Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

New Minneapolis bridge will be ready for light rail

Although commuter transportation is somewhat “off topic” here, the sensible allocation of transportation tax dollars is always a suitable topic. This is even more so as the opposition attempts to place blame for infrastructure failures on other modes of transit. Here is a portion of the Associated Press report.

Minnesota’s governor opened the door Friday for a possible compromise on a light-rail line on a new Interstate 35W bridge, a city goal that the state had warned would drive up the cost and might slow the project.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signaled the potentially important compromise on his weekly radio show, where he said the new bridge could be built to accommodate a light-rail train in the future – a feature some in his administration had cast doubt on only a few days earlier.

Pawlenty cautioned that adding light rail would make the bridge replacement cost more, and that the federal government was unlikely to pick up that part of the tab. He indicated the cost of light rail would be weighed against other bridge enhancements sought by the city.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Rick Murphy: No Madison stop for Twin Cities train

Murphy sounds like Scrooge, the wise benevolent Scrooge we find at the conclusion of Dickens’ classic.

His letter to the editor in the Madison, Wisconsin newspaper, The Capital Times, reeks of understanding. Murphy also shows a keen appreciation of the Midwest High Speed Rail Initiative.  As the Rolling Stones once said, “You can’t always get what you want.”

Increasing speeds to 110 mph on portions of the existing main line via Columbus is certainly possible; that line saw 100 mph trains as early as the 1930s.

The line between Watertown and Madison is another story; it was built as a secondary line and, even with improved track, it’s likely that 79 mph (another Federal Railroad Administration speed limit) would be the top possible speed.

The limitations are even more severe between Madison and Portage; this route was built as a low-speed branch line and wouldn ‘t even allow 79 mph.

Further, safety concerns may dictate that trains be limited to 30 mph or so for their lengthy run within Madison city limits.

The end result: With the lower speeds and the increased mileage through Madison, the travel time between Chicago, Milwaukee and the Twin Cities would be much longer than it could or should be, and this would defeat the greater purpose.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail, Uncategorized

Fort Worth Stat-Telegram comes close

The editorial writer came just that close to getting it right on curing congestion. It was, otherwise, such a good opinion piece that it seems a shame to rip it. The only thing wrong with the Star-Telegram opinion is that ti was, at least in part, wrong.

Who knows? It may be that expanded highways are justified in some circumstances. Generally, however, this is a course on which we should not lightly embark. Roads just feed pollution and congestion.

The editorial at least recognized the transportation summit and did come to one rather surprising and sensible solution. Here is part of it.

Building more new roads and expanding existing ones are parts of the solution, including toll roads such as the Southwest Parkway in Fort Worth and Texas 121 in Dallas, Denton and Collin counties.

Part of the transportation funding solution should be a substantial increase in the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents a gallon (last raised in 1993) and hikes in some state gasoline taxes.

Texas hasn’t raised its 20-cents-a-gallon tax since 1991, in part because of politicians who are too spineless to take this badly overdue step.

But as we suffer from increasingly painful congestion indigestion and shell out more money for tolls, higher gas taxes might look considerably more appealing.

Indeed. Higher gas taxes, yes.

Stop diverting transportation funds into unnecessary and overbuilt highways.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

The trains are coming back to Goldsboro

North Carolina enhances its’ progressive reputation by concentrating on rail passenger service. The latest developments are along the corridor between Raleigh and Wilmington. The Goldsboro News-Argus has an extensive report, which is highlighted here.

… when the mayor announced the sale of Goldsboro’s historic depot to the North Carolina Department of Transportation as part of the state’s Historic Station Restoration and Preservation Program this morning, he called it an “historic day,” one he said will set the stage for the rebirth of long range, intercity passenger rail service through town.DOT has been eyeing purchase of the station since May 2000, when a task force was formed to research the feasibility of passenger rail service from Raleigh to Wilmington.

Preliminary estimates show a cost of between $4 and $8 million to renovate the facility, Mrs. Thompson said.

Once completed, Union Station will operate as a multimodal transportation center — housing GATEWAY buses, the Goldsboro Police Depart-ment’s Crime Prevention unit and, potentially, Greyhound.

And before a passenger rail can make it through Goldsboro, improvements will need to be made along the line.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

Maine tackles highway congestion with rail solution

Despite the whining of a previous newspaper letter writer, the proof is in the service, growing and gaining. Here is the latest from the Portland Press Herald.

PORTLAND — Officials gathered in Portland today to celebrate the expansion of the Downeaster passenger rail service to five daily trips from Portland to Boston.

“The Downeaster is a great success story,” said Gov. John Baldacci during the event at the Portland Transportation Terminal.

The Downeaster already has carried more than 1.6 million passengers since the start of service, removing 800,000 passenger cars from Maine highways, Baldacci said. Adding the fifth round trip is projected to eliminate another 30,000 cars from Maine roads.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

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