Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

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mulad
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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mulad » September 6th, 2016, 9:12 am

In general, I prefer the Bloomington Ave option for the Blue Line connection in the Fort Snelling area, though I've always envisioned something "tunneling" under Highway 55/62 just a little further northeast where Minnehaha Ave loops around (it wouldn't need to be a real tunnel, probably just a cut with a set of bridges over the top). If an LRT connection followed Minnehaha from that end, you could add a new platform perpendicular to the existing one on the south end of the Henry Whipple Building's parking lot.

It would be a challenge to thread the tracks through the freeway ramps there, though there's probably a good case for removing those ramps anyway due to the tight on-/off-ramp spacing in the area. The downside is that it would mean that Minnehaha Ave on the other end would be the only way in/out for non-military folks, though that could be easily remedied by moving the fenced area to the south of Weigel Boulevard and making a connection into the small neighborhood on the south side of MN-62.

I agree that the 46th Street connection options don't make a whole lot of sense. If something goes up that way, I'd rather see the tracks aligned to go straight on 46th or have them hook in to go north (I think mattaudio was the first person to suggest interlining that with the Midtown Greenway service, whenever that appears, though it could just be an independent service running between 46th and whatever stop is nearest to St. Paul Ave & West 7th on the St. Paul side)

I'm kind of torn between option #2 and option #3 for the Shepard Road side of the Mississippi River crossing, and I'm not a huge fan of either of them. I'd like to see that whole interchange get reconstructed, and it doesn't feel like there's enough effort being put into a holistic solution for both rail and highway surfaces there.

Interesting to see how tracks could branch off to Kellogg Boulevard in downtown, though they note that there's an 83' drop between Kellogg and the CP right-of-way at Wabasha, so there's little chance of a connector between street tracks and the freight rail corridor in that spot.

The second .pdf is worth looking at too -- it contains a litany of right-of-way options for narrow spaces that we've brought up at times on here, though they often get panned by transit planners in the U.S. It's good to see so many examples put forth by a consultant, even though they have plenty of tradeoffs.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby David Greene » September 6th, 2016, 12:26 pm

talindsay wrote:The DT St. Paul options look much better than I expected. The 5th/6th pair is an obvious win.
It's not so obvious to me. It's more expensive and as you say can be operationally difficult.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby talindsay » September 6th, 2016, 1:41 pm

David Greene wrote:It's not so obvious to me. It's more expensive and as you say can be operationally difficult.
True that. If it's just the short segment of divided track that would result from a Smith transit mall or south-running on 7th though, the couple of blocks wouldn't make much difference. If they do paired-street running from the 7th/Smith junction all the way to the Green Line tracks, that would very much raise some big operational and usage issues.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby David Greene » September 6th, 2016, 7:08 pm

That's true, it does improve with the Smith transit mall. The transit mall is intriguing to me but is it problematic to take transit off the main commercial corridor? Maybe it can work well with excellent wayfinding but right now Smith feels very disconnected from W. 7th.

The other question to ask is whether 5th/6th really need to be one-ways. Both have had major lane disruptions in Lowertown and it doesn't really seem to be a problem at all. When I leave work at 4pm it's easy enough to take 6th out to 94. Nice and quick, even after a traffic lane was taken earlier this year (or was it last year?). Would it be possible to just close a couple of lanes on 6th permanently and put LRT there? It's probably harder to do on 5th due to Xcel and RiverCenter.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby RailBaronYarr » September 7th, 2016, 11:54 am

I'd say 6th St would make the most sense. It's got 2 travel lanes plus a bus lane plus parking on one side at the widest point. The stretch from the LRT tracks west carries only 8,000 cars a day, and that drops to just over 5k west of the turn at St Peter. This street really doesn't need on-street parking and I'm sure we could come up with a design that fit it all. But a one-way pair for the short stretch from Kellogg to the Green Line tracks wouldn't be the end of the world.

I'm also not wild about jaunting a block out of the way for a Smith Ave transit mall, even if you end up hitting a high concentration of jobs (though neither station location looks to really capitalize on that) thanks to the hospital there (and you presumably make the time back from the detour by removing congestion). You're a block further from the commercial street as well as all the residential going up on the SE side of W 7th. It's also important to remember that ~50% of the southern side of Smith through that transit mall is structured parking - neither pleasant to be near nor ripe for redevelopment. As others have pointed out, one of the appeals of Riverview as a project is its relatively low cost, and doing anything to change that is maybe not a great idea given the likely low ridership forecasts relative to other lines out there. With that said, I think the ROW constraints and all options looking to be "least bad" make this a good opportunity to just tunnel the damn section from Grand-ish (I could be convinced to go all the way south to St Clair) to a portal emerging at the slope on 5th or 6th in downtown. We'd be talking 3 stations underground and less than a mile of tunnel total. At the very least, it'd be nice to hear public officials explain why at-grade (potentially mixed-traffic!) transit is a good idea when we have a grade-separated freeway a few blocks NW and a access-controlled highway a few blocks SE of the W 7th corridor. What are the social, environmental, and political reasons we can't even get spot grade-separation treatments like this for transit?

All that said, I'm super pleased to see them evaluating all types of options for the different tough spots, and keeping dedicated guideways in the mix for many of them is a big win.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby talindsay » September 7th, 2016, 11:56 am

Many cities place their major transit spines one block off the main street, and the block between Smith and W 7th isn't even a long block. I can't imagine ridership declines with tracks one block off 7th.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Tiller » September 8th, 2016, 11:40 am

With regards to the Ford Rd bridge, it apparently has expansion joints on it, and one of the planners' concerns is whether the bridge can handle the stresses of the expansion/contraction of the continuous welded rail relative to the bridge (bridge has expansion joints, the rail doesn't). They also mentioned the force from some sort of braking as a concern. (emergency braking? Idk, but they used some sort of modifier before "Braking".)

They'll be looking at the costs and requirements for modifying the bridge columns/arches as needed, for a potential replacement, retrofitting it in other ways, adding expansion joins to the rail, ect. as various options, though I think they'll be using a relatively high-level (likely with a generous contingency) estimate for selecting the LPA as the bridge engineering occurs at a later part of the process.

Also on another note the CP rail line has insufficient width for freight and transit closer to downtown, and there would also potentially be some grading problems.

I like the sound of a Smith Ave transit mall (the issue of ambulance access would need to be solved, having constant service interruptions would be bad), though I think the split option may be the best of meh options. What are the aforementioned potential operational problems?

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mattaudio » September 8th, 2016, 12:22 pm

I can't recall the names now (I think the overarching concept is "stressing" or "pre-stressing") but there are definitely techniques to allow CWR to deal with expansion and contraction. Now, I'm not sure how that relates to specific joints on the superstructure to which it is attached. Worst case, they could put some jointed rail on the bridge, right?

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mulad » September 8th, 2016, 2:22 pm

I think there's a bridge expansion joint near the West Bank end of the Washington Avenue Bridge -- here's Google Street View of the spot. I'm not sure what (if anything) is done with the tracks at that point.

Wikipedia has a couple examples of "breather switches" where rails can meet at a shallow angle and slip past each other to allow for expansion, similar to how the points of a regular switch fit together: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breather_switch

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mulad » October 3rd, 2016, 12:11 pm

I got an email update saying there will be a community meeting for the Riverview project early next month at Sholom Home:

Thursday, November 3
5-7 p.m., with presentation at 5:30 p.m.
Sholom Home
740 Kay Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55108

The Pioneer Press also had an article today on Riverview:

http://www.twincities.com/2016/10/03/st ... t-transit/

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby DanB » October 10th, 2016, 10:32 am

The PAC agenda for October 13 is up which includes recommendations on the mode, river crossings, trunk alignments, and Ford site.

http://riverviewcorridor.com/wp-content ... ressed.pdf (Part 1)
http://riverviewcorridor.com/wp-content ... ressed.pdf (Part 2)

One statement of interest in part 1 is that interlining with the blue line through Bloomington may result in the loss of signal preemption.

In summary:

Modes:
Bus and Rail advance. DMU is eliminated.

Trunk:
CP Rail, W. 7th (dedicated lane and shared use), and W. 7th/CP hybrid advance. Elevated or tunnel along W. 7th eliminated (referring to entire length only not smaller sections).

Ford Site:
CP Rail Spur and St. Paul Ave advance, Montreal Ave eliminated.

River Crossings advancing:
TH5 existing (bus only)
TH5 new (rail only) includes 14' bicycle lane and 14' pedestrian lane
TH5 replacement/retrofit (bus and rail)
Ford Parkway (Mixed traffic, bus and rail)
Montreal Ave extension (advancing for cost/benefit comparison purposes, bike and pedestrian lanes included)

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Silophant » October 10th, 2016, 11:37 am

The Blue Line has signal preemption in Bloomington now? Where? Certainly not at the 494 interchange.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby seanrichardryan » October 10th, 2016, 11:41 am

Waited about 6 minutes to go left from Killebrew to 24th the other night. The train leaving the 28th Ave station (which you can see from that intersection) kept the signal arms down and lights red. It moves at a snails pace on that short bit of track. Seemed... excessive.
Q. What, what? A. In da butt.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby DanB » November 7th, 2016, 9:52 am

PAC Agenda for Nov. 10th is up.

http://riverviewcorridor.com/wp-content ... -Part1.pdf (Presentation)
http://riverviewcorridor.com/wp-content ... -Part2.pdf (Downtown route maps and cross sections)
http://riverviewcorridor.com/wp-content ... -Part3.pdf (Blue line tie-ins and mall of america route maps)

In Summary:

Downtown routes reduced to 5th 6th street pair interlining with green before Central Station with bus continuing on 5th and 6th until Broadway. The elimination of Shepherd Rd. and CP rail routes into downtown seems to eliminate a Union Depot station on the concourse. If Ford site route is chosen Hiawatha crossing would be grade separated (tunnels according to layouts) and occur at 45th, 46th, or 50th street. For the end of the line in Bloomington they appear to be considering terminating LRT both at the MOA station and across the street by the intersection of 24th Ave. S and E 82nd St (see part 3). Though I think with the MOA station plans including room for a 2nd platform the 82nd st station will be discarded. Service plans and run times at next meeting.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby Silophant » November 7th, 2016, 10:27 am

A grade-separated Hiawatha crossing at 45th to interline would require rebuilding 46th St Station to be grade-separated as well, right? Or would there be enough room to get back up to grade?

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby RailBaronYarr » November 7th, 2016, 11:00 am

From the graphic, it looks like 46th St would be underground. Aside from aesthetics, is there a reason a flyover with a new station wouldn't be technically-feasible and preferred to a tunnel? But if that's the case, they'd be fools to not make that tie-in a full wye to allow operational flexibility (:deadhorse: Midtown Line continuing on to Ford Site/beyond). Also, it's good to see things at this stage be discussed from a technical perspective, but wouldn't it be nice to have some cost ranges for each section to chew on? Even if they're rough, they help frame the value of doing something.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby DanB » November 7th, 2016, 11:09 am

Looking at the documents again the crossing of Hiawatha would occur at 44th or 45th street to serve 46th street station. Or 46th street to serve 50th street station. Not what I had before. If they used 44th street they might not need to modify the station. I understand the desire to serve 46th street station but am not sure if it is worth the extra track and addition of 2 turns.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby twincitizen » November 7th, 2016, 11:29 am

After reading through that presentation, my take is that they have finally eliminated most of the obviously unworkable options. After 18 months of study. No wonder this alternatives analysis is over budget and taking longer than expected. I mean, I'm glad they're being exhaustive with the options, but many of these (now discarded) sub-alternatives should have been eliminated a year ago!

There are still SO MANY hard decisions yet to make, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that they haven't actually made a single substantive decision yet. Again, 18 months into the AA, literally nothing important has been decided.

At some point they have to shit or get off the pot regarding the river crossing. Regardless of which option is chosen, in the end it will mean that perhaps nearly $1MM will have been spend studying all of the various sub-alts for the other (non-chosen) river crossing. In retrospect, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties probably should have launched a separate river crossing study before the Alternatives Analysis. The AA could have started at the point we are today with the remaining options.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby DanB » December 5th, 2016, 3:27 pm

The presentation for the December PAC meeting is posted which finally gives us some run times (page 71).

http://riverviewcorridor.com/wp-content ... 8-2016.pdf

No Build Route 54: 32-44 min to MOA (from Union Depot) , 23-33 to MSP (from Union Depot)
Arterial BRT: 30 to 42 min to MOA, 21 to 31 to MSP

W. 7th Dedicated BRT: 40:04 to MOA, 30:03 to MSP
W. 7th Dedicated LRT: 43:43 to MOA, 31:12 to MSP

Hybrid W. 7th/CP spur BRT: 40:09 to MOA, 30:09 to MSP
Hybrid W. 7th/CP spur LRT: 43:23 to MOA, 30:53 to MSP

Dedicated W. 7th/CP spur to Ford site BRT: 59:31 to MOA, 49:00 to MSP
Dedicated W. 7th/CP spur to Ford site LRT: 54:28 to MOA, 41:58 to MSP

What is striking to me is that the average times for Arterial BRT and Route 54 beat every other case often quite easily and Arterial BRT even at the high end of its range is at most two minutes slower. Still might be worth while doing LRT from a systems, ridership, development standpoint but the Dedicated and Hybrid BRT options seem pointless to me unless you really want to hit the Ford site which could probably be done cheaper.

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Re: Riverview Corridor (Alternatives Analysis)

Postby mulad » December 5th, 2016, 3:53 pm

Is there any more information on what time of day they were attempting to model? Speaking as a regular route 54 rider, there's quite a lot of variation through the day, though it probably doesn't vary as wildly as some other bus routes elsewhere in the Twin Cities. One thing to take into consideration is that the route 54 drivers exceed the speed limit on the road pretty often. I've occasionally clocked them going 40-45 mph in a 30 zone.


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