Rush Line Corridor BRT

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mattaudio
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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mattaudio » September 2nd, 2015, 8:45 am

If we were in a different part of the world, or even in Downtown St. Paul 100 years ago, there would be no question. Because we'd need every track and every platform under the concourse to serve intercity trains. Let's hope we get to that point again.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby MNdible » September 2nd, 2015, 8:59 am

I'd love to see a breakdown of users of the SPUD Green Line station. My guess is that something like 1% have SPUD concourse destinations and would benefit from moving the station. The other 99% are going to Lowertown, the Farmer's Market, the Saints ballfield, etc. and would be inconvenienced by such a move. Even people going to functions in the SPUD headhouse are better off with the front of station location.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby acs » September 2nd, 2015, 9:22 am

mattaudio wrote:If we were in a different part of the world, or even in Downtown St. Paul 100 years ago, there would be no question. Because we'd need every track and every platform under the concourse to serve intercity trains. Let's hope we get to that point again.
Well there's up to 7 different intercity routes that could all terminate at SPUD. So if we want them all to terminate at the same time for easy transfers then something has to go underneath the concourse.

As a side note, watching the Ramsey county documentary about the renovation made me wonder if they ever considered terminating the LRT in the carriage tunnel underneath the headhouse. Seems like they put a lot of effort and design into restoring it for so little use.
Last edited by acs on September 2nd, 2015, 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby RailBaronYarr » September 2nd, 2015, 9:24 am

Yeah, and even if we assume we bump up intercity train service at SPUD to 10-20 trains a day, the SPUD-to-other Lowertown user ratio would still be pretty low. And even THEN, many folks transferring from transit to regional rail would still be okay passing through the headhouse if they needed anything from that level (tickets, information, wanted to comfortably wait, etc).

Honestly, if you're under the mindset that interlining Rush and Riverview is important, froggie's proposal is the most elegant and functional (while saving $$ on 2 downtown stations), assuming it can make the tight wiggle near the OMF. 20 years down the road we should be having the same discussion about two transit tunnels that we *should* be having right now in Minneapolis. But not now.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby FISHMANPET » September 2nd, 2015, 9:31 am

If it ends up that it's insanely expensive to run new LRT to the front of the depot and instead much cheaper to run it behind the depot, then sure, run it there, and maybe provide some people movers to get people out front fast. But I think there's an idea (not really here, but more in general) that Union Depot is a TRAIN STATION and all TRAINS need to go there. And that's not really a good thing from a planning perspective.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Mikey » September 2nd, 2015, 10:08 am

Back to the LRT line itself, would there be a need to add another Lowertown Station east of SPUD? I'm thinking roughly where Lafayette St theoretically is. At least planning for an infill station would encourage redevelopment of the no-mans land to the rail tracks
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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby froggie » September 2nd, 2015, 10:28 am

There are advantages and disadvantages to putting LRT on the SPUD concourses. Works better for connections (which I do believe will someday include more than a handful of buses and one Amtrak train a day), but is farther of a walk for those with an origin/destination in the area. Probably a better opportunity for through-running (given the very tight corner at 4th and Broadway and the unlikelihood of routing through trains THROUGH the OMF facility), but would be a lot more expensive given the need to reroute the existing Green Line.

Regarding FISHMANPET's comment, one could argue that LRT is a "regional" service, or at least a hybrid local/commuter.

As for Tiller's proposal, I had looked at a similar concept, connecting the Green Line to the SPUD concourse to facilitate through-running with any potential Rush or Gateway LRT line. My conclusion was a bit different than his, however when I took a look at topography and the streetscape. I posted about this a couple months ago in the Riverview thread.

His preferred route (Kellogg) won't work because the block between Jackson and Sibley is too short to get an LRT track high enough to bridge over the Kellogg/Sibley intersection...while most LRT vehicles can handle short bits of 9% grade, the maximum preferred grade is 6%, and that block on Kellogg is too short (with not enough existing elevation difference) to get the grade at/under 6%.

His red route is similar to what I suggested in the other thread, except that it would be preferable to turn directly from 4th on to Robert, instead of the two 90-degree turns along his red route. This would also preserve an extra block of the existing Green Line, which would help cut costs.

His pink route is likely a non-starter, both because of the impacts to Kellogg Park but also because there isn't enough distance past Minnesota St to get the tracks underneath the Robert St Bridge with an acceptable grade. This grade would be even worse than what I explained earlier with trying to route it along Kellogg.

As for Tiller's question about standards/tolerances, a good source would be looking at engineering designs for existing and planned LRT tracks, as well as LRT vehicle specifications. Both can be found online with some searching, and the former exists in a preliminary format for both the Southwest and Bottineau lines.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby David Greene » September 2nd, 2015, 10:47 am

FISHMANPET wrote:Also America likes to think it's a special snowflake and can't learn any transit lessons from the rest of the world
This.

And doubly so for Minnesota.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mattaudio » September 2nd, 2015, 10:51 am

froggie wrote: His preferred route (Kellogg) won't work because the block between Jackson and Sibley is too short to get an LRT track high enough to bridge over the Kellogg/Sibley intersection...while most LRT vehicles can handle short bits of 9% grade, the maximum preferred grade is 6%, and that block on Kellogg is too short (with not enough existing elevation difference) to get the grade at/under 6%.
(Not that I want to see the Green Line move, since I agree with RBY and others that local rail is best out front, all else being equal.)

But why would this be the case? The level of Kellogg and Sibley is nearly the same as the level of the train deck underneath the concourse. Sibley drops fast to get underneath the railroad tracks and down to Shepard Road. The blue S curve he shows could easily happen with a "viaduct" on the eastern side of existing Sibley, nearly matching the western edge of the bus turnaround. It's only 12 steps up from the sidewalk at Sibley/Kellogg up to the bus deck, and it would have nearly 200 feet to make that grade change. Assuming the steps are roughly 8", it would be roughly a 4% grade from Sibley/Kellogg up to the train deck via his blue S curve.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Mikey » September 2nd, 2015, 10:57 am

Not to continue this, since I think the current setup is fine, but...

Could the pink route work if it dropped into a tunnel along Minnesota rather than elevated? Since most of Kellogg Park is built on a bridge/parking ramp you're only talking a block-and-a-half long tunnel. Then it could continue under the Robert St Bridge to the concourse.
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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Mikey » September 2nd, 2015, 11:02 am

As for the OMF, wasn't it a reuse of an existing warehouse? I thought they just removed a portion of the Broadway end and prettied up the place. Therefore, wouldn't it be possible to remove more of the west end of the building and add to the east end (other than the cost of shifting all of the equipment)?
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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby froggie » September 2nd, 2015, 11:58 am

mattaudio wrote:But why would this be the case? The level of Kellogg and Sibley is nearly the same as the level of the train deck underneath the concourse. Sibley drops fast to get underneath the railroad tracks and down to Shepard Road. The blue S curve he shows could easily happen with a "viaduct" on the eastern side of existing Sibley, nearly matching the western edge of the bus turnaround. It's only 12 steps up from the sidewalk at Sibley/Kellogg up to the bus deck, and it would have nearly 200 feet to make that grade change. Assuming the steps are roughly 8", it would be roughly a 4% grade from Sibley/Kellogg up to the train deck via his blue S curve.
The depth needed under an LRT overpass (minimum 8', optimum 10') plus the parking garage entrance on Sibley north of the train deck is why an at-grade LRT crossing of Kellogg and Sibley won't work.
Mikey wrote:Could the pink route work if it dropped into a tunnel along Minnesota rather than elevated?
No, for two reasons. First, because of the aforementioned short block lengths, you would need a minimum 7.5% (and likely steeper) grade to clear the intersection at Kellogg and Minnesota. Second, 2nd St runs underneath that park deck as well. Depending on the elevation of 2nd St where the LRT tunnel would cross, it would either be difficult or downright impossible to tunnel the LRT under the park.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby at40man » September 2nd, 2015, 12:41 pm

twincitizen wrote: I will give you that Ramsey County would love to see both lines end/meet at/through Union Depot to force people to use their fancy facility, but transit planners and consultants will be urging them to do otherwise so they actually serve the employment core of downtown St. Paul.
The idea that people won't walk ONE BLOCK through the skyway-connected Depot and thus not serve the employment core of downtown St. Paul is downright silly.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mattaudio » September 2nd, 2015, 12:43 pm

froggie wrote:The depth needed under an LRT overpass (minimum 8', optimum 10') plus the parking garage entrance on Sibley north of the train deck is why an at-grade LRT crossing of Kellogg and Sibley won't work..
It would be an embankment, not an overpass. Except where it goes over the parking portal, which already has limited clearance under a deck that was designed to carry trains. This would possibly slightly shorten the distance to rise the 8' between the corner street level and the train deck. This is conservatively at least 130' of usable frontage prior to the parking access, still providing just a hair over 6% grade.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby ProspectPete » September 2nd, 2015, 12:59 pm

at40man wrote:
twincitizen wrote: I will give you that Ramsey County would love to see both lines end/meet at/through Union Depot to force people to use their fancy facility, but transit planners and consultants will be urging them to do otherwise so they actually serve the employment core of downtown St. Paul.
The idea that people won't walk ONE BLOCK through the skyway-connected Depot and thus not serve the employment core of downtown St. Paul is downright silly.
I couldn't agree more.

I can't figure out why there seems to be a lot of resistance to locating and LRT on a concourse in the SPUD. OK, so it has been mentioned that it would be inconvenient for passengers who want to go to the Green Line or will have to walk an extra few minutes (in a climate controlled building which is hooked up to the skyway system).

So let's assume then that the decision is made to bypass the SPUD concourse. From what I've read the alternatives would carry enormous costs.

Do we really want to be demolishing part of the OMF? Shoehorning LRT down Prince street? Digging a tunnel?... Seriously?

We have ROW, let's use it. The next LRT concourse SPUD and the impending Kellogg & 3rd Street bridge reconstruction are like gifts for the Rush Line.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby FISHMANPET » September 2nd, 2015, 1:03 pm

The question isn't why not use SPUD, it should be why use SPUD. It may be the case that it's substantially more expensive to locate LRT in front of the depot rather than in the concourse, but let's remember that if we put it in the concourse we're literally throwing away over a century of experience the world over on connecting local rail service to the regional and local network.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Silophant » September 2nd, 2015, 1:17 pm

at40man wrote:
twincitizen wrote: I will give you that Ramsey County would love to see both lines end/meet at/through Union Depot to force people to use their fancy facility, but transit planners and consultants will be urging them to do otherwise so they actually serve the employment core of downtown St. Paul.
The idea that people won't walk ONE BLOCK through the skyway-connected Depot and thus not serve the employment core of downtown St. Paul is downright silly.
I think the idea here is not so much that a concourse SPUD station on Riverview/Rush would be dealbreakingly worse than the existing Green Line station, but that having the new line(s) share the existing Green Line station would lead to them also sharing Central Station in the middle of the CBD, whereas a concourse station would lead to the below-the-bluff, CBD-bypassing routing.

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Mikey » September 2nd, 2015, 1:51 pm

It comes down to what kind of service you want to see.

Value end-to-end travel times for commuters? Then a rail ROW, below-the-bluff, CBD missing route works best

Value intermediary stops and neighborhood connections? Then a street ROW, West 7th (Riverview)/Prince & Kellogg (Rush) route works best
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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Tiller » September 2nd, 2015, 5:27 pm

I do agree with froggie on the red line turning directly on to Robert from 4th. As for only having "couple of buses and an amtrak train" on the concourse, as it's already generally been said, this LRT will be in place for decades; intercity services will catch up.

On the topic of local services in front, I do agree with that being a good idea, though that should mean St Paul running streetcars in front, not LRT, which is a regional/commuter service. As I've already mentioned, downtown would be well served by a circulating streetcar loop. Even if you don't avoid denser areas so that those on the fringe get faster service from their park and rides, it is still technically a regional service, just a regional service that everyone along the line can reasonably get use out of.

This exercise is exactly for figuring out if light rail can reasonably get from the concourse to Central station, to avoid running along the river bluff and not serving Central station>Xcel>United Hospital>beyond. While the Rush portion doesn't immediately serve an equivalent area next to downtown, it isn't in a position to do so, thanks to freeways, railways, and a nature sanctuary. Little is lost by moving Rush's endpoint a little (and much will be gained once we've brought our various intercity services online). It's everywhere else that matters.

The two most important things for Rush are the routing outside of downtown and the station frequency (1/2 mile vs 1 mile). If this thing never leaves the old bruce vento ROW, and has stations roughly every mile, then we might as well scrap this and build the aBRT instead, because Car Max, The Original Mattress Factory, and "Truck Utilities" (as found on http://www.truckutilities.com/) just won't cut it for light rail.

This isn't like SWLRT, where you could either have
>an amazing line that serves downtown, uptown, and all of the jobs in eden prarie
>a decent line that still serves downtown and the jobs in eden prarie.

This is a question of
>serve the businesses and people who live along the line
>have insufficient ridership to justify the investment (not that the numbers can't be fudged a bit to make it happen)

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Re: Rush Line Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby VacantLuxuries » September 3rd, 2015, 8:55 am

While the Rush portion doesn't immediately serve an equivalent area next to downtown
It could.

Image

By reusing the Green Line's stations and splitting at University, we could get a station at Regions, and a second station in the cluster of state agency offices on Lafayette. An easy transfer for anyone heading to points east from the Green Line, just like Downtown East on the Blue Line. Still links up to East 7th.


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