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DOWNTOWN GR STREETRAIL PLANNING UPDATE

This past Thursday, April 24, 2008, the GT2/PTT Steering Committee was taken on a tour of the alignment for the planned streetrail system. The alignment, starting at Central Station, proceeds west along Bartlett to a northbound run up Market/Monroe until it performs a loop around a large chunk of the Monroe North District up to the 6th Street Bridge and then returns southbound down Monroe/Market, back to Bartlett and ultimately back into Central Station.

The key EXCITING things about the alignment and its development opportunities:

1) According to the streetrail consultants - DMJM Harris - the GR system is actually the perfect storm for a successful first alignment since it A] has two end sections that are ripe for high-profile mixed-use transit-oriented development (i.e. - THE SOUTH END: the RiverGrand/Public Works Island site, the DeVos/Market-Fulton lot site, the Grandville/Market/Cherry lot site, the Secchia/Rhonda Tire lot site, etc.; THE NORTH END: the lot site next to Icon on Bond, the lot and field site across Monroe from Icon on Bond, the entire Bond corridor from Trowbridge to 6th Street and the North Monroe Hotel site) and B] it has a highly developed middle section that contains a lion's share of the main super-regional attractions of West Michigan (i.e. - DeVos Place, VanAndel Arena, Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriott, Calder Plaza, Monroe Center, The B.O.B., etc.).

2) Many of the already developed sites for stations will spawn stations that are integrated directly into them (the most exciting concept being the shared Devos Place/Calder Plaza Station that was conceptualized to have a glass-enclosed four-story structure built up against the hated Monroe Avenue Wall to create a three level atrium of shops and restaurants above the boarding platform - perfect for people going in and out of DeVos Place and traversing up and down from/to Calder Plaza).

3) The north- and south-end station sites will be the most dramatic and the most dense since they will allow for the boldest new development at their locations due to their being clean slates and being located along the Monroe Avenue/riverfront "zero height restrictions" zone (think DeVos' "Times Square of Grand Rapids" at Market/Fulton station site).

4) Several of the mid-section stations will be doubly busy and doubly high-profile since they will share space with the BRT system.

Edited by metrogrkid
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All this talk about rail made me find these from the library

Fancy new Laker Line stop at the zoo!

Proposal to establish regional bus line gets support from Grand Rapids metro group. https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2019/08/proposal-to-establish-regional-bus-line-gets-support-from-grand

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Are there any pictures or renderings at this point? What you describe sounds absolutely awesome.

Yes there are but they are in our DRAFT copy of the tour's accompanying overview document and cannot be distributed at this time. :(

Edited by metrogrkid
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Who is leading the integration of a station into the hated wall? Is that just a concept someone threw out in the planing stages or has there been real leadership on that front?

BTW, did anyone see if John Green made it onto the PTT Committee?

Edited by Rizzo
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This past Thursday, April 24, 2008, the GT2/PTT Steering Committee was taken on a tour of the alignment for the planned streetrail system. The alignment, starting at Central Station, proceeds west along Bartlett to a northbound run up Market/Monroe until it performs a loop around a large chunk of the Monroe North District up to the 6th Street Bridge and then returns southbound down Monroe/Market, back to Bartlett and ultimately back into Central Station.

Can you elaborate any on the North end loop? The proposed map on The Rapid's website only shows the route up and down Monroe. From your statement above, it sounds as there may be a section of track along Bond or Ottawa in addition to Monroe.

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On the Pere Marquette idea. MDOT could invest in passing sidings and other capital improvements between downtown and Holland. The improvements could allow a more flexible option between CSX and Amtrak, especially where timetable and frequency is of concern. MDOT can still keep a Chitown connection at once a day, but in between contract with Amtrak to provide a Holland to GR connection with stops in between. That service would be non-reservation and tickets purchased aboard. The service may also be branded to reflect a commuter friendly option.

I love this idea. Wish I could say more about it but Rizzo already has it pretty much spelled it out. The only thing left would be to decide where the stations would all be located. I assume we'd be looking at Grandville, Jenison, Hudsonville, Zeeland, and Holland. If propertly located these stations could help to further revitalize the core areas of the communities they serve, reducing the need for sprawl via re-development.

Edited by j3shafer
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Who is leading the integration of a station into the hated wall? Is that just a concept someone threw out in the planing stages or has there been real leadership on that front?

The DeVos Place/Calder Plaza Station CONCEPT was introduced during the tour by one of the officials from DMJM Harris. It created a great deal of nodding and excited conversating among the many city, county and business community officials that were present. It was quite gratifying to see how many of our leaders are starting to truly grasp the need for and value of world-class transit and that this streetrail project - along with the BRT - is our one opportunity to do it right and to spur future major transit projects (such as the much-needed GVSU-Main Campus/Downtown/Ford Airport rail link).

Can you elaborate any on the North end loop? The proposed map on The Rapid's website only shows the route up and down Monroe. From your statement above, it sounds as there may be a section of track along Bond or Ottawa in addition to Monroe.

The North Monroe Loop begins with a deviation from the Streetrail's northbound Monroe Avenue flow with a right turn at Trowbridge, taking it past Cambridge House, then veering left onto Bond to traverse up to 6th Street where it circles around the block to start its southbound return trip on Monroe in front of the site for the North Monroe Hotel.

The North Monroe development concepts introduced for the station servicing the area bounded by Icon-On-Bond, I-196, the Riverfront and Cambridge House are WOW!! Very mixed-use, walkable and modern with lots of curving glass and stone facades, dynamic interplay between station and waterfront/riverwalk, mixes of low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise structures. I would DEFINITELY live in that station's area.

The consultants even mentioned a major developer that they work with that actually comes in and tours the alignments when they're deep into their development phases looking for sites to develop retail, housing and entertainment (i.e. - a national-level developer that understands and specializes in transit-oriented development). Who knew? :dontknow: VERY EXCITING STUFF TAKING SHAPE NOW.

Edited by metrogrkid
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metrogrkid,

Thanks for the updates. This sounds very exciting indeed. I am glad to hear that several of the community leaders were there and impressed with the ideas. Can you give us a timeline of when the report would be available for the public to see/read?

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metrogrkid,

Thanks for the updates. This sounds very exciting indeed. I am glad to hear that several of the community leaders were there and impressed with the ideas. Can you give us a timeline of when the report would be available for the public to see/read?

The answer would make you do this first ---> :sick: and then this ---> :angry: . Sorry. It's definitely not soon. Not knowing exactly will make the time go faster. I'll let everyone know when the timer goes off. :(

Edited by metrogrkid
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DOWNTOWN GR STREETRAIL PLANNING UPDATE

This past Thursday, April 24, 2008, the GT2/PTT Steering Committee was taken on a tour of the alignment for the planned streetrail system. The alignment, starting at Central Station, proceeds west along Bartlett to a northbound run up Market/Monroe until it performs a loop around a large chunk of the Monroe North District up to the 6th Street Bridge and then returns southbound down Monroe/Market, back to Bartlett and ultimately back into Central Station.

The key EXCITING things about the alignment and its development opportunities:

1) According to the streetrail consultants - DMJM Harris - the GR system is actually the perfect storm for a successful first alignment since it A] has two end sections that are ripe for high-profile mixed-use transit-oriented development (i.e. - THE SOUTH END: the RiverGrand/Public Works Island site, the DeVos/Market-Fulton lot site, the Grandville/Market/Cherry lot site, the Secchia/Rhonda Tire lot site, etc.; THE NORTH END: the lot site next to Icon on Bond, the lot and field site across Monroe from Icon on Bond, the entire Bond corridor from Trowbridge to 6th Street and the North Monroe Hotel site) and B] it has a highly developed middle section that contains a lion's share of the main super-regional attractions of West Michigan (i.e. - DeVos Place, VanAndel Arena, Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriott, Calder Plaza, Monroe Center, The B.O.B., etc.).

2) Many of the already developed sites for stations will spawn stations that are integrated directly into them (the most exciting concept being the shared Devos Place/Calder Plaza Station that was conceptualized to have a glass-enclosed four-story structure built up against the hated Monroe Avenue Wall to create a three level atrium of shops and restaurants above the boarding platform - perfect for people going in and out of DeVos Place and traversing up and down from Calder Plaza).

3) The north- and south-end station sites will be the most dramatic and the most dense since they will allow for the boldest new development at their locations due to their being clean slates and being located along the Monroe Avenue/riverfront "zero height restrictions" zone (think DeVos' "Times Square of Grand Rapids" at Market/Fulton station site).

4) Several of the mid-section stations will be doubly busy and doubly high-profile since they will share space with the BRT system.

That explains why Second Story Properties has snatched up a property at Bartlett and Finney.

That whole Devos Place/Calder Plaza 4 story atrium/streetcar stop proposal sounds eerily familiar. :whistling:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1107/582540...c2c05aa42_o.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2328/244198...9485fa01e_o.jpg

But I digress. Thanks for the update metrogrkid!

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On the Pere Marquette idea. MDOT could invest in passing sidings and other capital improvements between downtown and Holland. The improvements could allow a more flexible option between CSX and Amtrak, especially where timetable and frequency is of concern. MDOT can still keep a Chitown connection at once a day, but in between contract with Amtrak to provide a Holland to GR connection with stops in between. That service would be non-reservation and tickets purchased aboard. The service may also be branded to reflect a commuter friendly option.

It's a fight every year to fund the PM, where's all the new money coming from (for operating subsidy or capital improvements)? The track is owned by CSX who will have to be brought kicking and fighting to the table to host passenger service. Where's the proof there's a demand from downtown GR to downtown Holland?. The auto commute is too convenient, no traffic delays to speak of. I don't think $4-5 / gallon gas is enough to drive people to mass transit. I'm consolidating more errands into one trip but I'm not ready to give up my car.

The corridor that makes sense is north. Friendly railroad and congested highway. 131 comes to a crawl every morning without fail from Post / 10 Mile down to 196. MDOT is rebuilding but not adding lanes. Park & ride lots at Sparta, 10 Mile Road, 6 Mile Road, Comstock Park Park with additional stops at Richmond, 6th Street and GVSU with connecting downtown service via Dash bus would have the best chance of succeeding.

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Is the South side BRT already encouraging development? A new $40 million dollar development in the works for Wealthy St. & Jefferson Ave?

I think that article is a bit disingenuous. These developments (St. Mary's, the Catholic Diocese, and Bradford's proposal) aren't happening because of the BRT. They were already planned long before the BRT announcement. In fact, the BRT route was planned to go past St. Mary's because of the new developments there, not the other way around.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Don't have time for the Transit Task Force? If you want to advocate expanding local and state wide transit check ProgressMichigan. This website makes informing your representation very simple. This site guides you into sending a pre-written letter to your local Representative in the House and Senate. If you think a pre-written letter is disingenuous, the site also allows you to personalize the letter. Basically, this website gives the point and click no excuses advantage. :)

Check it out

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On the Pere Marquette idea. MDOT could invest in passing sidings and other capital improvements between downtown and Holland. The improvements could allow a more flexible option between CSX and Amtrak, especially where timetable and frequency is of concern. MDOT can still keep a Chitown connection at once a day, but in between contract with Amtrak to provide a Holland to GR connection with stops in between. That service would be non-reservation and tickets purchased aboard. The service may also be branded to reflect a commuter friendly option.

Let me ask a question that I do not really understand about the Pere Marquette Amtrak service and the State subsidy. The state subsidy is around 6.1-7.2 million dollars per year for both the GR-CHI and PH-CHI lines. I do not know what the split is between those two lines but lets say it is 50/50. That means the GR-CHI recieves between 3 million and 3.6 million dollars per year to operate. Other money comes from ticket revenue and federal subsidies.

Ticket revenue for the Pere Marquette was $2,666,416 for fiscal year 2007. So the combined costs to the people of Michigan for operating the line is $5.6-$6.2 million dollars per year.

For full price weekday tickets the day before, I understand that you can find cheaper tickets but let us just use these numbers, the price per station one way is:

Grand Rapids $32.00

Holland $29.00

Bangor $25.00

St. Joseph $23.00

To me this is outrageous. I can pay $7.85 one way from Michigan City, IN and it has a better on time performance.

So my question is this, why does the State or at least the areas serviced pay more subsidies to lower the ticket prices, at least on weekdays. The County populations that are served (Kent, Ottawa, Van Buren, and Berrien) is 1,051,365 in 2000. That means, we all would have to pay $2.53 per year to completely subsidize the route, I am not smart enough or have the time to do it as a property tax and that is the extreme. How about cutting the prices in half, $32 for a trip to Chicago from Grand Rapids not too bad if you ask me. So I guess there is no real question here besides why not.

Edited by mgman
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Let me ask a question that I do not really understand about the Pere Marquette Amtrak service and the State subsidy. The state subsidy is around 6.1-7.2 million dollars per year for both the GR-CHI and PH-CHI lines. I do not know what the split is between those two lines but lets say it is 50/50. That means the GR-CHI recieves between 3 million and 3.6 million dollars per year to operate. Other money comes from ticket revenue and federal subsidies.

The subsidy isn't evenly split though, not even close. Not to mention, the feds don't chip in any operational subsidy. In 2005, the subsidy was $7.1 million provided by Michigan's Comprehensive Transportation Fund. The Pere Marquette received about $2,600,000 of that 2005 subsidy or about 36.6%.

Edited by Rizzo
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..........

For full price weekday tickets the day before, I understand that you can find cheaper tickets but let us just use these numbers, the price per station one way is:

Grand Rapids $32.00

Holland $29.00

Bangor $25.00

St. Joseph $23.00

To me this is outrageous. I can pay $7.85 one way from Michigan City, IN and it has a better on time performance.

..........

I just saw that round-trip tickets from New Buffalo, MI to Chicago are $20. I guess they are starting non-stop service this summer with four departures/arrivals a day. I searched for later in the summer and only saw one departure/arrival, but I am sure that on the press release they said they will have four. This is pretty awesome considering the trip only takes about an hour and 15 minutes, which is comparable if not better than driving. It is obviously way better than taking the commuter train from Michigan City, since it takes 2+ hours I believe. Plus, I would rather park in N.B. than Michigan City.

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I just saw that round-trip tickets from New Buffalo, MI to Chicago are $20. I guess they are starting non-stop service this summer with four departures/arrivals a day. I searched for later in the summer and only saw one departure/arrival, but I am sure that on the press release they said they will have four. This is pretty awesome considering the trip only takes about an hour and 15 minutes, which is comparable if not better than driving. It is obviously way better than taking the commuter train from Michigan City, since it takes 2+ hours I believe. Plus, I would rather park in N.B. than Michigan City.

The switch over for New Buffalo from the Pere Marquette to the Wolverine/Blue Water is a mixed blessing at best. The best part is there will be four stops daily at New Buffalo. Theoretically it would take an hour and 15 minutes to Chicago from New Buffalo but the high speed track is only to Porter on the other side of Michigan City and then the Wolverine/Blue Water has to travel on freight lines. This means that the average delay (Mid-April to Mid-May) on the two lines is: westbound 53 minutes with on time percentage of 9 percent, eastbound 37 minutes with 11 percent on time. This includes 9 trains over the last month that were more than 2 hours late in arriving at Chicago.

I thought I could find the past month performance for the Pere Marquette but I cannot so here is the past week. On time average, eastbound 22.5 minutes and on time percentage of 17 percent. Westbound 28 minutes and on time percentage of 0. (no on time "cushion" was used on the delays, only scheduled times for all the trains).

This means that the switch over will be to a line that has a faster scheduled time and more trains per day but has more delays because it is on a busier freight route and is longer.

Meanwhile, the South Shore costs $7.85 and takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes with delays usually less than 20 minutes and if you want, you can get off before Randolph and save a few extra minutes too. If I have to deal with huge delays and less scheduled trains, I should not have to pay so much money. Until that happens, I will ride the South Shore. It just makes sense to me that instead of taking a huge step towards improving rail transit, by spending tens of millions to hundreds of million dollars on new services, we can fully fund the already operating Pere Marquette and lower prices bringing newer people to train transit and then expand into new services.

(I left of New Buffalo in the original post because of the switch)

Edited by mgman
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The switch over for New Buffalo from the Pere Marquette to the Wolverine/Blue Water is a mixed blessing at best. The best part is there will be four stops daily at New Buffalo. Theoretically it would take an hour and 15 minutes to Chicago from New Buffalo but the high speed track is only to Porter on the other side of Michigan City and then the Wolverine/Blue Water has to travel on freight lines. This means that the average delay (Mid-April to Mid-May) on the two lines is: westbound 53 minutes with on time percentage of 9 percent, eastbound 37 minutes with 11 percent on time. This includes 9 trains over the last month that were more than 2 hours late in arriving at Chicago.

I thought I could find the past month performance for the Pere Marquette but I cannot so here is the past week. On time average, eastbound 22.5 minutes and on time percentage of 17 percent. Westbound 28 minutes and on time percentage of 0. (no on time "cushion" was used on the delays, only scheduled times for all the trains).

This means that the switch over will be to a line that has a faster scheduled time and more trains per day but has more delays because it is on a busier freight route and is longer.

Meanwhile, the South Shore costs $7.85 and takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes with delays usually less than 20 minutes and if you want, you can get off before Randolph and save a few extra minutes too. If I have to deal with huge delays and less scheduled trains, I should not have to pay so much money. Until that happens, I will ride the South Shore. It just makes sense to me that instead of taking a huge step towards improving rail transit, by spending tens of millions to hundreds of million dollars on new services, we can fully fund the already operating Pere Marquette and lower prices bringing newer people to train transit and then expand into new services.

(I left of New Buffalo in the original post because of the switch)

I'll speak frankly. It's seen as a tourists' joy ride to Chitown or college kid's connection to loved ones back home in sleepy West Michigan. Both those users probably have a large cushion in late arrivals and aren't terribly concerned with OTP. So, they don't feel the need to lobby for expanded service.

Write Amtrak and be sure to mention your name, ticket number, and date of delayed train.

Go right to your representative in Michigan's House and Senate. From there make your concerns known, but be specific about the service and train. Tell them the Pere Marquette is substandard service and continues its poor on-time performance (OTP.) Late times cost you and the taxpayer money. I want to say it was around $600,000+ in FY06 (need to dig the exact numbers up.) Explain that the service needs a secure funding source, more freight-Amtrak cooperation and expansion to remain effective.

Edited by Rizzo
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Excellent point. Look where the commuting difficulties are and use rail as a way to alleviate those difficulties.

In the short term that's probably an acceptable strategy. But long term we need to get away from reacting to problems that standard development patterns have already created.

If we can start using public transit to plan and direct development, then denser development and better land use can follow which will rely less on the highways.

GR-Holland is a comfortable ride currently. But its proabably the most likely place for sprawl to completely fill in over the next 20 years.

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If we can start using public transit to plan and direct development, then denser development and better land use can follow which will rely less on the highways.

That is EXACTLY what the GR Streetrail and BRT corridors are being installed to ignite (along with improved passenger transport, of course).

GOOGLE "Portland Streetcar Development" and "Cleveland Euclid BRT Corridor" to see what is in store for GR. Those two systems, along with Boston's Silver Line BRT and Ecuador's BRT system, are giving GR world-class templates and proofs upon which to design our stations, our transit-oriented development at the stations and the overall seamlessness of these operations with GR's existing linehaul buses. The coming top-of-the-line streetrail and BRT systems that will result for GR will go far to win over a larger segment of this region's understandably cynical potential riders and developers.

New York Times Piece: "A Streetcar Called Development" (Portland Street Car Development)

Euclid BRT Corridor Website

More Info On Euclid BRT Corridor Spin-Off Development

Ecuador BRT Stations Video at You Tube

Edited by metrogrkid
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