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Thread: Minneapolis to St. Paul transit options

  1. #1
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    Minneapolis to St. Paul transit options

    The university wants trains to pass through campus by going beneath Washington Avenue because street-level service could rattle nearby classrooms and laboratories and make crossing the busy avenue more dangerous. But some transportation planners say the cost of the tunnel may be too high.

    http://www.startribune.com/462/story/168739.html

    My answer is a SAFEGE monorail, but this is my home turf, so I guess that is only to be expected.

    Comments?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Interesting,

    Is the area near the propsed tram the only spot on campus where this sensitive equipment is located? What departments use the building. I guess even though I could see the safely issue I think above ground will be much more visible, user friendly for students, and safer for service after dark. I am from Detroit though where we have minimal mass transit. We do have the monorail system downtown "People Mover" which runs elevated above the steets. I find the fact that you can see where you are located in the downtown more appropriate for the geographicall challenged that can only determine what stop they are at by surrounding landmarks.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I don't understand how light rail could rattle buildings. Thans not much of an arguement. If its such a terrible thing, why does the hiawatha connect up with three huge traffic generators for your region (MOA, Lindbergh, Downtown Minn)?

    $140 million is a lot of money, is the university prepared to pay their fair share of placing this underground? I'm sure mitigation measures for existing buildings would cost far less. $140 million in additional costs could make FTA say forget it, no rail line for you. Is that what you want?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Why not elevate it?
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I've been to this part of Minneapolis and I agree that ground-level is definitely NOT the best option. There are residential areas (including some very interesting ethnic districts), hotels, and crowded streets...in addition to the college community. I agree with jordanb...this area is prime for "elevated" rail (i.e. the "L") or monorail. In additon, with the Mississippi River smack-dab in the middle, a tunnel isn't the best idea.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian shishi's avatar
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    This makes no sense. An underground will more likely cause rattling/shaking than a light rail at steet level. Plus, elevated can make a problem down the road, just ask anyone who lives in Chicago and parts of NYC. And at the cost, they should just do light rail, limit the speed through campus, and build it right.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by shishi
    This makes no sense. An underground will more likely cause rattling/shaking than a light rail at steet level. Plus, elevated can make a problem down the road, just ask anyone who lives in Chicago and parts of NYC. And at the cost, they should just do light rail, limit the speed through campus, and build it right.

    I hear ya shishi, other option make it cost prohibitive, and it would take years to build. I wonder if the univestity thought about the disruptions tunnling even makes? Elevated trains are just plain ugly.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by shishi
    Plus, elevated can make a problem down the road, just ask anyone who lives in Chicago and parts of NYC.
    Well, people who don't like the elevated trains in Chicago are a small minority. Most people figure they give the city character.

    At any rate, new concrete structures (rather than the old iron jobbies in Chicago, NYC, and Philly) are quiet and can be made to look pretty unsubstantial. Granted the stations are still big.

    Most major rail systems in the country rely upon elevated tracks for at least a portion of their system, including new systems like BART and the DC Metro. It would be foolhardy for Minneapolis not to consider the option.

    Monorail wouldn't make sense though, if for no other reason because they've already settled on a technology, and having another system with incompatable vehicles would not make fiscal sense (you'd need two sets of shops and facilities to maintain the trains from the two different systems).
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    At any rate, new concrete structures (rather than the old iron jobbies in Chicago, NYC, and Philly) are quiet and can be made to look pretty unsubstantial. Granted the stations are still big.
    The concrete ones look ugly when they're first built and after about ten years of weathering they look butt ugly. The old iron structures in Chicago might be bulky but they have a heck of a lot of character. I'd trade you MARTA's stained concrete elevated lines for the el lines in the loop anyday.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    The metal structures are very noisy. At any rate, there are concrete L structures in Chicago, mostly on the Orange Line (built in 1993):





    The Orange Line is fast, smooth, and quiet.

    For the Blue Line restoration, the steel legs were replaced with concrete legs:

    http://chicago-l.org/stations/images.../western26.jpg
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    I've been to this part of Minneapolis and I agree that ground-level is definitely NOT the best option. There are residential areas (including some very interesting ethnic districts), hotels, and crowded streets...in addition to the college community. I agree with jordanb...this area is prime for "elevated" rail (i.e. the "L") or monorail. In additon, with the Mississippi River smack-dab in the middle, a tunnel isn't the best idea.
    Even with a tunnel, the rail would run on the lower (traffic deck) of the Washington Ave bridge. It would not go underground until the Weisman/ScCB area. The residential areas wouldn't really be impacted as much by construction, etc as they would be the possibility of decreased mobility if a lane of traffic is lost.

    The buildings on the north side of Washington Ave house Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering/Computer Science.

    South side includes many biology/health sciences structures.

    From a congestion mitigation perspective, underground is best because the trains will eliminate many of the buses that run on Washington (probably all 50's and some 16's.) The U has been trying for some time to reduce emmissions through campus, and I think street level would make it worse. Furthermore, eliminating a traffic lane through campus (meaining only one lane in each direction) could be catastrophic because there are a few areas that are ONLY accessible from Washington and require a left turn for entry or exit. That turning around could require going all the way across the Mississippi to the Cedar exit could also be an increased cause of congestion on the West Bank.

    The U would try their best not an elevated let go forward, even though they theoretically have no power (Washington Ave is a Hennepin Cty road). They have spent fortunes rehabbing Northrup Mall, and students dropped a lot of coin on Coffman; to have a steel or concrete elevated in that area would not please anyone. Likewise, the logistics of getting rail from the lower level of the Washington Ave Bridge to 20' over Washington Avenue (above superstructure), a total rise of 30-40 feet, would require 600+ feet (and that's at a 5% grade) in an area with overhead structures (pedestrian bridges) as well as the need to maintain certain critical intersections (as detailed above.) Elevated would most likely have an equal construction cost (I haven't pulled out my recent copy of RS Means, so don't quote me on that.)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    Is it just me, or are tunnels becoming the NIMBYism of shared ROW transit?

    I don't think a tunnel will make the budget since I hear of other projects where tunnels have been nixed by Federal funding red tape.
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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by safege
    Is it just me, or are tunnels becoming the NIMBYism of shared ROW transit?
    I think its just you. One of our alternatives is a bus rapid transit line that is within the current street ROW. We think safety issues can be mitigated by careful placement of the stations. The major draw for this is increased public access to the neighborhoods and a lower cost than conventional rail (that would run in railyards). Tunnels do have their place in only certain instances. The feds have been bit by the two headed snake known as the central artery. It has learned that these cost overruns lead to serious problems in funding other infrastructure projects.

    I don't think its NIMBY, I think its erring on the side of caution. As I mentioned, tunnels are expensive, and can cause major disruptions during construction. This limits the amount of funding that say can be spent on replacing bus fleets or improving the Hiawatha. Its a give and take process and you better be careful of what you ask for, as you may get it.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    I think its just you. Tunnels do have their place in only certain instances. The feds have been bit by the two headed snake known as the central artery. It has learned that these cost overruns lead to serious problems in funding other infrastructure projects.

    I don't think its NIMBY, I think its erring on the side of caution. As I mentioned, tunnels are expensive, and can cause major disruptions during construction. This limits the amount of funding that say can be spent on replacing bus fleets or improving the Hiawatha. Its a give and take process and you better be careful of what you ask for, as you may get it.
    I guess I meant that the public tend to ask for a tunnel, even when no tunnel was in the specs. They ask for extra stops as well, but that is expected, bordering on normal.

    The biggest gripe about the Hiawatha was the lack of park 'n ride spaces in relation to other light rail lines. As yet, I have not seen this issue addressed in the paper for this route.
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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by safege
    I guess I meant that the public tend to ask for a tunnel, even when no tunnel was in the specs. They ask for extra stops as well, but that is expected, bordering on normal.
    The tunnel was in the specs long, long ago. It's only more recently that they've started looking at 'at-grade' options.

    The biggest gripe about the Hiawatha was the lack of park 'n ride spaces in relation to other light rail lines. As yet, I have not seen this issue addressed in the paper for this route.
    There are lots of parking spaces at the GSA! If you can figure out how to get there...

    I'm expecting to see the location of (atleast part of) the old Snelling Ave Garage as a P&R.

    Other than that, maybe some of the old shopping center at Lexington. Closer to the U, there's the large vacant lots behind the KSTP station (right west of off 280 on Territorial)

    At the rest of the stops (Raymond, Fairview, Dale, Rice) would be hard to fit P&R options in.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    I think its just you. One of our alternatives is a bus rapid transit line that is within the current street ROW. We think safety issues can be mitigated by careful placement of the stations. The major draw for this is increased public access to the neighborhoods and a lower cost than conventional rail (that would run in railyards). Tunnels do have their place in only certain instances. The feds have been bit by the two headed snake known as the central artery. It has learned that these cost overruns lead to serious problems in funding other infrastructure projects.

    I don't think its NIMBY, I think its erring on the side of caution. As I mentioned, tunnels are expensive, and can cause major disruptions during construction. This limits the amount of funding that say can be spent on replacing bus fleets or improving the Hiawatha. Its a give and take process and you better be careful of what you ask for, as you may get it.
    I jumped the gun before you got to edit your post.

    I agree that BRT will get the nod eventually on this route. People must like them in close to the numbers for light rail, if they didn't, they wouldn't be building them.
    Psychotics are consistently inconsistent. The essence of sanity is to be inconsistently inconsistent.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by safege
    I jumped the gun before you got to edit your post.

    I agree that BRT will get the nod eventually on this route. People must like them in close to the numbers for light rail, if they didn't, they wouldn't be building them.
    I disagree. I think it will be light rail. But not necessarily for the proper reasons. Even though (Chris) Coleman and Rybak are 'peaceful' in comparison to previous mayors have been, I still think there's a bit of a little brother sentiment in St. Paul. That and the media's love affair with light rail will sell it as a must. I've not read the DEIS, so I shan't venture to say which would be the better option.

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