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The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

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3 hours ago, Buildtall said:

People are not going to be in favor of anything that takes a lane of traffic especially when traffic is bad. Closing a lane of traffic during rush hours would only make everything worse. Elevate trains or monorail along the interstate right of way so we don’t have to purchase right of way else where. That would save millions I’m sure. They could even be installed in the center of the interstates. You build parking garages by interstate where the train or monorail stops so people can drive, park and ride into town.   Once they get to the hub  downtown they catch a free bus or shuttle  ride to their destination.  How much more would it really cost to elevate. 

Start with a line running from BNA to downtown then add on one segment at a time. Once a new stop reaches a certain amount of ridership you start the next segment. I’m sure routes to Murfreesboro, hendersonville, Brentwood, Mt Juliet, and Bellevue would all do well. Last make it cheaper for someone to ride than it would be for them to purchase fuel. 

One more thing needs to be done and that’s finish 840 and force trucks to go around town. I know it’ll cost a lot but it’ll cost even more the longer we wait. 

Elevated rail is 3X more expensive than at-grade, so if surface rail costs $20 million/mile you're now at $60 million/mile.

Also, there's no way to force truck traffic onto I840. This was already attempted with I440 but the city was sued by trucking companies and subsequently lost.

I would still like for the city to attempt brokering a deal with CSX to relocate their yard operations and takeover the rail lines that run directly into the city from the surrounding counties.

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3 hours ago, BnaBreaker said:

At first as I was reading through your post I was a bit confused as to why you were calling for transit lines to be built exclusively in the middle of interstates, because to me, that would leave most Nashville neighborhoods under-served by the system if not lacking service altogether and be quite the task to walk to for most people.  Then I had the realization that there is perhaps a disconnect between our perceptions of the function of a rapid transit system.  Please correct me if I'm wrong here, but it seems as though you perceive rapid transit almost exclusively as a way to get commuters in and out of downtown (which to me is what commuter rail is for,) whereas I perceive rapid transit as a way to get people around the city conveniently from neighborhood to neighborhood at all hours.  

Yeah - I think we are talking about two different things. I’m certainly not against commuter rail, but first, an elevated full commuter rail system would cost somethg like 20 billion dollars. Second, you would still need a way to move those people efficiently to where they need to go. The two largest employers in the Nashville area (I think?) aren’t even downtown. I also think that there are much cheaper ways to get commuters in, such as allowing busses to ride in the shoulder. Again, not sexy, but efficient.

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19 hours ago, Buildtall said:

One more thing needs to be done and that’s finish 840 and force trucks to go around town. I know it’ll cost a lot but it’ll cost even more the longer we wait. 

1

Briley Parkway would be a decent alternative on the north side, but I still see a lot of through-town truck traffic going straight through the city and adding to the cluster.

 Would changing the northern loop of Briley to an interstate designation (i.e., I-240) encourage more truck traffic to use it? That stretch of Briley already appears to meet the criteria -- what stands in the way of it being formally designated as an interstate highway?

Edited by Jamie Hall
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20 hours ago, Buildtall said:

That would save millions I’m sure.

It wouldn't. The cost differential between monorail and LRT is significant. And, as stated earlier, 840N is dead.

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The interstate idea comes up a lot, and it always sounds appealing at first because it avoids a lot of difficult tradeoffs. It doesn't pan out if you trace through the implications, though, at least not if you're imagining running it down 24/40/65 to the suburbs. You'd have to run 20 miles of track to get to Franklin, or 30 to get to Murfreesboro. That would be billions of dollars just to snag a few thousand commuters (before you  start figuring out how to get them anywhere useful downtown). And of course there's all the other problems with park-and-ride ($20K/spot structured parking, no increase in density/commercial activity around the stations to increase tax base and pay for the thing, etc.). Building commuter rail from scratch (vs. the music city star, where the rails were in place) isn't going to be viable in middle TN for many decades. And transit that circulates people around the downtown area will still be a prerequisite.

All that said, if somebody drew up a plan to run an elevated train around the middle of the inner loop (and maybe Jefferson St on the north side), it might not be completely insane. It would be about 6 miles, cost somewhere around $1 billion, and would get people within a mile or so of most of the dense areas of the city. You'd have to combine with something like 5 or 10 BRT spurs on the pikes to distribute people to final destinations (no way around taking those lanes from single-occupant commuters). But it would provide a good anchor to circulate people around the city, and would put the backbone of the system on interstate ROW instead of having to carve it all out of valuable city land. Most trips would be spur to ring to spur, so you'd want to run the BRT as frequently as possibly to minimize transfer time, maybe every 10 minutes at peak. With dedicated BRT lanes, you'd be able to get anywhere on the network in 30-45 minutes. Total cost $1-2B.

Or... maybe I can talk myself into anything after years of frustration with our complete lack of progress to date. 

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18 hours ago, SoundScan said:

Elevated rail is 3X more expensive than at-grade, so if surface rail costs $20 million/mile you're now at $60 million/mile.

Also, there's no way to force truck traffic onto I840. This was already attempted with I440 but the city was sued by trucking companies and subsequently lost.

I would still like for the city to attempt brokering a deal with CSX to relocate their yard operations and takeover the rail lines that run directly into the city from the surrounding counties.

Any form of transit program is going to be expensive. Before being sent out to re-bid Boston's Green Line Extension project was approaching $1 billion/mile!! that was a combo at grade/elevated extension of around 5 miles.

The only way you could force truckers on to 840 would be to install tolls (which needs federal program admittance and subsequent approval on highways, which only two states have ever applied for), or do what Rhode Island is attempting with a long hauler/Multi axle toll for getting close to the city (RI is currently being sued over the toll as well). 

From what I am hearing CSX is moving their rail yard out of downtown. I can't remember if it has been discussed more in depth on the board (check over at the Station Tower Thread), so I wont divulge much, but there could be movement on that front.

14 minutes ago, AronG said:

The interstate idea comes up a lot, and it always sounds appealing at first because it avoids a lot of difficult tradeoffs. It doesn't pan out if you trace through the implications, though, at least not if you're imagining running it down 24/40/65 to the suburbs. You'd have to run 20 miles of track to get to Franklin, or 30 to get to Murfreesboro. That would be billions of dollars just to snag a few thousand commuters (before you  start figuring out how to get them anywhere useful downtown). And of course there's all the other problems with park-and-ride ($20K/spot structured parking, no increase in density/commercial activity around the stations to increase tax base and pay for the thing, etc.). Building commuter rail from scratch (vs. the music city star, where the rails were in place) isn't going to be viable in middle TN for many decades. And transit that circulates people around the downtown area will still be a prerequisite.

All that said, if somebody drew up a plan to run an elevated train around the middle of the inner loop (and maybe Jefferson St on the north side), it might not be completely insane. It would be about 6 miles, cost somewhere around $1 billion, and would get people within a mile or so of most of the dense areas of the city. You'd have to combine with something like 5 or 10 BRT spurs on the pikes to distribute people to final destinations (no way around taking those lanes from single-occupant commuters). But it would provide a good anchor to circulate people around the city, and would put the backbone of the system on interstate ROW instead of having to carve it all out of valuable city land. Most trips would be spur to ring to spur, so you'd want to run the BRT as frequently as possibly to minimize transfer time, maybe every 10 minutes at peak. With dedicated BRT lanes, you'd be able to get anywhere on the network in 30-45 minutes. Total cost $1-2B.

Or... maybe I can talk myself into anything after years of frustration with our complete lack of progress to date. 

I still think elevated transit is a waste of time for Nashville. Chicago and NYC are the two biggest elevated systems (LA is re-building theirs), but most of the other systems are being built below grade, heavy rail. It was mentioned that Nashville doesn't have that density yet, but we are on a path to have it. Transit planners need to think 30 years out due to growth of demand, and in 30 years it is a strong possibility that the city will need a durable system like that. Every time I see monorails mentioned as a viable mass transit system I chuckle and then puke a little in my mouth.  Subterranean transit will be the most efficient way to do transit, plus will also have the least gentrifying impacts on the communities. Even if it is started for the core and connects to BRT lines as mentioned to start and then slowly you build out extensions and line spurs. We have to find a way to efficiently move people around our current density so that as we grow up and out, we only have to expand on the system, rather than start from scratch.

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6 hours ago, Bos2Nash said:

From what I am hearing CSX is moving their rail yard out of downtown. I can't remember if it has been discussed more in depth on the board (check over at the Station Tower Thread), so I wont divulge much, but there could be movement on that front.

Um... please divulge... 

didnt CSX just relocate a bunch of trains to Radnor Yards, which is connected to downtown? 

Please say CSX lines are opening up for passenger rail transit!

Edited by nashvylle
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16 hours ago, nashvylle said:

Um... please divulge... 

didnt CSX just relocate a bunch of trains to Radnor Yards, which is connected to downtown? 

Please say CSX lines are opening up for passenger rail transit!

I'm guessing that @Bos2Nash is referring to Kayne Avenue Yard adjacent to the Gulch. Since they would still need the through lines for their operations I suspect this is more about selling off high-value, developable land than opening up passenger rail corridors.

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On 2/21/2019 at 2:43 PM, AronG said:

Yeah, it would be wise to plan for 30 years ahead, but at this point I'd settle for planning for anything at all. And it seems like the tunnel part of the 2018 plan was a lightning rod for the people that wanted to bash it. ("You know who uses fancy underground tunnels! New York City! You trying to turn Nashville into New York City?!")

Most of the transit pros seem pretty united that, politics aside, if you could wave a magic wand and do what makes the most sense, you'd put BRT with dedicated lanes and fancy stations on all the pikes and on key roads downtown. You could even spruce it up a little bit and call it a trackless train. You'd upzone the land within a half mile of all the stations, remove minimum parking requirements, and run it that way for 10 years while density increases and mode share starts to shift. The wider spread of the system would keep the gentrification effects from getting too concentrated. And at the appropriate time you'd have a smooth transition to start upgrading higher traffic lines to light rail, with most of the ROW already in place. At some point you'd do the first tunnel/heavy rail downtown, and you'd build out from there.

All that will take time, and it makes sense to me to skate where the puck's headed and go ahead and commit to a higher level of service. But here in cold reality, we have to figure out what people will support. Round 1 - Inexpensive single-line BRT: fail. Round 2 - Go big with light rail on all the corridors: fail. We have to find the sweet spot where there's a tentpole element that gets people interested while the BRT part of the plan can be put in place to get most of the ROW lined up.

I quite agree. The basic first step is TAKING a first step at all. Rebranding the MTA as "WeGo" and painting the busses purple has done NOTHING to help mass transit options in Nashville. The sad fact is that it will require a change of mentality towards alternative methods of travel in Nashville. Voters overwhelmingly rejected "Mayor Barry's plan" for light rail because (in addition to opposition funding from outside sources, which SHOULD be a reg flag to Nashvillians) most people are not content to pay a bit more tax for something we desperately need when they much preer to sit in their single-passenger cars to get from point-A to point-B.  This relates to the bigger picture of American cultural "quick conveniences" (Uber, fast-food drive thrus, Amazon Prime Express Delivery, etc.) and especially in the South, mass transit seems like a foreign concept we are not quite ready to embrace, let alone pay for. 

Nashville will get light-rail eventually. We will get better options eventually. It may be in ten years, or it may be in 100 years. But to me, it seems there will be a tipping point where we have the choice to either adapt to survive, or wither away due to congestion woes that drive away businesses and new residents. 

That's my two cents.

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Let’s just hope that this mentality (that I agree with both of you on) will see a form of shift before we hit a breaking point where we are forced into a corner of picking a “solution” that may not be the best for the city. 

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Guest

....nashville is not in any imminent transportation danger... ha

However,  we were quite recently in a fiscal boondoggle danger to the tune of $9BIL

Edited by Guest

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We may not be in an imminent danger, no. But that could change with the projected growth over the next couple decades. Seeing as a thorough transit plan could take 5 years to plan, and then upwards of 15 years to implement that danger could pop up in the next 20 years. Our city and state officials need to work to ensure the transit needs of all citizens are met to keep the success of the city growing. Seeing as our planners should be looking 30 to 50 years out a reliable, multi-seat transit solution (cars and highways are no longer it) should be involved. 

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4 hours ago, nashville_bound said:

....nashville is not in any imminent transportation danger... ha

However,  we were quite recently inaugurated fiscal boondoggle danger to the tune of $9BIL

Just for clarity's sake that is $5.4 billion for total construction and another $3.55 billion for all operational costs spread out over the next fifteen years, but yes, you're right, it would have been a very significant investment the likes of which Nashville has never seen.  Whether or not it would have been a "boondoggle" however I think is impossible to know, assuming we have the same definitions of the word "boondoggle." haha

Also, I do actually agree with you that I wouldn't categorize the current transportation environment in Nashville as "in danger."  However, the idea is that we get a viable transportation system in place before it becomes a "danger." 

2 hours ago, The Market said:

The Market has spoken. #freedom #cars #LOVlanes

Personally, I think it's rather silly when people try to frame this debate as an issue of "freedom," particularly when the ones attempting to frame it that way are usually the same folks who are generally OPPOSED to expanding transportation options in favor of forcing people to have to rely on automobiles alone for all their transportation needs, but nevertheless, I welcome you to the forum sir/madam!

Edited by BnaBreaker
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4 hours ago, BnaBreaker said:

Just for clarity's sake that is $5.4 billion for total construction and another $3.55 billion for all operational costs spread out over the next fifteen years, but yes, you're right, it would have been a very significant investment the likes of which Nashville has never seen.  Whether or not it would have been a "boondoggle" however I think is impossible to know, assuming we have the same definitions of the word "boondoggle." haha

Also, I do actually agree with you that I wouldn't categorize the current transportation environment in Nashville as "in danger."  However, the idea is that we get a viable transportation system in place before it becomes a "danger." 

Personally, I think it's rather silly when people try to frame this debate as an issue of "freedom," particularly when the ones attempting to frame it that way are usually the same folks who are generally OPPOSED to expanding transportation options in favor of forcing people to have to rely on automobiles alone for all their transportation needs, but nevertheless, I welcome you to the forum sir/madam! 

Let the old people fret about their hallucinations.   Smile and nod.  They will be gone soon enough.

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1 hour ago, grilled_cheese said:

Let the old people fret about their hallucinations.   Smile and nod.  They will be gone soon enough.

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