Saint Paul Streetcar Study

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mattaudio » November 19th, 2013, 2:23 pm


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woofner
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby woofner » November 19th, 2013, 2:25 pm

Matt, I think you need to share that. Check your work here:

http://stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=4872
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mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mattaudio » November 19th, 2013, 2:31 pm

I'd still rather see a U-shaped starter line down Rice, through downtown, and up Payne.

It wouldn't get in the way of E 7th / W 7th aBRT.
It would serve neighborhoods that really could use the investment.
It could eventually be extended on both ends to reach Lake Como and Lake Phalen, adding stronger connectivity to regional amenities.

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby Mdcastle » November 20th, 2013, 9:07 am

Looking at the map, I take it there's still a chance of getting rail from downtown St. Paul to the airport?

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mattaudio » November 20th, 2013, 9:25 am

Well, it wouldn't be easy. And the result would be slow. This is why I'm a little frustrated with the choice of 7th St for two reasons.

1. Why compromise the aBRT upgrade within the next couple years? I'd rather see this be aBRT in the short term.

2. A streetcar would also compromise a future investment in the Riverview corridor for LRT.

We should be planning for this future connection as we make decisions about the corridor such as eventual replacement of the Fort Road (hwy 5) bridge at Ft. Snelling or the potential abandonment of the Canadian Pacific Ford Spur from Highland Park to St. Clair and West 7th.

talindsay
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby talindsay » November 20th, 2013, 10:10 am

I'm sorry, I don't really see that a streetcar would compromise future investment in the Riverview Corridor for LRT - streetcar and LRT are so similar, and our region's streetcar plans are looking more like LRT all the time. Frankly, a line from DT to the airport that operates more like streetcar in the center of Saint Paul and more like LRT farther down 7th could be a great way to complete the triangle, and would also allow the development of the line to occur in less-expensive stages. I would suggest that a "streetcar" with mixed ROW as far south as Randolph and with private ROW in the middle of 7th the rest of the way to the River could work very well. No reason the "streetcar" couldn't just run with single LRVs. Later, an express, more LRT-like service could be provided by completing separation of the ROW or by providing a bypass track that branches from the streetcar at around Randolph to complete the run to downtown - perhaps by cutting over to either the freight rail ROW along Shepard or to Shepard itself.

West Seventh beyond Randolph is a street with way more capacity than demand; a median ROW like Central's on University could easily be stolen without traffic issues. From Randolph to the core it's more tricky and so either shared-ROW streetcar style operation or else a different corridor for LRT speeds - or BOTH! - probably makes more sense.
Last edited by talindsay on November 20th, 2013, 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby David Greene » November 20th, 2013, 10:11 am

This line seems even more wrongheaded than Nicollet to me and for exactly the reasons Matt states. I'm not convinced his starter proposal is a win either. In fact, I don't think any of the proposed St. Paul lines is workable.

The only rail options I like are the Midtown corridor due to the private right-of-way and West Broadway due to how it interacts with the Blue Line and how it serves a major commercial corridor. Everything else I've seen either interferes with future transit upgrades or doesn't seem to serve a transportation purpose. Development is all well and good but does Grand Ave. really need more development? Do the neighborhoods even want it?

I could maybe get behind East 7th if it actually connected to Gateway. Then it would serve a purpose similar to West Broadway.

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby David Greene » November 20th, 2013, 10:16 am

talindsay wrote:I'm sorry, I don't really see that a streetcar would compromise future investment in the Riverview Corridor for LRT - streetcar and LRT are so similar, and our region's streetcar plans are looking more like LRT all the time.
The biggest issue I see is cost. If we're going to complete the triangle it makes sense to run LRVs on it for operations efficiency. However, LRVs require a lot more space under the rails meaning more expensive digging, utility relocation, etc. I'm not sure the ridership justifies the cost.

Building a streetcar now makes it even more expensive to upgrade to LRVs later because all of the track will have to be ripped up and replaced, unless the track is built to LRT spec from the beginning, in which case the "streetcar" project becomes a whole lot more expensive.

I don't think we'll see LRT on Riverview any time soon. If the St. Paul CBD to Airport route can't justify it now, why build a streetcar and make it much more expensive to install LRT when demand does justify it twenty years from now?

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby talindsay » November 20th, 2013, 10:20 am

You're right David, but my point was that all evidence points to the region choosing to build "streetcars" to LRT spec anyway - clearly the Greenway will be built to LRT spec, and judging by the evidence we've seen on Nicollet-Central it looks like it will too. Riverview is a place where it certainly would not make sense to build it to ULRT spec, and so I would start with the assumption that all of these will be built to LRT spec.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mattaudio » November 20th, 2013, 10:32 am

Tom has some interesting ideas, but I can't imagine that we have the ROW for street-running LRVs on 7th between 35E and DT St. Paul unless they are in shared traffic. Which would suck.

This section was already traffic calmed to 3 lanes. Existing curb to curb is probably around 40-45'. Siemens LRVs are 8' 8" wide and the Skoda streetcars are just a few inches narrower. I had proposed a center shared ROW with gauntlet tracks with center island stations for Nicollet/Central, but I just don't think the ROW for even that exists on West 7th.

Shared-lane streetcars (or LRVs) on single lane streets (such as W 7th or Nicollet Ave) seem like a recipe for poor transit performance. We can do better.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mattaudio » November 20th, 2013, 10:35 am

Tom, I think the Greenway is likely the only proposed streetcar that will resemble LRT. It will have dedicated ROW (even though some sections will be gauntlet track due to tight ROW) and it will use single LRVs.

Nicollet or Broadway in Mpls and 7th St in St. Paul would look quite different. They would be operating streetcars or single LRVs in traffic. LRT spec is nebulous and obviously means different things in different contexts, but I think operating in a single shared traffic lane, subject to delay by any auto congestion chokepoint, seems to cross a line where it is no longer LRT-worthy and more of an expensive public art installation.

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby David Greene » November 20th, 2013, 10:59 am

mattaudio wrote:I think operating in a single shared traffic lane, subject to delay by any auto congestion chokepoint, seems to cross a line where it is no longer LRT-worthy and more of an expensive public art installation.
Generally I think that's right but I make exceptions for something like West Broadway, which could get really interesting if it interlined with Bottineau. Imagine extending the "streetcar" just past downtown Robbinsdale and then interlining with Bottineau where West Broadway runs alongside the BNSF.

Even without this interlining, West Broadway is interesting due to the connectivity to Bottineau and the whole transitway system. The could be true for East 7th if it were to extend to Gateway. The lack of interlining opportunity makes that a bit less interesting but I could at least justify a transportation purpose for it.

Tcmetro
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby Tcmetro » February 8th, 2014, 10:01 am

Looks like St. Paul will further study the E 7th - W 7th line and compare it to enhanced bus services. Also, a report of a the public comments,

http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/View/70733

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby at40man » February 21st, 2014, 6:57 am

Bill Hosko sent out an e-mail this morning; I have to agree with him. I think an LRT connection to Union Depot from MSP Airport would generally serve the area much better not to mention cause less disruption than ripping up the street. If the path already largely exists, why not use it?
In summary, while well-intentioned, the arguments for steetcars can not justify at this time the huge taxpayer cost to install, and then maintain them. They will largely move people who are already on buses, including myself. Saint Paul's focus should instead be on improving existing bus service and planning for a light-rail line to the airport, largely by cost-effectively ultilizing the existing Ford plant railroad spur, which largely runs parallell to West 7th St.
Toronto is also adding a link between Toronto-Pearson airport and Union Station. Wise move.

nate
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby nate » February 21st, 2014, 9:25 am

The old Ford plant line would be easy to build for 80% of its length, but it seems like it would be problematic/expensive to get it from Raymond Ave into downtown St Paul.

mamundsen
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mamundsen » February 21st, 2014, 10:17 am

nate, do you mean Randolph into DT St Paul?

Since the plant closed, I've always thought the old Ford plant line was a great spot for a streetcar or LRT line. Although if the goal is to link Union Depot and the Airport, I'd say the Airport end is harder than the DT end.

Too me it looks like the spur starts at Union Depot, goes along Shepard Rd until it cuts through the neighborhood to get up to the plant site. Knowing that area it would be very difficult/expensive to extend it south to the airport.

Another probable issue is that it looks like it is a single track for most of it's run. Is the ROW space available to make it 2? Maybe not, which is why this isn't considered.

Important stop could include (heading South):
-Union Depot
-Wabasha Bridge
-Science Museum
-new-ish apartment/condo development on the river on Spring St
-Schmidt's brewery conversion
-New Park space at Otto and Victoria
-LOTS of development opportunity along this corridor with Shepard, transit and river views
-I believe there is low income area just south of Sibley Plaza
THEN a spur to the airport and a spur to the new development of the Ford Plant site. A few (3-4) stops along each extension.

THIS seems worth doing to me. Not messing with W 7th...

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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 21st, 2014, 10:37 am

For the most part, I agree on this corridor. Only because there is an unused rail spur just E/S of W 7th (~1,000 ft) and the Met Council has already identified W 7th as a high priority BRT line (planned to open in 2016). They should run BRT to the airport along W 7th, and an LRT on the Ford Plant line to the actual Ford Plant re-development site. Us the re-dev as an opportunity to place the tracks underground in the dead center of a mixed-use district (woofner had a post on his blog of an example of a near-core urban neighborhood with an underground LRT in Germany like this: http://gettingaroundmpls.files.wordpres ... subway.jpg).

I say this because I think that most people don't travel to the airport all that often. Yes, many business workers do, but an LRT line serving neighborhoods, shopping destinations, and yes, offices in downtown StP, shouldn't prioritize completing that triangle to the airport. Not that I think transit should only be for low-income people, but those are the ones who benefit most from improvements but would use the airport the least. Let the BRT cross the river there, and have the Riverview LRT cross at 46th St and connect to the Blue Line (where quick transfers can be made to MSP or MOA if so desired). That line could then, I dunno, head up to the Greenway and become the Midtown Corridor. Single seat ride from many points in St Paul to a bunch of points in S Minneapolis, including Uptown (and I did the math a while back, it would likely be quicker than W Lake to DTSP via the Green Line). It also connects a line serving DTSP to the Snelling line, giving faster options for people living near the southern edge of the Snelling BRT than heading up to the Green Line. Obvious challenges include crossing the river at 46th and how to deal with downtown (though crossing the river along 5 may be just as expensive?).

Froggie's line didn't head up to the Ford Plant, and I personally think another station or two might make sense, but he's got a feasible routing and handling of the downtown portion: http://www.ajfroggie.com/roads/minnesot ... erview.htm

Sorry for the lengthy post, only tangentially related to the StP streetcars.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mattaudio » February 21st, 2014, 10:41 am

I like the idea of rail to Highland Park and the Ford site, but I'm not sure how it would work to cross the river. The Ford Bridge was completely rehabbed a few years ago, and I assume it would need significant rework to support LRVs. On the other hand, the Fort Road Bridge is structurally deficient and hasn't been rehabbed since the 80s.

I'm also curious about the travel demand from Downtown St. Paul to MSP or to South Minneapolis. My guess is there's more consistent and higher demand from South Mpls to Downtown St. Paul, compared to airport demand.

nate
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby nate » February 21st, 2014, 11:13 am

I was assuming that we'd want to interline an Airport LRT with the Green LIne through DT St Paul. This would make it more accessible to the core and the majority of downtown residents.

The connection you describe would definitely be easier and less expensive.

mattaudio
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Re: Saint Paul Streetcars

Postby mattaudio » February 21st, 2014, 11:46 am

It seems to me like it would be easiest to build a full wye to the north of Ft. Snelling Station but south/west of 62/55. This would allow for flexibility, whether Riverview should interline to the airport or interline north/west through South Minneapolis.

I think West 7th BRT is a great answer in the short term, much better than a streetcar. http://goo.gl/maps/JoiTu


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