Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Ground transport needs work? Nah!

A senate committee will hear testimony on what everybody already knows. The ground transit system is a crumbling complete mess. The Associated Press reports:

The 20-month study by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission paints a dismal picture of the nation’s infrastructure system with roads, bridges and highways, passenger and freight rail services rapidly deteriorating with limited funding resources to pay for necessary repairs and upgrades.

The findings and recommendations by the 12-member commission, which were supported by nine of the commissioners, is expected to re-ignite political debate over raising gasoline taxes. Recent efforts by Congress to increase it have faltered, in part due to objections by the Bush administration.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is expected to hear testimony from five of the commissioners including Frank Busalacchi, secretary of the Wisconsin Transportation Department; Matt Rose, president and chief executive of BNSF Railway and Patrick Quinn, co-chairman and president of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, among others.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

California high-speed rail bond measure to appear on ballot

California voters will have the chance to kick start construction on a high-speed rail line stretching across the state, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The article does a good job of pointing out the growing need for such a service, which can no longer wait for a better budgetary situation for the state (Does California have those anymore?):

It’s about time. For years legislators have declined to put a $10 billion bond measure on the ballot that would start construction of the rail’s first building phase, stretching from San Francisco to Anaheim. Legislators were waiting for the perfect storm of budget solvency and economic growth, thinking that this might help the bond pass. Apparently they’ve realized that California’s budget woes aren’t going to get better before gas prices and global warming get worse: The bond measure should finally be on the ballot this November.

As the federal government twiddles its fingers over high-speed rail improvements, it may fall increasingly to the states to implement smart alternatives such as this to expensive fuels and congested roadways.

Filed under: United States High Speed Rail

Baby step for L. A. maglev

The money is for an environmental story on a project which is expected to cost $12 billion.(Of course, highways don’t cost anybody at dime.) The Las Vegas Review Journal reports

he U.S. Senate has approved $45 million in funding for a proposed magnetic levitation train linking Southern California and Las Vegas

The comments section after the article is predictable and entertaining.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

Living by the tracks

Living in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, I thought it would be appropriate to have my first post be about the area’s new Hiawatha Line light rail train. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a story about new residential developments happening along the popular rail corridor:

Minneapolis-based Klodt Inc. recently began work on a second phase of Hiawatha Flats, an upscale project in Minneapolis along the Hiawatha Line light-rail corridor near 46th Street. The 61-unit building is expected to be completed in summer 2009, according to Vice President Lois Flannery.

The first phase, which has 163 units, was completed last summer and is about 60 percent occupied. The apartments include studios, one- and two-bedroom units and seven townhouses. Rents range from $915 to $1,880 a month, Flannery said.

Apartments in the second phase will be of similar sizes and prices, she said.

The two buildings will share amenities that include an indoor pool, cinema, exercise room and social rooms. The units feature 9-foot ceilings, laundries, ceramic baths, maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances.

Stories such as this serve to drive home the point that rather than lowering property values, rail stations can attract developers and investment to an area. Clearly this particular project is limited to luxury apartments, but hopefully this trend will illustrate that there is demand for development of suburbs and communities along existing (and planned) rail lines.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

An introduction from cold, cold Minnesota

Hey everyone, my name is Logan Nash, and I’m one of the new contributors to Trains for America. I’m originally from Knoxville, TN, but I’m currently attending Carleton College in Northfield, MN (about 30 miles south of the Twin Cities).

My love affair with rail transit began as a young child, getting lost on the London Underground with my father during a family vacation. Being able to get around that city (and indeed, country) without an automobile blew my fragile suburban mind. I’ve been something of a student of public transportation ever since.

I’m excited to be working with Pat on Trains for America, and I hope I can live up to his work so far.

Filed under: Administration

South Central HSR

Arkansas State House Majority Leader Steve Harrelson of Texarkana is just back from an important regional planning conference in Marshall, Texas. Service along the Little Rock to San Antonio corridor was discussed and Harrelson will post a complete report on his Under the Dome blog. He did highlight some of the known benefits. Darned interesting stuff.

Here are a few quick facts:
• Speed: Using the existing rail bed, trains on this corridor could travel 80-110 MPH
• Little Rock to Dallas: About a three hour trip with no airport waiting
• Cost: About $1.3 million per mile (compared to $10-$12 million/mile for highways)
• Benefits: 30% less emissions, takes cars and trucks off the interstate, no high gas prices

Also included in the mix is the improvement of the lines from Dallas to Meridian, Ms. This opens up connections to Atlanta, the northeast and potentially Florida. This would also provide a Jackson, Ms. connection to the Midwest and New Orleans. There are also links to local coverage in local newspapers in Steve Harrelson’s posting.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

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April 2008