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M II A II R II K Nov 7, 2013 3:56 PM

The cost of an inner city Toronto intersection.

UrbanImpact Nov 7, 2013 4:51 PM

^^^ Very interesting!

M II A II R II K Nov 9, 2013 10:51 PM

A Giant Inflatable Plug To Keep Our Subways Dry During Storms

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New York's Metropolitan Transport Authority blocked up some tunnels with sandbags and makeshift wooden structures, which limited some damage. But the method was hardly ideal. In one incident under the East River, some wood broke free and ended up knocking down a barrier. The tunnel, which carries the R subway line, was flooded with 27 million gallons of water.

- The MTA is now looking at a more robust and deployable solution: An enormous tunnel-engorging plug. The Resilient Tunnel Plug (RTP), to give it its formal title, is being developed by the firm ILC Dover in Delaware, with help from the Department of Homeland Security. ILC demonstrated it twice this year at New York's South Ferry station (see images). And it's now making its first full installation (though the location is secret "for security reasons").

- The RTF, which is taller than a double-decker bus, has three layers. On the outside is a woven fabric layer composed of strips roughly the width of a seatbelt. The second is made from the same very-strong material, but is unwoven. On the inside is an inflatable inner-tube a bit like something you would find in a soccer ball. ILC has developed gear for space travel--the fabric was also used in the Mars Rover landing system.

- Dave Codogan, ILC's director of engineering, explains the RTP was initially developed for water seeping up from below. But, following Sandy, there is more interest in the plug as a top-down water barrier. It's designed to sit near where it's needed, and to be initiated remotely. It can inflate in about 30 minutes. "It will be packed in its container until an event is sensed and then deployed via inflation with air. It is possible to use water or some other medium, but air is low risk," Cadogan says.


A Very Brief History of Why It's So Hard to Get From Brooklyn to Queens

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In the beginning, the New York City subway system, as historian Clifton Hood details in his masterful book, 722 Miles, was a commuter line. As such, it was designed to bring people to where the jobs were, and that meant Manhattan. So all subway routes lead there.

- If this is true, and it is, then how did Queens residents once travel so easily to Brooklyn? One word can explain it: trolleys. While the subway got people from the outer boroughs into Manhattan, the once-vast trolley system of New York connected the residents of Queens to Brooklyn. --- The demise of the trolleys in the late 1930s and '40s seems to be largely responsible for disconnecting the two sister boroughs. Yes, they were replaced by buses, but buses have never — for a number of reasons — been able to cement the connection the way trolleys seemed to.

- Starting in the 1920s, a company called National City Lines started buying up street car lines, then mostly privately owned. In 1936, the company became a holding company owned equally by General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, and Phillips Petroleum. Perhaps you can guess where this is going. NCL bought up trolley systems in over 40 cities and 15 states, converting them almost overnight into bus lines. In 1947, they were indicted in federal court, in what became known as the "Great American Streetcar Scandal." Two years later, the four original companies who owned NCL, along with MAC Truck, were found guilty of conspiracy to monopolize mass transit. But by then the damage was done. Most of the nation’s streetcar system was in junkyards, replaced by buses.

- Clearly the firms involved in this saw a business opportunity to sell more buses, tires, and gasoline. But what was lost in this shift from trolleys to buses? In the outer boroughs of New York, trolleys had acted as a primary mode of transportation. Buses, on the other-hand, were tertiary, connecting commuters first-and-foremost to subway lines. The massive shift to buses meant that people from Queens and parts of Brooklyn were now better connected to Manhattan than ever before, but stopped shopping in Downtown Brooklyn. As white flight and urban decline escalated in the late 1960s, Queens identified more and more with Long Island, isolating Brooklyn further still.

- Now that Brooklyn has emerged as a cultural center, no doubt many folks in Queens would like to reconnect to their sister borough. With the city's upcoming mayoral election heating up, the candidates might be well-served to revisit this history and look for new ways to bring Queens and Brooklyn back together.


M II A II R II K Nov 14, 2013 3:25 PM

A maglev for America

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AMERICA does not have any genuine high-speed rail services. But that has not discouraged an intrepid group that wants to build support for a superconducting maglev train between Washington and New York. The Northeast Maglev (TNEM), the private, Washington, DC-based company behind the idea, has backing from the Japan Central Railroad and the Japanese government, and a board of advisers that includes former governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

Japan, as the Baltimore Sun explained in a recent editorial backing the plan, is involved because it "sees maglev as a crucial export technology, and the north-east corridor of the United States presents a marquee opportunity to demonstrate its value." Indeed TNEM has proved adept at generating buzz and money: the Washington Post reported earlier this month that the company has raised $50m in private funds.

But the obstacles remain significant. That $50m is a tiny fraction of the (at least) $10 billion it would cost to build a maglev just between Washington and Baltimore. The $50m is not intended for construction, but if it was, it would not even get the maglev out of downtown DC. Putting the maglev underground (to reduce planning problems, given that the area between DC and New York is among the most densely populated stretches of land in America) and extending it to New York would cost many billions more.

Airlines would fight hard against the competition. And America's ever-sclerotic federal government would no doubt provide the biggest challenge. Now all TNEM has to figure out is how to acquire rights-of-way, how to overcome the political obstacles, whether to ask for public funding, and how to pay for the project if taxpayer money does not materialise.


fflint Nov 14, 2013 10:04 PM


Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 6338968)
A maglev for America
The Northeast Maglev (TNEM), the private, Washington, DC-based company behind the idea....has raised $50m in private funds....a tiny fraction of the (at least) $10 billion it would cost to build a maglev just between Washington and Baltimore.
Now all TNEM has to figure out is how to acquire rights-of-way, how to overcome the political obstacles, whether to ask for public funding, and how to pay for the project if taxpayer money does not materialise.

Typical corporatist bullshit--the public pays the costs, the private corporation takes for itself all the profits made via the people's investment. Fuck that.

Wizened Variations Nov 14, 2013 11:14 PM


Originally Posted by fflint (Post 6339603)
Typical corporatist bullshit--the public pays the costs, the private corporation takes for itself all the profits made via the people's investment. Fuck that.

I suspect that the profits will have been made long before the first shovel full of earth gets turned over. I suspect, too, that if the meglev were to be built, that the private company would go bankrupt and city, state, and, federal government agencies would have to bail them out.

We do not need this type of development, IMO. We should not try to skip ten steps and become world class on the basis of a short demonstrator line.

Instead, we should do something like increasing the average speed of all Amtrak and other government operated train services 1 mph per year for the next 30 years.

This would be rather inexpensive, at first. Then, as the benefits became increasingly apparent, the cost of the next 1 mph increment would increase.

M II A II R II K Nov 15, 2013 12:55 AM

And of course trains with their own dedicated trackage.

LMich Nov 15, 2013 9:17 AM

I see the picture, and all I can hear in my head is Phil Hartman shouting "Monorail!" lol

SHiRO Nov 16, 2013 5:01 AM

Nouvellecosse Nov 16, 2013 5:43 AM

Good god, Atlanta sure knows how to sprawl!

M II A II R II K Nov 18, 2013 3:58 PM

Top traffic cop: Dedicated '200kph' road for UAE motorists could become reality

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The head of Dubai Traffic Police has suggested making a specially dedicated road in the UAE for cars that want to drive at 200kph.

The force said the luxury highway is just an idea at this stage but a study would be conducted to see how viable it is. The road would be between Abu Dhabi and Fujairah and only those wanting to drive at high-speed could use it.

General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen said: “The idea can become a true reality. Maybe we need a road for motorists with powerful cars who want to drive 200kph. It would also be good for people who drive on a daily basis between UAE cities.”

He added: “There are studies saying that high speeds can’t make accidents unless there are other factors. Accidents can happen when a car driving with 140kph and then surprised with a car in front of it with 60kph.”


Wizened Variations Nov 18, 2013 8:30 PM


Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 6339815)
And of course trains with their own dedicated trackage.

The problem, IMO, at least in the first five to ten years with the average speed increases 1 mph (2 km/h would be better), could be resolved politically in large part.

1st) The question of Amtrak and other public and semi-public trains having scheduling rights, and, vigorous penalty clauses for breaking these scheduling rights, is central for over the short term.

This might be in exchange for infusions of government money to add sidings on single track lines long enough for freight to continue moving while the passenger train passes on the main track. Double tracking should be the norm for any passenger/freight corridor with 3rd track sidings.

2nd) The issue is not complex technology, and, compared to running dedicated two track passenger lines, rather cheap.

Rather, the issue in the US (and to a lesser extent in Canada) is political, as exemplified by Amtrak. The federal and state moneys that cover the operating losses for most lines is highly "visible" in budgets, and, politicians have always been able to sound 'conservative' by attacking this very small part of state and federal budgets. In addition, the Big Seven North American Railroads- BNSF, UP, CSX, NW, CP, CN, and, KC lobby constantly to reduce regulation and ideas about sharing traffic on their lines, over which they could be liable for scheduling errors.

3rd) The issue, IMO, is not increasing the speed from 79 mph to 110 mph, but, increasing the track mileage over which passenger trains can run 79 mph.


The sad part is that adding a few thousand miles of siding and 2nd tracks at a cost of $20 to 30 million per mile in constant dollars when combined with penalty clauses over scheduling, could make huge impacts on efficiency and speed. If, for example, 3 thousand miles, or an additional 2.5 percent of the current rail track grid were added, in constant dollars we are talking about $6 to $9 billion dollars spread out over a period of about ten years.*

A huge side benefit would be increasing the average speed of freight trains running on the same lines.

*add sidings and double track where do so is cheapest. Urban area bottle necks are a harder nut to crack, and, would stand out even more if rural speeds were to increase. A possible solution might be to move the passenger stations to multi modal freight terminals, generally located in the suburban fringes of cities. These could be serviced by buses, short term, and city wide public transit lines long term.

M II A II R II K Nov 19, 2013 3:27 AM

Nude "goddess of the train" stops CTA Red Line at Granville

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A nude woman claiming to be the "goddess of the train" halted southbound Red Line service for a short time early Saturday afternoon until police could escort her off to jail at the Granville station. The "goddess" said she was going to the front car to drive the train and told everyone else to get off.


Eightball Nov 19, 2013 2:24 PM

Lawmakers Score Conservative Bona Fides By Attacking Efficient Transport

The Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) — get it? — is sponsored by 21 lawmakers, all Republicans. The Hill reports that the arch-conservative Heritage Action group will be scoring lawmakers on how they vote. The bill would reduce the federal gas tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents over five years and turn all spending decisions over to state governments.

Heritage Foundation writer Emily Goff, in her report on TEA, specifically notes that the bill would decimate dedicated funds for transit, biking, and walking projects. Heritage sees that as a big plus:

Under the current highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, at least 25 percent of authorized funding for FY 2013 was diverted to non-general purpose roads and bridges. Transit, the largest diversion, received $8.5 billion, or 17 percent, of authorized funds. Other diversions include $809 million authorized for the transportation alternatives program (TAP), which pays for bicycle and nature paths, sidewalks, and community preservation activities, none of which reduce congestion or improve mobility for the motorists paying for them.

Heritage remains oddly silent on the massive subsidies that pay for roads. Nor do they seem to notice the enormous, wasteful boondoggles perpetuated routinely by states.
Remember this next time someone posts a Heritage Foundation "report". They are far from an unbiased source.

M II A II R II K Nov 19, 2013 3:57 PM

Japan wants to sell its super-fast levitating trains to the US

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As cities around the world consider the introduction of maglev trains, the Japanese government hopes the American group's experience of the journey — a test ahead of Japan's planned introduction of a new high-speed maglev train line between the cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka — will encourage American companies to invest in the expensive technology for deployment in their own nation.

- But if Abe's government can sell magnetic levitation to the US, it might well justify the expense. Abe showed his commitment to promoting maglev technology in a meeting with President Obama in which he offered to sweeten the deal for the Washington to New York train by putting several billion dollars of taxpayer money on the line. The New York Times reports Abe offered to provide the maglev guideway and propulsion system for the first 40 miles of the route, between Baltimore and Washington, free of charge. That investment would certainly bring the creation of an American maglev closer to fruition.


Swede Nov 21, 2013 11:31 AM

One of Stockholm's main focalpoints is gettign re-developed starting next year. Today it's a maze of ramps for cars and tunnels for pedestrians. Right next to the Old Town. The new plan has met some resistance, but by far the majority of that is based on and/or is spreading false information about both the current situation and the planned new solution.

They finally made a vid about the construction process in English:

Video Link

amor de cosmos Nov 25, 2013 9:59 PM

amor de cosmos Nov 26, 2013 5:22 PM


Energy News
Are Electric Vehicles a Fire Hazard?
Lithium-ion batteries have risks, but they can be managed to prevent fires in EVs.

By Kevin Bullis on November 26, 2013

In the past two months, three Tesla Motors Model S electric cars have caught fire after their lithium-ion battery packs were damaged. Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would investigate whether Tesla’s Model S needs to be modified to prevent further fires.

In two cases, the cars ran over large metal objects at highway speed; the third car hit a concrete wall. No one was hurt: a warning system allowed the drivers to pull the car over and get out before smoke started coming from the battery pack, and the design of the battery pack slowed the spread of the fire, which never made it into the passenger compartments. Tesla has said it will cover fires in its warranty, so the cost won’t be felt by owners. And Tesla founder Elon Musk argues that the fires are still very rare.

Even so, the incidents have drawn attention to the safety of the batteries used in electric vehicles (see “Early Data Suggests Collision-Caused Fires Are More Frequent in the Tesla Model S than Conventional Cars”). They are also just the latest examples of lithium-ion battery fires in electric vehicles—we’ve seen fires with the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma plug-in vehicles. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was grounded because of problems with its new lithium-ion batteries.

There are inherent risks when you store enough energy to propel a two-ton car at 75 miles an hour for hundreds of miles. After all, thousands of gasoline-powered cars catch fire in collisions each year. In principle, those risks can be managed through structural design and cooling. But could the lithium-ion battery cells themselves be made safer?

M II A II R II K Nov 28, 2013 1:16 AM

Malacca Monorail: Springfield Comes to Life

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In our never-ending quest to bring you the best and most unique transport stories, we were recently informed by a colleague of a curious transit system in Malaysia named the Malacca Monorail.

- This 1.6km, 2 station system is located in Malacca City — a World UNESCO Heritage Site and home to half a million residents. Today, the state is a huge tourist destination and welcomed a reported “13.7 million” visitors last year.

- So as a way to add recreational infrastructure to the city, the RM15.9 million (~USD$5 million) monorail first opened in October 2010. Unfortunately, in an uncanny resemblance to the Springfield Monorail episode, the system infamously broke down during it first day of operation!


scalziand Nov 28, 2013 5:52 AM


Originally Posted by amor de cosmos (Post 6352735)

One more..

Video Link

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