Rail projects rise on the urgency meter for North Carolina’s Triangle Transit

Angela Cotey | Progressive Railroading

 

A new pedestrian bridge over nine railroad tracks will offer a shortcut between Sacramento City College and Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood. It will be built off-site, transported next to the tracks and installed via crane.MANNY CRISOSTOMO/MCRISOSTOMO@SACBEE.COMTriangle Transit is advancing plans to build a light-rail line that will connect Chapel Hill and East Durham, N.C. The 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project would include stops at the University of North Carolina, its hospitals, residential and business districts, Duke University and Duke Medical Center, downtown Durham and North Carolina Central University.

The light-rail project is one component of a regional transportation plan Triangle Transit has developed to address the growing population in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Cary and Durham. The region has grown dramatically in recent years and currently is home to about 1.4 million people. That number is expected to double in 25 years, says TTA General Manager David King.

“There is something about knowing that literally hundreds of thousands of people are coming to your region that tends to focus the mind,” he says.

That’s why, when King joined the agency in 2006 after a 33-year stint at the North Carolina Department of Transportation, he revisited a transit-expansion plan that had been shelved earlier that year. In the early 2000s, Triangle Transit officials were discussing a 27-mile Durham-to-Raleigh regional rail line, over which diesel multiple units would operate along the state-owned North Carolina Railroad Co.’s right of way. The line would serve Research Triangle Park, Cary and North Carolina State University. But as the project worked its way through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts process, Triangle Transit officials realized it wouldn’t be approved for the federal program. Ridership estimates weren’t as strong as other proposed systems in the United States and the agency did not yet have a local funding match secured. Execs withdrew the agency’s application. Read more

Sacramento to install Curtis Park pedestrian bridge via airlift

Tony Bizjak | The Sacramento Bee

A new pedestrian bridge over nine railroad tracks will offer a shortcut between Sacramento City College and Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood. It will be built off-site, transported next to the tracks and installed via crane.MANNY CRISOSTOMO/MCRISOSTOMO@SACBEE.COM

MANNY CRISOSTOMO

How do you build a bridge over nine rows of railroad tracks where trains are rolling through day and night? That is the puzzle the city of Sacramento faced as it contemplated construction, possibly starting this winter, of a $6 million pedestrian and bike bridge over the Union Pacific and Sacramento Regional Transit tracks in Curtis Park.

The arched steel bridge will allow students, commuters and others a shortcut between Sacramento City College and the Curtis Park neighborhood, including the Curtis Park Village development now under construction in the former railyard just east of the tracks. The answer, following several rounds of discussions among the city, UP and RT, is simple but will involve aerial acrobatics.

The city’s bridge contractor will build the 174-foot span at an off-site plant and transport it in several pieces to the site, where it will be assembled next to the tracks, then lifted by a crane and gingerly set onto its foundations.

“That will be a sight to see, the weekend we do that,” city project manager Ofelia Avalos said. “It’s going to be very challenging. There is a risk factor, but we decided this is the best way to build that thing.” Construction and installation will take place over about 13 months, Avalos said. The end result will be an arched bridge that evokes the railyard’s history. Read more

 

Rail~Volution Recap: The Power of Millennials and Transit Planning in the Twin Cities

Brian Martucci and Kyle Mianulli | The Line Media

PHOTO BY KYLE MIANULL

PHOTO BY KYLE MIANULL

Minneapolis put its best foot forward for the 20th annual Rail~Volution conference, held September 21-24 at the Hyatt on Nicollet Mall. Drawing more than 600 of the nation’s top transit planners and policy-makers, the conference highlighted transit-oriented development, sustainable design and exciting technological innovations happening from coast to coast.

The focus, naturally, was on the Twin Cities, where “the region’s 3.2 million people create a vibrant society,” according to Rail~Volution’s website, using “integrated systems and connections to light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit; an expansive bus system; and the…Nice Ride bike share program” to get around. That’s high praise for a conference that began in transit-crazy Portland, Oregon.

Though Rail~Volution spoke to transit users of all ages, this year’s message was clear: Despite Millennials’ propensity for tweeting, selfies and Instagrams of food, not to mention short attention spans, the 14-34 age demographic is reshaping the way cities are built. Read more

MARTA ramps up its transit oriented development program at the right time

Andrew Tate | Atlanta Business Chronicle

MARTA's new pedestrian bridge in Buckhead. Two apartment towers and an office building are under construction around the station.

MARTA’s new pedestrian bridge in Buckhead. Two apartment towers and an office building are under construction around the station.

MARTA’s latest announcement of its intent to allow developers to build “vibrant, mixed-use Transit Oriented Development” above the North Avenue, Midtown, Arts Center, and Lenox stations feels exhaustingly overdue.

Thanks to MARTA’s leadership and concentrated efforts by a handful of smart growth organizations over the past three years, the ball is finally teed up for transit-oriented development (TOD) along the Peachtree Corridor. The decision to consider 99-year ground leases with developers—or possibly the air rights in fee simple—while bafflingly late in their legacy as owners is a savvy business move.

It’s also arguably made at precisely the right time.

Atlanta’s intown submarkets continue to mirror urbanization trends across the county as creative class tenants (and a few owners) are drawn to walkability, proximity to work, and cultural density. Midtown and Buckhead are the strongest submarkets in metro Atlanta, with multifamily continuing to outperform every sector.

Midtown’s apartment rent growth is a 7 percent — 40 basis points higher than the Atlanta market average, according to a report by Reis, Inc. Looking at these numbers—combined with recent decisions by several companies to relocate intown—perhaps it is best that MARTA has waited until now. Among MARTA’s stated goals are to reinforce the stations as “regional destinations which are highly desirable places to live, work and/or play,” to increase ridership by promoting increased pedestrian activity between the developments and the stations, and to generate revenue. Read more

The BRT Difference: How CTfastrak will change the rider experience

CTfastrak

Communities across the country are discovering Bus Rapid Transit, a new rapid transit option that combines the speed and passenger amenities of a train, with the flexibility of a bus and includes the latest technologies to improve reliability and provide real-time information for passengers.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems like the CTfastrak system currently under construction between New Britain and Hartford offer a high-quality rapid transit experience, and are gaining in popularity for their ease-of-use, speedy service, and level of passenger amenities. More than 20 regions throughout the U.S. – like Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Miami and Boston – have BRT systems in operation. Many more are under development or in the planning stages.

While all BRT systems have some differences in how they developed and operate, all true BRT’s contain the following major elements.

Running Way/Operating Method

All BRT systems have some form of dedicated or exclusive right-of-way dedicated to bus operations. CTfastrak will use an exclusive, dedicated, bus-only roadway to speed bus travel between New Britain and Hartford. This fully dedicated roadway is the most effective way to provide fast, reliable service by separating buses from mixed traffic. CTfastrak travel time will be competitive with auto travel in the corridor, attracting new riders to the system who might otherwise drive. And longer distance routes in the CTfastrak system can use less congested portions of the highway system while using the CTfastrak roadway for speedier travel in the most congested portion of the trip between New Britain and Hartford.

Stations

BRT systems have limited stops along the roadway. Rather than 8-10 stops per mile like on a regular bus route, CTfastrak will have stops approximately one mile apart on the roadway.  CTfastrak’s 10 stations will include multiple shelters with seating, bicycle racks, ticket vending machines, maps of routes and the surrounding neighborhood, and landscaping. Station platforms will be raised to allow fast, level boarding onto vehicles.  Electronic displays at each station will let passengers know when their bus will be arriving, and closed circuit cameras at the stations will enhance passenger security.

Vehicles

Sixty-foot, articulated, vehicles will be the flagship of the CTfastrak fleet, with a host of passenger conveniences.  These include multiple boarding doors, low floors, expedited wheelchair boarding technology, and on-board bike provisions to speed boarding.  Audio and visual announcements will aid riders in identifying the next stop.  All buses are also equipped with closed circuit cameras. All buses will be connected to the vehicle operations center to assure smooth, on-time operations.  Finally, CTfastrak’s super low emission, hybrid diesel-electric vehicles will use less fuel than and produce lower emissions than traditional diesel buses. These comfortable, modern vehicles will be used to operate the frequent shuttle service along the CTfastrak line.  CTfastrak services will also use 40-foot transit buses and 45-foot commuter coaches to provide other services that extend along the roadway for part of their route then run on local streets or the limited-access highway system to reach destinations off the roadway.  Read more

 

D.C. developers may get a pass on providing parking

Tucker Echols | Washington Business Journal

Required parking spaces at new developments near D.C. streetcar lines, Metro stations or major bus corridors would be reduced in new regulations that have won preliminary approval in the District - JOANNE S.LAWTON

JOANNE S.LAWTON

New regulations that would give D.C. developers more flexibility in deciding how much parking to include in a project have been given preliminary approval by the D.C. Office of Zoning, WAMU.org reports.

The mandatory minimum number of parking spaces would be eliminated for projects in downtown D.C. and cut in half for projects close to Metrorail, a streetcar line or a major bus corridor. Underground parking for residential projects would be left to the developer’s discretion based on market trends.

The change is not being embraced by everyone in the city. AAA Mid-Atlantic is vociferously opposed. “The city is giving out a couple hundred thousand parking tickets a year,” WAMU quoted AAA’s Lon Anderson as saying. Read more

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