Saint Paul Streetcar Study

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talindsay
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby talindsay » June 24th, 2013, 9:07 pm

I hope they choose Selby - Marshall and connect it to the greenway streetcar. I might just have a transit nerd-gasm if they did that.

TWA
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby TWA » June 25th, 2013, 7:31 am

^ Would they make that route a direct DT St Paul to Uptown line with a transfer to go up snelling? Or you think it would be a forced transfer at snelling as the "midtown" line would end there?

bptenor
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby bptenor » July 28th, 2013, 11:34 pm

Some notes from a transportation committee packet show that the favored lines for the long-term streetcar system include: East 7th, Grand, Payne, Rice, Robert, Selby/Snelling, and West 7th. I haven't read through this very well, but there's a map at the end of the doc showing these lines. Personally, I think (and hope) either E 7th or Payne Ave is the first to be implemented, although I'm sure MUCH has to happen before we'll see a streetcar line in St Paul.

http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/View/66392

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby mattaudio » July 29th, 2013, 8:30 am

Wouldn't it make sense to figure out from a regional perspective what type of service characteristics West 7th/Riverview should be? Then we can figure out an alignment and a mode without overlapping studies. I'm sure they'll get some nastygram from Susan Haigh, but the reality is the Met Council seems more concerned about "color lines" to Lakeville, Mitchell Road in Eden Prairie, and rural Brooklyn Park than it seems concerned about a good network of urban transit (so I don't blame Mpls and St. Paul too much).

I still believe that Riverview has a lot more potential from a network perspective than most people give credit (granted, it's weak from a corridor perspective). If the Ramsey RRA could snag the old CP Ford Spur, and we build the Fort Road bridge with a second deck for LRT and a respectable regional rail connection without two sets of stairs between Fort Snelling and East River Road, it doesn't seem like it would be too expensive to build a barebones LRT line from DT to Ft. Snelling.

bptenor
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby bptenor » July 29th, 2013, 9:31 am

I completely agree with you, mattaudio. I think, as far as West 7th goes, all that these separate studies confirm is that, yes, indeed, we do need something on W 7th. I personally think LRT is the best option, along W 7th and the Ford Spur. Just thinking about Riverview makes my head hurt sometimes. Riverview really should be at the top of the list for the next line.

The streetcar lines that don't travel directly west towards Minneapolis, on the other hand, look good to me, so far. I still think this study is a long, drawn-out, preliminary draft "vision" document which may ultimately have little to do with what gets implemented. But, time will tell.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby mattaudio » July 29th, 2013, 9:43 am

As far as starter lines, I think it would be great to see sort of a U shaped line with Downtown at the bottom of the U.
The terminals could eventually be Lake Como and Lake Phalen by way of Rice and Maryland/Arlington to Lake Como, and Payne and Maryland to Lake Phalen.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby mattaudio » August 5th, 2013, 5:11 pm

Streetcar open house facebook invite:
https://www.facebook.com/events/515449741869126/?ref=3

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 7th, 2013, 9:00 am

http://stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=4872

The Selby line turns north up Snelling, which is odd given the aBRT that will run on Snelling... Seems like extending it all the way to Marshall/Lake to connect with the greenway streetcar would be better..

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mister.shoes
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby mister.shoes » August 7th, 2013, 9:47 am

Perhaps that Grand Ave line could eventually turn north on Cretin and join up with a future Greenway extension to the east.
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nate
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby nate » August 7th, 2013, 9:54 am

It’s been mentioned on this thread already, but a roughly U-shaped Rice-Payne or Rice-East 7th line really makes the most sense to me.

It serves transit-dependent populations and hits areas of the city that could really use new development. It would also complement the Green Line quite nicely, for instance by making Metro State University a short train transfer away.

There are also big flaws with the other proposed lines:
The Robert Street corridor is basically suburban once you get above the river flats.
West 7th should be reserved for LRT connection to the Airport/MOA – even if that’s a long way from happening.
The neighborhoods surrounding Grand Ave would be incredibly hostile to the streetcar and nuclear-option hostile to any new development it sparked.
The Selby/Snelling streetcar duplicates Green Line service and BRT service.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby mattaudio » August 7th, 2013, 10:08 am

Agreed on those points. Especially that West 7th should be aBRT now so as not to preclude LRT in the future (especially since there's so much dedicated ROW already). I like the U-shaped idea through downtown to Rice and Payne/E 7th as well.

talindsay
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby talindsay » August 7th, 2013, 1:31 pm

Actually, I might disagree about West 7th precisely because there is so much ROW: if the rails on West 7th were laid to LRT spec but the stops and other infrastructure were done to streetcar spec then it could be incrementally upgraded as demand warrants, in a few stages: separation of ROW could be accomplished at the places and times necessary as it becomes beneficial, stations expanded to LRT spec when it's needed, and vehicles could be changed - first to single-car LRVs then multi-car LRVs - as demand warrants. Not knowing what the state of utilities under the roadway is, it's possible that the cost of LRT-spec track would make it impractical but I'm betting not - for most of its distance it's a wide road with relatively little development on either side so utilities might be in good shape. The key though would be interlining the streetcar with LRT in downtown St. Paul to accommodate later transition of service when it becomes worthwhile. The other benefit would be that it wouldn't need a separate maintenance facility if the handful of streetcars could be stored and maintained in the CCLRT complex.

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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby Tcmetro » August 7th, 2013, 1:49 pm

I think the main obstacle to any W 7th line is the obvious demand to the airport, the Bloomington business district, and the Mall of America. Any line will need to provide a connection to the light rail or interline between Ft. Snelling and MOA.

I'm warming up to the idea of a Shepard LRT, mainly because all the pockets of density south of 35E can be easily served with such a line. The line will however need to provide a connection to the Hospital area near Smith Ave to provide connections to St. Paul.

cowboyjones
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby cowboyjones » August 8th, 2013, 1:28 am

So I drove down the entirety of Grand and Selby tonight to see if the road surface was very bad and to see if there could be construction cost synergies between road and streetcar construction, for instance using some of the streets budget to pay for some of the streetcar infrastructure. Unfortunately the road was very good for both and it didn't seem like either needed construction anytime soon. I haven't yet done the same with any of the other routes, but by looking at them on google maps, it seems like all of them are pretty good except Robert and Rice, which seem to have the longest stretches of poor condition road. What do others here think? How good are the other road surfaces, and is this a possibility to lower construction costs?

Also what can be done to make the streetcars significantly faster than local bus, and maybe improving traffic flow? Naturally by using low-floor trams and slightly raised sidewalk at the stops It would be significantly quicker for those with mobility issues to board. What about some of the things that MetroTransit is using for the aBRT? I'd say more distant stop spacing, but it looks like Saint Paul is quite adamant about it being able to stop as often as local bus. But maybe it could stop after intersections instead of before? It seems like they wanted to not have to impact parking with the stops, but if they replaced those old bus stops with parking, they won't lose much. Off-board payment maybe, and then people could board simultaneously through front and back doors. Signal priority, I hope?

Also while writing this post, something came to mind. Would the streetcar "dip-in" to stops and then have to pull back out into traffic? What if there was nobody at the stop? Could the stops be brought out into the street more, or would there need to be switches to allow the streetcars to bypass stops?

talindsay
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby talindsay » August 8th, 2013, 7:59 am

Typically streetcar tracks go straight - traditional streetcar systems would stop and drivers were required by law to stop behind the streetcars. Modern streetcar systems typically use narrow center islands if they're center-running, or else curb bumpouts if they're side running. Personally I don't like side-running streetcar arrangements at all - I think the two tracks should be next to each other in the center, using the inside traffic lanes, which of course tend to have less traffic conflict than the outside lanes. Either way though, traffic stops for a streetcar when it stops, if it doesn't have dedicated ROW - the track doesn't divert for stations.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby mattaudio » August 8th, 2013, 9:05 am

We all know I've had "untraditional ideas" such as using outside lanes of the middle carriageway for aBRT/Streetcar which then allows for a multiway boulevard's medians to serve as bus bulbs.

But what about streets with smaller ROW? Tom's last post just gave me an idea... maybe there could be dedicated ROW on small (80') streets!

Basically, the center lane could be dedicated "gauntlet" track between stations. Then, the tracks would split out around middle island stations (with gated street trees of course to provide canopy) which would be the only necessary spot to sacrifice street parking. Eh?

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Saint Paul streetcar study

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 8th, 2013, 10:13 am

I think gauntlet tracks down the middle like that were discussed in the Midtown Corridor thread. I'm all for that plan, though it obviously limits headways and puts in operational constraints if you get delays, cars being dumb, etc. Alternately, if you are fine with three things: 1) removing a parking from a side of the street and 2) streetcars (or buses) being adjacent to the curb and 3) narrow awnings in a 12'+ sidewalk once every 1/4 mile: http://streetmix.net/alexcecchini/1/80- ... -streetcar

Realistically, you could allow the streetcar area to be used for right turns as long as drivers give them the right of way if present. This frees up the thru-lane a little.

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby lordmoke » November 18th, 2013, 4:15 pm

Looks like 7th St might be pushed ahead first:
http://finance-commerce.com/2013/11/in- ... tcar-line/

Tcmetro
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby Tcmetro » November 18th, 2013, 4:24 pm

I thought St. Paul was pursuing a study of the Riverview Corridor, while Ramsey County was studying the Rush Line. Perhaps, their ideal scenario is a LRT and a streetcar line?

I think a line connecting from White Bear Lake to Fort Snelling could have a high benefit to cost ratio; perhaps such a combined line would be quite competitive for federal funds.

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby twincitizen » November 19th, 2013, 2:01 pm

And Metro Transit has tabbed W 7th (aka current Route 54) as the next aBRT line after Snelling, opening as soon as 2016 if the funding lines up, with an eastward extension shortly thereafter.

If this screws with the aBRT plan, as it did on Nicollet, we have a bigger transit planning problem in our metro than we thought. This is completely unacceptable behavior by St. Paul. I don't support any streetcars in St. Paul, but could they maybe not pick the one line that could have aBRT running in just 3 short years? This has the potential to completely disrupt that planning process for a streetcar that should/will never happen. At least with picking Rice-Robert, the streetcar would be on roughly the same timeline as aBRT (distant future).

Putting a short streetcar line on 7th will also effectively kill any hopes of a Riverview corridor rail service. I don't think aBRT supercedes any future rail planning, due to the smaller investment and near-term deployment. Streetcar lines, with a decade of planning ahead and hundreds of millions in funding effectively rule out other transit improvements in those corridors.

EDIT: Since I realize not everyone will read the F&C story linked above (because you're busy or whatever), they are talking specifically about building a line from Randolph to Arcade, or 4.2 miles, at a cost of $246MM. For that amount, plus Minneapolis' starter Nicollet line, we could build out every aBRT corridor identified by Metro Transit. Even better is that aBRT would be funded regionally, without any dedicated funds from individual cities.


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