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Thread: Incorporation of light rail transit in auto dominated areas without acquiring new ROW

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Incorporation of light rail transit in auto dominated areas without acquiring new ROW

    Does anyone have any information on the incorporation of light rail into existing urban auto oriented developments? I am mainly looking for some information that would not require any new acquisition of public right of way to put a light rail system into an older dense urban downtown with itís several terminals extending out into the surrounding economic centers of the suburbs.

    While the older downtown section had trolleys at one point, public transportation has been limited to auto/ bus traffic for the past 80 years.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2

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    Look into Portland's LRT -- by using low floor LRVs, the LRT stops have basically the same footprint as bus stops -- which makes them easy to implement or relocate. Not having to build standard stations will help reduce the overall footprint and the ROW requirements.

    Running LRV trains along city streets reduces the amount of ROW you require; Calgary has a dedicated downtown street for our LRT (shared with buses) while Portland I believe has LRV trains sharing the road with regular traffic.

    Watch out though -- having to share a ROW with other vehicles reduces the capacity of your system (how many trains you can run per hour on a line). You may save in the short term by not having to purchase ROW, but you may regret it in the long run when you max out your capacity.
    Last edited by DPP; 26 Sep 2006 at 12:01 PM. Reason: added a bit more info

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Salt Lake did it in the downtown area with two lines, the line down Main St. and the University Line (although the University Line did require some small sections of land acquisition). I believe UTA's web stie is www.utabus.com. Salt Lake is also well into the process on two spurs to the main line (the West Valley Line and the Mid Jordan Line) which are just finishing the EIS process. Voters will also get to vote on a sales tax increase to fund further rail lines over the next 6-10 years.

    I would also look at Bus Rapid Transit. It is cheaper to build and more flexible.

    Denver has done a ton of light rail work over the last few years and has an aggressive construction time line for multiple lines in the area. I toured their construction sites and met with their planners earlier this year. It was very impressive. They did have some sections where they acquired ROW, but they have also incorporated existing areas where possible. It may not be applicable to your situation because what they have done so far is basically following the I-25 corridor. I believe the transit agency there is TRD and the project website is www.trexproject.com

  4. #4
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    My suggestion is to convert a downtown street to pedestrian/light rail. I believe that is what DART mainly did in downtown Dallas (about as auto-oriented as you get). The storeowners along that street may get a little touchy, but they are really exchanging one kind of traffic for another--which is more likely to stop in.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman GŲring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Detroit?

    michaelskis, are you proposing this for Detroit? Wouldn't Detroit and the surrounding edge cities be better off considering commuter rail rather than LRT?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Look at Milwaukee's Connector Study

    http://www.milwaukeeconnector.com/

  7. #7
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Nah Ski's is looking at GR.

    Detroit has a proposal out there it is currently going through alternatives analysis so there is not really much you can derive from it so far.
    http://www.annarbordetroitrapidtransitstudy.com/

    Ski's does propose an insteresting corundrum. First we have narrowed the roads to allow more pedestrains and for general traffic calming; now planners are called upon to add light rail into the mix. I would not discount abandoned RR ROW for these types of projects. You can also go above ground, but that is relatively unsightly (but offers speed as there is no conflicts with ground transport).

    BTW go get em Tigers!
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Although it's not light rail, a few years ago, the Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans reinstalled the street car lines along Canal Street and Carrollton Avenue. These lines also connect with a street car that runs along the riverfront. The Canal and Carrollton lines did not require any additional ROW.

    Here's a link to an old thread about the reopening of the streetcar line.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We are looking to run an "electric streetcar" in the traffic lanes (curbside) here in Albuquerque. They did countless studies considering various alternatives (including running it up the median), but this was the most cost effective and required the least amount of infrastructure. You get curbside loading, traffic can move around it (though it may be a dedicated lane in certain areas) and you can keep on-street parking (you only lose a small number for the curbside loading sites). This is all theory and conjecture, though, since we have not actually built it yet...You might be able to find some info about it online, though, and see it as a model. Search for "light rail" (what they originally considered) or "electric streetcar" and "Albuquerque" and see what comes up.

    Also, in places like Philly and Baltimore, they run surface lines as I described through some very dense urban areas, so it is definately do-able. The only problem is when you run them in a city fond of double and triple parking like Philly...
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  10. #10

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    Toronto's streetcars

    Investigate Toronto's streetcar system then as well... The last time I was in Toronto, there was a big controversy about a proposal to make some streets where the streetcars were sharing the ROW with cars and trucks streetcar-only...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_streetcar_system

    http://transit.toronto.on.ca/index.shtml

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    An LRT running in existing traffic is really just a prettier bus, and is only going to have bus capacities in such a situation - that is to say, not particularly high. The high competitive capacities of LRT systems only begins to appear once you have segregated them from the traffic that i've seen, with separated right of way (set aside busway, contrefoil (opposite direction) lanes, etc) It's a fallacy to think that just because you paint a bus up and call it an "LRT" that it is going to be a competitive service.
    imo, go ahead and gobble up a lane, or hell, the whole damn street, to use for your rail system. You can carry a LOT more capacity on a rail, and people in cars don't shop so much because of the parking penalty.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DPP View post
    Look into Portland's LRT -- by using low floor LRVs, the LRT stops have basically the same footprint as bus stops -- which makes them easy to implement or relocate.
    The Portland Streetcar would be a better example. I think you are talking about the MAX lines. The streetcar was built into an exiting set of streets using precast concrete railbeds. Very cheap and effective.

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