build a constituency for expanding the network in-state. SC and GA are not going to play ball, so we might as well concentrate on connecting to VA and within our borders. AVL is a great next step.
  8. Things are not looking good. When you look at all the routes away from W-S/GSO/HP, they're down to mostly one trip each way per day and in some cases, two trips each way per day. Most other transit agencies won't even open a route if they can't run hourly service in two directions for 3 hours. Another troubling indicator is that they have a staff of 18 and 3 job openings on the front page. http://www.partnc.org/employment.html Part of the problem is that as a region, the Triad just doesn't support public transportation as an investment priority, and this is what you get. The other portion of it looks like some whistling past the graveyard on the part of leadership. Why they are running 4 shuttles in a low-density office park while cutting service to CBDs in Winston-Salem and Greensboro makes no sense. Keep the airport shuttle if you must, and use the hours from the remaining shuttles to keep regional services intact. Also, if you keep cutting service, maybe it's not the time to market the product, so hold off on hiring the marketing person. Of course, this is management 101 stuff, so if they're missing it, I think PART's days may be numbered, sadly.
  9. Riding Amtrak is far safer than riding in your car. When a train hits a car, or even a truck, the train wins decisively, every time. But on statistics, NC is doing much,much better than it was about 10-20 years ago. For evidence, look at this table of crash statistics on the NCDOT Rail Division website. In short, the NCDOT Sealed Corridor initiative has closed numerous crossings throughout the state, and has greatly reduced the number of collisions. That said, some people cannot be deterred. You will see that trespasser incidents (people who drive through the gates, around them despite the lights flashing and bells ringing) have not fallen nearly as much. When someone wants to commit suicide by train, it is hard to stop them. This is unfortunate for the engineer, who must deal with the psychological baggage of someone choosing to end their life this way. By the time an engineer sees someone on the tracks, it is probably too late to stop. As to the most recent incident, the AJC reports it was in Lowell, NC which is off the NCRR mainline, and therefore not on a railroad getting sealed corridor improvements.
  10. The answer is yes to all of the above except the Mebane accident portion. The loco damaged in Mebane either is being or will be rebuilt. Here is a photo of one of the two locos, engine 1810- City of Greensboro. Right behind it is the City of High Point. Pics were taken at the Capital Yard in Raleigh last month.
  11. Thanks for a fascinating pro forma. I'm sure that it's a reasonable assessment of what is possible if there were no other constraints. Unfortunately, your analysis is pointless because the reasons why it is hard to advance a "tear down Central Prison to build a train hub and urban neighborhood" plan have nothing to do with money.
  12. I love your energy, I love your enthusiasm- I really do. But the difficulty of moving central prison is not constructed on "lame arguments." It is part of the playing field on which the redevelopment of downtown Raleigh must be contested. Remember who "the State" is. At the policy level, it is mostly very old retired NC residents who grew up when the state as a whole was a far more rural place, or represent a part of the state that IS a much more rural place. With exceedingly rare exception, these folks could care less about urban redevelopment. They're not necessarily against it- it doesn't even appear on their horizon. This same group of policymakers is supported by an underpaid staff that can barely afford to live in Wake County, let alone Raleigh, and mostly lives in suburban or rural settings, whose only sacrosanct job perk is highly subsidized parking in city decks. Together, these groups manage a governmental entity with a tax structure developed for the economy of the 1930s based around the production and sale of textiles, tobacco, and produce, in a state that in 2010 is increasingly based on services, research, and banking. The mental health infrastructure of the state is in crisis, there is a $65 billion shortfall in transportation funding, and most every state department is reeling financially under the recession. Re-locating Central Prison is not a matter of getting over "lame excuses" and "wanting it bad enough." The reasons why this is an incredible longshot are cultural, systemic, and embedded in numerous agencies, processes, and practices in state and local government. Pretending that anything else is true is being overly naive about the challenge.
  13. Looking at the GRO-CLT track improvements page for NCDOT Rail, I count 6 minutes of travel saved by medium-term investments (next 4-6 years) between those stations. The Raleigh-Greensboro piece only has 1 more minute to be saved in the short term. So maybe the 3:12 trip is down to 3:05 by 2013-2014. Positive Train Control raises many speeds to 90 mph on straight track sections, so that will probably knock another 5-10 minutes off. Projects that straighten curves are the most powerful for travel time savings on these lines.
  14. I believe the application from NC/VA is submitted by NC, on behalf of both states, in the form of an interstate compact. Alternatively, it is possible that NC could own the line in VA. A strange situation to be sure, but NCDOT Rail has the superior technical and implementation expertise in the two states, and VA has been comfortable with NCDOT taking the lead.
  15. It may not mean much. If the criteria get easier for Charlotte to meet, they also get easier for everyone else. If the federal pot of New Starts money remains at an anemic $1.4 billion for a nation of 300 million people, competition for those funds will still be incredibly fierce. Many projects with ratings that improve from medium-low to medium may simply not be able to get money because many of the medium-rated projects will move to medium-high. Until the new transportation bill goes through (18 months?) we can assume that the New Starts program will remain pretty much the same, in terms of inputs and results, until then.
  16. The methods that PART used to predict ridership (regional travel demand models) are the same ones that regularly (Phoenix) underpredict (Minneapolis) ridership (Denver) by thousands (Charlotte) of riders (Dallas) per day. One would think that with the completely laughable track record these methods have racked up in the last few years, the transit agency would talk about whether or not the methods required by the federal government are any good. Generally speaking, they're not. Instead, there's blithe acceptance. Personally, I don't think light rail between Winston and Greensboro makes any sense. Rush hour commuter rail service could be very successful though with proper planning and infrastructure investment. But that's not going to happen with the lack of leadership on this issue in the Triad.
  17. It's official. Commuter rail is pretty much dead as an idea in the Triad. The attitudes expressed by most of the people quoted in the article and those commenting are a big part of the reason I left the Triad. Oh well.
  18. Today on the Infrastructurist blog there is a terrific post showing 10 of the best urban city parks in the world from satellite photos. A point I have tried to stress several times is that the "destination parks" that the Dix 306ers like to promote (their most common analogue being NYC's Central Park) are mostly surrounded by dense development. These aerial photos seem to bear that out. The notable exceptions in this group of 10 are a park in portugal which has been ringed somewhat with highways (as sad mistake) and gorgeous Stanley Park in Vancouver, which has water on three sides but the dense development of downtown Vancouver on the fourth side. I think these aerial shots show that there's a dichotomy between urban forest-type parks and more formal city parks on a grand scale. The difference is that forested parks seem to have less of a hard edge between the intensity of nearby development and the park, whereas the more open space/paths-and-focal-points parks seem to have more well-defined edges. (Central Park, Golden Gate Park, Retiro Park, Hyde Park, Luxembourg Gardens) On a size basis, it's interesting to note that Dix is closest in scale to Madrid's Retiro Park, which clearly is supported by a good deal of dense buildings that are probably 4-6 stories in height, on all sides of the park.
  19. The last I heard on the midday Piedmont is that NCDOT needs to send two of its current three locomotives away for midlife repairs/rebuilds. To do so, it has purchased two used locos from elsewhere which are currently being rebuilt. Once the used locos are successfully rebuilt and arrive in NC, NCDOT can start the midday trains and send the others for overhaul. At that point, NCDOT will have one of its current three locos running, on used loco running, and the second used loco as a spare/backup. The goal is still to get this done sometime in 2009, maybe closer to the end of the year. I don't know that there is timeline for the rail to Wilmington. Environmental work on the Asheville line to Salisbury was on a list of projects for which NCDOT requested stimulus funds; I'm not sure if they received funding.
  20. I dispute your assertion that maglev costs less to operate than conventional HSR. I have never seen anything that suggests maglev is cheaper to operate than HSR based on revenue operations of a maglev service. If you've seen such a source, I'd love to see it. I think maglev is a technological dead end. And not because it doesn't work, but because it costs millions to billions more than conventional HSR for marginally more speed, and no interoperability with existing stations and networks. Europe has reached the same conclusion. Visit the EU's website for its "TEN-T" program for strategic cross-continent transport investments, and you will see that the word maglev never even appears. Many of the investment strategies are long high-speed rail axes across numerous major cities. The axis closest to being completed is the PBKAL (Paris-Brussels-Koln-Amsterdam-London). Again, this is getting away from the RDU discussion. I freely admit being part of the problem.
  21. This is not accurate. It's that maglev's costs are far too high compared to conventional high speed rail running at 186 to 220 mph to make the extra speed worth it. China is buying conventional HSR trains by the dozen from Siemens. They are not investing in maglev like this. Not even close. If they are investing in maglev, it's a national pride thing, not a serious transportation strategy for the long term. If there's a place in the world that could have built plenty of maglev lines fast enough to drop the ridiculous unit costs and get the land by crushing property rights, China is that place. The major purchase order of 100 HSR trainsets from Germany shows that they do not believe in maglev as a scalable, cost-effective solution. The Europeans are abandoning their work on maglev. Getting back to this being a RDU thread, the battle for the market of 100 - 500 mile trips in most of the developed world over the next 50 years will be a competition among cars, planes, and conventional high-speed rail like the TGV and Shinkansen. High-speed rail is not much of a threat to RDU as it will only compete with 2 destinations: Washington DC and Charlotte. Assuming the train begins to take passengers from RDU for those destinations within the next decade, we may even see integrated ticketing from train stations along the NCRR to Charlotte flights to places like Chicago, LA, Seattle, etc.
  22. Somebody should moderate this thread so that it is about transit and not interstates. However, I will say that a transit thread veering into interstate discussion is indicative of the level of support for transit in the Triad, unfortunately.
  23. A downtown developer who is afraid of downtown design guidelines is a loser and should be laughed out of town. Design guidelines for downtown make sure that any adjacent property to his will be developed to a higher standard, therefore enhancing the value of the parcel he seeks to develop. You don't do lowest-common denominator stuff downtown. That's the raison d'etre of the exurbs.
  24. If they build a toll road between Winston and GSO, there will never be a rail line.
  25. The midday trains are more likely to roll in September. The item holding up the deployment is having the right locomotives and cars available. The state needs a few more cars or a loco, not sure which. A lot of people talk about how a non-Amtrak provider would come forward to provide service. Right now, it's highly unlikely. It's not like there's a commuter rail operating company in the south to bid on the work. In the Northeast or in CA, where commuter rail operations are bid out, this would be more likely to happen. Again, the primary obstacles to more trains running in NC right now are vehicles and tracks. In other news, the new Durham Amtrak station is supposed to open in June. That will be a big upgrade from the Amshack.
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