Northern Lights Express

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » June 14th, 2016, 8:59 am

Good. Call. Now let's get this done.

acs
Wells Fargo Center
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby acs » June 14th, 2016, 9:02 am

But first the $500 million question; does the tribe still support this project?

SkyScraperKid
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby SkyScraperKid » June 14th, 2016, 11:41 am

acs wrote:But first the $500 million question; does the tribe still support this project?
Why wouldn't they? They could EASILY have a shuttle bus service, which would be far less costly than what Mystic Lake Casino does with there dozens of routes and trips around the metro. Maybe they could buy an "old" Red Line bus ;)

mulad
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mulad » September 30th, 2016, 9:36 am

I just got an email announcing some open houses to discuss possible railroad grade crossing changes. The only one in/near the metro area is in Cambridge -- I suppose there probably aren't significant changes planned south of there, but we'll have to see. They will just be open houses without formal presentations.

https://content.govdelivery.com/account ... ns/1682677
  • Hinckley
    Tuesday, Oct. 18
    5 – 7 p.m.
    Hinckley-Finlayson High School
    201 Main St. East, Hinckley
  • Cambridge
    Wednesday, Oct. 19
    5 – 7 p.m.
    Cambridge City Center Mall
    140 Buchanan St. North, Cambridge
  • Askov
    Monday, Oct. 24
    5 – 7 p.m.
    Pine County History Museum
    6333 H C Andersen Alle, Askov
  • Superior
    Tuesday, Oct. 25
    5 – 7 p.m.
    Superior Government Center
    1316 North 14th St, Superior, Wisconsin

mulad
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mulad » October 20th, 2016, 11:51 am

I went up to Cambridge yesterday evening for one of the grade crossing open houses. The project's meetings page has files for the display boards and handouts, plus a comment sheet:

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/meetings.html

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/document ... boards.pdf
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/document ... ndouts.pdf
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/document ... -sheet.pdf

Here's a photo of the timeline, though there's a note at the bottom about funding.

Image
IMAG1021 by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

The current Tier 2 Environmental Assessment is expected to wrap up in early 2017, followed by about 2.5 years of design and construction work, then about 6 months of testing before the line could go into operation, currently targeted for the start of 2020. I hope we get a shift in the state legislature that can pass a budget that includes something for this (a one-time allocation would be okay, but it'd be better to create a long-term funding source to help other projects too).

One of the display boards showed a concept layout of the local station behind Cambridge's City Center Mall (which is where the meeting was held). There are layouts for other towns with stops in the first .pdf from the meetings page.

Image
IMAG1023 by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

They also had a big pile of printouts of crossing-by-crossing sections of the corridor. Unfortunately they didn't have a nice overview map, which might have helped people get an idea of the scale of what they're up to (though the piles of printouts were a few inches thick). I didn't have any particular crossings that I cared about, so I just thumbed through those a little bit, but didn't find anything of particular interest.

The people I spoke to at the meeting said that BNSF is handling improvements for the private crossings along the line (driveways, farm access, etc.), while MnDOT will coordinate upgrades for the public street and highway crossings. I tried to get an idea of how many crossings need upgrades, but I couldn't get many numbers out of them. There are 169 crossings on the corridor, at least as reported to the Start Tribune. MnDOT is aiming to close as few crossings as possible (which would be the cheapest and simplest way to make safety upgrades, though obviously it reduces flexibility in the road network). One guy I spoke to said they were looking at closing about six crossings, but are trying to push that down to zero.

The current conditions are apparently best on the very southern end of the Hinckley subdivision (the branch line that heads toward Duluth from Coon Rapids). The Staples subdivision south of there already carries Northstar and is also in good shape for crossings. It sounds like all of the public crossings will end up getting lighted signals and gate arms, with the exact configuration depending on the amount of traffic (just a standard layout with arm on each side of the crossing for low-volume roadways, a center median added where traffic is higher, and quad gates blocking both directions of travel on the road in busier areas where a median couldn't fit.

Anyway, not a whole lot of new info to be gleaned for an interloper from the Twin Cities. The meetings are more meant for local input for the crossings and stations.

grant1simons2
Capella Tower
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » October 23rd, 2016, 3:59 pm

October 2016 meeting material is online now. They're doing a great job of marketing this and using effective public process. I'm pretty optimistic about this project still. Especially if it can get funding next session.

https://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/documen ... boards.pdf

https://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/documen ... ndouts.pdf

SkyScraperKid
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 102
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby SkyScraperKid » January 9th, 2017, 5:28 pm

mulad wrote:I went up to Cambridge yesterday evening for one of the grade crossing open houses. The project's meetings page has files for the display boards and handouts, plus a comment sheet:

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/meetings.html

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/document ... boards.pdf
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/document ... ndouts.pdf
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/document ... -sheet.pdf

Here's a photo of the timeline, though there's a note at the bottom about funding.

Image
IMAG1021 by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

The current Tier 2 Environmental Assessment is expected to wrap up in early 2017, followed by about 2.5 years of design and construction work, then about 6 months of testing before the line could go into operation, currently targeted for the start of 2020. I hope we get a shift in the state legislature that can pass a budget that includes something for this (a one-time allocation would be okay, but it'd be better to create a long-term funding source to help other projects too).

One of the display boards showed a concept layout of the local station behind Cambridge's City Center Mall (which is where the meeting was held). There are layouts for other towns with stops in the first .pdf from the meetings page.

Image
IMAG1023 by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

They also had a big pile of printouts of crossing-by-crossing sections of the corridor. Unfortunately they didn't have a nice overview map, which might have helped people get an idea of the scale of what they're up to (though the piles of printouts were a few inches thick). I didn't have any particular crossings that I cared about, so I just thumbed through those a little bit, but didn't find anything of particular interest.

The people I spoke to at the meeting said that BNSF is handling improvements for the private crossings along the line (driveways, farm access, etc.), while MnDOT will coordinate upgrades for the public street and highway crossings. I tried to get an idea of how many crossings need upgrades, but I couldn't get many numbers out of them. There are 169 crossings on the corridor, at least as reported to the Start Tribune. MnDOT is aiming to close as few crossings as possible (which would be the cheapest and simplest way to make safety upgrades, though obviously it reduces flexibility in the road network). One guy I spoke to said they were looking at closing about six crossings, but are trying to push that down to zero.

The current conditions are apparently best on the very southern end of the Hinckley subdivision (the branch line that heads toward Duluth from Coon Rapids). The Staples subdivision south of there already carries Northstar and is also in good shape for crossings. It sounds like all of the public crossings will end up getting lighted signals and gate arms, with the exact configuration depending on the amount of traffic (just a standard layout with arm on each side of the crossing for low-volume roadways, a center median added where traffic is higher, and quad gates blocking both directions of travel on the road in busier areas where a median couldn't fit.

Anyway, not a whole lot of new info to be gleaned for an interloper from the Twin Cities. The meetings are more meant for local input for the crossings and stations.

So is this project going to be under construction this year?

grant1simons2
Capella Tower
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » January 27th, 2017, 12:27 pm

Environmental Assessment is going to the the FRA next week. So that's basically done. They're targeting Fall construction if the funding goes through.

twincitizen
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby twincitizen » January 27th, 2017, 2:01 pm

$600MM total
$480MM from the feds
$120MM from the state (with shares from Hennepin & St. Louis Counties, I suppose, but still probably $100MM from the state)

Does anyone really think this is going to happen given the current political situation?

grant1simons2
Capella Tower
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » January 27th, 2017, 2:34 pm

Does anyone really know what the hell the Trump administration is going to vote for when it comes to transit? They're going to be shovel ready by late Summer. That's the big point here.

twincitizen
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby twincitizen » January 27th, 2017, 3:26 pm

I'll cede that point...we don't have a damn clue what's going to happen with federal funds for transit or passenger rail. Not exactly optimistic, but that's where were at.

As for the state/local funds...my prognosis on getting ANY money from the legislature in 2017 is not bloody likely. Aside from the whole GOP control issue, the other thing is that it's going to be a slog just to pass last year's failed bonding bill. Authors of the bonding bill are not going to entertain the idea of adding massive new projects (especially rail, which Republicans hate). If it's not in Dayton's budget nor bonding proposal, then I haven't a damn clue where any of this money would come from.

The MNDOT passenger rail office has no doubt been talking to Dayton and legislators over the past couple of years, but it seems impossible that there would be a 2017 allocation. If there is a 2nd bonding bill in 2018...maybe? I doubt Hennepin County would even be able to contribute much towards that $120MM when they've got Southwest and Bottineau on deck. St. Louis County probably isn't exactly flush with funds either...

SkyScraperKid
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 102
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby SkyScraperKid » January 27th, 2017, 9:33 pm

Easy fix.

Rename "Northern Lights Express" to "Northern Trump Express" and it will pass so quick your head would spin. BELIEVE ME! ...3 years and 11 and a half months from now we can just rename it again.

EOst
Wells Fargo Center
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Joined: March 19th, 2014, 8:05 pm
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby EOst » January 28th, 2017, 9:39 am

But how can it get through when the ridership projections plummet? ;)

min-chi-cbus
Capella Tower
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby min-chi-cbus » January 28th, 2017, 11:32 am

EOst wrote:But how can it get through when the ridership projections plummet? ;)
The ridership projections will be the highest ever in the history of rail transit! Anyone who reports otherwise is "False news". Take in the alternative facts!

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
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Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » January 28th, 2017, 11:55 am

There were 250,000 riders in the first car alone.

Korh
Block E
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Joined: March 8th, 2017, 10:21 pm

Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Korh » March 11th, 2017, 1:11 am

Since at the moment it looks like the project is using the same rolling stock (Siemens Charger) as Brightline in Florida I wonder if the service proves successful this summer, it might make BNSF or MNDOT take a few notes for the NLX.

DanPatchToget
Nicollet Mall
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 12th, 2017, 7:36 pm

What are the chances this could be extended to Two Harbors sometime down the (rail)road, and what are the chances of having an intercity bus carrier such as Greyhound or Jefferson Lines operating a couple roundtrips per day between Duluth and Thunder Bay (with some stops in between)?

talindsay
Wells Fargo Center
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby talindsay » March 12th, 2017, 8:26 pm

It all comes down to demand, and Americans hate buses.

xandrex
Wells Fargo Center
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Joined: January 30th, 2013, 11:14 am

Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby xandrex » March 13th, 2017, 10:02 am

Not sure that I see what the market is for extending the line to Two Harbors. There's already a scenic-route train that heads that direction. Can't imagine there are a huge number of Twin Cities residents that really want to make it up to TH, don't want to stop in Duluth, and also aren't driving in the first place.

SkyScraperKid
Nicollet Mall
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Joined: May 14th, 2016, 1:41 pm

Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby SkyScraperKid » March 13th, 2017, 4:31 pm

if we can fund a train to two harbors, but still fail to finish the train to st. cloud we got seriously wrong priorities. A connection bus to two harbors seems more adequate, although I admit I didn't research the projected ridership numbers.


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