Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Allan

Light-rail builder asks for Ferndale's backing

Recommended Posts


Allan    0

It would be cool if Detroit could be a leader in new mass transit technologies. Like dnast said though, I'm not holding my breath. At least we know there are at least some progressive thinkers in Michigan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allan    0

Hmm...L. Brooks hasn't completely shot the idea down yet. I'm surprised, considering that the project won't increase the amount of sprawl in OC.

Ferndale to consider privately financed transit system

Trains would run on elevated rails

February 14, 2005

BY BILL LAITNER

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

For generations, mass-transit ideas in metro Detroit have gone nowhere.

Tonight, Ferndale officials are hoping they start changing that with the addition of a crucial new ingredient: private investment.

Executives from Interstate Traveler Co., an Oakland County partnership who say they are backed by major investors,will be at Ferndale City Hall when city officials are expected to pass a resolution endorsing a privately financed test of an elevated rail system on Woodward.

"We've been fighting this fight for years," Ferndale City Manager Tom Barwin said last week. "Now, this company has said to us they believe they can build a demonstration project with private money. Our attitude is, go for it."

Executives leading the partnership estimate the pilot project would cost $10 million per mile. Their pilot project would begin on Woodward at 9 Mile and extend for several miles north or south, depending on which adjoining communities are receptive. They say they have no money in hand but have lined up likely investors, whom they decline to name but who include some of the firm's board members.

Ferndale officials have long said they believe that mass transit not only can move people efficiently, easing congestion and pollution, but also can revive the flagging economies of Detroit and its older suburbs while providing thousands of jobs to those who build the system.

Referring to Ferndale's war of words in recent years with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson over whether the region needs bigger roads or mass transit, Barwin said, "This is something even Brooks Patterson should support. These are private dollars."

Patterson knows about the system because he saw a presentation of it about two years ago, made by the project's then chief executive officer, former auto-industry executive, entrepreneur and Republican Party stalwart Dick Chrysler.

After making millions of dollars in 1986 when he sold his Cars & Concepts sunroof and convertible-customizing company, Chrysler has headed a succession of auto suppliers. A former U.S. representative from Brighton, Chrysler lost Michigan's Republican gubernatorial primary in 1986. He stepped down recently from heading the mass-transit project, called Interstate Traveler Co., but remains active in it from his retirement home in Naples, Fla., company officials said.

Patterson said Friday that he would not oppose mass transit as long as it wasn't funded by tax dollars.

"The question always has been, where's the money going to come from? If Dick Chrysler can find a private funding source to build this 21st-Century project, God bless him. But there won't be one dime of public money used for it," Patterson said.

"It isn't because I said so. It's because there just isn't any public money for it," he added.

Ferndale officials and other mass-transit advocates have said they oppose the roughly $1 billion planned this decade for adding a lane each way to I-75 in Oakland County and for modifying feeder roads. They want that money to go toward mass transit. Executives with Interstate Traveler, which is based in Whitmore Lake, have promoted their design as one that ultimately could pay its way by producing more hydrogen fuel than the system needs, but only after a big initial investment in highly advanced technology.

The high-tech system would include solar panels generating electricity used to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen would supply energy for stainless-steel train cars that could be powered by fuel cells, turbine engines or internal combustion engines, and the cars would run free of friction on elevated rails via what science fiction writers have long dreamed of, and which now is used by transit systems in China and Japan -- magnetic levitation.

The cofounder of Interstate Traveler said he is living "below the poverty level right now" after devoting himself to it fulltime for three years. Before that, he spent years in the computer industry, he said.

"We're not asking for public money" for the pilot project, said Justin Sutton, 36, of Whitmore Lake. He said he had "designed the whole system although I didn't invent linear motors. I modeled this after existing technology."

Sutton said he is confident of obtaining the tens of millions of dollars in private capital needed to build several miles of a pilot project. Investors are waiting for the company to obtain permission to use a right-of-way before committing funds, he said.

The project's planners hope to see it built inside freeway medians across the country, said Lark Samouelian, 54, of Howell, corporate communications officer for Interstate Traveler. Samouelian said the company presented its designs about a year ago to Michigan Department of Transportation Director Gloria Jeff.

Tonight, Ferndale officials are expected to pass a resolution asking the state transportation department to allow testing of the system in the Woodward median, which the state controls. Spokesmen for the department in metro Detroit and Lansing said Friday they could not reach Jeff for her comment.

The Interstate Traveler Co. executives also have presented their plan to the Detroit City Council. City Council President Pro Tem Ken Cockrel Jr. said he recalled seeing the presentation nearly two years ago and had a mixed reaction.

"On the one hand, I think exciting ideas need to be explored. I think people in Detroit and all over the seven-county region" of southeastern Michigan "want to see mass transit happen," Cockrel said Friday. But he's worried about the project's impact on traffic during construction and "who would pay to take it down if it didn't work."

He also said that the half-century-old Woodward bridge over 8 Mile likely would be an obstacle to the system. That bridge became a point of contention last year when Ferndale officials, calling the bridge a source of blight and a block to economic redevelopment of the intersection, objected to state plans to refurbish the structure. They have demanded that the state remove the bridge and reconfigure the intersection.

Cockrel said that if mass transit becomes a real possibility on Woodward, "we'd be fools not to look at the possibility of taking out that bridge."

Contact BILL LAITNER at 248-351-3297.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
baldy    0

I wonder what the opperating costs of this system will be.

Also, I've sketches of the system and the cars are really small. Is the "full scale" system going to have bigger cars?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allan    0

I sure hope the system has larger cars. They appear awfully small. Maybe they are expecting that nobody will ride it if it is built. Almost 20% of people living in the city are totally reliant on our abysmal mass transit system!

Traveler-Passanger-rev3a%205x3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Allan    0

Ferndale backs train concept

By Michael P. McConnell

Daily Tribune Staff Writer

PUBLISHED: February 15, 2005

FERNDALE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
baldy    0

What worries me is that they will go north instead of into Detroit due to the extensive business corridor that exists along that stretch of Woodward (and the 8 / woodward bridge), where as the stretch south isn't really there yet until about New Center. It also bothers me that they would stop at Wayne State and not go that extra mile or so into downtown which would add a lot to the line.

I have to give a bunch of Kudos to Ferndale and their approad to this! I really find it ironic that they are in the county that is so opposed to mass transit. Hopefully this will start to change people's opinions in Oakland County toward mass transit. Once again, way to go Ferndale!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
monsoon    0

I still think the above system is far too complex to become a reality. If they want something innovative they ought to look at the system being built by Futrex in Charleston SC. They have already built a 1/4 scale demonstration system.

System 21 Monobeam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bobliocatt    0

I think it would be in everyone's best interest, to extend this proposed like, at least to the nearest Peoplemover Station in downtown. Ridership would definately rise in numbers with this line providing direct access to New Center, Wayne State, the stadiums and downtown's lofts & offices.

BTW, that Monobeam thingy in Charleston looks pretty good. How does regular light rail costs/square mile, compare to these new innovative systems?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dnast    0

Yeah, it doesn't make sense to stop a mile or so away from the people mover. I hope they reconsider.

That Monobeam system does look interesting, but I think I'd be a little scared going 70 - 100 mph on that thing!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allan    0

I'm not sure how much the Monobeam transit is, but $10 Million per mile seems low for the type of transit system they are proposing, especially since it is new technology. If they can pull it off, great, but I'm not going to place any bets yet. I believe conventional light rail runs about $15-20 Million per mile, while a system using People Mover technology would be about $30 Million per mile.

If the system went from Ferndale to downtown, passing through New Center and Wayne State, ridership would be very high. If it connected to the People Mover system, Detroit would finally have the beginings of a decent mass transit system. If the line were to go south from Ferndale, I'd hope that at least Royal Oak would want to get on board too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
monsoon    0

The monobeam's costs are on their webpage with comparisons to other systems. See this page

Considering how much "stuff" has to be invented to deal with very exotic hydrogen I woiuld be surprised if it is anywhere close to $10m/mile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

monsoon    0

Wow, light rail is up to $40-90 Million per mile now?  I was way off in my cost estimate then.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yep, that is why so few cities can afford to build it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allan    0

Even with the high cost, building light rail on the ground would be a lot cheaper than building it with people mover technology, and certainly much cheaper than this new hydrogen system that seems pretty far-fetched. The good thing that if anything at all is constructed, the 8 Mile/Woodward bridge will have to go. I think the people at M-DOT are the only people who like that thing. Haha.

Assuming that something were to be built along Woodward, it only makes sense to bring the line from Ferndale all the way to downtown. Stopping the line at WSU would just be stupid. The question is, how exactly would a light line connect to the people mover? It seems to me that it would be best to build a transfer station at Grand Circus Park, and then take the line straight up Woodward. Any thoughts or ideas on the best way to do this?

Also, where and how far apart should the stations be?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
baldy    0

I don't think even the people at MDOT like the 8/Woodward bridge anymore!

I'm kind of wondering about where light rail would go in Woodward. I mean that it is a blvd from I believe just south of 7 mile on up. The central median, I think, is owned by the state and allows for a space that doesn't really interfere with traffic. South of 7, the median is gone and the road narrows. Now I'm not really familiar with light rail, but where would it go on the street for this part of Woodward? I guess you could put it in the center turn lane, but since this is a major road, I would think the rail in the turn lane would really hinder both road traffic and the rail traffic. Even if it runs in the median, it would hinder the U-turn lanes. In both cases, it would definitely be better to use elevated rail, but I'm sure that wouldn't be very cost effective.

Yeah, the line should run it down to GCP and use the subway tunnels for Woodward through downtown!!! Pump the water out of the Broderick basement and that would be a good spot!

As for stations, I would think every 1/2 mile (realative to the mile roads) would be good, with some extra stops in Midtown and Downtown.

Now I realize that light rail and any good mass transit is most likely a dream, but hey, it fun to talk and think about this stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allan    0

North of downtown I believe that Woodward is three lanes in each direction, plus the left hand turn lane and two lanes for parking. North of that it is two lanes in each direction, with the center turn lane and a lane of parking on each side.

I believe that when the city reconstructs Woodward north of the Fisher Freeway they will be creating a grassy median in the center. I'm not sure how far north that will go, however.

Historically Woodward had the center two lanes taken up by streetcars, one lane in each direction for cars, and one lane on each side for parking. I don't think that would work very well today though. The only way I can see it working in some areas is by eliminating the parking on the sides.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allan    0

I don't know if we've discussed this before or not, but which line has a better chance of being built, the Ann Arbor to Detroit line or the line straight up Woodward to Ferndale?

The Ann Arbor to Detroit proposal seems a lot more serious. It would provide a critical transit link between Metro Airport and downtown Detroit. However, the population densities along the corridor are not as high as those found along the Woodward corridor.

It would actually make more sense to build the Woodward line first, but the planning is not very far along (as proven by this proposed hydrogen transit system). Also, the line runs into Oakland County, which means dealing with L. Brooks.

As with all mass transit projects though, the completion of either one of these lines depends on funding. Ideally a regional tax would be set up to help fund the construction of the line. I can see already how that will not happen, however. Or at least not while L. Brooks is still in office.

What are your thoughts on this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
baldy    0

I used to think the Detroit to Ann Arbor line would come first because if memory serves me right, it would use the existing railroad tracks. I think these are the same ones that Amtrack uses and there was some problems about who gets priority. I would have thought that using existing tracks and having a limited amount of stops would have saved quite a bit of money, but remember it being quite expensive still. Does anyone remember what the costs were associated with this? One of the down sides of this would be that it would end at the Amtrack station in New Center leaving riders to find their own way into downtown. Not very convenient for people coming in from out of town. If this ever becomes a reality, it would create a need and give the extra push for the start of the Woodward line from New Center to Downtown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allan    0

The Ann Arbor to Detroit light rail would be all new lines. They are still doing the study, and according to the timeline, they will be making a final recommendation in June.

You are thinking of the Lansing-Detroit commuter rail project. I don't know where that stands. Chances are it's probably dead. It would have used the existing Amtrak lines.

Lansing to Detroit Regional Commuter Rail Final Report

New Howell Station may rise where old Depot once Stood

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
baldy    0

We're confusing Light Rail and Commuter Rail. The one I was thinking of would be commuter rail and use the existing rails.

http://www.annarbordetroitrapidtransitstudy.com/

From a metro times article http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=4418

experts say the savings would be significant. For one thing, the entire rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit already exists.

A 1997 study commissioned by the Michigan Department of Transportation predicted the start-up costs for a Detroit/Ann Arbor route would be close to $50 million, including the purchase of locomotives and passenger cars. It was also estimated that operating costs would be about $8.2 million per year.

Although I'm sure the cost are a lot more now, but $50 million to get this going along that 45 mile stretch is not bad considering the costs for light rail and other forms of mass transit.

To me, this seams like our best start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.