Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

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Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue May 15, 2012 10:57 am

We didn't really have a separate topic for this outside of a few mentions in the Northstar thread, so I thought I'd start one:

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/p ... p?id=31012

Construction of the Central Corridor Light-Rail Transit (LRT) project in St. Paul, Minn., now is 50 percent complete and on track to be 75 percent complete by year’s end, Metropolitan Council officials announced yesterday.

The council is on schedule to substantially complete utility relocations, roadway removal and replacement, track installation and the structural elements of all 18 stations by the end of the year, said Central Corridor LRT Project Director Mark Fuhrmann in a prepared statement. The corridor is expected to open on schedule and on budget in 2014, he added.

The LRT project will link downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis along Washington and University avenues via the State Capitol and the University of Minnesota. Construction began in 2010 on the 11-mile line, which will connect with the Hiawatha LRT line at the Metrodome station in Minneapolis and the Northstar commuter-rail line at the Target Field station.
Last edited by mtuandrew on Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Moderator's Note: Edited title, 6/7/12
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul MN Hiawatha & Central Corridor LR

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:09 pm

Here's a new bit of opinion, but well supported by facts:

When it comes to public subsidies, Twin Cities light rail seems a bargain
...
Another report, this one from the Office of the Legislative Auditor, compared the efficiency of the Twin Cities LRT to systems in other cities. And, you'll be happy to know that we ranked fourth on subsidy per passenger. That is to say, only three other cities, Denver (98 cents), Portland ($1.35) and San Diego (82 cents) spent less than our $1.44. Pittsburgh paid the highest subsidy, $5.22. Fares provided 38 percent of the cost in the Twin Cities. Only Denver and San Diego did better, and fares in Seattle covered only 5 percent of outlays.

...

OK, so then you take the number of trips per day (2.18 million) and divide it into the daily cost of $5.59 million, and you get $2.56. That's about how much tax money goes to subsidize the average car trip.


This comes on the heels of the Minnesota legislature's refusal to fund the Southwest LRT Corridor proposal in this session, so please excuse that author's bitterness.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:23 pm

Moderator's Note: For news on the Metro Transit commuter rail operations and proposals, see Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit commuter rail.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby The EGE » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:05 pm

St. Paul Union Depot reopened today. http://www.twincities.com/stpaul/ci_221 ... elebration

When Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough looks at the St. Paul Union Depot, he doesn't see just a giant Metro Transit stop or future boarding platforms for the Central Corridor light-rail line and Amtrak.

What he sees in the glimmering Lowertown landmark painstakingly restored to respect decades of history is a high-speed train rumbling in from Chicago. He sees a bus rapid-transit system taking those passengers down West Seventh Street to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or the Mall of America.

He sees a commuter rail up to Hinckley and another down to Hastings, if not Red Wing. A bus rapid-transit system or light rail could connect the Union Depot to Woodbury; another could someday travel down South Robert Street, through West St. Paul and into Rosemount.

Skeptics call those visions far-off, if not far-fetched. But the century-old Union Depot that makes its official reopening Saturday, Dec. 8, after two years and $243 million in historically sensitive improvements has been designed with each of these potential transit routes in mind.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:09 pm

The EGE wrote:St. Paul Union Depot reopened today. http://www.twincities.com/stpaul/ci_221 ... elebration

When Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough looks at the St. Paul Union Depot, he doesn't see just a giant Metro Transit stop or future boarding platforms for the Central Corridor light-rail line and Amtrak.

What he sees in the glimmering Lowertown landmark painstakingly restored to respect decades of history is a high-speed train rumbling in from Chicago. He sees a bus rapid-transit system taking those passengers down West Seventh Street to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or the Mall of America.

He sees a commuter rail up to Hinckley and another down to Hastings, if not Red Wing. A bus rapid-transit system or light rail could connect the Union Depot to Woodbury; another could someday travel down South Robert Street, through West St. Paul and into Rosemount.

Skeptics call those visions far-off, if not far-fetched. But the century-old Union Depot that makes its official reopening Saturday, Dec. 8, after two years and $243 million in historically sensitive improvements has been designed with each of these potential transit routes in mind.

I really wish I could have gone to the grand opening today. Work was in the way, unfortunately, but I'll try to get some pictures of the concourse soon!

Also - I'm cross-posting this to the Empire Builder thread in the Amtrak forum. Thanks for the link and quote, The EGE!
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby lpetrich » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:34 pm

Minneapolis awards Southwest LRT contracts - Railway Gazette
Two contracts each valued at $16·8m have been awarded by the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities for preliminary engineering work on the 25·4 km Southwest light rail line in Minneapolis. AECOM will be responsible for the western section of the route, while the eastern section is to be developed by Kimley-Horn.


> Southwest Transitway looks like it will be a light-rail line, an extension of the existing line. From Target Field Station, the northwest end of the current system, it will go southwest to Eden Prairie.

Transit Improvements - Metro Transit
> Light Rail Expands to St. Paul – The Green Line - they're still shooting for 2014.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:03 am

A few updates:

1) Through community input, Metro Transit has designated the B-C-D1 alignment as the Locally Preferred Alternative for the Bottineau Transitway. What that means is that BRT has been rejected in favor of LRT, and the line will extend from CR 152/I-94 straight south, then follow the BNSF Monticello Sub to downtown Minneapolis where it will connect with the Blue Line (Hiawatha Line.) The line will not have construction start until after the Southwest Corridor, and there is no funding yet.

2) Speaking of the Blue Line, the new Siemens S70 cars are arriving, and several are in service on the Hiawatha line. Unlike the older Bombardier cars, the new ones are marked with a distinct blue band - I believe that for the Central Corridor, the new cars will have a green band to reflect it being the Green Line now.

3) Metro Transit contractors are now stringing overhead wire. Most of the line along Washington and University Avenues will have catenary, but the segments through downtown St. Paul and the main campus of the University of Minnesota will use simple overhead, to reduce visual contamination. The track work is complete, as far as I know, and the signaling an stations are visually close to complete. I expect to see electrically-powered test runs by the end of the year, and understand that a Siemens vehicle has already been pulled along the length of the line.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby lpetrich » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:37 am

Thanx, mtuandrew.

I must update my metrocouncil light-rail projects link: Metropolitan Council - Light Rail Projects The three that it mentions:

Metropolitan Council - Central Corridor
Metropolitan Council - Southwest LRT - preliminary engineering
There's a nice flyover video of the planned route, complete with its bridges and tunnels and at-grade crossings
Metropolitan Council - Metro Blue Line extension (Bottineau Transitway) - planning

Metropolitan Council - Transit Projects has some additional projects:

About The Gateway Corridor - from St. Paul east to the St. Croix River and the boundary with Wisconsin. Eau Claire is near the other side. They are still not sure whether they want light rail or bus rapid transit
Metropolitan Council - Metro Red Line (Cedar Avenue) Bus Rapid Transit - south from the end of the Hiawatha Line, now in service
Red Rock Corridor - commuter rail from Minneapolis to St. Paul to southeastern suburbs, in planning
Rush Line Corridor - north from St. Paul. Now an express bus line, may be turned into bus rapid transit or light rail or commuter rail
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:45 pm

lpetrich wrote:Thanx, mtuandrew.

...

About The Gateway Corridor - from St. Paul east to the St. Croix River and the boundary with Wisconsin. Eau Claire is near the other side. They are still not sure whether they want light rail or bus rapid transit

I think the Gateway Corridor people need to do their research:
About The Gateway Corridor wrote:In 1869, the corridor was utilized by the Saint Paul and Duluth Railroad, which crossed central Washington County. The railroad line prompted new activity and settlement patterns that led to the growth and development of cities and townships within the corridor. In later years, the Saint Paul and Duluth Railroad began running trips from Saint Paul to the St. Croix River and was renamed the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company.

The StP&D (Northern Pacific subsidiary) did build its Stillwater branch in 1869, but it was considerably north of the I-94 corridor which was first occupied by the West Wisconsin Railway (Omaha Road/C&NW subsidiary) in 1871. Twin City Rapid Transit didn't build the Stillwater line until the 1900s, nor did it share either the NP, Omaha, or US-12/I-94 rights of way.

Also, that would be a mighty long LRT ride to Hudson, let alone Eau Claire, and I wouldn't accept any bus service that didn't use coach buses. I'd rather see commuter rail along the Union Pacific (former Omaha), but unless it can be done more cheaply than the Northstar Line, it won't happen for years.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby lpetrich » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:38 pm

I checked on distances.

Light rail:
Hiawatha Line (existing): 12 mi
Central Corridor (u.c.): 11 mi
Southwest (planned): 12 mi
Bottineau (planned): ~13 mi

Commuter rail:
Northstar (existing): 40 mi
Red Rock (planned): 30 mi

Gateway Corridor:
St. Paul Union Depot east in I-94 to:
Woodbury (I-94 - I-494/694): 7 mi
Woodbury (Manning Ave.): 11 mi
Hudson, WI: 17 mi
Menomonie, WI: 59 mi
Eau Claire, WI: 83 mi

St. Paul to Woodbury would be a good light-rail route, but to Hudson is more questionable, and to Eau Claire out of the question. Eau Claire's metro population is about 160,000 people, while that of the Twin Cities is about 3.4 million. Regional rail, maybe, but not light rail.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:40 pm

For the Green Line extension (Southwest LRT Corridor), many residents have taken the opportunity to try to oust freight rail from part of the corridor in Minneapolis' Kenilworth neighborhood. Currently home to the Kenilworth Trail extension of the Cedar Lake Trail, that part of the corridor (the former M&StL mainline) is also the home of the Twin Cities & Western's mainline from downtown Minneapolis to the suburb of St. Louis Park. It is a tricky problem, with legitimate concerns by the public over lack of space in the corridor and freight noise & safety in a residential neighborhood, but it also would leave the TC&W with a poor-at-best connection to the national rail network and funnel more traffic through St. Louis Park. Check out http://www.lrtdoneright.org for the protestors' side of the story, and http://www.tcwr.net to learn about the railroad.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:34 pm

Member MILW261 posed the same question about the Kenilworth Corridor - you can see his thoughts, and a link to his photo blog, here: viewtopic.php?f=125&t=151292
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby electricron » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:56 am

lpetrich wrote:I checked on distances.
St. Paul to Woodbury would be a good light-rail route, but to Hudson is more questionable, and to Eau Claire out of the question. Eau Claire's metro population is about 160,000 people, while that of the Twin Cities is about 3.4 million. Regional rail, maybe, but not light rail.


I'll agree that once the line extends past 20 miles from downtown, that line is getting too long for light rail, especially if you are running on city streets. It'll be better if there was an old abandoned railroad line to run them on that far. Beyond 20 miles from downtown, a regional or commuter rail train is the better choice - and these trains almost always require an existing railroad corridor to use.

There's always the possibility the first 15 miles or so can be built as light rail, and use commuter rail beyond the light rail's terminus. That will require a transfer between trains, and two such lines exist in America today; DCTA and WES. NJT's Riverline and NCTD Sprinter require transfers between different branded commuter rail lines. Transfers many suggest reduce ridership, but sufficient ridership can still be achieved to warrant building and running these extended trains.

There are possibilities if you are willing to think outside the box.

Additionally, it will be hard to kick freight trains off a corridor owned by the freight railroad company, or that still has freight customers on a freight line owned by the transit agency. Rerouting freight trains is a possibility, but freight customers will still have to be service whether it is just overnight train nightly or weekly when light rail trains aren't running,. When kicking a freight company off the line, they expect to be reimburse for all additional costs they will experience. So I don't recommend doing so lightly without due diligence. It might be better to move the freight track to the edge of the corridor, and build light rail tracks in the center and opposite side of the corridor.
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby dowlingm » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:01 am

Am trying to figure out the alignment map - are Nippon Sharyo DMUs as per SMART/Metrolinx now an option or are some parts of the alignment in tramway and thus it has to be light rail? Maybe with double tracking and suitable signalling a heavy rail solution could leave enough space for a usable trail without significantly impacting the freight movements. At the time previous analyses were done presumably the DMU options were warmed over Budds or the financially precarious Colorado Railcar, not an ADA compliant car from a substantial manufacturer (NS) backed by a major financier (Sumitomo).
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Re: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Metro Transit light rail

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:10 pm

dowlingm wrote:Am trying to figure out the alignment map - are Nippon Sharyo DMUs as per SMART/Metrolinx now an option or are some parts of the alignment in tramway and thus it has to be light rail? Maybe with double tracking and suitable signalling a heavy rail solution could leave enough space for a usable trail without significantly impacting the freight movements. At the time previous analyses were done presumably the DMU options were warmed over Budds or the financially precarious Colorado Railcar, not an ADA compliant car from a substantial manufacturer (NS) backed by a major financier (Sumitomo).

For the Southwest LRT project, some portions occupy a currently-used pair of freight rail corridors (BNSF's Wayzata Sub and the HCRRA trackage mentioned), some are on city streets in the near-northwest areas around downtown Minneapolis, and some portions are on a new corridor. The Minneapolis city streets could be omitted in favor of a direct shot along the Wayzata Sub, but I don't know whether the sections on the southwestern end would have that flexibility. Shame - I feel the Nippon Sharyo DMUs would be an excellent fit for all Twin Cities commuter rail, since the Northstar with its Bombardier coaches appears to have quite a bit too much capacity for most days.
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