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  #4861  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2016, 6:41 PM
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It seems like there have been 2 weeks of bad news for our transportation issues. But as wwmv stated Lonestar was always a pipe dream and having this happen just opens the door to focus all rail energy and momentum into true urban rail.
This has been happening, last week our best rail advocates presented to the Mobility Committee with 3 council members and mayor Adler present. As always, councilwoman Kitchen was a big help. This Wednesday, yet again, the UTC passed a measure to ensure that any bond this November be muti modal rather than just roads with a huge emphasis on bikes, sidewalks and RAIL. Yesterday, just hours after the bad UP news broke the council voted 8-0-2 to send that resolution forward.
The time is now, the November turnout should be huge which plays well to rail supporters. The best plan yet I have seen has been presented and is getting support from both Kitchen and Casar to name a few. Here is a link to the proposal I now like the most, which uses G/L as a backbone, of course.
https://blu181.mail.live.com/mail/Vi...h=0&n=60300446

Quote:
Is there another way to run a line through the heart of downtown through our hubs of density like that?
This proposal does just that and at full build out could have more than 100,000 rider trips per day!!!!! The first segment which we could vote on this November would be roughly 7 miles and could easily be added to a Mobility bond with sidewalks and better bike infrastructure to boot.
Here is a quote from a letter penned by council member Casar.
"and even kicking off urban rail in Austin for the first time." will post whole quote later.
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  #4862  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2016, 7:33 PM
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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
Bad link. Seems to be into your mailbox.
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  #4863  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2016, 9:01 PM
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  #4864  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 1:49 AM
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http://smmercury.com/2016/02/12/dera...commuter-rail/
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FEBRUARY 12TH, 2016
Derailed: Union Pacific puts brakes on Austin-San Antonio commuter rail

COMPILED FROM MEDIA REPORTS

AUSTIN — Union Pacific will no longer consider rerouting its Central Texas freight traffic to make way for commuter rail between Georgetown and San Antonio, quite possibly killing the decade-old effort to build a regional rail transit system.

In 2009 and 2010, railroad executives and Lone Star Rail District officials signed broad, non-binding agreements to study the feasibility of implementing passenger rail service on Union Pacific tracks along the Interstate 35 corridor. In a Feb. 11 letter to Lone Star board chairman Sid Covington, however, railroad brass said unambiguously that Union Pacific “can no longer, in good faith, constrain its growth by the conceptual discussions or previous expressions of interest between the parties.”

“Over the course of the past six-plus years of meetings, discussions and studies, it has become apparent that the desired track alignments and infrastructure requirements necessary to support the efficient and reliable co-mingling of freight and commuter passenger rail are unattainable,” writes Jerry S. Wilmoth, UP’s general manager for network infrastructure. “In addition, UPRR continually needs to analyze, develop and implement enhancements to its network to meet customer demand in this vital and growing corridor.”
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  #4865  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 2:05 AM
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So, I just spent some time in Bangkok for work again and enjoyed taking the various modes of transportation - subway, BTS, skytrain, water taxi, etc. Speaking of water taxis, it's too bad Austin doesn't have canals going throughout the city...the farthest point only cost me about 11 Baht (less than 50 cents). The Skytrain to the airport is great, too.

That said, taking the BTS was what I did most frequently. I know at times a massive concrete hulk in the sky isn't the most attractive thing, but it sure is convenient. It's quicker to build and stations can straddle intersections without being in the way of vehicular traffic. I know there are still right of way things to consider, but would something like an elevated train system be detestable to all of you guys or would you support it? Obviously subway would be nicer, but cost would probably prevent it from ever realistically happening.
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  #4866  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 2:10 AM
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I would be totally fine with an elevated system.
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  #4867  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 2:20 AM
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I just thought of this, too - a lot of stations double as elevated pedestrian crosswalks (you don't have to buy a ticket and enter the station but can simply go around it to cross a busy intersection, for example). This would be great at areas around 5th/6th and Lamar or along the drag. In Bangkok in the Siam district, they tie directly into their mega malls. Not really something for Austin, but that could work for, say, the convention center.

What I like about considering other options is that we're not necessarily tied to existing rail lines. We can be more creative. While I personally was a supporter of Lone Star happening, I think that it wasn't 100% good...especially north of the core.
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  #4868  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 2:23 AM
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Last thought on this for a bit - I do thing will still need to have a commuter rail option connecting Austin and San Antonio. My elevated rail dream is more for Austin rather than a regional connection.
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  #4869  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 6:03 AM
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Is there another way to run a line through the heart of downtown through our hubs of density like that? I'm curious to hear the proposal from those advocating for this.
I-35 is the next best corridor through Austin.

As for following utility lines, you're going to miss all the central business districts of every town. There is a fairly straight north to south utility line heading north of Georgetown all the way to Venus, where one could head towards Dallas, Arlington, or Fort Worth, that runs about 10 miles or so east of I-35 most of the way which would make a great HSR corridor. I would suggest using the ex-MKT rail corridor to get from Austin to Georgetown. I couldn't find an utility line that ran all the way between Austin and San Antonio that was in any way direct - so I-35 probably remains as the best choice for an alternate route heading south of Austin. Of course, when heading south of Austin there is far more room to purchase land immediately adjacent to the existing UP rail corridor. Once you reach San Marcos there's two existing rail corridors available to run adjacent to select from. The real squeeze running adjacent to the existing UP rail corridor is in the middle of the MoPac freeway, heading north from downtown Austin.

I believe it is time to realize that the UP isn't going to share its right-of-way for additional passenger trains besides the existing Texas Eagle ran by Amtrak. TXDOT is opening studies to expand I-35 with a $4 Billion makeover, let's not let them make the same mistake they made with SH130 building it incompatible for trains. It is possible to rebuild the I-35 freeway that would allow the addition of railroad tracks within the right-of-way that wouldn't add much expense.
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  #4870  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 6:26 AM
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How is 130 incompatible with trains?
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  #4871  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 6:38 AM
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Originally Posted by wwmiv View Post
How is 130 incompatible with trains?
Maybe because of a lack of development? No population centers? Of course, it is a clean slate to work with, which is unlike the cluster-you-know-what that is I-35.
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  #4872  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 6:50 AM
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How is 130 incompatible with trains?
Lone Star Rail's fatal flaw analysis report:
http://lonestarrail.com/images/uploa...t_.090209_.pdf
Specifically,
"Of the three options considered, two were quickly eliminated from further consideration. Option 2, which would place the commuter rail line outside the frontage road, faces severe right-of-way constraints and creates conflicts with crossing streets and driveway connections found throughout the corridor. Option 3, which would place the rail between the mainlanes and frontage road, would require extremely long structures to grade separate at ramp crossings. Option 3 also poses conflicts to bridge and retaining wall structures as well as to toll facilities.
The only viable option remaining to be considered was Option 1, which would place the commuter rail alignment within the SH 130 median. The benefits to utilizing the center median include:
• All ROW that would be required for track construction already has, or will be, obtained as part of one of the two SH 130 projects.
• With the SH 130 project already having been through the environmental review process, no complications related to permitting are anticipated for this alignment.
• The commuter rail equipment in use today is able to negotiate the same horizontal curves and profile grades that high speed highway facilities are designed to. As such, it is possible to construct a commuter rail line in the center median which can mimic the geometry of the adjoining mainlanes.
HOWEVER, while Segments 1-4 were required by TxDOT to be rail compatible, and they could accept a commuter rail in the median, TxDOT eliminated those design requirements for Segments 5 & 6. As a result, those two segments contain features that make use of the overall SH 130 corridor for rail virtually impossible:
• The SH 45 SE interchange contains bridge piers that directly obstruct any median- running rail alignment.
• Serious vertical and horizontal clearance restrictions exist at all overpass and interchange locations.
Design of Segments 5 and 6 are currently at the 30%-60% level and unless those critical issues are addressed immediately, use of the SH 130 corridor for rail is FATALLY FLAWED."
Even within Segments 1-4, vertical clearance issues arose.
"For Segments 1-4, virtually all of the complications between the two sets of design criteria are related to vertical profiles. Mainlane profile grades were allowed to approach 3%, whereas the maximum accompanying freight railroad grades could not exceed 1.5%. This meant that the two profiles would not run parallel to each other, often resulting in significant elevation differences between the rail line and the mainlanes. Because a significant portion of the terrain within the SH 130 corridor consists of rolling hills common to the central Texas area, there are several instances where the elevation difference between the freight rail alignment (as identified in the rail compatibility reports) and the adjacent mainlanes approaches 40 to 50 feet.
Fortunately, the design criteria for commuter rail, allows a much steeper vertical grade than for freight rail. As detailed in Section 3.2 of this report, the commuter rail equipment in use today can negotiate 3% profile grades with ease. This will allow the commuter rail profile to closely parallel the adjacent mainlane profiles, which will significantly reduce the drastic grade and elevation differentials shown in the Segments 1-4 Rail Compatibility Reports."

There would also be problems getting the train and tracks into and out of the median as well. Additionally, SH130 heads towards Sequin, not San Antonio. You'll be avoiding all the hubs of all the towns and cities between Austin and San Antonio. Last, the 3% grades were incompatible with freight trains, and I would like to add is also incompatible with HSR trains as well.
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  #4873  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 1:18 PM
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You left this comment simply to be an obnoxious sarcastic twit and that's exactly why nobody likes you here.
That is completely uncalled for. I was genuinely concerned for Novacek's welfare - unrelated to the LoneStar news.
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  #4874  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 3:46 PM
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That is completely uncalled for. I was genuinely concerned for Novacek's welfare - unrelated to the LoneStar news.
Yeah right.
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  #4875  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2016, 3:47 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas View Post
Maybe because of a lack of development? No population centers? Of course, it is a clean slate to work with, which is unlike the cluster-you-know-what that is I-35.

Well, I mean... duh. I wanted to know the design reasons.
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  #4876  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2016, 7:14 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
I-35 is the next best corridor through Austin.

As for following utility lines, you're going to miss all the central business districts of every town. There is a fairly straight north to south utility line heading north of Georgetown all the way to Venus, where one could head towards Dallas, Arlington, or Fort Worth, that runs about 10 miles or so east of I-35 most of the way which would make a great HSR corridor. I would suggest using the ex-MKT rail corridor to get from Austin to Georgetown. I couldn't find an utility line that ran all the way between Austin and San Antonio that was in any way direct - so I-35 probably remains as the best choice for an alternate route heading south of Austin. Of course, when heading south of Austin there is far more room to purchase land immediately adjacent to the existing UP rail corridor. Once you reach San Marcos there's two existing rail corridors available to run adjacent to select from. The real squeeze running adjacent to the existing UP rail corridor is in the middle of the MoPac freeway, heading north from downtown Austin.

I believe it is time to realize that the UP isn't going to share its right-of-way for additional passenger trains besides the existing Texas Eagle ran by Amtrak. TXDOT is opening studies to expand I-35 with a $4 Billion makeover, let's not let them make the same mistake they made with SH130 building it incompatible for trains. It is possible to rebuild the I-35 freeway that would allow the addition of railroad tracks within the right-of-way that wouldn't add much expense.
Thanks for the info. From what I have seen, it doesn't seem like I-35 renovations include rail ROW. Also, isn't it too narrow in certain parts, like near UT campus ? I guess rail would have to go over or under in those sections.
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  #4877  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2016, 10:31 PM
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Thanks for the info. From what I have seen, it doesn't seem like I-35 renovations include rail ROW. Also, isn't it too narrow in certain parts, like near UT campus ? I guess rail would have to go over or under in those sections.
In some areas grade separations will be needed. But it is an available corridor for commuter rail that runs close to central business districts. I believe it will be a mistake to not design in a rail component into the I-35 refurbishment.
If not, commuter rail corridors will be harder to find leaving light rail corridors within city streets as the only cheaper option. Tunneling will always be an option, which will discourage using cheaper diesel propulsion of the trains. Although both light rail and heavy rail trains can run on electric power, but the lack of usable freight rail corridors will probably favor using light rail.
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  #4878  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2016, 9:37 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
In some areas grade separations will be needed. But it is an available corridor for commuter rail that runs close to central business districts. I believe it will be a mistake to not design in a rail component into the I-35 refurbishment.
If not, commuter rail corridors will be harder to find leaving light rail corridors within city streets as the only cheaper option. Tunneling will always be an option, which will discourage using cheaper diesel propulsion of the trains. Although both light rail and heavy rail trains can run on electric power, but the lack of usable freight rail corridors will probably favor using light rail.
I'm still confused. You talk about it like this is something that could happen, but the projects are largely already designed, estimate, and shovel-ready. They're not going to redo design. Given these projects are already in the pipeline, I don't see how this corridor is a realistic option within the next 30 years.
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  #4879  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2016, 11:00 PM
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Is it just me or is it really weird that the recently failed 9.5-mile streetcar line in Austin would cost the same per mile (~$147 million) as the currently proposed 17-mile, Brooklyn-Queens Connector in New York City?

To me, it seems like it would be much more expensive to construct something like this in NYC.
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  #4880  
Old Posted Feb 19, 2016, 2:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ILUVSAT View Post
Is it just me or is it really weird that the recently failed 9.5-mile streetcar line in Austin would cost the same per mile (~$147 million) as the currently proposed 17-mile, Brooklyn-Queens Connector in New York City?

To me, it seems like it would be much more expensive to construct something like this in NYC.


Yes. You are right.

I've said it many times. The voters will NEVER vote themselves a huge tax bill for a few thousand riders per day.
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