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GRDadof3

Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

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The challenge is not having it become another Monroe with the pedestrian mall. The only truly successful bus-only road I have seen is 16th street in Denver.

http://goo.gl/maps/YRlGY

 

Even the Indianapolis example looks completely devoid of people on a nice day. 

 

State Street in Madison is also extremely successful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Street_(Madison)

 

The area we are talking about is a highway underpass.  It's a pretty barren environment, mostly devoid of people anyway, other than during certain times of the day when lots of GVSU students are congregating under 131 to catch the bus to Allendale.

 

Thinking about it more, perhaps it could still be just as useful with some minor infrastructure upgrades and reallocation of the streetscape.  Rather than completely cutoff the connectivity to through vehicles, which is not that high anyway, just make it so that the pedestrian is given the highest priority and feels like they have the highest priority.  My crude drawings are merely a suggestion, as whatever bulbout or traffic calming measure for that right turn would still need to accommodate the bus traffic.  I feel like this has likely been figured out in other cities.  

 

Actually, a simple stop sign on southbound Mt Vernon would provide, BY FAR, the biggest bang for the buck.

 

dD9D7NT.jpg

 

 

iifGEDJ.jpg

 

Looks like GRDad beat my response.

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Photo by Peter Varga, who said on Facebook:
"CSX will not be able to do their connection to our rail until the end of July. So we will have to wait since the AMTRAK service uses their freight line!"

12675464284_2a66f5d538_c.jpg

 

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Is that the Vernon J. Ehlers station?  

 

Yes, and the irony is that he voted against the bill to fund it, but there's his name bigger than the Amtrak sign. 

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Yes, and the irony is that he voted against the bill to fund it, but there's his name bigger than the Amtrak sign. 

Even more irony is that he authored the bill that he voted against because it got polluted. I guess they couldn't find anybody to name it after and chose him because he authored the bill that provided the funding for it.

Keep in mind that naming buildings is all about money.

Another irony is that Amtrak did not do the ground work for it. The Rapid made it happen.

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Is that the Vernon J. Ehlers station?  It's hard to tell :)   Seems like CSX has been a pain in the ass with regards to this station from day one.

 

CSX isn't necessarily the problem. IHMO, the architect / project manager had no clue what it takes to deal with a RR. One needs lots of lead time as the legal and engineering can take lots of time. I also believe they grossly underestimated the cost of the switch which has to be built by CSX. Can't build the switch when the ground is froze.

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It's possible that the architect/project manager didn't know what they are doing, but CSX has been dragging their ass on this one. China can build a high speed line from Beijing to Shanghai in the amount of time it has taken get CSX to move an inch on this project. 

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It's possible that the architect/project manager didn't know what they are doing, but CSX has been dragging their ass on this one. China can build a high speed line from Beijing to Shanghai in the amount of time it has taken get CSX to move an inch on this project. 

 

I had one conversation with the PM. IMHO he had no idea of what he needed to do. If it's not hauling freight, the RR need lots of lead time. The bigger the RR, the longer the time. I am currently working on a project that started talking with the RR 7 years ago.

 

CSX has one engineer to cover about 4 or 5 states for government projects. Once they deem it acceptable to move forward, they hire a consulting enginer to do the work. CSX requires money up front to cover the engineering and legal costs. Once the cost of the construction has been determined, legal docuemtns are signed. At this point they require over 100% up front. Then you get on their schedule to do the work. The work is guaranteed not to start in the winter. One needs to keep in mind RR property is private property. Just because someone or some agency wants to do something, doesn't mean they have the right to do what they want.

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Don't be cynical. 

 

Understanding how things work does not make one cynical. :) Actually, scratch that. Sometimes understanding and finding out how power works does make one a cynic.

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I had one conversation with the PM. IMHO he had no idea of what he needed to do. If it's not hauling freight, the RR need lots of lead time. The bigger the RR, the longer the time. I am currently working on a project that started talking with the RR 7 years ago.

 

CSX has one engineer to cover about 4 or 5 states for government projects. Once they deem it acceptable to move forward, they hire a consulting enginer to do the work. CSX requires money up front to cover the engineering and legal costs. Once the cost of the construction has been determined, legal docuemtns are signed. At this point they require over 100% up front. Then you get on their schedule to do the work. The work is guaranteed not to start in the winter. One needs to keep in mind RR property is private property. Just because someone or some agency wants to do something, doesn't mean they have the right to do what they want.

 

Good example of what happens when dealing with near monopolies.  A pity the rails don't have more competition. 

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I had one conversation with the PM. IMHO he had no idea of what he needed to do. If it's not hauling freight, the RR need lots of lead time. The bigger the RR, the longer the time. I am currently working on a project that started talking with the RR 7 years ago.

 

CSX has one engineer to cover about 4 or 5 states for government projects. Once they deem it acceptable to move forward, they hire a consulting enginer to do the work. CSX requires money up front to cover the engineering and legal costs. Once the cost of the construction has been determined, legal docuemtns are signed. At this point they require over 100% up front. Then you get on their schedule to do the work. The work is guaranteed not to start in the winter. One needs to keep in mind RR property is private property. Just because someone or some agency wants to do something, doesn't mean they have the right to do what they want.

historically speaking, how was rail ever allowed to become private property?  A resource so vital to our economy is out of our control (meaning the gov't control) and at the mercy of corporate interests.  at this point, it is what it is, but someone was not considering the future when they allowed this to happen.  there are very few private roads and none of significance.  if my history is correct, this wasn't always the case. obviously someone thought that private control of important transportation assets was a bad idea.  bummer they didn't do the same for rail.

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historically speaking, how was rail ever allowed to become private property?  A resource so vital to our economy is out of our control (meaning the gov't control) and at the mercy of corporate interests.  at this point, it is what it is, but someone was not considering the future when they allowed this to happen.  there are very few private roads and none of significance.  if my history is correct, this wasn't always the case. obviously someone thought that private control of important transportation assets was a bad idea.  bummer they didn't do the same for rail.

 

The People controlling government is just an illusion. The reality is that corporations control government. Government is not in control, the shadow government via corporations is in control of governing.

Just saying.

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historically speaking, how was rail ever allowed to become private property?  A resource so vital to our economy is out of our control (meaning the gov't control) and at the mercy of corporate interests.  at this point, it is what it is, but someone was not considering the future when they allowed this to happen.  there are very few private roads and none of significance.  if my history is correct, this wasn't always the case. obviously someone thought that private control of important transportation assets was a bad idea.  bummer they didn't do the same for rail.

 

You're going way back to the early expansion days of the United States (early 1800's).

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_railway_history

 

It has been nationalized at several points in history, during wartime. But then returned to private ownership. It is interesting that a lot of shipping ports are at least "quasi" government owned, airports are mostly government owned, roads are government owned, but railroads aren't.

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The People controlling government is just an illusion. The reality is that corporations control government. Government is not in control, the shadow government via corporations is in control of governing.

Just saying.

 Well, we are then slaves to our corporate masters either way. I vote for continuing to improve our (imperfect) democracy. 

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historically speaking, how was rail ever allowed to become private property?  A resource so vital to our economy is out of our control (meaning the gov't control) and at the mercy of corporate interests.  at this point, it is what it is, but someone was not considering the future when they allowed this to happen.  there are very few private roads and none of significance.  if my history is correct, this wasn't always the case. obviously someone thought that private control of important transportation assets was a bad idea.  bummer they didn't do the same for rail.

 

Back in the early mid 1800's there were no such things as public ROW's. Travel was by canoes, barks, and following indian trails. Entrepanuers raised money to buy 100 foot wide strps of land to connect towns and ports. That's how RR's started as private companies. Many failed but the busy corridors survive today. Many metropolitan areas are served by more than 1 railroad includng GR. The first roads started out that way as toll roads but very few generated enough revenue to pay for maintenance. In MI, the townships took over the majority of the roads until the 30's when the tax revenues plummeted and the roads were turned over to the road commissions.

 

RR's have competition, it's called trucks.

 

IMHO, the Rapid and their PM have all the blame for this screwup.

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. . . Entrepanuers raised money to buy 100 foot wide strps of land to connect towns and ports. That's how RR's started as private companies. Many failed but the busy corridors survive today. . . .

 

The railroads were hardly pure free enterprise at work.  Most were heavily subsidized in some way or other by either the federal government or the states, including Michigan.  The usual method was through land grants.  This would include not only the right of way but adjoining land that a railroad could sell or lease to raise money.  The attached Wikipedia article on the “History of Railroads in Michigan” gives some of the details about how some of our state railroads came about.  In particular read the sections “the State Fiasco” and “Land Grants and Mining Roads”:         

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_railroads_in_Michigan

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<-------  That guy 

 

Technically it's not "all dudes." There are three females in that photo. Two of them sitting at the table. 

 

So out of 16 people there are three females. So 18%?  I guess all is well with the world then. Never mind, there is no gender discrimination going on in West Michigan.

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Michigan seems pretty average with regards to women in state and local government. Even Congress.

 

 

"Women make up 24.2 percent of all state legislators nationwide."

 - http://www.ncsl.org/legislators-staff/legislators/womens-legislative-network/women-in-state-legislatures-for-2013.aspx

 

"A 2003 survey conducted by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), a global network supporting inclusive local governments, found that the average proportion of women in local council was 15%"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_government#Local_representation

 

"98 female members of Congress overall, out of 535 members. That’s only 18.3% of Congress."

http://www.nwpc.org/statistics

 

Thanks. That's atrocious.

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Michigan's railroads DID start out as government railroads. Three lines out of Detroit and Toledo, Michigan. Yes, Toledo, MI. Michigan Territory was a hotbed of "internal improvements", and it started the Southern Line, Central Line, and Northern Line. They were given bank charters to use to generate capital, which failed miserably, sparking the Panic of 1837. To meet bond obligations, Michigan had to agree to the resolution of the Toledo War to become a state, which was desparately needed in order to collect a huge cash handout from the Federal Gov't's budget surplus at the time-- which only went to States.

 

Still not enough money to cover bonds, the public lines were sold to the few companies around with available capital, which stil wasn't enough. Bankruptcy was a regular occurrance.

 

The three lines, all relavively east-west:

Southern Line became the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern (LSMS) . Toledo/Monroe to Chicago, along what's now US-12. This is the crossing you see at US-131 and the Indiana border. Much of it is abandoned, with the rest as short lines. The switch in the highway is the branch to Grand Rapids, which is long gone, Kalamazoo to G.R. (Kent Trails)

 

Central Line became Michigan Central, Detroit-Chicago. Roughly parallels I-94. Now the new State passenger line with Amtrak service.

 

Northern Line attracted money from London and it gradually became the Grand Trunk Western. This is the line along Ann Street, the Coopersville & Marne line along I-96, along M-21, and serves Amway in Ada. Not much left; it was never a big main line.

 

The result of all this was that Michigan had a long aversion to transportation funding until just before World War One. It took some serious work to get the first highways financed. Even as late as post-WW2, Michigan was reluctant to sink a stake into large transportation projects. Mackinac Bridge had some huge funding obstacles, and MI nearly sat out participating in the Interstate system. And, we had to give up the Toledo Strip.

 

By the way, don't believe the story that the Toledo War's casualties were limited to a pig getting killed.

 

To answer a following post, most Michigan railroasds weren't Land Grant Railroads, annd those that were Land Grant were required to haul gov't traffic at a hugely reduced rate. States and the Federal Gov't made a huge amount of money off this. The discount was finally eliminated after the Korean War. A very large amount of this land was never sold, and the railroasds ended up paying grossly inflated taxes on what turned out to be unsellable land. There's a reason small towns in MI died when the railroad pulled up the rails, and it wasn't the loss of freight access-- it was the removal of tax revenue, especially in places where the reilroads paid almost all the school taxes.

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