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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids


GRDadof3

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To help with the vision, not to detailed -- gets the point across. (photo courtesy to Dad)

Streetcars -- in the Bombardier tradition... These are representative of what you'd see in Minneapolis (I believe.) This picture doesn't necessarily represent feasible scenario, it was more of a great shot so I took advantage.

Edit: Revision.

railstreetsu9.jpg

More to come...

Edited by Rizzo
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That's fantastic Rizzo! It does help people visualize a light-rail system in downtown GR, even if the lines wouldn't necessarily follow Ionia. The Hiawatha Line in Mpls (like many LRT systems) both mixes with traffic:

http://static.flickr.com/74/166211749_643b10ebb6.jpg?v=0

and then transitions to its own dedicated track as well:

http://z.about.com/f/wiki/e/commons/thumb/...iawatha_LRV.jpg

Can't wait to see more visuals.

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Wow! It really helps to see what we can have! The quality of these visuals is stunning and exciting! It makes me want to ride. If you could only get these pictures out there where more people could see them, it might create excitement for the real thing.

We're working on it grcitydog. Now if you could just get them to move Rizzo. :whistling:

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This might be a little off topic, but it is about transit and also in Michigan:

"DETROIT -- Regional transportation planners have ruled out light rail and other options for a mass transit connection between Detroit and Ann Arbor, but still believe there is potential for a streamlined commuter rail."

The complete article is here:

http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5656550

From the same article:

"Bourgeau said a revised model should be ready by January and regional officials could conceivably have a proposal ready to submit to the federal government by March."

Sounds like they going to beat us to the punch for submitting a proposal for Federal monies? I thought our studies were further along. Maybe I am thinking about two different things. Either way, it sounds like they are having a hard time to justify Federal monies for the system they would like to build.

Great Pictures too Rizzo! :thumbsup:

Edited by DwntwnGeo
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Sounds like they going to beat us to the punch for submitting a proposal for Federal monies? I thought our studies were further along. Maybe I am thinking about two different things. Either way, it sounds like they are having a hard time to justify Federal monies for the system they would like to build.

Great Pictures too Rizzo! :thumbsup:

Two things are scheduled to occur this year as I understand it. Before the end of the year the county is expect to hear from a sub-committee to determine whether or not to study the feasibility of rapid mass transit county wide. The ITP is expected to finalize a corridor study for which it will apply for federal funding, this is supposed to happen sometime this fall. I could be wrong, maybe Dad or others have a little more information.

Edited by Rizzo
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Apparently when the S-curve was going to be rebuilt, there was a commuter rail option that was looked at by GRATA (name at the time), and was deemed to be too expensive by the Weslin Group out of Washington state. Anyone know any more about this? It was proposed to go along the current CSX line, and the cost was only somewhere near $11 Million. GRATA instead used a commuter bus system along 131 with park-n-ride lots. The buses ran up and down Century Drive. I do remember that.

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Apparently when the S-curve was going to be rebuilt, there was a commuter rail option that was looked at by GRATA (name at the time), and was deemed to be too expensive by the Weslin Group out of Washington state. Anyone know any more about this? It was proposed to go along the current CSX line, and the cost was only somewhere near $11 Million. GRATA instead used a commuter bus system along 131 with park-n-ride lots. The buses ran up and down Century Drive. I do remember that.

It appears that the Weslin study missed the fact that the study wasn't supposed to be on CSXT line, but Norfolk Southern rails. Did they study on CSXT lines? CSXT doesn't even run along the corridor they studied :huh:

Edited by Rizzo
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I took my 7yr old son for a ride on the Coopersville/Marne rail ride today. Big fun for my son and gave me an impromptu chance to chat a bit with the volunteer conductor. He says they tried to get the GR Press to let them deliver paper and ink to the new printing facility but the Press declined. Oddly enough, paper and ink travel by rail to Muskegon where they are loaded onto trucks for delivery to the new printing facility (too bad, eh?) Sidebar: I'm about to move out of my downtown office which for the past 22 years has been right along the tracks that used to serve the downtown Press bldg.

The other interesting tidbit of info was that the C&M rails are approx 100 years old on that section (no surprise) and as such are in pretty bad shape. Conductor said the really odd thing is that one side of the rail has expanded nearly a full rail length more than the other side over its history - a mystery to nearly everyone involved.

Another thing worth noting: the C&M Railway runs just about all the way to north end of downtown GR. They do not however have any line west of Coopersville. Interesting if we ponder interurban some day. Although, again, Coopersville seems a great hub for commuter traffic. They certainly have great depot infrastructure in place right in their village core!

Last note: the engine shed and misc old cars in Coopersville are really pretty cool. That little town has actually invested a fair amount of energy in celebrating rail - very cool.

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What is the anticipated day and night populations of downtown in the event that all the buildings are filled to 95% capacity? Additionally, what is the anticipated traffic count if this happens? Having numbers of prospective riders based on density estimations for each of the different target areas could be very valuable.

I think that it is great that everyone is looking at this from two sides. The creation of a streetcar system would help to eliminate many of the parking issues and would possibility reduce the amount of vehicle traffic in downtown while increasing pedestrian traffic. (Which businesses would love for the impromptu business)

Secondly, the street car system could act as a catalyst for new developments close to each of the designated stops. Depending on where these are put, it could spark even faster turnaround for some of the areas that are not developing as quickly.

I am impressed with the amount of detail and though, as well as the effort put forth thus far by this group. Keep up the good work!

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What is the anticipated day and night populations of downtown in the event that all the buildings are filled to 95% capacity? Additionally, what is the anticipated traffic count if this happens? Having numbers of prospective riders based on density estimations for each of the different target areas could be very valuable.

I think that it is great that everyone is looking at this from two sides. The creation of a streetcar system would help to eliminate many of the parking issues and would possibility reduce the amount of vehicle traffic in downtown while increasing pedestrian traffic. (Which businesses would love for the impromptu business)

Secondly, the street car system could act as a catalyst for new developments close to each of the designated stops. Depending on where these are put, it could spark even faster turnaround for some of the areas that are not developing as quickly.

I am impressed with the amount of detail and though, as well as the effort put forth thus far by this group. Keep up the good work!

A couple of points:

1) Personally, I'm not a big fan of streetcar systems. I don't think they take a massive number of people off the roads vs. the existing bus-lines. However, that's arguable and apparently a group of Grand Rapids benefactors feel differently, and are discussing the possibility of bringing streetcars back to Grand Rapids. I say "More power to em!" I do understand it's easier as a developer to convince a bank that development along a streetcar line is more viable, so maybe it will consolidate growth along the streetcar lines. I'm a bigger fan of light rail that is on a dedicated track away from traffic, but close to neighborhood centers. We have several lines in GR that would definitely fit that bill.

2) I'm not sure what the daytime/nighttime population of downtown GR is currently. However, I do know that the city of Grand Rapids' daytime population grows by 33,350. How many of those are downtown is unknown, plus you have to assume some people who live in the city of GR commute to the burbs, so having a net 33,000 people coming into Grand Rapids is a definite plus. My guess is between downtown workers and college students, it's somewhere near 25,000 people. There are an estimated 1600 people now living in downtown GR, with at least 500 in the works right now.

The number of downtown workers is set to explode with Healthcare Hill, which may directly add 10,000 workers and students (not to mention spinoff businesses). Many of which will most likely not be provided parking downtown due to lack of space. Spectrum is already talking about opening shuttle lots outside of downtown. Even the gigantic underground parking ramp under the Spectrum project will only add about 2000 parking spaces.

That's where I think commuter rail that serves distant suburbs would play an important role as well.

This small group on UP - GR is not actually doing any kind of study. We're only helping to keep the discussion moving along, and referencing people on the outside to take a look at some of our ideas here. FilmMaker plans to meet face-to-face with people at GVMC, who is instrumental in the process of coordinating efforts between ITP and the county regarding a metro-wide transit system. They have a study that is due out soon.

Rizzo has been taking some of my photos and adding streetcar images to provide visuals for people interested in seeing what a modern streetcar system would look like. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share them here.

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I'd like to add that the previous renderings of the "Siemens Streetcar" are more than capable of running like commuter on NS and CSX lines. That is if the lines are indeed graded for that travel. You could run these vehicals out in the burbs on current track and transfer to streetcar rail scenario when in the City.

For more commuter rail scenarios I think we should look at Holland and Muskegon.

Edited by Rizzo
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I'd like to add that the previous renderings of the "Siemens Streetcar" are more than capable of running like commuter on NS and CSX lines. That is if the lines are indeed graded for that travel. You could run these vehicals out in the burbs on current track and transfer to streetcar rail scenario when in the City.

For more commuter rail scenarios I think we should look at Holland and Muskegon.

What about Kalamazoo and Lansing?

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I'd like to add that the previous renderings of the "Siemens Streetcar" are more than capable of running like commuter on NS and CSX lines. That is if the lines are indeed graded for that travel. You could run these vehicals out in the burbs on current track and transfer to streetcar rail scenario when in the City.

For more commuter rail scenarios I think we should look at Holland and Muskegon.

Actually no.

Street car and light rail vehicles are not approved for use on active freight lines. There are too many safety concerns so the FTA does not allow it. If you want to use freight lines for passenger travel, you either have to use an amtrack like situation where you have a locomotive pulling carriages (and there are types built specifically for commuter rail) or you have to use a DMU. Currently there is only one DMU approved for use in in the United States. Its manufactured by Colorado Rail, and this is what is being used by Tri-Rail in S. Florida. (connects W. Palm, Ft Lauderdale, to Miami) These vehicles are also proposed for Orlando's commuter rail project.

Some information here.

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The mixed-traffic scenario was something I wasn't sure of until I saw Denver's system. Denver's Siemens looked to run on freight or near freight. I was under the impression that it was possible. I bet that it was ROW with one use rail. I should note that I don't see why NS and/or CSX ROW be used for dedicated LRV/streetcar.

Hope FilmMaker got out ok :)

Edited by Rizzo
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Denver does not operate streetcar lines as was incorrectly identified above. They have a light rail system in which part of it is routed on a city street as shown above. These trains only stop at stations however. This is done sometimes to cut costs on the line, but there are ramifications with traffic. In other parts of the city these trains travel down ROW from the railroads out there, but on separate tracks.

Denver is building quite an extensive system and they will be adding commuter rail using the DMU technology that I posted above.

Siemens, Bombradier, and a Japanese firm that I don't remember the name of build most of the LRT systems in the USA. Siemens has a number of designs that meet different needs.

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Denver does not operate streetcar lines as was incorrectly identified above. They have a light rail system in which part of it is routed on a city street as shown above. These trains only stop at stations however. This is done sometimes to cut costs on the line, but there are ramifications with traffic. In other parts of the city these trains travel down ROW from the railroads out there, but on separate tracks.

Denver is building quite an extensive system and they will be adding commuter rail using the DMU technology that I posted above.

Siemens, Bombradier, and a Japanese firm that I don't remember the name of build most of the LRT systems in the USA. Siemens has a number of designs that meet different needs.

All I know is that "streetcar" is a subset of the general term of "light rail." Light rail is one that makes frequent stops, lighter in weight, 'defined stops,' smaller curve radius, quick start, capable of inner city and suburban service, negotiate grade changes well, etc... So basically the only difference in traditional light rail and streetcars isn't cosmetic, design or logistics, but ROW type and station structure. :lol:

Edited by Rizzo
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