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  #12101  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 1:33 PM
trubador trubador is offline
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Originally Posted by CherryCreek View Post
Ask, and ye shall receive.

https://www.cpr.org/news/story/cdot-...eeds-to-happen


"The Colorado Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it’s soliciting bids to study passenger rail service from Fort Collins to Trinidad.

CDOT and the Southwest Chief/Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, which the legislature created in 2017, say the study will explore different options to relieve congestion along the quickly growing Interstate 25 corridor.

“To meet the growing needs of our state, Colorado needs a robust, energy efficient, sustainable transportation system that incorporates different modes of travel and provides more choices for the movement of people and goods,” Shoshana Lew, CDOT’s executive director, said in a statement.

Any new system would be a massive undertaking, with coordination needed from local municipalities, freight railroads, existing transit services like Amtrak and RTD — and, of course, a lot of money. The study will explore possible routes, capital and operating costs, and other factors."
Why do they spend time looking at rail service all the way to Trinidad, why not end in Colorado Springs or Pueblo? Trinidad has a population of less than 10,000, so the ridership is going to be poor and that stretch from Pueblo is a good 80 miles.
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  #12102  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 3:38 PM
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It's just a study. Studies are practically free. Trinidad makes sense to study for lots of reasons:
  • It makes the study "statewide," giving it more political support (including potentially from traditionally transit-hostile Republicans)
  • Trinidad's direct population is only 10,000, but there's about 50,000 people close enough to use Trinidad and/or Colorado City stops.
  • The experience of some states with state-supported Amtrak route suggests that one of the key benefits and most popular markets for state-level rail is access to the big city from rural areas.
  • Trinidad is where Amtrak's Southwest Chief stops, so it gives you that connection.
  • If you're doing diesel trains on existing tracks, running one or two trains per day to Trinidad wouldn't cost very much. It may well be worth the money.
  • Nothing says you have to run every train to Trinidad. You can do short-turns where most trains end at Pueblo, but a few continue on.
  • There may be good reasons to put a maintenance facility in Trinidad, or something like that.
  • If nothing else, it's always good to have reasonable alternatives that you later disregard. Looking at a variety of options and sussing out what does & doesn't make sense is the entire point of studies.
If they eventually recommend that Trinidad doesn't make sense, that's probably fine. But I think it would be questionable not to at least include it in the feasibility study.
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Last edited by Cirrus; May 29, 2019 at 3:54 PM.
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  #12103  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 4:22 PM
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^
It's just a study. Studies are practically free. Trinidad makes sense to study for lots of reasons:
  • It makes the study "statewide," giving it more political support (including potentially from traditionally transit-hostile Republicans)
  • Trinidad's direct population is only 10,000, but there's about 50,000 people close enough to use Trinidad and/or Colorado City stops.
  • The experience of some states with state-supported Amtrak route suggests that one of the key benefits and most popular markets for state-level rail is access to the big city from rural areas.
  • Trinidad is where Amtrak's Southwest Chief stops, so it gives you that connection.
  • If you're doing diesel trains on existing tracks, running one or two trains per day to Trinidad wouldn't cost very much. It may well be worth the money.
  • Nothing says you have to run every train to Trinidad. You can do short-turns where most trains end at Pueblo, but a few continue on.
  • There may be good reasons to put a maintenance facility in Trinidad, or something like that.
  • If nothing else, it's always good to have reasonable alternatives that you later disregard. Looking at a variety of options and sussing out what does & doesn't make sense is the entire point of studies.
If they eventually recommend that Trinidad doesn't make sense, that's probably fine. But I think it would be questionable not to at least include it in the feasibility study.
A station in Trinidad would also pull in riders from Albuquerque.
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  #12104  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 5:05 PM
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I'm usually a lurker here, but let me interrupt on this topic...
I've always been intrigued by the idea of a Front Range rail service between Trinidad and Denver because it fits two very important roles: 1) It provides valuable local service along an urbanizing corridor, and 2) it adds an important link in Amtrak's national network. A good comparison would be Amtrak's Missouri River Runner that goes between St. Louis and Kansas City. It is almost exactly the length of of the proposed Fort Collins-Trinidad route (280 rail miles), it connects with Amtrak long-distant trains on both ends (connecting Amtrak passengers account for 30% of all River Runner passengers), and it utilizes diesel locomotive-hauled trains running over freight rail tracks. It's ridership isn't all that high (less than 500 passengers per day) but that's not terrible considering there are only 2 round trips per day. Since the 'joint line' south of Denver is famously congested with coal trains, I don't think CDOT will be able to run many more trains than that, at least not without significant investments in capacity (adding/lengthening sidings and double track).
Another comparison could be the Pacific Surfliners, which go between San Diego and San Louis Obispo, via Los Angeles - a station that is also not a through-station. Because trains need to reverse in and out of that station, Caltrans has ordered push-pull versions of the Siemens trainsets used on the Brightline High(er) speed Rail project in Florida:


Another reason I like this comparison is because the Surfliner corridor has been a work-in-progress ever since it was first created, with a governing body called LOSSAN receiving a small but constant amount of funding, allowing them to make continual updates to the corridor infrastructure (bridge replacements, double-track, new sidings, new stations, faster straighter track, etc.). This has allowed for an increase in frequency over the years that has caused ridership to increase. I think that even if a Front Range Rail service starts with only one or two round trips per day, that will be enough to get it established enough for CDOT to justify the cost for improvements to the line allowing even greater frequency. The virtuous cycle.
I think this train line is a very good idea. I just hope that the Amtrak National Network is still in place by the time service begins.
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  #12105  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 8:05 PM
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I just hope that the Amtrak National Network is still in place by the time service begins.
That would seem to be a very good question.

Enjoyed your input.
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  #12106  
Old Posted May 30, 2019, 2:14 AM
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The challenge here will be the simple fact that our freight rail spines are few and mostly at capacity. That’s what this, and every other study, will be about - how much it will cost to buy out freight capacity. We are not the Midwest where there are multiple parallel freight lines. And we have topography. Even six movements a day will cost a mint; that’s the puzzle to sort out for whatever team wins this work. (It’s also what will at least warrant a look at new ROW and new track, though as other have said, we could never afford it.)
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  #12107  
Old Posted May 30, 2019, 5:37 PM
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Agreed.

Anyway, yes, yes, this would be nice.

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  #12108  
Old Posted May 30, 2019, 7:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bunt_q View Post
The challenge here will be the simple fact that our freight rail spines are few and mostly at capacity. That’s what this, and every other study, will be about - how much it will cost to buy out freight capacity. We are not the Midwest where there are multiple parallel freight lines. And we have topography. Even six movements a day will cost a mint; that’s the puzzle to sort out for whatever team wins this work. (It’s also what will at least warrant a look at new ROW and new track, though as other have said, we could never afford it.)
The decline in coal will help greatly here. Freight tonnage is down ~10% from it's high point driven entirely by the shift from coals towards renewables and gas in electrical production and shows no signs of stopping. Some forecasts project that freight tonnage being moved through Colorado will decrease by ~33% by 2040 and this is probably being optimistic as coal for power production is pretty much entering a death spiral. Metallurgical coal is another issue, but that primarily heads north and east out to Wyoming and won't affect freight movement in Colorado.


So access probably isn't a $500M-$1B issue anymore. Particularly for access north of Denver.
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  #12109  
Old Posted May 30, 2019, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by wong21fr View Post
The decline in coal will help greatly here. Freight tonnage is down ~10% from it's high point driven entirely by the shift from coals towards renewables and gas in electrical production and shows no signs of stopping. Some forecasts project that freight tonnage being moved through Colorado will decrease by ~33% by 2040 and this is probably being optimistic as coal for power production is pretty much entering a death spiral. Metallurgical coal is another issue, but that primarily heads north and east out to Wyoming and won't affect freight movement in Colorado.


So access probably isn't a $500M-$1B issue anymore. Particularly for access north of Denver.
Good points.

Over the summer Xcel indicated they would accelerate their plans to close the Comanche 1 & 2 coal burners in Pueblo and only keep their new whiz bang facility. That will eliminate not quite half of the coal needs at Pueblo. Not aware of any plans to close the Pawnee Generating Station in Brush though.
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  #12110  
Old Posted May 31, 2019, 12:31 AM
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Over the summer Xcel indicated they would accelerate their plans to close the Comanche 1 & 2 coal burners in Pueblo and only keep their new whiz bang facility. That will eliminate not quite half of the coal needs at Pueblo. Not aware of any plans to close the Pawnee Generating Station in Brush though.
Pawnee will be retired sometime in the mid-2020’s.
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  #12111  
Old Posted May 31, 2019, 2:48 PM
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Although I imagine the Pueblo-Brighton-Windsor line has become busier due to Vestas wind turbine product manufacturing.
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  #12112  
Old Posted May 31, 2019, 4:41 PM
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Although I imagine the Pueblo-Brighton-Windsor line has become busier due to Vestas wind turbine product manufacturing.
It has, but those trains are far less frequent than the couple dozen daily coal trains, now down by a few, that cut through Denver as late as 2015. Rail traffic through the Moffat Tunnel is a great example of this. There used to be five to six coal trains that went through the tunnel daily and that's down to one. It's one of the factors that has assisted the Winter Park Ski Train as it's not delayed by freight traffic.
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  #12113  
Old Posted May 31, 2019, 5:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wong21fr View Post
The decline in coal will help greatly here. Freight tonnage is down ~10% from it's high point driven entirely by the shift from coals towards renewables and gas in electrical production and shows no signs of stopping. Some forecasts project that freight tonnage being moved through Colorado will decrease by ~33% by 2040 and this is probably being optimistic as coal for power production is pretty much entering a death spiral. Metallurgical coal is another issue, but that primarily heads north and east out to Wyoming and won't affect freight movement in Colorado.


So access probably isn't a $500M-$1B issue anymore. Particularly for access north of Denver.
Idea:
From some point near or in Castle Rock, build a Greenfield track that branches off the existing freight corridor (BNSF) and out to around Parker, then up to Colorado Air and Space Port, and then into DIA (with a freight DIA bypass through Aerotropolus). At DIA, disembarking passenger trains would branch off into two lines. One would reconnect with freight bypass line and continue on to Greeley and then Fort Collins. The other would fully grade separate and upgrade A-line track and then share it with RTD into Union Station. From there, extensions would run it up the B-line and then share and upgrade the freight corridor into Boulder. From Boulder into Loveland and Fort Collins (Boulder-Longmont would be a separate RTD concern). Another branch from Union station would share and upgrade the G-line then continue through Golden and on West up I-70 as a passenger only Greenfield rail line, going through a third Eisenhower tunnel bore that is two levels one for automobiles and one for passenger rail.

Construction this starter corridor Between Castle Rock and DIA, should be done with 5 tracks, the entire length. Construct the tracks to be rated for up to 220 mph passenger service (to be utilized only in future upgrades). Each outer track designate for passenger rail only. The next track in on each side, designate for shared passenger and freight service, but with 90% it's capacity designated as freight and only 10% passenger (only serving passenger rail as a side track used only when needed). The single track in the middle designate as a freight only track which can be used in either direction, based on volume needs. Engineer the entire corridor for easy upgrade to electrify all 5 tracks in the future, if/when needed. This means passenger rail could be electrified in the future and the corridor would be rated for up to 220 mph, which could transition this corridor to HSR with minimal upgrades. This would also mean fast, efficient, electrified freight trains could be operated along much of the Front Range. But at first, use diesel commuter trains with 85 mph max speed rating.
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  #12114  
Old Posted May 31, 2019, 5:44 PM
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Idea:
From some point near or in Castle Rock, build a Greenfield track that branches off the existing freight corridor (BNSF) and out to around Parker, then up to Colorado Air and Space Port, and then into DIA (with a freight DIA bypass through Aerotropolus). At DIA, disembarking passenger trains would branch off into two lines. One would reconnect with freight bypass line and continue on to Greeley and then Fort Collins. The other would fully grade separate and upgrade A-line track and then share it with RTD into Union Station. From there, extensions would run it up the B-line and then share and upgrade the freight corridor into Boulder. From Boulder into Loveland and Fort Collins (Boulder-Longmont would be a separate RTD concern). Another branch from Union station would share and upgrade the G-line then continue through Golden and on West up I-70 as a passenger only Greenfield rail line, going through a third Eisenhower tunnel bore that is two levels one for automobiles and one for passenger rail.

Construction this starter corridor Between Castle Rock and DIA, should be done with 5 tracks, the entire length. Construct the tracks to be rated for up to 220 mph passenger service (to be utilized only in future upgrades). Each outer track designate for passenger rail only. The next track in on each side, designate for shared passenger and freight service, but with 90% it's capacity designated as freight and only 10% passenger (only serving passenger rail as a side track used only when needed). The single track in the middle designate as a freight only track which can be used in either direction, based on volume needs. Engineer the entire corridor for easy upgrade to electrify all 5 tracks in the future, if/when needed. This means passenger rail could be electrified in the future and the corridor would be rated for up to 220 mph, which could transition this corridor to HSR with minimal upgrades. This would also mean fast, efficient, electrified freight trains could be operated along much of the Front Range. But at first, use diesel commuter trains with 85 mph max speed rating.
Why not just shoot for maglev while you're at it?

Hell, put in transporter pads every mile and a dozen fusion reactors.
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  #12115  
Old Posted May 31, 2019, 6:23 PM
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Why not just shoot for maglev while you're at it?
I am.

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Originally Posted by EngiNerd View Post
Although I imagine the Pueblo-Brighton-Windsor line has become busier due to Vestas wind turbine product manufacturing.
What an impressive success story they have been for Colorado.

Stapleton Neighborhood To Get Protected
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  #12116  
Old Posted Jun 4, 2019, 5:51 AM
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Some people don't want no stinkin' "high comfort" bike lanes

https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/06/...mfort-bikeway/
Quote:
The current bike lanes along Marion Street Parkway, according to Denver Public Works, are among those identified that could benefit from some becoming a “high comfort” bikeway.
So what's the problem?
Quote:
However, some people who live in the area want the city to pump the brakes on that idea. “It’s really not necessary,” Voradel Carey, who has lived on Marion Street Parkway for nearly three decades, said.

Carey told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann the city’s proposal would put her neighborhood at risk, threatening the parkways’ protected status as a historical landmark. “That would destroy the beauty of the current parkway and it doesn’t go with the Denver design guidelines,” she explained,

“Either leave things how they are,” Carey said, ”or put it back where it was when I moved here 27 years ago, next to the parkway not between traffic and the parking lane.” Carey is among the more than 100 neighbors, she said, that have signed a petition opposing the city’s bike lane project in its current form
So there.
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  #12117  
Old Posted Jun 4, 2019, 12:06 PM
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I did the math on my mechanical calculator

Illinois population is 12.74 million noses. Colorado's population is 5.76 noses or right at 45% of the nose population of Illinois.

State of Illinois legislature passed a $45 billion transportation package. 45% of $45 billion would be $20.25 billion or the equivalent amount in Colorado.

So What Happened?

https://chicago.curbed.com/2019/5/31...ion-taxes-vote
Quote:
Governor JB Pritzker proposed a $45 billion plan to repair Illinois’ deteriorating infrastructure over six years. The proposal calls for nearly $1.8 billion in tax increases. “After years of neglecting our state’s roads, bridges, mass transit, and buildings, Illinoisans’ health and safety have been jeopardized, and job creation has been hindered,” said Governor Priztker. “The Rebuild Illinois plan will reinvigorate our economy and strengthen our rightful status as the transportation and supply chain hub of the nation.”
How will funding be allocated?

https://chi.streetsblog.org/2019/06/...than-expected/
Quote:
the bill that passed this weekend, which includes a $33 billion, six-year transportation capital program, turned out to be much better for sustainable transportation than many advocates had anticipated.

The bill also includes longterm, sustainable funding for public transportation, with transit receiving $4.7 billion over the first six years and $281 million for each year afterwards. That represents 23 percent of the total transportation spending, or about twice as much as was indicated in the initial proposal.
To compare if Colorado approved a transportation package of $20.25 billion with 23% allocated to 'multi-modal' that would be $4.66 billion. Illinois' $33 billion for a six-year capital program is 73% of the total $45 billion package.

If you're curious the 1st link above provides a bullet point summary of tax increases. For example:
  • Hike the gas tax from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents.
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  #12118  
Old Posted Jun 4, 2019, 4:27 PM
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Some people don't want no stinkin' "high comfort" bike lanes

So there.
So there?..... These folks are the worst NIMBY's i've ever seen in my life. Anyone who is bitching about having protected bike lanes put in front of their house has too much time on their hands.
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  #12119  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2019, 7:59 PM
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So there?..... These folks are the worst NIMBY's i've ever seen in my life. Anyone who is bitching about having protected bike lanes put in front of their house has too much time on their hands.
Agreed. Aside from the objection to plastic bollards, which are not strictly-speaking necessary to create a parking protected bike lane, I cannot find a single valid argument in there. This change will not reduce the vehicle carrying capacity of the street, and even if it did, Marion Parkway is not a crucial link in Denver's automobile network. So these neighbors want a 1970's style on-street bike lane, and ENORMOUS 13' wide travel lane maintained for what reason exactly? Because they don't like change in their lives? Because bikes are perceived to be used primarily by young hipsters and it is cool to be reactionary against them? Or because they can't visualize the street with the parking zone moved a few feet to the center, and nobody has explained to them the relationship between roadway width and vehicle speed?

Aesthetically, there may be an argument for maintaining the existing tree lawn, sidewalk, roadway configuration to remain true to the original landscape design. But I find it pretty hard to believe that there is anything sacred in the parkway design guidelines about the way the space between the curbs is striped for use by bikes, parked cars, and moving cars. Especially considering that the "historic" design for Denver parkways looks something like the below image - completely and totally divorced from the way that modern automobiles move and the way that we use our streets in the 21st century. I suppose these are the same people who would try to say that adding sidewalks to Monaco might "infringe on the historic design intention."


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  #12120  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2019, 4:55 PM
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Why not just shoot for maglev while you're at it?

Hell, put in transporter pads every mile and a dozen fusion reactors.
I was proposing something that would give a considerable resources to freight rail companies to enhance the movement of goods along the front range and also divert freight traffic away from the consolidated mainline and SW corridor and out of the city core. This in turn, would open up more passenger service on the existing inner city freight corridors. I was also proposing something that could be phased so that a smaller initial investment could be made but engineered for simplistic upgrades to the corridor as demand and population increases. A mag-lev corridor wouldn't give anything back to freight rail operators and it would require all financial investments to be made up front.
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