Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

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mulad
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Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mulad » September 10th, 2013, 2:02 pm

The Rush Line corridor is probably going to see an RFP put out after the idea is approved (already?) today by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority. According to this F&C article, commuter rail (potentially going 80 miles to Hinckley) had been discarded in a 2009 alternatives study. The two main alternatives to be studied will be BRT running about 25 miles from St. Paul to Forest Lake, and LRT running more like 10 miles from St. Paul to White Bear Lake (I'm not sure if that means the lake or the city -- probably the city).

I'm curious how specific they are about the route at this point. There are many potential ways of getting out of St. Paul, including the Bruce Vento Trail, the Gateway Trail, and the old TCRT streetcar alignment to Willernie, which then branched off to WBL, Mahtomedi, and Stillwater -- plus a bunch of on-street routings. I imagine they'd gravitate toward the Bruce Vento Trail (which I think was once popularly called the "Skally Line" -- I've never been sure where the "Rush Line" name came from).

Trails will have big SWLRT-ish problems, as I'm not sure if they would have enough room for both tracks/busways and a bikeway. I'm also not sure if streetcar-like service has really been examined for this corridor specifically. The St. Paul Streetcar Study has covered part of the area, but hasn't looked at anything as distant as White Bear Lake, as far as I recall.

Anyway, the corridor has had route 285 express service for a few years now.

Digging through the site, I see that eluko once started a thread on a Minneapolis to White Bear Lake corridor, which hasn't been all that specifically studied, though there had been some Northeast Diagonal and MN-36 ideas which have floated through official channels at certain times.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby UptownSport » September 10th, 2013, 7:48 pm

I assumed Rush because it passes through Rush City-

Engines that service Rush City Elevator are labelled "Skally Line"

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby twincitizen » September 10th, 2013, 8:16 pm

Yeah, you think they'd come up with a new name for this corridor now that commuter rail has (rightly) been discarded and we're already running express buses (285) to Forest Lake. "Rush" has nothing to do with it anymore. There's no way this corridor (DT White Bear Lake to DT St. Paul) could supply the ridership estimates necessary for light rail. Instead of doing another big ol' study, years of engineering, etc., couldn't Metro Transit just throw a Route 535-like limited-stop/express route in service a whole lot sooner/cheaper? Most of the interchanges on 35E are standard diamonds and would be well suited for that type of freeway BRT up to Hwy. 96, where the route would head into downtown White Bear Lake. Of course, that route doesn't serve Maplewood Mall and its brand new 1000 space park & ride, but maybe that's ok. 35E service would not necessarily duplicate existing express service or the planned "E 7th" aBRT line which would take 7th>Arcade>Maryland>White Bear Ave to the mall terminus

This gets at an inherent problem with transit planning in the Twin Cities...it should be led exclusively by Metro Transit and the Met Council, with input from Cities/Counties; rather than the current program of City/County elected officials (and staff) driving these initiatives and getting our priorities all out of whack.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby mulad » September 11th, 2013, 6:02 am

That statement confuses me a bit, but I guess you're right that things like Hiawatha, Northstar, Red Rock, and this corridor have been led a bit more by county-level groups than by the Met Council itself -- though I tend to think the work Metro Transit is doing for the Midtown Greenway and the Arterial Bus corridors is pretty good, and may not be getting the necessary support from the Council, which is rather frustrating.

And there are some cities that either don't do enough to grab attention, or end up misdirected -- Hastings comes to mind, with a 22k population that should probably have a small local bus network in addition to express service, but that's gotten all muddled up with talk of the Red Rock corridor.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby David Greene » September 11th, 2013, 10:12 am

twincitizen wrote:This gets at an inherent problem with transit planning in the Twin Cities...it should be led exclusively by Metro Transit and the Met Council, with input from Cities/Counties; rather than the current program of City/County elected officials (and staff) driving these initiatives and getting our priorities all out of whack.
I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but wasn't this a result of anti-transit/anti-rail forces at the legislature way back when hamstringing the Met Council in its planning? Dan Patch comes to mind. I've always assumed the RRAs were created as a solution to a political problem, just like CTIB was.

The problem with the Met Council as it currently exists is that you get wide swings in policy and focus with each new administration. There's little consistency which is deadly when you need to do very long-term planning for things like transportation networks.

I'm not really defending the RRAs, just pointing out that they were a viable solution to a problem that existed at the time and will likely exist in the future. A Met Council composed of local elected officials solves the governor problem but has its own issues, as seen with CTIB.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby woofner » September 11th, 2013, 11:23 am

mulad wrote:Trails will have big SWLRT-ish problems, as I'm not sure if they would have enough room for both tracks/busways and a bikeway.
I measured yesterday using Ramsey County's awesome GIS webapp. Vento and Gateway are both 100', so there will be enough ROW, but since those backyards are right next to it, there will be neighbor issues. The other question is whether they'll need to build retaining walls, which could end up being pretty expensive.

I can't remember exactly what alignment the AA followed, but I think it would be good if it went up Vento to Gateway, then up Prosperity to White Bear Ave to reach Maplewood Mall rather than doing a tight U at the mall. The East Side has lots of interesting alignments, and I'd also like to see them consider using some of those very low-volume and minimal frontage streets like Hazelwood, converting them to one-ways or no-ways in places.

If I remember right the AA projected moderate ridership, but also very low cost, leading to a relatively decent cost per rider. I think the Met Council's regional LRT study had somewhat similar results. But that shouldn't preclude 35E BRT, which is far enough away to stand on its own as a route, I'd think (Rush Line LRT would be Maplewood Mall-driven, which 35E BRT wouldn't be able to serve at all).
David Greene wrote:I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but wasn't this a result of anti-transit/anti-rail forces at the legislature way back when hamstringing the Met Council in its planning? Dan Patch comes to mind. I've always assumed the RRAs were created as a solution to a political problem, just like CTIB was.

The problem with the Met Council as it currently exists is that you get wide swings in policy and focus with each new administration. There's little consistency which is deadly when you need to do very long-term planning for things like transportation networks.
It was earlier than Dan Patch - as Mark Andrews mentions on his streets.mn podcast, HCRRA was formed in the late 80s, and it was a response to sluggishness from the Met Council and MnDot. I love that the precursor bungling that has led to this SWLRT fiasco has become more public lately, but it goes much deeper. MnDot did a study of the exact same route as is being studied for SWLRT now (but with a Hopkins terminus) at the behest of St Louis Park and Golden Valley, who opposed the freewayfication of Hwy 12 at the time, and this study found LRT to be feasible and cost-effective. It was promptly placed in the back of a filing cabinet somewhere. The Met Council, as you say, swung back and forth in terms of interest in LRT, but it keep in mind that it also was twice prohibited by the Legislature from studying fixed rail transit - once in 1975 and once in 1985.

So it goes even beyond bureaucratic apathy or broken governmental structure. Think of David Jennings. There's something in the American character that combines sociopathic individualism and a tendency towards nepotistic, kleptocratic governance. It allowed these transportation modes to be built using government handouts to big business, and then ignored when big business wanted handouts for the next mode. The people using or being abused by the transportation products their CEO buddies were hawking were not important to the representatives of this great democracy. Maybe that's changing, but it seems more likely that no one can figure out how to make money out of transportation any more, with or without government handouts, which means this arena is going to get less and less attention from US governments.
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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby MNdible » September 11th, 2013, 11:35 am

woofner wrote:Think of David Jennings.
I tried, but apparently I'm unable to draw the connection that you are. What are you thinking about?

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby woofner » September 11th, 2013, 12:02 pm

The House Speaker in 1985?
"Who rescued whom!"

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby mulad » September 11th, 2013, 12:57 pm

woofner wrote:If I remember right the AA projected moderate ridership, but also very low cost, leading to a relatively decent cost per rider. I think the Met Council's regional LRT study had somewhat similar results. But that shouldn't preclude 35E BRT, which is far enough away to stand on its own as a route, I'd think (Rush Line LRT would be Maplewood Mall-driven, which 35E BRT wouldn't be able to serve at all).
This is something that has bugged me about all of the "corridor" studies to date -- when we're talking about regular transit lines, we're usually looking at places where people will need to walk or bike on at least one end of the trip. The Met Council transit corridors have been laid out much more like a highway network, where there's little recognition of the distance between them. Riders will be magically transported from miles around. The city-level and Metro Transit-level studies for streetcar and arterial bus have done a lot better job of that, but that's because partly because they've focused on tighter geographic regions from the start.

Anyway, to be more specific, the bulk of the Bruce Vento Trail is between 1.5 and 2.5 miles east of I-35E (between half an hour and an hour apart on foot for a healthy individual), so there are substantial differences in what they can accomplish.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby Chauncey87 » October 1st, 2013, 12:50 am

Full steam ahead on the Rush Line from St. Paul


"Officials in the east metro are reviving efforts to develop a long-stalled transit corridor north and east of St. Paul.

The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority is expected Tuesday to issue a request for proposal for a study of transit options on the Rush Line Corridor, a roughly 25-mile stretch between St. Paul and Forest Lake to the north."

Read more: http://finance-commerce.com/2013/09/ful ... z2gRzgNhsg

Hope this becomes lrt with mainly its own ROW. So as not to take away lanes of traffic from already heavily used roads.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby Tom H. » October 1st, 2013, 8:33 am

I'm fine with LRT to White Bear Lake (which has some good urban bones in the old town), but it's hard to justify it beyond that point.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby RailBaronYarr » October 1st, 2013, 9:33 am

Yeah, again I think the challenge is defining this for what it is. Is it a commuter rail line with limited frequencies and hours of operations? If so, why does the bus service not work well as is (especially once the 35E MnPass lanes are finished) north of 694/WBL? Is this supposed to be a regional rail line with several trips per day not necessarily serving peak-hour commuters but adding region/state-wide mobility options? Or is it a frequent transit service within the core metro area that serves peak commuters but also other trips for people?

I think this thing should end in WBL as TomH says. Leave downtown and head through the gov't buildings, up Phalen or Payne+Frost or Arcade+Frost to White Bear Ave to Maplewood Mall area, then heading along the rail corridor to WBL center. In my ideal future transit fantasy, this line continues south from DT StP along the Riverview corridor, crosses the river (with another LRT line that heads to MSP via existing Blue Line tracks) but heads NW interlined with the Blue Line. It then becomes the Midtown Corridor at Lake and heads west to Uptown through the Greenway. One-seat ride (albeit a little lengthy) for Uptown/Lake St to StPaul with multiple transfer points to get off if heading to MSP/MOA.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby UptownSport » October 1st, 2013, 7:03 pm

Ease of extending post WBL should be considered-
If there's an old ROW that just needs tracks and caternary, vs , say tunneling, lots of traffic from Forest Lake.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby mulad » January 8th, 2014, 1:54 pm

This MPR interview from December 30th has been circling around a bit today. Victoria Reinhart of Ramsey County went on The Daily Circuit did quite the job of talking out of both sides of her mouth, particularly regarding the idea of commuter rail and connecting to Hinckley somehow.

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2013/12/30 ... it?from=dc

But to gather some of the facts that made it through -- they're currently focusing on LRT to White Bear Lake and "BRT" to Forest Lake in an 18-month study which began in September (so, maybe finishing around March 2015?).

I don't see any updates on the website at https://www.facebook.com/rushline, but their Facebook page has had some activity: https://www.facebook.com/rushline

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby mattaudio » January 8th, 2014, 2:33 pm

Someone needs to sit everyone down and explain what Light Rail is best used for.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby Suburban Outcast » January 8th, 2014, 9:17 pm

Why not just have the current and future park and rides along exits on 35E/35 serve both Metro Transit express routes plus casino shuttles to Hinckley (if they don't already) and leave LRT or streetcar plans for denser neighborhoods in the East Side with possible expansion to WBL/Maplewood for another time.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby Tcmetro » January 29th, 2014, 8:58 pm

I got hold of the the agenda packet for the last meeting via email. The AAU phase is just kicking off. Two alignments are under consideration, BRT on Interstate 35E to Forest Lake and LRT on the ex-railroad ROW from Downtown St. Paul to White Bear Lake.

Personally, I'm hoping for LRT.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby mulad » May 16th, 2014, 3:02 pm

The website has been updated: http://www.rushline.org/

Looks like there are some meetings later this month. I'd post the dates, but I'm on my phone.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby Tcmetro » May 19th, 2014, 8:22 am

Here are the meeting dates:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Maplewood Library
3025 Southlawn Drive, Maplewood
5:30-7:30 pm

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Forest Lake Transit Center
19955 Forest Rd. N., Forest Lake
4:30-6:30 p.m.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor

Postby David Greene » May 20th, 2014, 12:42 pm

Tcmetro wrote:I got hold of the the agenda packet for the last meeting via email. The AAU phase is just kicking off. Two alignments are under consideration, BRT on Interstate 35E to Forest Lake and LRT on the ex-railroad ROW from Downtown St. Paul to White Bear Lake.
Which ROW? The Bruce Vento Trail?


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