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Thread: Forty-Second Street Light Rail

  1. #1
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Forty-Second Street Light Rail



    From the NY Post:

    42ND ST. SHUTTLE A RAIL GOOD IDEA

    By ANGELA MONTEFINISE

    Crosstown travel might get a futuristic twist if a plan to bring a light-rail system to New York City becomes a reality. Vision42 — a citizens initiative that's part of the nonprofit Institution for Rational Mobility — is proposing the construction of a light rail system along 42nd Street, with stops at each avenue from river to river.



    The system would be above ground and replace all vehicular traffic on the major thoroughfare, which under the plan, would basically become a pedestrian walkway.

    "Practically speaking, it could absolutely be done," said civil engineer George Haikalis, who helped launch vision42 in 1999. ";It's been done before all over the world."



    Architect Roxanne Warren, another founder of the group, said she and Haikalis decided to pursue the plan after she took a crosstown bus ride and "went slower than the pedestrians."

    "Right now, crosstown travel is impossible," she said. "The estimated travel time of the rail system would be 20 minutes."



    Warren and Haikalis have already made nearly 200 presentations to community leaders and elected officials on the rail system, and they are waiting for the results of three technical studies to really get the word out.



    The studies — which are being done by consultants and were funded by a grant from the New York Community Trust — are investigating economic impact on the city, cost and traffic impact.



    "While many of the people who saw the presentation were excited about the idea, there were certain questions about cost and so forth," Haikalis said. "To move this thing along, we really needed some technical input."

    The results of the studies will be posted on vision42's Web site on April 18 — the same day as a public forum to be held at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel with the Manhattan Borough President's Office and Community Boards 4, 5 and 6.



    "We'll have representatives of the consultants there to answer questions, so everyone interested can have their concerns heard," Haikalis said.

    The idea for a rail line on 42nd Street isn't new — in 1994, the City Council voted to support a rail line on the street, but when cost exceeded what was expected, the plan died. The cost then for the rail and street repairs was about $100 million.



    "We wanted to revive the plan, but also make the street a pedestrian walkway," Warren said. "It will change New York if it goes through."

    According to vision42, the rail system would take six years to build and probably be run by the MTA.



    City Transportation Department spokeswoman Kay Sarlin said, "We are always open to new ideas, but we have had concerns about the feasibility of a 42nd Street light rail. The Shuttle and No. 7 trains currently provide cross-town service, and the administration's transit priority in the area is the extension of the No. 7."

  2. #2
    From my admittedly "car free cities" attitude, that would be really exciting!

  3. #3
    Those are the corniest pedestrian cutouts...ever!!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by The Fringe
    Those are the corniest pedestrian cutouts...ever!!
    i love the dude with the green shirt and backpack... "what are you looking at?"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I swear one of those pedestrians has a sword. But interesting idea. I don't know a lot about this street - is making it pedestrian only very radical? What provisions exist for deliveries to those businesses in the plan?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    I swear one of those pedestrians has a sword. But interesting idea. I don't know a lot about this street - is making it pedestrian only very radical?
    Forty Second Street is a two-way, four-lane major crosstown street. It runs from river to river and connects the New Jersey ferry landings, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Times Square (major subway interchange), and Grand Central Station (major subway and commuter rail interchange). Two MTA bus routes and several ferry shuttle bus routes now serve the street, which is perpetually gridlocked. Two subway lines (S & 7) also run underneath the street between Times Square and Grand Central Station. I think the light rail plans also include extensions south along the rivers at either end (to the Javits Convention Center and proposed Jets stadium at the west).

    IMHO, there is no better street in the United States to pedestrianize. The densities are likely some of the highest in the world and with the amount of Midtown pedestrian traffic a carfree throroughfare makes tremendous sense.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Crosstown travel might get a futuristic twist if a plan to bring a light-rail system to New York City becomes a reality. Vision42 — a citizens initiative that's part of the nonprofit Institution for Rational Mobility — is proposing the construction of a light rail system along 42nd Street, with stops at each avenue from river to river.

    Stops at every avenue. WOW! That's squeezing it tight. What are the headways for the trains. And how do they turn around?
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by the north omaha star
    Stops at every avenue. WOW! That's squeezing it tight.
    Not really, Manhattan avenues are very widely spaced (almost too much so). The blocks are much wider east-to-west than they are north-to-south.

  9. #9
    Cirrus's avatar
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    Yeah. In just about any other city stops every block would be way too frequent, but for a crosstown route in Midtown Manhattan that's about right.

  10. #10

    High Priced Tourist Attraction

    Us New Yorkers jaywalk way too much for that thing to ever move with any speed down the street. I can't really see closing the street that has a good 10 Broadway theatres, the UN, NY Public Library the headquarters of CondeNast, Reuters, Bank of America, Grand Central Terminal, Ferry Terminals, etc...

    Also, How would buses and cars get passed it to go downtown?

    The "pedistrians" crack me up.

  11. #11
    Why not just reduce the auto traffic to 2 lanes and add the light rail on a side of the street?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Eyes on the Street
    Also, How would buses and cars get passed it to go downtown?
    You would have at grade crossings that would work like stoplights, except it would be green for the traffic until the train arrives.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Hmm... if the street is pedestrianized, what will be the impact of the shift of auto traffic to other crosstown arteries? It is not likely that the traffic will simply disappear.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    Hmm... if the street is pedestrianized, what will be the impact of the shift of auto traffic to other crosstown arteries? It is not likely that the traffic will simply disappear.
    Actually, it is likely. And, that is the primary argument by the projects proponents.

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    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    Why not just reduce the auto traffic to 2 lanes and add the light rail on a side of the street?
    2 lanes of traffic would never work along 42nd... or any major street in manhattan for that matter. double-parking, deliveries, dropoffs, grid-lock, etc etc etc would result in a total standstill (as opposed to today where its just a partial standstill )

  16. #16

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    LoDo, (in Denver) basically has something like this to a much smaller scale, and they use busses. It is only pedistrian traffic on 16th street and has caused a HUGE parking problem in my opinion. But businesses thrive, deliveries still get made, and renovation of old buildings into appartments and new shops is thriving.

    The only problem is that is also the area for the homeless shelter. So,,,

  17. #17
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Sounds very neat and interesting. However, I am concerned about safety. For instance, three girls spot the GAP on the other side of the tracks, make a mad dash and get nailed by this train. How fast does it go anyway?? And why no decorative fences/railings along the track to prevent jaywalking and thus accidents?
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    However, I am concerned about safety. For instance, three girls spot the GAP on the other side of the tracks, make a mad dash and get nailed by this train. How fast does it go anyway??
    Doesn't matter how fast, see the rounded and sloping areo-dynamic nose section? It also acts as a cattle/people-guard. Low enough to the tracks to just tumble the unfortunate person to the ground, safely out of the train's way.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by King B
    Doesn't matter how fast, see the rounded and sloping areo-dynamic nose section? It also acts as a cattle/people-guard. Low enough to the tracks to just tumble the unfortunate person to the ground, safely out of the train's way.
    I guess that sounds OK, if it does indeed work. But I hope there are warning signs, so there's no lawsuits if the train causes the person to paralyze themselves as they land on their head and twist their neck as they hit the ground. Still, I don't see why they can't put a decorative fence to separate the train and the pedestrians and only allow crossings at the cross-streets/rail stations.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by Loulou
    2 lanes of traffic would never work along 42nd... or any major street in manhattan for that matter. double-parking, deliveries, dropoffs, grid-lock, etc etc etc would result in a total standstill (as opposed to today where its just a partial standstill )
    But why is a total standstill of traffic a bad thing, while not allowing vehicular traffic at all is a good thing? I guess you could make an argument about exhaust fumes, but that seems kinda secondary.

    Lots of major cities have narrow 2 lane streets. I'm all for traffic being at a total standstill... after all, this proposal is to remove it altogether. Isn't a goal of planning to provide multimodal access? I say, allow cars to be everywhere, but don't do them any favors. Give pedestrians and transit the upper hand. In parts of Manhattan there are usually more pedestrians on the sidewalks than there are people in cars. The obvious solution is to widen the sidewalks and narrow the streets. But apparently there is some demand for autos to get in there, so let them have their inefficient single lane, for the occational delivery of a piano to an apartment in the middle of the block.

    Planners have an infatuation with auto-free zones that I find really idealist and utopian. The money would be much better spent on simply adding sidewalks to arterial roads in the suburbs.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    But why is a total standstill of traffic a bad thing, while not allowing vehicular traffic at all is a good thing?
    It isn’t; unless you just irrationally hate cars on principle.

    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    I say, allow cars to be everywhere, but don't do them any favors. Give pedestrians and transit the upper hand. In parts of Manhattan there are usually more pedestrians on the sidewalks than there are people in cars. The obvious solution is to widen the sidewalks and narrow the streets. But apparently there is some demand for autos to get in there, so let them have their inefficient single lane, for the occational delivery of a piano to an apartment in the middle of the block.
    I agree. I think it’s both a functional mistake (everywhere) and politically unsavvy (in the US) to swing wildly from “cars are everything” to “no cars”. How about Cars and people in the right proportion? As for parked deliveries, there could be indents in the capacious sidewalk at mid-block…and plenty of ticketing for violators (not parking except for unloading in those ‘bays’).. There could be

    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    Planners have an infatuation with auto-free zones that I find really idealist and utopian.
    It is worse than idealist and utopian, IMHO; it is tinged with some sort of spite and misguided communitarianism. I readily agree that designing cities exclusively around cars has led to horrible consequences. I fail to see how that translates into planning cars entirely away and/or going out of one’s way to penalize drivers.


    ------------


    Other than that, i think the light rail project there is a good idea, if it does away with buses, etc. In most cases, rail-borne transport has serious donwsides compared to wheel-borne public transport (inflexibility, higher cost) but in a particularly densely used area like this it can make sense.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    I guess that sounds OK, if it does indeed work. But I hope there are warning signs, so there's no lawsuits if the train causes the person to paralyze themselves as they land on their head and twist their neck as they hit the ground. Still, I don't see why they can't put a decorative fence to separate the train and the pedestrians and only allow crossings at the cross-streets/rail stations.

    What is the point in pedestrianising a street if you are going to corral pedestrians on the footpath. To get from one side of the street to the exact opposite side, lets say to shop, go to a particular cafe, etc I have to walk down to an intersection and wait for lights to change blah blah blah. Crikey its Friday the 13th, what are you doing out of bed.

    What I am trying to say is that we have a recently installed tram system in Dublin, we do not have excessive use of railings etc. The point being that people and trams are well able to avoid each other.

  23. #23
    Cirrus's avatar
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    Transit in mixed flow with pedestrians works fine all over the world, including the US. You just have to realize that the trains don't move very fast (which is OK because they're not going very far).

  24. #24
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I agree. I think it’s both a functional mistake (everywhere) and politically unsavvy (in the US) to swing wildly from “cars are everything” to “no cars”.
    Please, we are talking about one cross-town street out of, what, 230 of them? I would hardly call this a "wild" swing. I kind of understand your argument, but one measly little twelve-block street in the biggest city in the nation is not going to make a dent in the automobile-pedestrian balance.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    Please, we are talking about one cross-town street out of, what, 230 of them? I would hardly call this a "wild" swing. I kind of understand your argument, but one measly little twelve-block street in the biggest city in the nation is not going to make a dent in the automobile-pedestrian balance.
    Obviosuly it's notgoing to be a monumental shift, no. But, fi that street is coingested as it is, then the non-bus traffic gets shifted to 41st/43rd, etc., they get more congested. More trams?

    When I ahve more time I will lay out my reasoning behind opposing, in general, pedestrianization of all but very short segments and the benefit of preserving connectivity for vehicles as well as pedestrians.

    In Europe, at least, 'anit-car', / pedestrianize and conquer is quite fashionable and it is being applied (with resistance from motorists) a bit like other planning errors were applied in the 50s/60s (clear the 'slums', build concrete monoliths).
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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