Green Line / Central Corridor construction thread (archive)

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Wedgeguy
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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby Wedgeguy » June 22nd, 2012, 4:42 pm

Anyone know what happened to the 4th street enterance onto N 35W went to?? Did it not get funded?

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby FISHMANPET » June 22nd, 2012, 6:05 pm

Nick wrote:The space between the northbound and southbound decks of the Washington Avenue Bridge has been filled in, which somehow makes going across it on the bus seem way safer.
I hadn't noticed that, I was too busy being distracted by all the rebar and pipe they had laid in the middle.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby MSPtoMKE » June 22nd, 2012, 8:24 pm

Wedgeguy wrote:Anyone know what happened to the 4th street enterance onto N 35W went to?? Did it not get funded?
That is a different project that is still happening, just not shown on these project maps. When I went through the area today, it looked as though they had a temporary asphalt curb along 4th St. where the future left turn lanes will be to enter I-35W northbound.

And yes, traffic is now on both outer lanes of the bridge, instead of side-by-side. Eastbound traffic under Cedar Ave now is also on its permanent alignment, although westbound traffic must still exit at Cedar and then re-enter. The Ramp from Cedar to Eastbound Washington Ave is also open.
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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby bandar_seri_begawan » June 23rd, 2012, 8:27 am

Along with everyone else, I am very excited about this new asset to public transportation.

However, the fact that this line will run down University at-grade and without designated right of way or signal preemption makes me very leery about the viability of this line as a reliable connector between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. Are my fears unfounded, or will this relatively high capacity light rail corridor turn out to be more like a glorified street car line?

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby ECtransplant » June 23rd, 2012, 8:35 am

I'm very disappointed that there won't be express trains, at least during peak hours, that will take you downtown to downtown in under 20 minutes. That said, I expect this line to be even more successful than the Blue Line (Hiawatha). It's connecting a lot of areas that do and will highly utilize public transport

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby Wedgeguy » June 23rd, 2012, 9:16 am

I don't know how you could even run express trains along side the regular runs.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby ECtransplant » June 23rd, 2012, 9:23 am

Wedgeguy wrote:I don't know how you could even run express trains along side the regular runs.
You might be able to time it in between the regular runs if you have a bunch of switches between the two sets of tracks, but you'd probably need a third set of tracks along most of the route to make it practical.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby Wedgeguy » June 23rd, 2012, 9:52 am

When there are trains running every 8 minute for rush hour. There are only a few interlocks for switching designed into this system, and they are strategically located on the line. They are few and far betwen. Same is true on the Blue line too. This is not a railroad line. I live with a rail operator and he laughed off the Idea as a no go.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby mulad » June 23rd, 2012, 10:05 am

bandar:

The line does have its own right-of-way (it's just in the middle of the street), and there will be some signal preemption -- just not the 100% preemption that you see along the Hiawatha corridor. If you've ever been on the University of Minnesota shuttle to the Saint Paul campus, I expect that signals will behave somewhat similarly to the lights where Energy Park Drive and Como Avenue each cross the transitway. At those intersections, the buses usually get priority over other traffic, but there's a limited time window. One bus -- or two or three buses bunched together -- can usually go through on a green, but if there are other buses lagging behind, they might have to wait for a cycle.

About half of the street crossings have been taken out along University Avenue -- you can still turn right onto University, but you might have to go a block away to turn left (though I believe most of the old crossings have been retained for pedestrians). That way, the trains are often guaranteed to run 1/4 mile without being held up by any sort of signal (there are spots with more grade crossings and others with less).

I do remain dubious that they'll be able to achieve the planned 40-minute run time from Target Field to Union Depot, especially since it takes that long for a Hiawatha train to make it from end to end. Hiawatha trains benefit from the 100% preemption and a higher top speed (55 mph instead of 35 or 40 mph for the Central Corridor -- because of their separate right-of-way, they'll be allowed to go somewhat faster than car traffic), but the distance is about a mile shorter. The Met Council is claiming 36 minutes for "downtown to downtown", which I presume means Nicollet Mall to the 4th Street/Cedar Street station. But, they might be able to pull it off.

By comparison, the 16 ranges in scheduled trip times between 47 minutes in the middle of the night to 1h10 at the peak of rush hour, so lots of people will jump at the idea of a fairly fast train even if it doesn't go quite as fast as the 94 bus between downtowns.

Yeah, unfortunately an express train just isn't going to happen. You can look out to the Bay Area in California where Caltrain's "Baby Bullet" express commuter service has caused the speed and reliability of regular service to decline. Opening up windows for the express train to pass just creates headaches for everyone else. Now if you had 3 or 4 tracks like the NYC subway, on the other hand...

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby mulad » June 23rd, 2012, 11:07 am

Before the thought disappears from my head, I'll resurrect some year 2010 ridership numbers I'd posted back on Minnescraper, derived from the existing conditions report for the Central Corridor Transit Service Study
  • Route 16: 16,880 daily, 5.0 million annually
  • Route 50: 6,886 daily, 1.5 million annually
  • Route 94: 4,213 daily, 1.1 million annually
So the "corridor" carried 27,979 passengers on an average weekday and about 7.6 million over the course of the year.

The Hiawatha Line had 30,100 weekday passengers in 2010 and 10.5 million over the year. Kind of odd that the weekday ridership for those routes is only off by about 7% from Hiawatha, yet the annual ridership is off by about 28%. I derived my annual figures for those routes by dividing annual subsidy by the subsidy per passenger, so maybe the subsidy/pax figure is only meant for weekdays or something... On the other hand, we do know that Hiawatha gets high weekend usage, though the Central Corridor should also grab a lot of weekend riders too -- With Target Field, Target Center, the Metrodome/Vikes stadium, and TCF stadium right on the line plus Xcel/Roy Wilkins not far away and a possible Saints stadium in the pipeline, there will always be people shuttling around to one event or another.

Anyway, while some route 16 and some route 94 ridership will remain, most of that will shift over to the Green Line. While travel time and speed is important, I suspect that people will really love the train because of its ride quality. Not feeling like you're being shaken to pieces counts for a lot...

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby spectre000 » June 24th, 2012, 5:44 pm

A couple pics by me today, first one is of the Operations&Maintenance facility in Lowertown, the second shows the start of work on the 10th Street station.

Image
DSCN1210 by spectre 000, on Flickr

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DSCN1202 by spectre 000, on Flickr

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby pfreyre » June 26th, 2012, 8:33 am

ECtransplant said:
I'm very disappointed that there won't be express trains, at least during peak hours, that will take you downtown to downtown in under 20 minutes.
While I know that folks here have been disappointed with end-to-end travel times for the Green Line, I think its important to remember that transit lines are not just geared to optimize travel times for all riders from terminus to terminus. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet that most riders will probably not be riding from one downtown to the other. For direct downtown-to-downtown service, bus route 94 is the best way to serve that specific market.

If travel times are truly an issue, then I think the best solution would be to run the line as SEPTA runs the Market-Frankford Elevated in Philadelphia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market%E2% ... #Operation. Lesser-used stations are assigned a letter code: either "A" OR "B", while high-use stations are labeled "AB". Trains are marked as either an "A" train (making all "A" stops"), a "B" train (making all "B" stops), or an "AB" train (making all stops). While not a perfect solution, it is cheap and easy to implement, and would reduce travel times.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby Didier » June 26th, 2012, 10:03 am

Traffic on University between the Westgate and Prospect Park stations has been moved to the north side of University as re-pavement begins on the south side. Construction is moving fast.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby MSPtoMKE » June 26th, 2012, 11:35 am

pfreyre wrote: While I know that folks here have been disappointed with end-to-end travel times for the Green Line, I think its important to remember that transit lines are not just geared to optimize travel times for all riders from terminus to terminus. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet that most riders will probably not be riding from one downtown to the other. For direct downtown-to-downtown service, bus route 94 is the best way to serve that specific market.
Yes, for most traditional commuters, the 94 bus will still be the best for going between the downtowns, however, it will only run during peak hours. There is still plenty of demand outside rush hour that the Green Line will have to pick up. It is these trips that will take about 10 to 15 minutes longer than current route 94 trips, although the Green Line will run more frequently.
pfreyre wrote:If travel times are truly an issue, then I think the best solution would be to run the line as SEPTA runs the Market-Frankford Elevated in Philadelphia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market%E2% ... #Operation. Lesser-used stations are assigned a letter code: either "A" OR "B", while high-use stations are labeled "AB". Trains are marked as either an "A" train (making all "A" stops"), a "B" train (making all "B" stops), or an "AB" train (making all stops). While not a perfect solution, it is cheap and easy to implement, and would reduce travel times.
Skip-Stop service used to be more common, certain lines in Chicago and New York also used it. However, I don't think it makes sense in a line that is not grade-separated. There will be times the train will be stopped at a station because of a red light. Riders would be pretty frustrated if they had to wait 20 minutes for a train, when one was there and stopped, but just didn't open the doors because it was a A train and they were waiting at a B station. Skip-stop service adds complexity, and the 10 minute headway is not frequent enough to allow stations to be skipped.
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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby Didier » June 26th, 2012, 12:10 pm

Not sure if I'm buying that there's huge demand for express downtown-to-downtown service on the CCLRT. An express bus route in 94 should be totally sufficient for the time being, and maybe down the road a limited express train could be set up using the Minneapolis-Chicago infrastructure (assuming that train would go to both SPUD and Minneapolis).

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby Andrew_F » June 26th, 2012, 12:48 pm

I agree. I don't think there is as much demand as people think, and I also don't think there is as much time-saving potential as people think. How much time is really spent on stations vs. lights? Skip-stop, at least in this situation sounds more like a solution to overcrowded trains than to long trips.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby mulad » June 26th, 2012, 2:12 pm

I went to today's meeting on the bus service restructuring related to the Central Corridor. Here's a travel-time matrix which I haven't been able to find online before. Keep in mind that it's just the estimated travel time.

Image
Image link

I'm slowly drifting toward the idea of dropping the 94 outside of rush periods, but I guess I'm still on the fence. It will actually operate on an "expanded peak", so it won't necessarily cut off right at 9 AM or 6:30 PM. Right now the 94 runs about every 15 minutes during the midday. When it runs as the 94D, it takes 25 minutes between 6th/Hennepin in Minneapolis to St. Peter and 6th in St. Paul, or 22 minutes if you measure from 6th St and 11th Ave in Minneapolis (SE corner of the Metrodome). I suspect that reorienting service in downtown to be east/west on 5th and 6th streets in St. Paul will shave off a minute or two, but even that might be a bit optimistic.

Hennepin Ave to Central station on the Green Line would take 37 minutes, and Metrodome to Central would be 31.

So you can save 9 to 12 minutes by going on the 94. But at that point, you basically need to have buses running every 15 or 20 minutes to justify them. Since running along the Interstate is usually so fast, it seems like you'd really only need 4 or 5 buses to maintain a 15-minute schedule. I don't know what the big rush is to trim it back, though part of the additional service time being put onto the connecting routes elsewhere comes from reductions in the 94. I'd be willing to give up the 94 if it means broader 10-, 15-, and 20-minute service across the rest of the corridor area.

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby MSPtoMKE » June 26th, 2012, 6:16 pm

mulad wrote:So you can save 9 to 12 minutes by going on the 94. But at that point, you basically need to have buses running every 15 or 20 minutes to justify them. Since running along the Interstate is usually so fast, it seems like you'd really only need 4 or 5 buses to maintain a 15-minute schedule. I don't know what the big rush is to trim it back, though part of the additional service time being put onto the connecting routes elsewhere comes from reductions in the 94. I'd be willing to give up the 94 if it means broader 10-, 15-, and 20-minute service across the rest of the corridor area.
Well, I would say that cutting the 94 bus does lead to broader and more frequent service in the rest of the area, that was basically the concept plan boiled down to the basics. Much of the expanded service will be every 20 minutes, which while not great, is a phenomenal increase over what is there now, especially evenings and weekends.

Thanks for posting the travel times. I was halfway expecting the 40 minute travel time to be something like Nicollet Mall to Central Station, so if they can pull off a 41 minute travel time end to end, I will be pleased. It is also nice that the frequency is listed as 7-10 from 6 am to 10 pm. I would assume the 7 minute headways only apply to part of the peak, but much of the published material recently has shown 10 minute headways all day, including peaks. The late night headways also seem better than the current schedule for Hiawatha.
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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby mulad » June 28th, 2012, 12:22 pm

Hmm. I've taken eastbound #3 buses through the zig-zag of ramps at Cedar Avenue near the West Bank station twice now, and it's looking like there are clearance issues. While I really like the idea of changing the ramps to have (roughly) 90-degree turns in order to calm traffic, it looks like Metro Transit's buses are having a tough time with them. The ramps on the north side of the junction have been manageable (even if the buses sometimes have to jump the curb to go up while running westbound), but the ramp on the southeast side which just reopened seems particularly troublesome.

I think there's a stop sign there that vehicles need to negotiate around, but I'm getting suspicious that a heavy-duty barrier wall to keep cars and LRT vehicles apart is going to be getting installed soon, and there just doesn't appear to be room for a big articulated bus to get through. I'm guessing some semi truck would easily get wedged there too (well, "wedged" being relative since it would likely just take out the stop sign).

I think they'll just have to make the ramps more ramp-like again...

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Re: Central Corridor LRT

Postby MSPtoMKE » June 28th, 2012, 5:30 pm

I noticed today that the eastbound Green Line track has been connected to the existing Hiawatha track at the junction between the lines, while the westbound track still stops short. I am assuming they made the connection last weekend while the line was closed north of Franklin. I consider that to be a bit of a landmark.
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