Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
David Greene
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby David Greene » December 11th, 2017, 3:58 pm

tmart wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 11:15 am
As far as the corridor goes, I can see the arguments against this particular project, but it's still pretty staggering to me that there's now zero rail service, existing or planned, serving Southwest, Central, Uptown, or Northeast. A north-south corridor seems like the biggest no-brainer in the state to me, at least in terms of potential if not logistics.
Just pointing out that aBRT plans exist for both Hennepin and Lake St., both of which serve Uptown. And don't forget the Midtown LRT. There's an official study and everything. Dunno if that falls under your definition of "planned," though. I could argue it either way.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby RailBaronYarr » December 11th, 2017, 4:01 pm

^...But that would have been the case if the city used the special taxing streetcar TIF district of 8 parcels to fund its share, right? The city would have committed a certain amount of dedicated revenues, then worked with the Met Council to find other local dollars to then apply for federal matching funds.

I'm asking about the necessity to use a special TIF district enabled by legislature with very strict requirements rather than a more permissive method. Is it simply because the city didn't feel like the political challenge *increasing* the taxes of neighboring properties compared to the easier route of diverting *new* taxes (thanks to redevelopment or value increase) via TIF?

David Greene
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby David Greene » December 11th, 2017, 4:02 pm

SamtheBusNerd wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 11:56 am
Agreed. I think a Broadway/North Loop streetcar should be a much lower priority, especially since North is about to get two significantly more useful ABRT lines.
That might make sense from a purely utilitarian viewpoint, but for an equity-minded city council, it's terrible politics.

Even with the aBRT lines, there's still a gap along the Northside's most important commercial corridor, particularly when one considers connections to the larger network and regional destinations. I don't see why, say, the Midtown LRT should be prioritized over W. Broadway, whether streetcar or something else. We need both and we shouldn't have to choose.

tmart
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby tmart » December 11th, 2017, 4:29 pm

David Greene wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 3:58 pm
tmart wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 11:15 am
As far as the corridor goes, I can see the arguments against this particular project, but it's still pretty staggering to me that there's now zero rail service, existing or planned, serving Southwest, Central, Uptown, or Northeast. A north-south corridor seems like the biggest no-brainer in the state to me, at least in terms of potential if not logistics.
Just pointing out that aBRT plans exist for both Hennepin and Lake St., both of which serve Uptown. And don't forget the Midtown LRT. There's an official study and everything. Dunno if that falls under your definition of "planned," though. I could argue it either way.
aBRT fits under my definition of "planned" but not under my definition of "rail." :D

Midtown is a great project, and perhaps unusually likely to actually get built, but not it's not the north-south use case I was talking about. I'm saying it's weird that nobody seems to be making the case for a high-capacity permanent guideway connecting these neighborhoods to downtown (and to each other), and circulating north-to-south within Downtown.

SamtheBusNerd
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby SamtheBusNerd » December 11th, 2017, 6:21 pm

David Greene wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 4:02 pm
That might make sense from a purely utilitarian viewpoint, but for an equity-minded city council, it's terrible politics.

Even with the aBRT lines, there's still a gap along the Northside's most important commercial corridor, particularly when one considers connections to the larger network and regional destinations. I don't see why, say, the Midtown LRT should be prioritized over W. Broadway, whether streetcar or something else. We need both and we shouldn't have to choose.
I'd have to disagree. We do realistically have to prioritize right now since we don't have the funding to support all these projects at the same time. LA/Denver levels of funding would be great but aren't likely anytime soon.

Both ABRT routes cross Broadway, would serve more Northsiders, and connect to many of the same major destinations as the #14/streetcar. The #18 serves thousands more riders, most of whom are also low-income, transit dependent, P.O.C. From a regional connections perspective I could see the argument for a better/more frequent #32 on Lowry but a streetcar on Broadway wouldn't actually be an improvement in mobility any more than running the #14 as a frequent bus. And the development argument is problematic whether you believe a streetcar works as a development tool or not.

I think there's an idea that any investment in North is automatically more equitable than an investment in South. I don't think that always holds up. There's large high density areas of low-income folks and P.O.C. in South who also have bad transit service (but actually use it more) who are recieving a lot less focus at the moment but need investments just as badly.

David Greene
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby David Greene » December 11th, 2017, 10:14 pm

SamtheBusNerd wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 6:21 pm
David Greene wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 4:02 pm
That might make sense from a purely utilitarian viewpoint, but for an equity-minded city council, it's terrible politics.

Even with the aBRT lines, there's still a gap along the Northside's most important commercial corridor, particularly when one considers connections to the larger network and regional destinations. I don't see why, say, the Midtown LRT should be prioritized over W. Broadway, whether streetcar or something else. We need both and we shouldn't have to choose.
I'd have to disagree. We do realistically have to prioritize right now since we don't have the funding to support all these projects at the same time. LA/Denver levels of funding would be great but aren't likely anytime soon.
We don't have the funding? Why not? We just doubled our transit sales tax! All of our existing rail projects approved by the feds got that approval with a transit funding stream significantly less than what it is now. Where is that extra money going? AFAIK neither Bottineau nor Southwest have had significant budget increases since the sales tax increase.

I think we have the fuding. What we lack is the political will.
SamtheBusNerd wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 6:21 pm
Both ABRT routes cross Broadway, would serve more Northsiders, and connect to many of the same major destinations as the #14/streetcar. The #18 serves thousands more riders, most of whom are also low-income, transit dependent, P.O.C. From a regional connections perspective I could see the argument for a better/more frequent #32 on Lowry but a streetcar on Broadway wouldn't actually be an improvement in mobility any more than running the #14 as a frequent bus. And the development argument is problematic whether you believe a streetcar works as a development tool or not.
I suppose that's true, especially with a much improved (aBRT-level) #14. Unfortunately, no one is talking about that. Not many are talking about rail either but at least it has some visibility. I'm defintiely open to options. Something should be done along W. Broadway.
SamtheBusNerd wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 6:21 pm
I think there's an idea that any investment in North is automatically more equitable than an investment in South. I don't think that always holds up. There's large high density areas of low-income folks and P.O.C. in South who also have bad transit service (but actually use it more) who are recieving a lot less focus at the moment but need investments just as badly.
I agree. When I talk to people about Midtown I point out all of the equity arguments for it, and there are a lot! That's why we shouldn't have to choose.

The Heights
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby The Heights » December 16th, 2017, 9:33 am

Hopefully Central and Nicollet will be on deck for aBRT now that the alternative mode is dead. Selfishly, as a Columbia Heights resident it always annoyed me that a short streetcar route was blocking improved transit on the rest of the corridor.

Central had the highest score after excluding routes built/in process (and Lake, which hopefully will be some form of rail), and Nicollet was third.

I know these were studied as separate corridors, but since together they make a strong north/south spine, I wonder if there would be any merit to operating them as a single route. Seems like it wouldn't add costs since they both end on the mall, and I'm sure there are users who would value a single seat ride through downtown.
Joe

DanPatchToget
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby DanPatchToget » December 16th, 2017, 11:18 am

And what was their plan for the streetcar tracks crossing the Canadian Pacific tracks? Would be a huge pain to grade separate it. Certainly it can be done, but at what cost in terms of money and disruption? Too bad its not easy to just have the streetcar tracks cross the freight tracks at-grade as was done with the original streetcars.

tmart
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby tmart » February 17th, 2018, 7:10 pm

Streetcar plan moves forward, though mayor signals caution

Hmm, now it sounds like maybe this is less of a "project isn't happening" and more of a "Frey dislikes the project." The city's still studying it and the tax money's still coming in.

Interesting that Frey talks about it as a development tool and Bender talks about it as a transit improvement. I'm curious to see the final study and whether it actually would have meaningful transit impacts.

mamundsen
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby mamundsen » February 17th, 2018, 9:08 pm

I can't believe the just completed Nicollet project didn't lay down tracks. Really seems like we wasted money if this streetcar happens in the next 10 years.

Qhaberl
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby Qhaberl » February 18th, 2018, 1:41 pm

I think the fact that they didn't lay down tracks seals the faith that it's not going to happen in the next 10 years. When it comes time for them to actually seriously think about the project they are going to say, "Nicolette [sic] Avenue was just replaced, we be wasting taxpayers money if we wrapped it up now." I totally agree with you @mamundsen it's a darn shame that they didn't lay the streetcar tracks.


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alexschief
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby alexschief » February 18th, 2018, 2:46 pm

Make this an aBRT project and it can start preliminary engineering today, will cost $200 million less, and will serve a lot more territory a lot better.

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Tiller
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby Tiller » February 18th, 2018, 2:52 pm

There's $10m in the fund for it today and it's expected to stand at $17m by the end of 2018. We still have at least 24 years before we'd hit the funding mark for the streetcar (assuming an average of $10m value captured per year) to change our minds (or maybe like 10 if they decide to use bonds). 5-6 years from now we could pay for the aBRT alternative with cash if the legislature would green light it.

MNdible
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby MNdible » February 19th, 2018, 10:01 am

They could issue bonds tomorrow. There's pretty easy math for how much you can bond, given a set source of funding. And of course, the funding should increase with property value inflation.

I think it's the uncertainty of the federal funding sources that's holding things back now.

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VacantLuxuries
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby VacantLuxuries » February 19th, 2018, 10:29 am

I think it's the uncertainty of the federal funding sources that's holding things back now.
I wish we'd just start planning projects assuming zero federal funding. Rip the band-aid off before it's ripped off for us.

Add more properties along Central and Nicollet to the tax district. Create a new one along Washington and Broadway and start raising funds for that streetcar too. Assume that any investment we want to make in the city, we will have to go it alone for the foreseeable future. Not only will that mean we don't go through a dark age where we watch the money we were expecting for transit projects go to building freeway interchanges in Wyoming, but it means if/when sanity returns to the federal level, we can treat the extra funding as a boost instead of a crutch.

SurlyLHT
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby SurlyLHT » February 19th, 2018, 11:04 am

VacantLuxuries wrote:
February 19th, 2018, 10:29 am
I think it's the uncertainty of the federal funding sources that's holding things back now.
I wish we'd just start planning projects assuming zero federal funding. Rip the band-aid off before it's ripped off for us.

Add more properties along Central and Nicollet to the tax district. Create a new one along Washington and Broadway and start raising funds for that streetcar too. Assume that any investment we want to make in the city, we will have to go it alone for the foreseeable future. Not only will that mean we don't go through a dark age where we watch the money we were expecting for transit projects go to building freeway interchanges in Wyoming, but it means if/when sanity returns to the federal level, we can treat the extra funding as a boost instead of a crutch.
I agree with regards to funding. Personally, I think they should watch the implementation of aBRT around the cities and use best practices to implement a line. Perhaps create something a little more special than current BRT. For the city to grow we need to be getting more people through pre-existing right-a-ways and don't see a better way to do this than BRT.

nordeast homer
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby nordeast homer » February 19th, 2018, 12:50 pm

Qhaberl wrote:
February 18th, 2018, 1:41 pm
I think the fact that they didn't lay down tracks seals the faith that it's not going to happen in the next 10 years. When it comes time for them to actually seriously think about the project they are going to say, "Nicolette [sic] [sic] [sic] Avenue was just replaced, we be wasting taxpayers money if we wrapped it up now." I totally agree with you @mamundsen it's a darn shame that they didn't lay the streetcar tracks.


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Isn't the "beauty" of a streetcar system that you don't have to do as much prep for laying rails. The cars are much lighter than LRT and there should not be the need to move any underground utilities. They should be able to do the line in considerably less time than an LRT line with less disruption to the rest of the road.

tmart
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby tmart » February 19th, 2018, 1:29 pm

nordeast homer wrote:
February 19th, 2018, 12:50 pm
Qhaberl wrote:
February 18th, 2018, 1:41 pm
I think the fact that they didn't lay down tracks seals the faith that it's not going to happen in the next 10 years. When it comes time for them to actually seriously think about the project they are going to say, "Nicolette [sic] [sic] [sic] [sic] [sic] Avenue was just replaced, we be wasting taxpayers money if we wrapped it up now." I totally agree with you @mamundsen it's a darn shame that they didn't lay the streetcar tracks.


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Isn't the "beauty" of a streetcar system that you don't have to do as much prep for laying rails. The cars are much lighter than LRT and there should not be the need to move any underground utilities. They should be able to do the line in considerably less time than an LRT line with less disruption to the rest of the road.
Generally the stations are much smaller, too, which should mean less need to rebuild roads and reconfigure intersections.

talindsay
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby talindsay » February 20th, 2018, 12:41 pm

nordeast homer wrote:
February 19th, 2018, 12:50 pm
Isn't the "beauty" of a streetcar system that you don't have to do as much prep for laying rails. The cars are much lighter than LRT and there should not be the need to move any underground utilities. They should be able to do the line in considerably less time than an LRT line with less disruption to the rest of the road.
While that's traditionally been true, my understanding is that most US streetcar systems are built with about the same specs as light rail, since that allows more flexibility in vehicle selection. I've sort of assumed all along that any "streetcar" we get will probably just be using single Siemens S70s as their vehicles, since that offers more operational flexibility.

Everybody likes the little streetcars they use in Portland, but they violate Buy America, and they've apparently been hard to get parts, bad production timelines, etc. Streetcars require so few vehicles, and there's so few streetcar systems in the US, that there's not much compliant rolling stock available here, so it's cheaper, easier, and a safer decision to just use single LRVs.

talindsay
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Re: Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Postby talindsay » February 20th, 2018, 12:43 pm

Note too that Siemens even markets the S70 as a streetcar, and highlights it as such on their website:
https://www.siemens.com/global/en/home/ ... erica.html

The "Streetcar" version is 79 feet long, 96,000 lbs, and powered by four 174 hp motors. Our "Light rail" version is 94 feet long, 100,000 lbs, and powered by four 174 hp motors. The only major difference is that the "streetcar" version doesn't have couplers.
Last edited by talindsay on February 20th, 2018, 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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