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  #301  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2021, 2:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
These coastal landscapes of estuaries and inlets are extremely difficult to retrofit rail, IMO. It's not just a problem in Mobile or Pensacola but also Charleston, Wilmington, tidewater Virginia, and to a lesser extent Jacksonville and Savannah. Historically the rail connections led from coastal port cities inland to their hinterlands; they were not built to link coastal cities with each other. Still today the best way to serve these cities is with terminal stations rather than through-stations.
Ever wondered why US Highway 1 runs so far inland in Virginia, North and South Carolina? Believe it or not, it has been routed that way since the 1920s when the US Highway routing system was established. Well, you hit the reason right on the bullseye, Model T Fords were not suited to run well on dirt roads in swamps.
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  #302  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2021, 4:51 PM
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^There is an almost-beachfront railroad between New Orleans and Pascagoula, a distance of about 100 miles. This route travels through Gulfport and Biloxi and has a number of 1+ mile bridges across bays.

Mobile Bay is the only big harbor between New Orleans and Tampa, which is why it has tunnels and everything east has causeways that aren't high enough for freighters, cruise ships, and oil rigs.

For fun you can see how a railroad could be built between Pensacola and Panama City entirely on the barrier islands. It would require a 3-mile causeway in Pensacola and 1-mile causeway at the eastern end to connect to an existing railroad on the mainland in Panama City. The bridges between the various barrier islands wouldn't have to be very big.

In short, it would take about 150~ miles of new railroad to build a comprehensive east-west link across the Gulf Coast between Mobile and Tallahassee. The afore-mentioned Mobile Bay crossing would be, by far, the biggest cost and engineering hurdle.
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  #303  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2021, 7:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post
In short, it would take about 150~ miles of new railroad to build a comprehensive east-west link across the Gulf Coast between Mobile and Tallahassee. The afore-mentioned Mobile Bay crossing would be, by far, the biggest cost and engineering hurdle.
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  #304  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2021, 2:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post
^There is an almost-beachfront railroad between New Orleans and Pascagoula, a distance of about 100 miles. This route travels through Gulfport and Biloxi and has a number of 1+ mile bridges across bays.

Mobile Bay is the only big harbor between New Orleans and Tampa, which is why it has tunnels and everything east has causeways that aren't high enough for freighters, cruise ships, and oil rigs.

For fun you can see how a railroad could be built between Pensacola and Panama City entirely on the barrier islands. It would require a 3-mile causeway in Pensacola and 1-mile causeway at the eastern end to connect to an existing railroad on the mainland in Panama City. The bridges between the various barrier islands wouldn't have to be very big.

In short, it would take about 150~ miles of new railroad to build a comprehensive east-west link across the Gulf Coast between Mobile and Tallahassee. The afore-mentioned Mobile Bay crossing would be, by far, the biggest cost and engineering hurdle.
Huh? Sure you could build the bridges, but the barrier islands are fully built up, except where they are protected as military or park land. Where would you put a new ROW?
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  #305  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2021, 3:50 PM
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Just daydreaming here, and getting back to the talk about the I-10 Wallace tunnel being used for rail. It was stated that the 5-6% grade at its nadir would prevent a diesel hauled loco from being able to pull a consist from a dead stop at a Mobile south of downtown station. Well... and hear me out... I'm curious if it would be feasible to string about 2 miles worth of OCS and shunt Amtrak long distance trains through the tunnel using a secondhand electric yard switcher or even a retired HHP-3 or something similar picked up for cheap to serve this singular duty. I can see such a situation adding at most 10 minutes to the trip time through Mobile. Thoughts?
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  #306  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2021, 4:06 PM
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The FY21 appropriations law has $100M in grant funding available for intermodal rail connections to former military airports, which are also located within 10 miles of a maritime port. Mobile, AL, is one of the few airports which qualify.

If Mobile wins one of these grants, perhaps the track improvements could also be used to improve passenger rail in this section.

"The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260, December 27, 2020) (“FY 2021 Appropriations Act”) appropriated $100 million to expand intermodal and multimodal freight and cargo transportation infrastructure, including airport development under chapter 471 of title 49, United States Code. The Transportation Demonstration Program is listed under Assistance Listing 20.936. See Section C of the program NOFO for a description of the limited eligibility under this program.

The safe and efficient movement of freight is vital to the Nation’s economic growth and to the creation of well-paying jobs for millions of Americans. The national freight system comprises physical infrastructure or facilities, such as ports, waterways, airports, railroads, pipelines, roadways, and warehouses, as well as diverse carriers, shippers, and suppliers that use this infrastructure to transport goods. Intermodal or multimodal freight, which refer to a cargo that transfers from one transportation mode to at least one other transportation mode as the shipment moves from origin to destination, are an integral component of the freight system. The goal of the Transportation Demonstration Program is to fund projects that expand intermodal and multimodal freight and cargo transportation infrastructure. Projects funded under this program may augment existing intermodal and multimodal assets in close proximity with capital investments that strengthen the infrastructure connections. Funding may be used to eliminate artificial barriers and fill gaps that exist within current grant programs or to streamline connections between aviation, maritime, rail, and highway infrastructure and generate efficiencies in inventory and supply chain management.

Due to the prescriptive project eligibility criteria in the FY 2021 Appropriations Act, the Department expects that eligibility under the program will be limited to very few applicants. Potential applicants should carefully review the eligibility criteria in Section C of the NOFO to assess whether the applicant is an eligible applicant and the project meets the statutory requirements."

https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/se...monstration%20
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  #307  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2021, 4:10 PM
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I don't know if this article has been posted.

‘A joy ride for the affluent’: Debate renewed in Mobile over Amtrak’s return

Feb. 18, 2021
By John Sharp

"Amtrak’s return to Mobile continues to spark hot political debate among the city’s power brokers one year after a project connecting the Port City to New Orleans was given the go-ahead by city leaders.

The renewed debate occurred on Wednesday and focused on the spending of additional city money to study the location of a new train station. It pitted Councilman Joel Daves, the sole “No” vote last February on whether to support the Amtrak Gulf Coast service with a $3 million commitment, against Councilman Fred Richardson, a candidate for mayor this year who is advocating for Amtrak’s return to Mobile for the first time since 2005..."

https://www.al.com/news/2021/02/a-jo...ks-return.html
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  #308  
Old Posted Yesterday, 3:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
Just daydreaming here, and getting back to the talk about the I-10 Wallace tunnel being used for rail. It was stated that the 5-6% grade at its nadir would prevent a diesel hauled loco from being able to pull a consist from a dead stop at a Mobile south of downtown station. Well... and hear me out... I'm curious if it would be feasible to string about 2 miles worth of OCS and shunt Amtrak long distance trains through the tunnel using a secondhand electric yard switcher or even a retired HHP-3 or something similar picked up for cheap to serve this singular duty. I can see such a situation adding at most 10 minutes to the trip time through Mobile. Thoughts?
Electric motors have more torque than diesel but it's better to think about it in terms of powered axles (loco-hauled train has few, MU has many). Plus the long-distance rolling stock that Amtrak uses is heavy in the extreme, which makes the challenge of steep grades even harder.

Looking at the Wiki page for steep railways, it looks like most are operated as branch lines using specialized equipment, either MUs, trams, or very short/lightweight loco-hauled consists, or exotic stuff like rack technology. I don't see anything comparable to the Wallace Tunnel on a diesel-operated mainline (there are a few abandoned ones, but they were abandoned for that reason).

Unfortunately I don't think OCS is a magic bullet here, nor is it realistic to run specialized equipment from coast-to-coast because of one tricky tunnel. It doesn't make much sense to talk about solutions because those vary widely based on what the service goal is. If building greenfield HSR, then it would be fairly easy to modify the Wallace Tunnel for that equipment, but the budget for such a project would also support a new tunnel that comes with fewer trade-offs. Regional service on par with California or the Midwest probably can't justify the expense of a new Mobile Bay crossing. Certainly a 3x/week Sunset Limited doesn't justify it.

If you wanted to spend a billion here, I'd probably keep the existing Bay rail crossing north of Mobile and then build a new greenfield line between Bay Minette and Pensacola. That area is extremely sparsely populated, so new rail construction should be fairly easy especially if no grade separations. I'd also build a Pensacola cutoff along I-10 which would shave 20-30 minutes off, at the expense of giving them a suburban station instead of a downtown one.
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Last edited by ardecila; Yesterday at 3:48 PM.
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  #309  
Old Posted Today, 5:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post

Pensacola is bigger than I expected. 500,000 residents puts it roughly on par with Chattanooga, and Georgia has been talking about building HSR between Atlanta and its Tennessee neighbor since the 1996 Olympics.
Mobile County plus Baldwin County (Eastern Short of Mobile Bay; the two combine to make the Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope CSA) combine for around 650,000. Mobile MSA sits at around 413,000.
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