Twin Cities Underground Rail

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UptownSport
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Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby UptownSport » November 23rd, 2013, 3:43 pm

To me, the need would seem obvious, and currently and historically there are actually a couple tunnels.
Streets and highways are near or at capacity, and buses are full, sometimes 'Army' full!
Transit increases on surface streets must negotiate this load.

Our weather stalls all traffic, causes accidents and makes waiting for transit simply miserable.
It needs to be a major consideration for the city's future.

There seems to be little interest in elevated systems.

Worldwide underground systems are widespread and highly successful.
One only needs on ride on Washington D.C.'s brilliant Metro system to be convinced- or travel in Germany with layers of underground trains in areas.

Does Minneapolis/St. Paul have density/ridership that would justify a big dig?

How does our geography affect tunneling?
From Wikipedia:
The land of the area sits on top of thick layers of sandstone and limestone laid down as seas encroached upon and receded from the region
Because it is comparatively easy to dig through limestone and there are many natural and man-made open spaces, it has often been proposed that the area should examine the idea of building subways for public transportation. In theory, it could be less expensive in the Twin Cities than in many other places, but the cost would still be much greater than surface projects.
Where would it go? UofM, downtowns, North and South Minneapolis and airport would seem hard to leave out.

Last, instead of starting another fantasy thread, how much does tunneling cost? Is there even enough money to get a start- Say from South Minneapolis through downtown (across a massive river) to North?

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kellonathan
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby kellonathan » November 23rd, 2013, 6:00 pm

There seems to be little interest in elevated systems.
Does Minneapolis/St. Paul have density/ridership that would justify a big dig?
Not really an elevated system, but I would be very much interested to see something on I-35W ROW (Yes, the Orange Line.) and on 394 ROW. Something like Chicago's Dan Ryan Highway (Red Line South)? Speaking of which, any interest on urban heavy rail in the Twin Cities? If we can justify the need for heavy rail based rapid transit system here, I think we can possibly justify a need for an underground system in dwtn. Underground heavy rail that integrates well with the existing heavy rail infrastructure sounds like a smart investment to me. We could run a Twin Cities version of London Overground, maybe.

Underground tunnels for just to accommodate the light rail system (blue and green) we have now? I am not sure how I feel about that investment considering its presumably super high price tag.
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Chauncey87
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby Chauncey87 » November 23rd, 2013, 6:47 pm

I would enjoy seeing a tunnel under Henn or Nicollet running north south into uptown. If it was to be under Nicollet once it goes south under the freeway I would like to have it then run under Henn ave into uptown then make a turn east on Lake st and run the entire length until it reaches the Blue Line at Lake street.

As for the elevated rail idea I like the idea of it, but considering every block in downtown has a skyway crossing at a height that would be at rail height. Building much higher then the skyway would put it over 60-70 ft high to not ruin the skyway connection. Building that high I am just guessing would make the cost per mile about what a cut n cover tunnel might cost. That is just a guess though :roll:

Wedgeguy
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby Wedgeguy » November 23rd, 2013, 7:27 pm

Not sure Elevated will get used as much. Your best example to study would be Seattle that has been proposing extending their old monorail system further, but I don't believe that it has grained much traction. Chicago's el was build so that those dirty cars could get around the city also. Chicagoian are willing to walk up to a platform. Not sure what the concusses would be for people from MPLS. With the skyway system in place it would be a nightmare to build around. Elevated trains still have issues with icy weather too.

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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby Tcmetro » November 23rd, 2013, 7:36 pm

I think that most realistically we will see a downtown tunnel; most of our light rail system is optimized for speed.

I would like to see an underground north-south line or two in Minneapolis. Likely using LRT technology for easy suburban expansion.

Suburban Outcast
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby Suburban Outcast » November 23rd, 2013, 8:36 pm

I hope so, it would be expensive but having a subway portion of LRT/streetcar in downtown I think would be the best for the long-term. If they are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a tunnel, I'd rather see it down Nicollet versus a wooded area with a bike path. We could follow the pattern of rail networks in Australian cities like Melbourne, Sydney. Both have dense downtowns but sprawling suburbs so they have a commuter rail system that acts similar to a rapid transit system in the inner city (like underground portions of BART in SF, Berkeley, Oakland).

For our commuter rail hub near Target Field, it would cool to see something like the Perth City Link happen so the North Loop would have pedestrian connections to Downtown, plus if that Hines Office 20-story tower ever gets built they could turn Target Field station into looking to more like a central hub for a commuter and intercity rail for Minneapolis. They could add more platforms under the Hines tower so technically the station would be enclosed.

orangevening
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby orangevening » November 23rd, 2013, 11:29 pm

Wedgeguy wrote:Not sure Elevated will get used as much. Your best example to study would be Seattle that has been proposing extending their old monorail system further, but I don't believe that it has grained much traction. Chicago's el was build so that those dirty cars could get around the city also. Chicagoian are willing to walk up to a platform. Not sure what the concusses would be for people from MPLS. With the skyway system in place it would be a nightmare to build around. Elevated trains still have issues with icy weather too.
The Seattle Monorail Project MP) failed because they couldn't get there funding and costs figured out. The residents of Seattle approved the SMP FOUR TIMES(!) by vote, being defeated the fifth round voting on it.


http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Monorail_Project

Currently they ate building a subway/ lrt tunnel from DT through Capital Hill (a neighborhood much like Uptown here) to the U district (Dinkytown). Imo a subway similar from Uptown through DT to the "U"/Dinkytown (connecting our most dense neighborhoods). Building LTR in Seattle is the most expensive per mile in the country(although I should double check that)

By the way I loved how Seattle and the region voted for transit projects. Wish we could here

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby FISHMANPET » November 24th, 2013, 1:18 am

In the interest of full disclosure, the DC Metro sucks. Cars breakdown, escalators break down faster than the they can fix them. Frequencies on some lines are 20 minutes or longer.
http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com

Nobodies building new underground systems in this country. Oil needs to become drastically more expensive before it becomes politically feasible to start finding underground stuff. I think it's good to be thinking about because someday we'll be doing it, but today is the not that day, and I don't really think it's a lack of vision causing the problem, it's financing and the current politics of financing.

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Suburban Outcast
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby Suburban Outcast » November 24th, 2013, 6:20 am

True on the financing part, there definitely needs to be an overhaul on financing in order to get stuff underground. I am all for public voting but I would still be worried the majority of suburbanites would support freeway expansion versus public transit improvements.

Usually if I talk to people about transit, they are either for it and want more light rail (showing people's bias for rail) or against it and wonder why we aren't doing more for our roads. I just want better ways to improve both while thinking of better ways for our financing just by focusing on maintaining and improving what we have currently built in order to save up for future expansions of transit lines:
- Instead of expanding a 4-lane to a 6-lane freeway, just have a wide enough shoulder that can be accessed when accidents block a lane (use the current traffic signs like "SHOULDER OPEN DUE TO ACCIDENT ON LEFT LANE"). Keep on ramp lights for longer times instead of just rush hour to limit multiple people merging at the same time, and get rid of cloverleaf interchanges because it slows up the right lane just because it's another place where drivers get confused and angry/passive-aggressive.
- Better stoplight patterns and locations and way more bike lanes on roads. Some intersections just get backed up during rush hour because Minnesota passive-aggressiveness and impatience tends to kicks in as well at stop signs. Adding another lane would just provoke more of that.
- Instead of building rural expressways connecting small towns, just build super-twos with passing lanes every few miles or so, with speed limits of 60 mph.
- Have more regulations for building residential subdivisions on rural land. The true value of rural property is enormously undervalued in my opinion (why build poorly-built houses on fertile land miles away from employment and actively encourage white-collar workers to live there).
- Actually have our commuter rail serve more inner-suburb locales and central city neighborhoods other than downtown, and make busy bus stops require you to prepay via Go-To cards or ticket machines. More commuter rail stops could attract more ridership (and it's about time the largest park-and-ride has a rail connection when it directly borders one).

Most people do agree with me on making rail underground in downtown Mpls though, even if they disagree at first I just say it would improve car traffic, and then they usually start agreeing with me. Doing another study maybe in a few years after the downtown population increases with the new developments and accounting for possible changes in transportation funding (hopefully for the better, but you never know) could get them to build at least a mile of the track underground in the Downtown Core.

UptownSport
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby UptownSport » November 24th, 2013, 4:37 pm

kellonathan wrote:
There seems to be little interest in elevated systems.
Does Minneapolis/St. Paul have density/ridership that would justify a big dig?
Not really an elevated system, but I would be very much interested to see something on I-35W ROW (Yes, the Orange Line.) and on 394 ROW. Something like Chicago's Dan Ryan Highway (Red Line South)? Speaking of which, any interest on urban heavy rail in the Twin Cities? If we can justify the need for heavy rail based rapid transit system here, I think we can possibly justify a need for an underground system in dwtn. Underground heavy rail that integrates well with the existing heavy rail infrastructure sounds like a smart investment to me. We could run a Twin Cities version of London Overground, maybe.

Underground tunnels for just to accommodate the light rail system (blue and green) we have now? I am not sure how I feel about that investment considering its presumably super high price tag.
I've heard people say rapid transit up 35W would be a 'no-brainer', but you're right- it's not really a metro underground.

UptownSport
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby UptownSport » November 24th, 2013, 5:16 pm

I'd rather not hear about car vs transit, the two aren't mutually exclusive.

There's certainly a point that removing surface transit speeds up remaining traffic; most of us have seen bus 'jams' on Nicollet Mall, where only public transit is allowed. At the least, adding fleets of buses to a route would begin to cripple an artery- Including other buses. I recall a story on 35W buses starting traffic jams as the bus needs to merge across all lanes to stop at Lake Street.
No one can say University is massive environmental effect, I've seen police needing to drive well out of their way to make a 'U Turn", where a cruiser could have turned within moments on the 'legacy' street.

As far as the route goes, I go back and forth on ridership. I think Downtown Mpls to UofM would be really safe, but a station (don't get too hung up on my example) as far down as 48th and Lyndale would attract enough ridership?
I have no idea on North.

Moscow has a Monorail, as do many cities in Asia, but that's certainly another thread.

How much does boring and lining cost? Such as existing Airport Stops?

Chauncey87
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby Chauncey87 » November 24th, 2013, 9:35 pm

The cost of the deep bore tunnel under MSP should be considered an exception. This tunnel was designed to be blast proof. So extra strong materials where used that wouldn't necessarily be used during "normal" deep bore tunneling. The tunnel per Wikipedia is 1.7 miles long. All I know is the cost of tunneling under downtown streets may cost less. That all depends of course on how you do it. Deep bore, cut and cover, or a combo of both.

Suburban Outcast
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby Suburban Outcast » November 25th, 2013, 12:31 am

What about the relocation of utilities under city streets, I assume that would run up costs as well.

Here are very crude illustrations (5 mins on MSPaint) of both underground LRT and at-grade streetcar with segregated track that could be a possibility:
Short Tunnel Option under Nicollet Mall in DT Core - 11th to 3rd St
At-grade Chicago Ave + 9th/10th St streetcar/bus lane w/separated median in Elliot Park
Source of images were from Google Streetview

There are definitely a lot of drawbacks/cons, but this is just a simple idea I just thought up of today. I'll probably do a much better version using Photoshop and Illustrator when I have more free time.

twinkess
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby twinkess » November 25th, 2013, 11:01 am

Since we're all dreaming here, I'd say my "dream" line would be a tunnel under Nicollet Mall, continuing under Loring Park and then Hennepin Ave.

The line would then come above ground and turn west in the greenway and finally head south down France, ending at 494.
Stops:
  • *Between 6th and 7th downtown,
    *Convention Center/Loring Park (or Walker AC / Loring Park),
    *(maybe) a stop at 23rd/24th,
    *uptown/Calhoun/Isles
    *40th st
    *50th and France shopping
    *60th st
    *Southdale/Galleria
    *American Blvd.

at40man
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby at40man » November 26th, 2013, 3:15 am

I don't know if we'll ever see underground rail in the Twin Cities, to be honest. The anti-rail pro-automobile crowd squawks so loudly about any sort of transit improvements that it makes me wonder if they ever leave their exurban enclaves.

What is far more realistic is seeing a streetcar travel down the Selby Streetcar Tunnel again!

orangevening
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby orangevening » November 26th, 2013, 8:35 am

at40man wrote:I don't know if we'll ever see underground rail in the Twin Cities, to be honest. The anti-rail pro-automobile crowd squawks so loudly about any sort of transit improvements that it makes me wonder if they ever leave their exurban enclaves.

What is far more realistic is seeing a streetcar travel down the Selby Streetcar Tunnel again!
Is it even possible to use the tunnel again if refurbished? Might even help getting funds for the line, although the tunnel isn't deemed historical.

Thanks for the link to the forgetten Minnesota website. Very cool!!

mulad
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby mulad » November 26th, 2013, 9:24 am

I'm not as optimistic about the Selby tunnel, since I-35E got built right at the foot of it, along with the Kellogg Boulevard junction -- and that parking ramp at Smith and Kellogg doesn't do any favors either. Certainly the connection could be done, but it would require a new bridge across the highway -- potentially a very long one to get around the on/off ramps or even pass over other bridges (one interesting option would be to skirt the north side of the Smith/Kellogg ramp -- that would chop off nearly 1800 feet from the current zig-zag bus route).

We could reuse the tunnel, but I'm not sure the result would be any more effective than just shooting a bridge off the bluff at the intersection of Selby & Summit. Selby is pretty narrow, of course (currently, bus drivers are unwilling to pass each other in the travel lanes -- one will typically pull off to the side to let the oncoming bus pass), so the most effective reuse of the tunnel would probably be as a portal entrance to an underground service running at least partway down the street.

However, probably the best spot to put an underground line in St. Paul (outside of downtown) would be on Grand Avenue, particularly between I-35E and Lexington Parkway (west of there, the most sensible thing to do would be to run above ground in the wide ROW of Summit Avenue, even though that would raise holy hell with rich residents and folks who like the trees -- there should be a way to strike a balance, but it would be a bit tricky).

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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby mattaudio » November 26th, 2013, 9:44 am

The grade ends at the retaining wall for 35E just south of Kellogg. I checked it out one time, and it appeared the existing streetcar grade would require a bridge over 35E without enough clearance. Doubtful this is an option.

UptownSport
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby UptownSport » December 4th, 2013, 5:47 pm

People could wait in warm, dry stations for trains that aren't negotiating stalled traffic today.
After the snow, comes the cold ...

UptownSport
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Re: Twin Cities Underground Rail

Postby UptownSport » December 4th, 2013, 9:29 pm

and I might start lobbying myself. Waited for a hi-freq 6 for over half an hour, then walked from main post office to MCTC and still waited for 8 minutes on way back. Lots of cold, dejected people.


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