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  #1021  
Old Posted Oct 29, 2008, 10:04 PM
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OMG they better get that interchange done Im sick and tired of it. There have been many close calls with people who are confused as to what to do when they get to the San Antonio Exit to go southbound on I-35 from East bound 290/71.
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  #1022  
Old Posted Oct 30, 2008, 11:59 PM
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Commission approves Ben White flyover, Texas 195 funding
http://www.statesman.com/blogs/conte...ben_white.html
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  #1023  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2008, 6:28 PM
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Thank goodness for that. Now Get to WorK!
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  #1024  
Old Posted Nov 9, 2008, 12:39 AM
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Council hears update on $625 million urban rail system

In Fact News by Kimberly Reeves



The City Council heard an update on the $625 million Austin urban rail corridor proposal at Council yesterday, with a tentative financing plan that could rely heavily on federal funding.



CAMPO’s Transit Working Group, chaired by Mayor Will Wynn, has been meeting for months to both craft options and move through the decision tree to evaluate a proposal for a 15.3-mile urban rail line. The system would connect a number of major nodes in the city, from Mueller on the north through the University of Texas and the Texas Capitol downtown, and out to Austin Bergstrom International Airport, using the densely populated East Riverside Drive to build ridership.



The next step will be to submit the Transit Working Group’s work product to CAMPO staff for review. Transportation Director Rob Spillar recommended a two-pronged approach while CAMPO is reviewing the initial paperwork: initiate the preliminary engineering and environmental documentation, possibly as soon as February; and create a detailed local financing plan for the Phase I backbone.



Spillar also has found some funding for that initial work. The Texas Department of Transportation owes the city rebates and can provide some funding from the 2000 mobility bond by reorganizing priorities.



Depending on the Council’s priority, the time frame for completion could be as long as 8 to 10 years or as short as 5 or 6 years, Spillar said.



To create an affordable project, Spillar has proposed and the transit working group has recommended dividing the urban rail project into four phases, putting the critical – and expensive – backbone of the system on the table first.



The backbone would be the 4.4 miles through downtown, with stops at the New Manor Road Station, University of Texas along San Jacinto, Capitol complex, Seaholm and Downtown/Convention Center. The estimated cost would be $290 million, which could include a new or improved bridge across Lady Bird Lake.



The next three phases could occur in any order. One phase, the Lady Bird Lake segment, would go from the Long/Palmer Center, with a stop on the East Riverside Corridor, ending at Pleasant Valley. The corridor would cost $120 million.



Another phase, the Mueller segment, would start at the Manor Road Station, with stops at the Mueller Town Center and Dell Medical Center. That would cost $80 million. The Manor Road Station also crosses with the Cap Metro Red Line.



A third phase, the ABIA segment, would start at the Pleasant Valley Station and end up at the ABIA terminal, with stops at Montopolis, Metro Center, Outer ABIA and the ABIA terminal, at a cost of $135 million.



Trains would run every 10 minutes. In the University of Texas area, that means a train will pass by every five minutes in one direction or the other. Full system ridership is estimated at 32,000 people a day.



The annual operating cost would be somewhere between $21 million and $23 million, which Capital Metro estimates is still cheaper than what it would be to carry the same number of passengers on a bus line through the same area.



The Transit Working Group has tentatively recommended federal New Start funding to pay for a portion of the cost. If this funding comes through, courtesy of the Federal Transit Administration, it could pay for up to half of the $625 million price tag.



The governance and operation of the urban rail line would belong to the City of Austin and Capital Metro. Spillar noted that the city could move forward with the backbone of the line, and use that price tag to pay for the local contribution of a possible 50-50 split of the potential $625 million cost.



Spillar suggested a potential interim city bond issue. A multi-modal bond could include rail, roadway rehab, interchanges, sidewalks and bikeways.



Council Member Lee Leffingwell said the phasing of the project costs made sense to him. Mayor Pro Tem Brewster McCracken recommended coordinating the cost of the placement of rail in conjunction with existing city projects for items such as utility relocation and road reconstruction along the line.



McCracken asked for additional sketches of the rail line so people could grasp the route. Council Member Sheryl Cole noted the project should be integrated into the city’s ongoing effort to update the current comprehensive plan.



“I think it’s important, especially with the Union Pacific rail work that will ultimately connect rail with Seaholm next to Green,” Cole said. “You talk about multi-modal transportation, and we’re really embarking on looking at this.”
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  #1025  
Old Posted Nov 9, 2008, 6:57 PM
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32,000 riders would be great, that would certainly open doors to the other few main corridors.
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  #1026  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2008, 5:58 PM
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Yes, this is the only way to demonstrate enough ridership to eventually get on Guadalupe where we really need to be, although even that's a hard sell going forward even with a successful start here. Since commuter rail's ugly ass is squatting on the suburban right-of-way the 2000 LRT line relied on for half its ridership, we have to go the other direction - and we may never get rail transit to the front door of UT or West Campus or the Triangle.

Would have been neat if some guy was warning way back then that commuter rail precluded ever getting rail down Guadalupe.
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  #1027  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2008, 7:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdawgboy View Post
OMG they better get that interchange done Im sick and tired of it. There have been many close calls with people who are confused as to what to do when they get to the San Antonio Exit to go southbound on I-35 from East bound 290/71.
If they intend to go southbound once on the EB-to-NB connector, and try anyway, then they're in for quite a fall Thats a close-call I want no part of!
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  #1028  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2008, 7:38 PM
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Plus if your comming from sb 35 from San Antonio and you want to go westbound on 71 and it's during rush hour you have to go through that light and if it's really backed up you usually sit through it about 3 times.
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  #1029  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2008, 2:51 PM
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The presentation is now on the City website:

http://www.cityofaustin.org/news/200...2008_11_06.pdf
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  #1030  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2008, 3:05 PM
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we may never get rail transit to the front door of UT or West Campus or the Triangle.
Patience, patience!

UT is on the record saying they will only cost participate in a rail system that directly connects the Pickle and Main campuses. Under the current multi-agency funding strategy, that makes a northern extension a high priority for future expansion.

With Obama and the Dems firmly in control in Washington, investment in transit will become a high priority. It meets the objectives of combating climate change, international security (oil independence), and economic stimulus. The BRT bias will likely be replaced with an electric rail bias, federal cost participation will increase, and the stringent ridership formulas will be relaxed to provide greater flexibility in creating systems that meet local needs.
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  #1031  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2008, 5:38 PM
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The presentation is now on the City website:

http://www.cityofaustin.org/news/200...2008_11_06.pdf
So the jumping-off point is sometime after the next possible election, and they're looking at a modern streetcar model.
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  #1032  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2008, 6:04 PM
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The key is that they are now, finally, saying reserved guideway (ROMA is one of the consultant groups that firmly believes in the magic fairy dust theory of streetcars; it took the city council, McCracken and Wynn in particular, to get them to understand that we're competing against cars for the patronage of choice commuters here).

As for 'patience', UT can say that all they want about connecting main and PIckle - and have been for years - but they don't have the money or the support at the state government level to build even a streetcar loop around their own campus. Their contribution to 2000's light rail line was to be pansy-asses about promoting it even though they would have been the primary beneficiaries; and their contribution to this proposal was to hem and haw again about how maybe someday they'll have something worth going to on San Jacinto so we shouldn't talk about Speedway or Guadalupe.

This gets done despite UT, not because of them, and the same thing will be true if we ever get rail on Guadalupe, which grows from a 0% to a 5% possibility if this line succeeds. We still have to overcome the Rapid Bus disaster, and also the fact that a line on Guadalupe that doesn't continue northwesterly into the suburbs wouldn't perform well enough to get significant federal participation or significant ridership (no segments with high speed; stuck in the street all the way up to Pickle).
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  #1033  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2008, 6:32 PM
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Lightbulb

$626 million for 15.3 miles of streetcar line, is approximately $40.8 miillion/ mile.

That's just slightly less expensive as Dart's longer light rail projects. The reason the relative costs are so high is because this line goes through downtown Austin. Even Dart experiences higher costs per mile in downtown Dallas.

What I found interesting to read is that they envision two routes, UT to ABIA and Seaholm to Mueller. Which means one will have to transfer from one line to another to ride the train from Mueller to ABIA. I'm only pointing this out because a 15 mile line is really too long for most streetcar lines, which operate much better at shorter distances. Which is probably why the transit experts suggest breaking this one line up into two lines, effectively halving the length of each line.

But they're also planning four stages of construction, and 11 to 12 years to complete all four. That seems like a long time, but other cities experence this much time for the first Federally funded project.

Therefore to speed initial construction of the backbone (Stage 1) through downtown, the backbone is planned to be financed without any Federal funds. Which is good for speeding up the process, but not so good because it's the most expensive stage. I'd be surprised if they finish Stage 2 in less than 10 years. I'd add several more years for Stages 3 and 4 being completed, as the FTA can delay construction significantly. But who knows, a new administration starts next January, and FTA approval may come quicker.

Good luck!
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  #1034  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2008, 8:45 PM
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So what's the current status of Rapid Bus?
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  #1035  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2008, 9:31 PM
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Re "two lines": The ridership from Mueller to ABIA is likely negligible. The important path is ABIA to UT and the Capitol. It remains to be seen if they'll simply multiplex various combinations here (i.e. you can pick up a train at UT that only goes downtown, or one that goes all the way to ABIA, as with the AirTrain at JFK). I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being basically one round-trip route with occasional spurs (Seaholm not being run at all at first; Long Center only being run on weekends).

Re RapidBus: Far as I can tell, they submitted for federal small starts funding and are waiting to see. I wrote our council members and asked them to block the project again as they basically did the last time around, but didn't hear anything back this time.
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  #1036  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2008, 4:46 PM
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Re RapidBus: Far as I can tell, they submitted for federal small starts funding and are waiting to see. I wrote our council members and asked them to block the project again as they basically did the last time around, but didn't hear anything back this time.

I've been wondering if the rapid buses (assuming they are the articulated things we keep seeing pictures of) will actually be able to maneuver around the South Transit Center. I sort of doubt it, which would seem to be a problem....
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  #1037  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2008, 6:44 PM
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Who knows. The scaled back proposal may have different vehicles; but as far as I can remember from the first attempt, the bottleneck they had to worry about most was the turns on Guadalupe from 27th to 39th.
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  #1038  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2008, 6:49 PM
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Is it really that big a deal? On ice days, artics up here have no problem swinging through 2 lane roads as necessary.
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  #1039  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2008, 6:37 PM
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So....They have finally finished the downtown station for the commuter rail.
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  #1040  
Old Posted Dec 1, 2008, 5:00 PM
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So....They have finally finished the downtown station for the commuter rail.
You mean the "downtown" station.





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