Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
User avatar
Tiller
US Bank Plaza
Posts: 751
Joined: January 17th, 2015, 11:58 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Tiller » July 20th, 2016, 9:18 pm

This won't get anywhere without an actual engineer who knows his stuff, but given the amount of precision needed for LRT, federal guidelines/red tape needed for federal funding, local political meddling that affects things (hey how about a $300M tunnel through woods?), and the length, which is absolutely a factor, a transit project like SWLRT is obviously going to be more complex/expensive than a building.

From what I recall having read through the central corridor engineering document, interpreting it through my background of higher Mathematics and combat robotics, 13 miles of damn-well-constructed infrastructure is a big order (with a lot more length for things to go wrong). A 5-over-1 building is a complex undertaking, but not on the same scale when it comes to any of those aforementioned factors. There's also far more casework to go off when it comes to buildings because there are simply more of them.

The involved political volatility can make the difference between something like running along a RR trench or a parallel road, even relatively late in the game, or needing a tunnel/bridge/other special improvements/modifications. SWLRT is an example of this. All of the different impacts such as utility relocation, needing to take more properties, or reconstructing roadways simultaneously, can be costly. Cost increases can compound too, and given the long planning process, which often gets delayed, inflation is a factor.

"Contingency" funding is for just that, contingencies. I don't know what potential contingencies as part of constructing a building can match suddenly needing additional grade separation on a LRT line.

BoredAgain
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 187
Joined: July 3rd, 2014, 1:38 pm
Location: Lyndale Neighborhood

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby BoredAgain » July 21st, 2016, 11:06 am

I don't have the time and energy to ready the entire EIS, but I can read some (semi)useful reporting on it. According to this article...

http://finance-commerce.com/2016/07/fin ... extension/

...the traffic impacts indicate no meaningful change to car flow (LOS, etc) except at the intersection of Olson Memorial with 7th street North and 6th Street North. I'm not surprised, since this is already something of a terribly designed intersection.

Why are they not planning to bridge over this intersection for the blue line like they are planning to do for the green line? Is there an engineering reason, or is it just penny pinching? Are they worried about having two lines merge on a bridge?

Archiapolis
Foshay Tower
Posts: 816
Joined: November 2nd, 2012, 8:59 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Archiapolis » July 21st, 2016, 1:05 pm

Tiller wrote:This won't get anywhere without an actual engineer who knows his stuff, but given the amount of precision needed for LRT


With respect, the “amount of precision needed for LRT” is not 25% higher than the level of precision needed for a building. If an LRT designer/engineer weighs in and offers support, then I’ll certainly acquiesce but nothing that you’ve said changes my opinion. LRT surely has its complexities but so do buildings. For example, if shear walls are improperly designed, a high lateral force (strong wind) could make a building fall down. The LRT equivalent would be something like a curve in the rail, the loads represented by those curves, vehicle travel speed, etc and the possibility that the vehicle would leave the tracks. BOTH the building example that I’ve put forward and the LRT example are complex. Putting “design” aside, “Health, Safety and Welfare” is the most important education that design/construction professionals receive. On a less dire note, if the lowest level parking slab is going to inhabit the same space as the water table and the drainage system fails, the parking level is going to flood (see 1800 Lake) which likely is going to cost someone over $1M. For every example of complexity on one side (buildings) there is an equivalent/analog on the other (LRT). The crux of my point is not whether LRT is expensive or difficult but that it is not 25% MORE complex/unknown. I do not accept the premise that LRT design needs a higher level of precision than a building but I’ve made my case and you are certainly welcome to your opinion.
Tiller wrote: federal guidelines/red tape needed for federal funding, local political meddling that affects things (hey how about a $300M tunnel through woods?), and the length, which is absolutely a factor, a transit project like SWLRT is obviously going to be more complex/expensive than a building.


Are the federal guidelines an unknown? I’m assuming that anyone working on the design of an LRT line knows what the guidelines call for. Do the guidelines change significantly in the middle of the design cycle? I could accept this is a premise if you could put forward more information about changes to the federal guidelines “mid-stream” that were not known at the beginning of the design that would account for an additional 5%? 10%? contingency.

As for a $300M tunnel, the contingency did NOT absorb this cost. To my recollection this was 100% added cost. As for length, I’m not making a claim that “hard construction” costs should be cheap for LRT, I’m talking strictly about contingency which is meant to address unknowns. I’ve laid out a case for why length should have very little effect on CONTINGENCY by definition. Feel free to argue against the claim and the evidence that I’ve offered.
Tiller wrote: From what I recall having read through the central corridor engineering document, interpreting it through my background of higher Mathematics and combat robotics, 13 miles of damn-well-constructed infrastructure is a big order (with a lot more length for things to go wrong). A 5-over-1 building is a complex undertaking, but not on the same scale when it comes to any of those aforementioned factors.


Again, I’ve made a claim that “average” buildings (in this metro) are below grade two stories and several stories above grade. Anything above grade is basically off of the table for LRT (excepting stations which I talked about at length in an earlier post). LRT definitely has length, but almost no height and very little depth (typically). I threw out the figure that 70% of LRT lines occur at grade and then followed up with the claim that even if 30% of total construction is bridges, tunnels, and stations that those elements are NOT complete unknowns. Nobody is looking at a satellite image and saying, “Well, we’ve got this creek running through our path, does anyone know how to get a train across that?” There are precedents for LRT bridges and length, width and height can be measured, construction methods can be devised (steel or concrete), quantities assigned and dollar figures assigned.

You can have the opinion that LRT lines are more complex than building buildings but I made assertions above regarding the complexity involved in cladding, insulating, waterproofing, structure, etc, all complex things that are NOT part of LRT work (typically). I am NOT saying that LRT should be cheap or easy. I am merely making that claim that it should be no more complex than an average building project requiring a 25% higher contingency.

This isn’t a screed against funding transit. I’m trying to get someone to make a case for why LRT contingencies are 25% higher than building projects.
Tiller wrote:There's also far more casework to go off when it comes to buildings because there are simply more of them.


I think it’s a little disingenuous to infer that buildings have existed for millennia and are therefore less complex today. We (humans) have certainly learned a lot regarding building technology but modern building practices have not been around for millennia and the contemporary building code is updated every few years along with advances in building technology. Professionals in the building industry are expected to keep up with advances/code, I see no reason why LRT designers/engineers shouldn’t be held to the same standard. I will acquiesce that there are certainly more buildings than light rail lines. However, there are plenty of examples of rail going back 100 years (with heavy vehicles) to work from, including bridges, tunnels and other necessary infrastructure and the soil engineering for buildings is almost identical to soil engineering for LRT with the exception of “live load” from the vehicles. To infer that buildings are designed by rote and LRT is designed “from scratch” just isn’t true.
Tiller wrote: The involved political volatility can make the difference between something like running along a RR trench or a parallel road, even relatively late in the game, or needing a tunnel/bridge/other special improvements/modifications. SWLRT is an example of this. All of the different impacts such as utility relocation, needing to take more properties, or reconstructing roadways simultaneously, can be costly. Cost increases can compound too, and given the long planning process, which often gets delayed, inflation is a factor.


As I said above, to my knowledge the contingency absorbed 0% of the tunnel so let’s just take that off of the table. I can listen to arguments about “special improvements” if you mean things like sound walls, etc but tunnels and bridges should be accounted for at the very least in a schematic sense with dollar figures in place. Utility relocation should be a known quantity within a very high rate of assurance - especially at urban locations. For every example of an undocumented gas line, I could counter with an example of an undocumented well or a buried tank that was leaking pollutants. I understand that inflation is a factor but this too can be extrapolated with a degree of accuracy and is nowhere near a 25% fluctuation (increase) year to year.
Tiller wrote: "Contingency" funding is for just that, contingencies. I don't know what potential contingencies as part of constructing a building can match suddenly needing additional grade separation on a LRT line.
I already addressed this above - the contingency did NOT account for this issue. If such an oversight occurred so late in a building project cycle someone/multiple people would be fired/sued.

I want Bottineau to be a success. I want the rail network to be a success. I want transit to be a success. I’ll never decry my tax bill as a result of transit funding. However, as much as I support transit and transit funding, that doesn’t mean that the process is above reproach/criticism. As stated above by another poster, other areas have experienced even higher cost overruns than we have. There is something broken in the cost estimating/design/messaging and it is hurting transit funding.

I've been told that my posts can be condescending. In an effort to address this, let me say that I argue passionately but I try to support my arguments with evidence. These issues are important/fascinating to me and I've learned a lot from people on these forums. I have strong opinions but I'm not an expert in all things and I believe that I am willing to concede when my opinions can be refuted with evidence.

I’ll let you have the last word if you wish to respond and thanks for engaging.

Best of luck to Bottineau as the north side needs equitable transit investment.

User avatar
FISHMANPET
IDS Center
Posts: 4483
Joined: June 6th, 2012, 2:19 pm
Location: Corcoran

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby FISHMANPET » July 21st, 2016, 1:13 pm

None of us here are civil engineers working on LRT (that I'm aware of) but man, building a building that's 50 feet wide and 20 miles long sure seems a hell of a lot more complicated than building a building that's 500 feet by 500 feet or whatever, especially in regard to soil conditions.
Peter Bajurny
peter@bajurny.us
@FISHMANPET
612-208-6618

BoredAgain
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 187
Joined: July 3rd, 2014, 1:38 pm
Location: Lyndale Neighborhood

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby BoredAgain » July 25th, 2016, 1:21 pm

BoredAgain wrote:I don't have the time and energy to ready the entire EIS, but I can read some (semi)useful reporting on it. According to this article...

http://finance-commerce.com/2016/07/fin ... extension/

...the traffic impacts indicate no meaningful change to car flow (LOS, etc) except at the intersection of Olson Memorial with 7th street North and 6th Street North. I'm not surprised, since this is already something of a terribly designed intersection.

Why are they not planning to bridge over this intersection for the blue line like they are planning to do for the green line? Is there an engineering reason, or is it just penny pinching? Are they worried about having two lines merge on a bridge?
Now that we are done not figuring out why we can't estimate LRT costs more reliably, does anyone have an answer about why we aren't grade separating the blue line extension as it crosses the intersection of Olson memorial and 7th?

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5167
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby MNdible » July 25th, 2016, 3:41 pm

I wondered the same thing, because I'm pretty sure that the first round of plan documents had shown that as grade separated. I think we discussed it upthread a while back, and I don't know that we came up with a good reason why they wouldn't do it, aside from cost.

talindsay
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1485
Joined: September 29th, 2012, 10:41 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby talindsay » July 25th, 2016, 4:51 pm

My gods, looking at all the lanes they're going to put at the intersection at 63rd Ave North. They're going to need a 75 foot gate arm for that beast.

HiawathaGuy
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1316
Joined: June 4th, 2012, 12:03 pm

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby HiawathaGuy » October 25th, 2016, 8:01 am

Bottineau light rail project wins $1.2 million FTA grant
http://finance-commerce.com/2016/10/bot ... fta-grant/
*UNLOCKED*

Great to see the Feds awarding these funds to the next extension! Not bad to get 12% of the awarded money for a line still going through planning.

talindsay
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1485
Joined: September 29th, 2012, 10:41 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby talindsay » October 25th, 2016, 9:04 am

$1.2m of $15m, so ~8%. Regardless, this line is looking more and more likely, which is great news. Perhaps it will have an easier time politically than the Southwest line.

David Greene
IDS Center
Posts: 4591
Joined: December 4th, 2012, 11:41 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » October 25th, 2016, 11:25 am

talindsay wrote:Perhaps it will have an easier time politically than the Southwest line.
It will be very telling how the DFL responds to GV/Homewood residents. How will it compare to the reaction to the CIDNA/Kenwood folks?

HiawathaGuy
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1316
Joined: June 4th, 2012, 12:03 pm

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby HiawathaGuy » October 25th, 2016, 2:48 pm

talindsay wrote:$1.2m of $15m, so ~8%. Regardless, this line is looking more and more likely, which is great news. Perhaps it will have an easier time politically than the Southwest line.
DOH! #badatmath Sorry.

Silophant
Moderator
Posts: 3000
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 4:33 pm
Location: 9Marq

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Silophant » January 19th, 2017, 3:14 pm


talindsay
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1485
Joined: September 29th, 2012, 10:41 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby talindsay » January 19th, 2017, 4:24 pm

Just in the nick of time, as they say.

User avatar
LRV Op Dude
Union Depot
Posts: 304
Joined: July 7th, 2012, 10:30 am
Contact:

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby LRV Op Dude » February 28th, 2017, 10:59 am

Blog: Old-Twin Cities Transit New-Twin Cities Transit

You Tube: Old, New

AKA: Bus Driver Dude

User avatar
Tiller
US Bank Plaza
Posts: 751
Joined: January 17th, 2015, 11:58 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Tiller » February 28th, 2017, 11:09 am

Your post is empty for me, so the BB code may be broken.

mamundsen
Foshay Tower
Posts: 863
Joined: November 15th, 2012, 10:01 am

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mamundsen » February 28th, 2017, 11:42 am

Watching that, makes me think why aren't we just doing the 1st two stations (Penn and Van White) NOW? That would probably improve transit in an area that needs it. Look at how many different projects are planned for that area. Blue Line extension, C Line, D Line (?).

intercomnut
Union Depot
Posts: 376
Joined: April 23rd, 2015, 1:04 pm

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby intercomnut » February 28th, 2017, 12:42 pm

Link to the invisible (to some) video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g_CgInn0fg

twincitizen
Moderator
Posts: 5797
Joined: May 31st, 2012, 7:27 pm
Location: Standish-Ericsson

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby twincitizen » February 28th, 2017, 1:07 pm

mamundsen wrote:
February 28th, 2017, 11:42 am
Watching that, makes me think why aren't we just doing the 1st two stations (Penn and Van White) NOW? That would probably improve transit in an area that needs it. Look at how many different projects are planned for that area. Blue Line extension, C Line, D Line (?).
Yeah it kinda sucks the way we structure/schedule these projects for federal funding. With Bottineau now <12 months behind Southwest in terms of implementation, it would be ideal to see a combined bid package for the first 4 stations of both Southwest and Bottineau. It would be extremely optimal to do all of the construction east of I-94 (i.e. 7th & Olson intersection) all at once.

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1332
Joined: October 31st, 2014, 12:50 pm

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby amiller92 » February 28th, 2017, 1:11 pm

I love that they start the satellite images on the far end, highlighting just how much nothing we are building to.

jebr
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 133
Joined: April 9th, 2013, 1:04 am
Location: St. Paul (Hamline-Midway)

Re: Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

Postby jebr » February 28th, 2017, 1:17 pm

I'm a bit curious how this will impact Northstar ridership, especially for special events. If someone's along the I-94 corridor or in much of greater Minnesota, it's not that much further to take 94 to 610 over to Brooklyn Park and use the (much more frequent) LRT line versus special event service along the Northstar line. (I guess it is 20 miles further looking at Google Maps, but it's all freeway driving versus having to cross over at Monticello and, frankly, a lot better service frequency and span of service than being tied to a special event train.)


Return to “Transportation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests