CTfastrak station nears completion

Scott Whipple | New Britain Herald

 

Kevin Bartram | Staff Connecticut DOT representative Lisa Rivers, left, and Tyler Tompkins from Baker Construction inspect the nearly complete downtown New Britain CTFastrak station on Friday. The dedicated busway from New Britain to Hartford is scheduled to begin service next year.

Kevin Bartram | Staff Connecticut DOT representative Lisa Rivers, left, and Tyler Tompkins from Baker Construction inspect the nearly complete downtown New Britain CTFastrak station on Friday. The dedicated busway from New Britain to Hartford is scheduled to begin service next year.

While working on the New Britain Downtown Station, a CTfastrak construction worker hums the theme to “The Jetsons.” Lisa Rivers, transit manager for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, knows why.

“He says the lampposts look like flying saucers,” she said. “We used a lot of stainless steel here. It’s easy to maintain and it has a modern look”.

With the station nearing completion and needing only finishing touches, Rivers gave a visitor a tour of the site Friday.

Rivers said construction teams have been getting the 9.4 mile busway and its stations built. “Now we’re making sure what we built works for our customers,” she said. She was especially proud of the level platform, so riders can enter and exit buses easily.

“We adjusted the bellows on buses to ease the berthing,” Rivers explained. “A finishing touch will be a rub rail along the curve so drivers can use their mirrors to line up the bus with the platform. The rub rail bumps the tires so the bus can’t get too close.”

Opening day is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 2015. However, there could be an earlier soft opening showcasing express buses. Signs will tell riders when their bus will arrive and its ultimate destination. People with visual impairments can push a button and hear the message on the sign.

All stations will be completed on time, though, at this point, downtown New Britain is farther along than stations closer to Hartford.

“The other stations started later, and we‘ve been using those locations as a lay-down area [storage for construction.],” Rivers said.

The solar panels for the platform will be installed next weekend, and later the ticket vending machines. Over the winter, more bits and pieces will be added. Read more

Cycling in the cities: 7 new local inventions for bike enthusiasts here and around the globe

Brian Martucci | The Line Media

 

PHOTO BY MICAH TAYLOR/FLICKR

PHOTO BY MICAH TAYLOR/FLICKR

As everyone knows by now, it’s great to be a cyclist in the Twin Cities. From folks ditching their cars for bikes, to Minneapolis and St. Paul creating nation-leading bikeway plans, pedal power has a lot of momentum here. As transit-oriented developments hits its stride along the Green Line and other key corridors, the bicycle looks to figure even more prominently into our local transit mix.

The Twin Cities isn’t only a leader in bicycle use, however, but also a major innovator in bicycle design and technology. The seven inventions profiled below have, or will have, an impact on the local and global cycling industry. And the pace of innovation shows no sign of slowing down.

Bicycle maintenance 

Park Tool: Bike Repair Stands

Two generations ago, repairing a bike meant getting on your hands and knees. No more. In 1963, cycling-crazy St. Paulites Howard Hawkins and Art Engstrom invented the world’s first bicycle repair stand, Model PRS-1. Suddenly, accessing bike chains, spokes, gears and especially tubes was a snap. The duo formed a company, Park Tool, and began marketing their innovation to bike shops and riders around the Twin Cities and Upper Midwest. Schwinn Bicycle Company was an early customer.

PRS-1 was a simple design: The device’s clamps lock on to the seat tube and raise the bike off the floor, allowing arm-level access. “The original version actually held the bike upside down,” says Paul Schoening, Park Tool’s marketing director. The next version, PRS-2, flipped the bike right side up for the first time. Read more

10 ways to get to a more vibrant central Connecticut

Staff | CTfastrak

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.COMA vibrant community is a livable community. One that connects people to everything they need – jobs, housing, business opportunities and health care centers—making their lives better and easier. Beginning early 2015, central Connecticut will have exactly that. Introducing CTfastrak. CTfastrak is Connecticut’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, providing state-of-the-art transit service on a bus-only, traffic-free roadway. This valuable system will do so much more than reduce congestion along I-84. It will become an economic engine that will drive central Connecticut to a more vibrant community.

1. Reduced transportation costs

Between high prices for gas, insurance and downtown parking, everyday driving can get expensive. On CTfastrak, riders can avoid these costs. A trip will cost the same regular low fare as CTTRANSIT buses—currently $1.50 local fare and distance-based $2.70 to $5.15 express fare. CTfastrak will save money in other ways too. With fewer cars on the road, there will be fewer emissions and less wear and tear. Which means less money spent cleaning up air and highways, and more money spent where people need it most.

2. Expanded regional access

Using CTfastrak, passengers will travel between New Britain and Hartford in 20 minutes. Express buses from Bristol, Waterbury, Cheshire and Southington will use the bus-only roadway to get downtown faster, while circulator and connector routes allow passengers to get to and from destinations within nearby communities. Working together to create a fast-paced network that connects communities and provides a variety of people with easy access to jobs, dining, shopping, health care, education and entertainment throughout the region, including:

- Major downtown employers, like Aetna, Travelers and many others

- Central Connecticut State University

- UConn Health Center

- Westfarms Mall

- St. Francis and Hartford Hospitals

- Buckland Hills area

- Bushnell Park

- XL Center

3. State-of-the-art transit

CTfastrak is more than an innovative solution to a complicated traffic congestion problem. The system incorporates many state-of-the-art technologies designed to provide an efficient, convenient, user-friendly and eco-friendly transportation alternative. Read more

Silicon Valley sprawls East: How tech jobs, housing and transit are shaping a megaregion

Lauren Hepler | Silicon Valley Business Journal\

As Silicon Valley sprawls out of the confines of the South Bay, business advocates and city planners in the East Bay's Tri-Valley region are angling to leverage transit, housing and sophisticated federal laboratories to grow the local tech industry. Here, a rendering of a proposed transit-oriented development area in Livermore, should the city win a controversial extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

As Silicon Valley sprawls out of the confines of the South Bay, business advocates and city planners in the East Bay’s Tri-Valley region are angling to leverage transit, housing and sophisticated federal laboratories to grow the local tech industry. Here, a rendering of a proposed transit-oriented development area in Livermore, should the city win a controversial extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

On the outside, the SpinDx technology pioneered at Livermore’s Sandia National Laboratory looks like little more than a beige cube with a retro CD player on one end.

But the “lab-on-a-disk” tool developed with $4 million in federal funding has been hailed as a potential game changer in the detection of biological warfare agents, like anthrax, for its capability to manipulate and identify unknown substances.

Now, startups in the Tri-Valley area of the East Bay — a region immediately northeast of Silicon Valley, centered around the cities San Ramon, Danville, Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton — want to harness the technology’s healthcare potential to diagnose cancer or conduct in-home fertility testing.

The technology represents the crystallization of the type of public-private business development work that Tri-Valley officials and economic boosters want to use to foster a growing local tech industry.

In addition to research spun out of national research centers in the area like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, they cite the region’s highly-educated workforce, strong base of corporate tenants, an emerging startup scene and increasing economic ties to Silicon Valley as variables working in their favor.

Though the Tri-Valley’s billion-dollar research tenants offer a potential leg up, the business push also comes as outlying regions from Santa Cruz to the San Joaquin Valley up to Davis also look to strengthen ties to Silicon Valley. It all adds fuel to demographers’ predictions that Northern California will likely look like a 24 million-resident “Megaregion” in just a few decades. Read more

 

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

 

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