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Wizened Variations Mar 21, 2011 2:24 AM

The Denver Light and DUS must be the center
 
Nice job to RTD on this one.

As I have discussed earlier, LODO DUS will be getting MUCH busier. (IMO far busier than planners anticipate.)

Too bad that during rush hour, both 16th Street Mall shuttles could not go in the same direction (morning go south, and, evening go north), but that would involve more bucks.

Again, a nice addition to Downtown.:)

Thanks for the info SnyderBock.:tup:

bunt_q Mar 22, 2011 4:59 AM

Majority of voters oppose FasTracks tax increase this year, poll indicates
Posted: 03/21/2011 10:31 PM
Conclusions of a recent poll assessing the chance of getting Denver-area voters this November to back a FasTracks sales-tax increase are emphatic: RTD shouldn't even try it.

"There is nothing in this data to suggest that a FasTracks sales-tax proposal has any opportunity to be successful on a 2011 ballot," The Tarrance Group wrote in a summary of its late-February poll of 600 registered voters who are especially "likely" to vote in odd-year elections.

Off-year electorates typically are smaller, older and more fiscally conservative than those voting in even election years, said Regional Transportation District political consultant Maria Garcia Berry.

In the Tarrance poll, respondents were asked whether they would vote "yes-in favor" or "no-against" a proposal to increase the RTD sales tax by 0.4 percentage points to raise $160 million annually for the FasTracks program.

Forty-three percent of those polled said they were in favor of such an increase, 53 percent were against and 4 percent were undecided, the survey found.

Such a response indicates RTD's prospects of winning a FasTracks tax increase are "fatally weak," the polling firm said.

The $6.7 billion FasTracks program, which includes six new train lines, is at least $2 billion short of what is needed to complete the project by the end of this decade.

RTD attributes the shortfall to lower-than-expected sales-tax revenues and higher-than-predicted construction costs.

In 2004, voters approved the original 0.4 percent FasTracks sales tax.

RTD directors had planned to decide this month whether to pursue the tax increase in this fall's election, but two weeks ago directors extended the timetable for making that decision until May 3.

When Tarrance tweaked the ballot question a bit, providing those polled with additional information that passage of the tax increase would allow completion of all FasTracks projects by 2019, support for the tax hike rose to 48 percent, while 49 percent were opposed, with 3 percent undecided.

Referring to the addition of the completion date, Tarrance added: "This key piece of information fails to generate the sort of ballot strength that would be necessary for viability."

Tarrance, based in Alexandria, Va., conducted the survey Feb. 22-23 for the Coalition for Smart Transit, which represents business, environmental and labor groups that have been strong backers of FasTracks. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Tarrance's findings seem to be at odds with a December poll on the proposed FasTracks tax increase conducted by The Kenney Group for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Among a number of questions, the Kenney poll asked voters whether they would support a sales-tax increase of 0.4 percentage points to get all of FasTracks built by 2018. In response, 56 percent were "strongly" or "somewhat" in favor of such a measure, and 40 percent were strongly or somewhat opposed.

When the Kenney survey separately asked voters whether they support increasing the FasTracks sales tax by "4 pennies on a $10 purchase" — another way of defining an increase of 0.4 percentage points — to get the project completed by 2018, support for the measure increased a couple of points to 58 percent.

The Kenney poll was a phone survey of 500 active voters; the margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

David Kenney said his poll was about "what" FasTracks measure voters would support while Tarrance focused on "when" they might be amenable to a tax increase.

"The polls are not contradictory at all," Kenney said. "Taken in sum, they show people value FasTracks, they value mass transit and they think it's a good project. But they don't want to pay for it right now as we continue to recover from this recession."

The Tarrance survey summary put it another way: "Voters in the RTD do not express an overwhelming sense of urgency to complete all of the FasTracks projects as quickly as possible."

Jeffrey Leib: 303-954-1645 or jleib@denverpost.com

SnyderBock Mar 22, 2011 11:26 AM

I just had a crazy idea. One that makes me think, "why didn't I think of that before now?" It's about the debate regarding future transit capacity at DUS, using the design being built.

Run EMU trains on the SW Corridor LRT tracks -- at some point in the future -- instead of LRT. That's right, convert it to EMU, just like the Gold, North and East Corridors. It can run completely on the SW Corridor LRT Tracks north to Broadway/I-25 Station. Then it can also run on the LRT Track from I-25/Broadway station north to the CPV utilizing the triple track which will be added. Through the CPV, under the Millennium Bridge some service could be placed onto the third CML track during peak operations (if freight companies will allow electrification of a very short segment under the Millennium Bridge), to relieve congestion at the bottleneck under the bridge. Then have it's own platform between the Light Rail Platforms and the three CML tracks at DUS, for added platform capacity.

What does this do? It frees up additional LRT Capacity. It also opens potential for the rail line to be shared by DMU's for a Front Range commuter rail, without having to use substantial lengths of freight ROW through central Denver.

As far as I can tell, there are no restrictions on FRA-compliant EMUs and non-FRA compliant LRTs, from sharing the same non-freight traffic railroad tracks.` This also means I-225 LRT could be extended north on the East Corridor EMU track, into Denver International Airport (the East Corridor doesn't operate in any freight ROW between Peoria Station and DIA).

Octavian Mar 22, 2011 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnyderBock (Post 5210209)
I just had a crazy idea. One that makes me think, "why didn't I think of that before now?" It's about the debate regarding future transit capacity at DUS, using the design being built.

Run EMU trains on the SW Corridor LRT tracks -- at some point in the future -- instead of LRT. That's right, convert it to EMU, just like the Gold, North and East Corridors. It can run completely on the SW Corridor LRT Tracks north to Broadway/I-25 Station. Then it can also run on the LRT Track from I-25/Broadway station north to the CPV utilizing the triple track which will be added. Through the CPV, under the Millennium Bridge some service could be placed onto the third CML track during peak operations (if freight companies will allow electrification of a very short segment under the Millennium Bridge), to relieve congestion at the bottleneck under the bridge. Then have it's own platform between the Light Rail Platforms and the three CML tracks at DUS, for added platform capacity.

What does this do? It frees up additional LRT Capacity. It also opens potential for the rail line to be shared by DMU's for a Front Range commuter rail, without having to use substantial lengths of freight ROW through central Denver.

As far as I can tell, there are no restrictions on FRA-compliant EMUs and non-FRA compliant LRTs, from sharing the same non-freight traffic railroad tracks.` This also means I-225 LRT could be extended north on the East Corridor EMU track, into Denver International Airport (the East Corridor doesn't operate in any freight ROW between Peoria Station and DIA).

LRT & commuter rail use different kinds of track.

SnyderBock Mar 22, 2011 12:12 PM

Really? Someone said their city (I forget which, Canadian I think) has freight train which actually run on Light Rail tracks for a short section downtown.

Even if they are different tracks, can't they add a third rail to the existing ties, making the width the correct gage, thus making them cross-compatible?

Couldn't they make the East Corridor from Peoria Station to DIA, cross-compatible, by interlacing both tracks onto the same ties?

Octavian Mar 22, 2011 12:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnyderBock (Post 5210232)
Really? Someone said their city (I forget which, Canadian I think) has freight train which actually run on Light Rail tracks for a short section downtown.

Even if they are different tracks, can't they add a third rail to the existing ties, making the width the correct gage, thus making them cross-compatible?

Couldn't they make the East Corridor from Peoria Station to DIA, cross-compatible, by interlacing both tracks onto the same ties?

It's the spacing of the Railroad ties that is not designed to handle the weight of the heavier trains. Do not know about the width.

Cirrus Mar 22, 2011 2:03 PM

The width should be standard gauge. The weight might be a problem, but you can get EMUs that aren't all that much heavier than LRVs. Headways might be problem though; I think (but do not for sure know) that FRA regs require longer headways for EMUs than LRVs.

The LRT/freight sharing is in Baltimore, but the tracks are sturdy enough to support freight. That may or may not be the case with the SW corridor.

Wizened Variations Mar 22, 2011 4:30 PM

SnyderBock is pointing towards an interesting compromise
 
:)
EMUs could run on the LRT track with some caveats, IMO:

Terms used are relative to steel rails and steel rail vehicles

A) Sharpness of turning radius

The 3 bogey system on the Siemens light rail cars has a very tight turning radius. Looking at the LRT system as currently exists, there are track segments with such a tight turning radius that even the LRT vehicle wheels squeal loudly at low speeds.

Excluding street running segments, the worst segments on the LRT system are on the DUS line from about 250 meters south of Colfax to about 250 meters north of the Invesco Station. As currently exists (there will be some lessoning when the DSU West Station is re-aligned), the turn radii are not only very tight, but the arc of curvature changes very quickly. If you ride the LRT and look at the tracks from the lead car this is most easily seen)

The TRex line has numerous segments- that while not as severe as the DUS line segment- have very short turning radii. The Broadway flyover into Broadway Station as well as the approaches between I-25 and Colorado Station seems to be the worst.


B) Grade

The LRTs have what hot rodders call a 'high power to weight ratio'. They accelerate quickly.

I believe that electric heavy metro typically accelerates somewhat slower.

This would be important for dealing with flyovers, such as the one near the old Redfield cleaned up superfund site. (In addition, this would affect train scheduling).


C) Federal Safety Regulations. Metro heavy rail vehicles are significantly heavier than LRT vehicles because they (often) have to deal with heavy rail freight. ( Due to passenger train accidents in California over the last decade, the use of LRT vehicles running parallel to heavy rail such as along Santé Fe would not be possible to build now).

Solutions are VERY POSSIBLE:

A) Confine the joint traffic use to the DUS light to the Broadway Station corridor with a triple track (still sharing the 2 track elevated portion) and extending the triple track towards Evans to provide short term train storage for the heavy rail. At Broadway put in 5 additional tracks- 1 for light rail to speed up interconnections between the TRex and Southwest light rail lines, and 2- with room for 2 additional tracks for diesel powered heavy rail traffic approaching from the south).


B) Redesign stations between DUS light and Evans.

All stations except for Broadway (which would need a tunnel or an elevated passenger
Cross over) would need to have the middle track fenced off except for (electronically?) gated passenger intersections.

If the Invesco Station were to be a stop- which it should be- at least one additional track should be laid for a total of (4- not the currently planned 3), so that station approaches for the Taj Majal line could be better separated.

At Broadway put in 5 additional tracks- 1 for light rail to speed up interconnections between the TRex and Southwest light rail lines, and 2- with room for 2 additional tracks for diesel powered heavy rail traffic approaching from the south).

C) Other track modifications that would help the concept REALLY work.

IMO, ideally one would run 4 tracks from Alameda south to Broadway for
improved switching.

Light rail traffic entering from and exiting from the Champa and Stout Streets into the
Central Corridor line needs to be able to complete switching south of Colfax. The available room here is marginal, but a 4th track running 300-500 meters south of Colfax would fix the problem nicely.


Your idea is potentially BRILLIANT, SnyderBock! :worship: I hope that I fleshed the concept out enough to help get the powers at be to begin work NOW.

kflynn Mar 22, 2011 5:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnyderBock (Post 5210209)
This also means I-225 LRT could be extended north on the East Corridor EMU track, into Denver International Airport (the East Corridor doesn't operate in any freight ROW between Peoria Station and DIA).

The East Rail Line actually does remain in the Union Pacific freight right-of-way east of Peoria Station to Airport Boulevard, a little more than three miles, before turning north toward the airport.

SnyderBock Mar 22, 2011 7:55 PM

Good point, so such an extension would require a concrete barrier between the passenger and freight rails, for this 3+ mile segment. I'm sure the transfer station at Peoria/Smith Road will be sufficient for some time. But lets look ahead, say about 25 years or so...

Perhaps one day, RTD might be interested in exploring a non-stop LRT line which runs from DIA to Lone Tree via the planned/existing LRT track along I-225. This would likely require construction of a second flyover bridge at I-70/Pena Blvd., as I believe the one planned for the East Corridor is going to be single track.

So we're looking at these primary costs for LRT extension to DIA on shared EMU track:

1.) Track/structures for integrating the I-225 LRT end-of-line at Peoria/Smith Road, with the East Corridor EMU line.
2.) 3+ miles of concrete barrier between fright rail and East Corridor EMU rail.
3.) Potentially ~6 miles of double tracking the segments currently planned to be single track, including a second, long, flyover bridge at I-70/Pena (for added capacity).

There would probably be other costs, I'm not aware of. What I'd be curious about, is the cost-to-benefit ratio. How much ridership gain could the I-225 LRT line see (and the SE corridor LRT for that matter), as a result of eliminating the needs for a transfer at the Peoria Station, to access DIA. Obviously, I'm talking "NexTracks" here, because FasTracks must still be completed, before we get ahead of ourselves. This is purely hypothetical.

electricron Mar 22, 2011 8:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnyderBock (Post 5210843)
Good point, so such an extension would require a concrete barrier between the passenger and freight rails, for this 3+ mile segment. I'm sure the transfer station at Peoria/Smith Road will be sufficient for some time. But lets look ahead, say about 25 years or so...

Perhaps one day, RTD might be interested in exploring a non-stop LRT line which runs from DIA to Lone Tree via the planned/existing LRT track along I-225. This would likely require construction of a second flyover bridge at I-70/Pena Blvd., as I believe the one planned for the East Corridor is going to be single track.

So we're looking at these primary costs for LRT extension to DIA on shared EMU track:

1.) Track/structures for integrating the I-225 LRT end-of-line at Peoria/Smith Road, with the East Corridor EMU line.
2.) 3+ miles of concrete barrier between fright rail and East Corridor EMU rail.
3.) Potentially ~6 miles of double tracking the segments currently planned to be single track, including a second, long, flyover bridge at I-70/Pena (for added capacity).

There would probably be other costs, I'm not aware of. What I'd be curious about, is the cost-to-benefit ratio. How much ridership gain could the I-225 LRT line see (and the SE corridor LRT for that matter), as a result of eliminating the needs for a transfer at the Peoria Station, to access DIA. Obviously, I'm talking "NexTracks" here, because FasTracks must still be completed, before we get ahead of ourselves. This is purely hypothetical.

There's no way the FRA will allow FRA compliant EMUs to share the tracks with non FRA compliant Light Rail trains. They haven't allowed light rail trains sharing any tracks with FRA compliant trains anywhere in America; except temporal separation schemes used in San Diego, New Jersey and Austin. So forget the idea that the EMUs can share their tracks with light rail trains.
What can happen is sharing of the corridor, with each train having its own tracks in the corridor, similar to what happens in south Denver today.

SnyderBock Mar 22, 2011 9:04 PM

Alright then. Now that you mention it, I think you are correct.

Octavian Mar 22, 2011 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kflynn (Post 5210583)
The East Rail Line actually does remain in the Union Pacific freight right-of-way east of Peoria Station to Airport Boulevard, a little more than three miles, before turning north toward the airport.

Are you "the kevin flynn" of Rocky Mountain News fame? If so welcome! I miss Inside Lane. If not, welcome all the same.

If you are Kevin Flynn, can you share anything you might know about revised FRA regulations concerning the use of non-compliant vehicles in ROW with freight trains?

Wizened Variations Mar 22, 2011 11:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 5210933)
There's no way the FRA will allow FRA compliant EMUs to share the tracks with non FRA compliant Light Rail trains. They haven't allowed light rail trains sharing any tracks with FRA compliant trains anywhere in America; except temporal separation schemes used in San Diego, New Jersey and Austin. So forget the idea that the EMUs can share their tracks with light rail trains.
What can happen is sharing of the corridor, with each train having its own tracks in the corridor, similar to what happens in south Denver today.

What a crying shame.........but maybe

A real solution for the Southwest line might be to put two extra tracks at DUS Light and work with BNSF/UP on adding additional track along I-25 while working with CDOT on the I-25 expansion project between Broadway and 6th to get a minimum of 3 and preferably 4 tracks when possible along that stretch!!

Now that would be nice but rather expensive. Mr. Buffet and Omaha will demand ‘fair compensation.’

Say one to one and half billion dollars, ball park.

Another possibility might involve PAYING UP to move their east line to an additional track paralleling their west corridor from Broadway to Colfax, and, using the connection (that is being moved) UP/BNSF uses to connect their corridor, from the north, to the Benham railyards. Add an additional track from Pepsi center south to that connector line. Elevate the track parallel to the elevated LR.

That might be done for a billion dollars..

Combine that with SynderBlock's idea of looping south approaching heavy rail back into DUS Heavy Rail on top of the alternatives discussed and you might be able to do something nice, not only for extending the metro heavy rail south, but, getting through Amtrak service from the south into DUS.

A billion + bucks and you would world class 1 transfer- without long walking connections- system from Lincoln to DIA or Mineral to Ward Road.

Hidden costs truly stink.:eek:

My feelings on the DIA corridor:

The key to making that function well is funneling as much traffic as possible into stations being built along the line: possibly with north/south street car lines running tangentially to at least Colfax with buses serving the street car lines.

The big problem with the DIA line is, to be frank, little population exists to the north of the right of way. The vast proportion of Denver and Aurora's population lives south of I-70. As Cirrus and others have noted, based upon 'similar' airport access lines of consderable length, the DIA line will tend to be an airport feeder to downtown and will likely have low traffic volumes.

However, the fact remains that the DIA line will have the greatest capacity to carry passengers in terms of hardware- the cars, the ability to make long trains, and, the speeds involved. Consequently, feeder systems must be built to bring other riders on to the line. In addition, efforts must be made to extend the line AROUND the DUS Heavy rail station, whether by bypassing LODO and going to Boulder (not to be electrified...hidden costs again of the FasTracks design again), or going through DUS light.

What a crying shame!
:(

texcolo Mar 22, 2011 11:50 PM

Hey, the Golden Line is only single track from the Federal Center to the Taj Mahal.

WTF???

Wizened Variations Mar 23, 2011 12:30 AM

The ONE track solution
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by texcolo (Post 5211276)
Hey, the Golden Line is only single track from the Federal Center to the Taj Mahal.

WTF???

You are correct sir! IMO there are two ways to do this:

In both cases an additional line (electrified) would need to be built from the Pepsi center to the Colfax Street area.

Solution 1

The one additional line would follow the LRT route south from near Colfax to Broadway. Much of this right of way already exists and (non-electrified) track exists. The problem here is for UP have a way to access their Benham Railroad from the North. The Y that used to serve that purpose has been dead ended.

If you look at Google maps, you can see that space remains for an additional line parallel to, and, south of the new connector being built by UP as a result of the Taj Mahal track approach into the Invesco Field Station. Only a few business properties would have to be bought, and, that could be done, for say $100 million.

The only major expense would be building a parallel elevated track segment
to the LRT elevation already built.

Solution 2 is tougher, IMO

The Joint BNSF/UP line between Broadway and 6th is two tracks wide. Nowhere on that stretch can coal trains wait to get through the very slow speed zone in LODO. From about 6th Street north, the Joint line has 3 tracks, which very often have trains idling while waiting to go north.

The caveat here is CDOT and the I-25 widening project whose ultimate width is clearly visible under the Alameda overpass. The width appears to suggest a 10 lane right of way. This makes adding even 1 track very difficult politically and financially (CDOT is FAR more powerful than RTD) along this stretch.

You observation jolted me, and I thank you.:tup: The answer is one electrified heavy metro track from Broadway north.


And what a great system that would make!

SnyderBock Mar 23, 2011 10:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by texcolo (Post 5211276)
Hey, the Golden Line is only single track from the Federal Center to the Taj Mahal.

WTF???

The initial ridership doesn't warrant double track from federal Center to Jefco Court. However, the ROW is fully being constructed for double track. It will simply be a matter of laying down a second track at some point in the future, when the demand warrants it. meanwhile, it helps save a nice amount of funding, to help the other corridors out some.


Wizened Variations,
o_O

Denver Dweller Mar 27, 2011 11:53 PM

Go-slow approach would still fast-track some metro Denver commuter rail development
 
By Jeffrey Leib
The Denver Post
Posted: 03/27/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT


http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17710321

Wizened Variations Mar 30, 2011 5:33 PM

Very long term public works projects are organic
 
Removal of entry due to grammer. Sometimes I do not type very well.

Wizened Variations Mar 30, 2011 5:35 PM

Very long term public works projects are organic
 
Very long term public works projects build outs are organic- they grow in response to where the money is, and, become ciphers in history books in areas less blessed.

IMO the article is a try to put on the best face for a Denver beset by long the long term inability to finance problems.

For an unknown period of time Denver will be schizophrenic in the sense of Fastrack development, with the north-south divide in growth split along I-70.

Of course, politics being what it is, if the financial spigot turns off politicians and their backers will both scramble for the money left and spin reality for their benefit.

The result of this scaling down will result in building additions that favor those with the most 'pull' for the least 'buck.'

Consequently, IMO most money should go towards integrating the Fitz medical complex into the system and possibly adding new stations or more elaborate stations along Fastrack projects for which full financial commitment has been made.


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