The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

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June 29, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 28

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 10th Year

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items…
NS CEO Looks To The Future And Sees Passenger Rail’s Return
What Recession?! City’s 1st New TOD Project To Break Ground
   At Othello Next Month
“Built Smart And “Built Green” Are Seattle-Based Programs
   That Certify Green Homes
  Political Lines…
President Signs Supplemental Appropriations Bill With Transit
   Operating Assistance Provision
Patrick Signs Transportation Overhaul
Attention Virginians! Virginians For HSR Petition
   “…Needs Your Signature Now”
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Safety Lines…
Fatal Crash On Metro Still Under Investigation
  Across The Pond…
Trains Set To Replace British Domestic Flights?
Basic Construction Work Of New Berlin BBI Airport
   Rail Station Completed
  Editorial…
Safety First?
  We get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

Corridors In The News

 

NS CEO Looks To The Future
And Sees Passenger Rail’s Return

By DF Staff And The Norfolk-Virginian Pilot

NORFOLK, VA --- Although like all major railroads it is still in the throes of decreased business due to the current recession, Norfolk Southern Corporation is nevertheless looking towards a brighter future, a future which for the first time in a generation may well include passenger rail.

On the 10th anniversary of Norfolk Southern Corporation’s acquisition of nearly 60 percent of Conrail, NS CEO Wick Moorman recently thanked customers, suppliers, stockholders, communities, and employees “…for their hard work and support.”

“On Day One -- June 1, 1999 -- we set out to build the best freight transportation system in the world,” Moorman said. “We have made steady progress toward that goal, and together we have enjoyed a decade of growth and financial success. All of us at Norfolk Southern are grateful to everyone who has played a part in this success, and we look forward to what the next decade brings.”

Since Day One, when Norfolk Southern added 7,200 miles of Conrail routes and 10,000 former Conrail employees to its system, the railroad has moved 3.5 trillion gross ton-miles of freight. A single train of every carload NS hauled in the last decade could stretch to the moon and back twice -- and then some, said NS in an announcement.

“In order to meet increased demand and better serve customers, NS over that period has invested nearly $10 billion in capital expenditures to improve track, equipment, facilities, and technology. In new rail alone, NS installed the equivalent of a brand new transcontinental railroad.

NS’ industrial development activities since Day One resulted in the location or expansion of 1,115 industries along the railroad’s lines, representing customer investments of $23.6 billion and creating nearly 55,000 customer jobs in the territory served by the railroad,” said an NS spokesman.

“The Conrail transaction returned competitive rail service to the Northeast for the first time in 20 years. NS sharpened its focus on customer service markedly following the transaction -- especially through its Thoroughbred Operating Plan -- and today is the industry’s service benchmark. Most important, it all has been done safely. NS employees have earned the E.H. Harriman Memorial Gold Medal as the safest railroad workers in the U.S. for each of the last 20 years,” said the railroad.

The railroad is also looking at passenger rail. In an interview last week with The Norfolk- Virginian Pilot, CEO Wickman was open about NS’ new receptivity to passenger rail projects:

“Moorman didn’t just offer his opinion on the matter.” wrote the Pilot, “He signaled in an interview that his company is open to becoming an active partner. Said Moorman: “If we think that it makes sense for us financially to take some role in the ongoing operation, we’d be willing to at least consider that; we certainly are more than willing to be engaged in the dialogue.”

“Moorman’s comments represent a sea change in Norfolk Southern’s attitudes,” the paper continued. “The company historically has had understandable heartburn about trying to coordinate fast-moving passenger trains and slower freight cars. But Moorman and other executives are proud residents of Hampton Roads, and they understand the economic consequences if a network of high- and higher-speed passenger rail along the East Coast bypasses the region.”

“They also understand their own business model is changing,” the paper said. “Moorman told business leaders that cargo traffic has dropped by about 45percent for automobiles, 40 percent for steel and 25 percent for coal compared to last year’s figures. Although Moorman sees signs of improvement, he believes recovery will be slow. While the recession has been painful, it’s also encouraged Moorman and his colleagues to consider new opportunities, including passenger rail. Moorman said 16 states have contacted his company eager to engage Norfolk Southern in passenger rail projects. He’s met with officials in Virginia, and his expertise is already helping to level barriers impeding the project.”

In his comments on the tenth anniversary of the Conrail acquisition, he concluded: “The numbers tell an impressive story, but as satisfying as it is to see how far we’ve come, it’s more exciting to look ahead,” Moorman said. “Our progress has given us the strength to weather the current economic storm. This recession will pass, and the long-term future for rail as the safe, clean, and fuel-efficient transportation alternative has never been brighter. NS is ready to take advantage of the opportunities that a recovering economy will bring. Ten years from now, along with our partners, we will look back again with amazement at how far we’ve come together.”

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is a leading North American transportation provider. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, “…and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers.” Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal and industrial products.

For more information on NS go to: http://www.nscorp.com


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What Recession?! City’s 1st New TOD Project
To Break Ground At Othello Next Month

By DF Staff from Seattle Times and Rainier Valley Post


Rendering: Othello Partners

Seattle developer Othello Partners will bringstransit-oriented living to the Othello neighborhood; $70 million project is set to break ground in early July and be ready for occupancy in early 2011.

Othello will welcome light rail back to the community 70 years after the first streetcar tracks were removed from Rainier Avenue. This neighborhood is primed for new opportunities to grow and change.

“Built Smart And “Built Green”
Are Seattle-Based Programs
That Certify Green Homes

The first resource-efficient construction program in the Seattle area BUILT SMART was developed by Seattle City Light and designed to help multifamily developers understand the benefits of energy and resource efficient construction. BUILT SMART staff also participated in the development of BUILT GREEN, a program of design competitions for developments up to three-stories high. (Details at www.seattle.gov/dpd/sustainability)

Seattle City Light provides a monetary incentive to BUILT SMART-certified apartments and condominiums, providing they exceed the Washington State Energy Code by up to 30 percent and help ensure good indoor air quality.

SEATTLE, WA, JUNE 25—Despite the economic downtown which is stalling projects in the Puget Sound area as well as the rest of the country, Seattle will see the groundbreaking for a major transit-oriented development project this summer. In mid-July, on the heels of the start of a new light rail system, Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail, Seattle developer Othello Partners will break ground for a $70 million mixed-use development adjacent to the train station. The “Station at Othello Park” will be a 420,000-square-foot project offering 352 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment homes, tenant amenities and approximately 20,000 square feet of retail space.

“This transit-oriented development will bring increased vibrancy and greater access to one of Seattle’s most eclectic neighborhoods, known as Othello Park,” writes staff reporter for the Post.

A major financial partner in the project is the Real Estate Division of United Services Automobile Association (USAA). USAA is a Fortune 500 financial services company offering banking, investing, and insurance to people and families that serve, or served, in the United States Military.

“The Station at Othello Park represents the first new mixed-use development to break ground along light rail and is an important step forward in Seattle’s future as a transit-oriented city,” said Steve Rauf, president and CEO of Othello Partners. “It also signifies an exciting renaissance of the Othello neighborhood,… a unique in-city community with its rich culture and history.”

Trains will leave every seven minutes, according to the Rainier Valley Post story, making it possible for Othello Park residents to reach downtown Seattle, Sea-Tac International Airport, sporting stadiums or the downtown shopping district in a matter of minutes. Living in Othello will be a truly urban experience.

“This neighborhood reflects a level of diversity unparalleled in Seattle and we are excited that light rail will connect us with more people who will explore our shops, restaurants and parks,” said Jenna Walden, president of the Othello Neighborhood Association (ONA). “We look forward to working with Othello Partners and the business community to ensure The Station at Othello Park creates a lively transit hub.”

Photos/do Communications, Inc.  

The project’s proximity to light rail offers the option of a car-free or reduced car lifestyle, allowing residents to drastically reduce their carbon footprint.

An environmentally sustainable development:

The Station at Othello Park, with its proximity to transit will make it possible for people to get around without a car, drastically reducing their carbon footprint on a daily basis. In addition, the building will be constructed to the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED-Silver certification and the standards of “Built Green” and “Built Smart.” The project will have to meet environmental standards such as using recyclable and/or energy efficient materials and building practices during construction.

Othello Partners is in the process of applying for permits for a second mixed-use development north of the station which will have 370 home apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space. The two developments together will create a pedestrian district and a retail destination along Othello Street, creating a hub of activity in the neighborhood. It will also be one of the most diverse and dense areas of Seattle.

And, so important for our inner city populations, this plan provides affordability – some homes will be available to people who have 80% area median income.

“This neighborhood reflects a level of diversity unparalleled in Seattle and we are excited that light rail will connect us with more people who will explore our shops, restaurants and parks,” said Jenna Walden, president of the Othello Neighborhood Association (ONA). “We look forward to working with Othello Partners and the business community to ensure The Station at Othello Park creates a lively transit hub.”

Light Rail Grand Opening Celebration

To celebrate the opening of Link light rail on July 18, the Othello Neighborhood will be hosting a street party — “Othello on The Move, a Celebration at The Station” — across from the station. Visitors can stop by between 10am and 5pm to learn more about the neighborhood, listen to live local music, register for giveaways and much more.


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

President Signs Supplemental Appropriations Bill
With Transit Operating Assistance Provision

From American Public Transportation Association
In Passenger Transport Express

President Obama on June 24 signed a bill that includes a provision allowing public transit agencies to use up to 10 percent of their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) formula funds to cover operating costs of “equipment and facilities for use in public transportation.”

This language also allows public transit agencies to amend previously submitted applications to redirect ARRA funds toward operating needs. The measure was included as a rider to H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, which provides funding for overseas military operations.

A letter from the FTA administrator and a list of answered questions on adding operating assistance to ARRA grants are available on the FTA web site.


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Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA)

Patrick Signs Transportation Overhaul

By DF Staff From The Globe On The Internet

SPRINGFIELD, MA, JUNE 26 --A new bill intended to reform and streamline the transportation governance in Massachusetts was signed by Governor Deval Patrick last Friday. The bill will consolidate “a patchwork of agencies that govern roads, rail, and bridges” in the state, according to The Globe story.

“The meaningful, long-lasting reforms to our state’s transportation system will rebuild public trust and put an end to the old ways of doing business,” said Governor Patrick, who signed the bill at his Western Massachusetts office in Springfield. “Today, we are inaugurating a new era of streamlined and efficient delivery of transportation services to the residents of Massachusetts.”

The new state department of transportation will oversee highways, mass transit, aeronautics, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority will be eliminated along with some perks at the MBTA which critics consider “symbols of waste and abuse in government.”

“.......this bill will bring considerable cost savings,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, underscoring the Patrick administration’s claim that it will save tens of millions of dollars annually.

Some skeptics are not convinced that the reform will solve the transportation crisis that is hurting the state economically. The bill calls for a board of five members, three Democrats and two Republicans, a format which worries former state representative John Businger. “Transportation policies in Massachusetts have been confusing over the years,” he said, “making it unclear where the leadership is. This bill could make it even less clear. Boards historically are made up of spectators and decision makers. In this “Urgency of Now,” who will be making the decisions?”


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Attention Virginians! Virginians For HSR
Petition “…Needs Your Signature Now”

By DF Staff

RICHMOND, VA ---Virginians For High Speed Rail, the advocacy group that has galvanized the fight for extending Amtrak’s electrified Northeast Corridor South from Washington, DC, to the capital of the former Confederacy, Richmond, VA, is closing in on the 3,000 petition signatures it wants to accompany the state’s July 10 Federal Railroad Administration preliminary application for funding.

National Corridors Initiative ally and supporter Virginians For High Speed Rail, and its chief Danny Plaugher, states the following to Virginians, “If you have not already done so, I urge you to sign our petition online at: http://www.petitiononline.com/VHSR2007/petition.html or go to www.vhsr.com/petition and print it out and send it to us at VHSR, 5101 Monument Ave, Richmond, Virginia 23230. If you would like to assist in our grassroots efforts you may contribute online at: https://co.clickandpledge.com/sp/d1/default.aspx?wid=26417,” said Plaugher.

Added Plaugher in his statement: “I also encourage you to forward this email or our links to your friends and family as we strive to reach our goal of 3,000 plus signatures before July 10th.”

The extension of electrified rail South to Richmond from Washington would be the first major addition to the existing high-speed Northeast Corridor since the New Haven-Boston segment of the corridor was electrified 1991-1999 following successful negotiations between the Bush (I) White Houses and the leaders of the bi-partisan, non-profit National Corridors Initiative. That project reduced New York Boston travel times from 5-6 hours to 3 1/2, and increased rail travel’s market share between NYC and Boston by four-fold, and growing, especially as security screening has added an hour or more to airline schedules.

In part because of the massive High Speed Rail push by the Obama Administration, and its broad reach into the American transportation sphere, some have suggested the Corridor be re-named the Atlantic Coast Corridor, as efforts mount to extend it not just to Richmond but on to Charlotte, NC., Florence, SC, and Atlanta, GA, and, via the Gulf States Corridor designated by Federal legislation in 1998, Birmingham and New Orleans.

Work is also intensifying to gain funding for the long-delayed North-South Rail Link tunnel in Boston between North and South Stations, which despite its superficially local nature is in fact a key intercity link which will open up high speed rail connections between dozens of Eastern Seaboard city pairs Connecticut-Rhode Island-New Hampshire-Maine.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)75.6774.48
Canadian National (CNI)43.5742.90
Canadian Pacific (CP)40.0639.49
CSX (CSX)36.2034.56
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)27.5026.37
Kansas City Southern (KSU)16.3216.57
Norfolk Southern (NSC)39.1938.46
Providence & Worcester (PWX)11.6011.50
Union Pacific (UNP)53.3052.00


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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

Fatal Crash On Metro Still Under Investigation

DF Staff From The Internet And American Public Transportation Association

WASHINGTON, DC --A disastrous crash occurred on Metro’s Red Line in Washington, DC, on Monday, June 22, when two six-car trains collided near the Ft Totten station heading toward Shady Grove Metrorail station. One witness reported that one car sheared the other in half.

Early reports stated there were four fatalities and many injuries, but the total number of dead after all reports were in was nine. One of the dead was the female operator on the trailing train, 42-year-old Jeanice McMillan.

It was the deadliest accident in Metrorail’s 33-year history. The only other time that there were customer fatalities was in January 1982, when three people died as a result of a derailment between the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian Metrorail stations. There was one other collision in 2004 when two trains collided at the Woodley Park/Zoo-Adams Morgan Metrorail station, in which there were some minor injuries.

On the night of the incident, Metro General Manager John Catoe gave this announcement: “We are extremely saddened that there are fatalities as a result of this accident, which has touched our Metro family. We hope to have more details about the casualties later today. Our safety officials are investigating, and will continue to investigate until we determine why this happened and what must be done to ensure it never happens again.”

Metro officials do not know the cause of the collision and are not likely to know the cause for some time as the investigation unfolds.

According to an Associated Press report later in the week, at McMillan’s memorial service, Catoe told friends, relatives and co-workers that she was not “just doing her job,” she was a hero whose actions “ultimately saved lives.” Federal investigators have said that McMillan applied an emergency brake before her train plowed into another.

Last Thursday, when a test train was placed on the tracks at the location of the accident, Metro’s signaling system failed to detect it. Test results indicate that the trailing train in the crash did not get information that another train was stopped on the tracks.

The American Public Transportation Association stated later in the week that the accident has brought attention to the need for investment in critical infrastructure. In addition, APTA has been communicating with the media to assure the public that public transit is one of the safest ways to travel. According to the National Safety Council, rail travel is 14 times safer than auto travel.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has been working with the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the crash.


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ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...  

By David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Trains Set To Replace British Domestic Flights?

Via Aviation Industry Press

Domestic and short-haul flights are to become a thing of the past in the U.K., according to new transport secretary Lord Adonis. A high-speed rail network linking London to Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow will signal the demise of short-haul flights over the next 20 years. Adonis believes a high-speed rail link would make trains the natural choice for most passengers because of increased comfort and convenience, and significantly lower carbon emissions. The rail link would not impact on the need for a third runway at Heathrow, he added.

A number of city pairs in continental Europe have already experienced the partial or total replacement of airline services with high speed trains, including Frankfurt – Stuttgart, Frankfurt – Cologne/Bonn, Paris – Brussels, Paris – London, Hamburg – Berlin, Hannover – Berlin, Paris – Lyon, Madrid – Seville, and Madrid – Zaragoza.


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Basic Construction Work Of New Berlin BBI Airport Rail Station Completed

Via Deutsche Bahn Press Release

Berlin Airports Inc. announced it will turn over in July the first underground section of the new train station at the new BBI airport to Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways). The new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BBI) is currently under construction on the site of the existing and still operational Berlin Schoenefeld airport located southeast of central Berlin. Although the existing Schoenefeld airport terminal already has a rail station in close proximity, the new BBI air terminal is located much farther away from the existing rail line and therefore requires a different connection to the rail network in the Berlin region. The current Schoenefeld airport terminal is planned for demolition after the new BBI Airport terminal opens in 2011.

After slightly more than 1000 days of construction BerlinFluhäfen (Berlin Airports Inc.) will reach an important milestone: on 24th July the company will turnover the first underground section of the airport rail station to Deutsche Bahn. On the 24th of June the Supervisory Board and Managing Director of Berlin Airports, together with representatives of Deutsche Bahn held a press conference on the advancement of the BBI-rail connection.


Photo: Berlin Flughäfen AG

View of the construction site of the airport terminal and underground rail station at the new BBI airport in February 2009.

Wolfgang Tiefensee, Germany’s Minister of Transportation, praised the progress being made on the new airport: “the new airport is one of the central transportation projects in eastern Germany which will secure jobs for thousands well beyond the city of Berlin and the State of Brandenburg. The federal government supports the construction of the new BBI airport with full engagement. One notices this most of all with the rail connection to the new airport, whereby the federal government has supplied the lion’s share of financing with EUR 576 million (US$ 720 million) of funding for the new airport rail connector.”

The new BBI airport joins an ever longer list of European airports which have train stations within or next to the airport terminal, including Paris CDG, London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Amsterdam Schipohl, Vienna, Frankfurt, Hannover, Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Zurich, Munich, Rome, Athens and numerous others. Berlin plans to close the only other commercial airport in the region, Berlin-Tegel, shortly after BBI is fully operational, although numerous business leaders and civic organizations in the Berlin region are mounting a major lobbying campaign to keep Tegel operational for the long term future. The BBI airport drew massive opposition from various sectors prior to the German Supreme Court’s affirming approval of the project. Opposition included not only traditional airport foes such as environmentalists and nearby neighbors but also angry airline company managers from EasyJet, Virgin Express, Ryanair and other low cost airlines who objected to the massive cost of the project and the related significant hikes in airport landing fees and gate rental charges planned for the new airport.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Safety First?

This week’s fatal collision between two Washington, DC metro trains underscores in blood the parlous condition of maintenance and equipment on many of the nation’s transit and commuter rail properties; only two weeks ago at APTA’s important Commuter Rail meeting in Chicago new FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff renewed his warning that years of maintenance neglect and aging equipment were starting to take their toll.

While the investigation of the Metro crash is under way we won’t speculate as to the cause, or whether it was indeed maintenance-related. But will we say this: just as it took a bridge falling into the Mississippi River to point up the dangerously poor condition of some of our nation’s Interstate (and other) highways and bridges, so this accident on Washington’s Metro should prompt a system-wide evaluation by the FTA and the properties it regulates, and that funds be released from the Stimulus package to address those.

To do otherwise is to court disaster, as this accident demonstrates. We just can’t do that.


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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

To The Editor:

RE: NJ/NY tunnel

One troubling aspect about this tunnel that supporters of the current plan seem to overlook, is the ability to evacuate such a deep station. While rare, transformer fires on locomotives and MUs do happen, and they have happened in the existing Penn station. And other types of fires can and do occur in any structure, and certainly can happen underground. Such an event at rush hour could trigger a panic as people flee any way they can - including into tunnels with active traffic. Even a ‘controlled’ evacuation of a few thousand people would take time.

Another aspect that makes no sense is why NJ Transit feels the need to go to 34th street, again. They already go to 34th street, thus a new station there adds no diversity to the area’s transportation network. Since it’s been decided (for whatever political reasons) that this will be dead end, there’s no reason it can’t go to 14th street, or somewhere else (like the WTC site), and plenty of reasons it should.

This isn’t some toss away temporary construction - it’s an extremely expensive tunnel that we will be stuck with for another century, or more. Being ‘almost good enough, sort of’ isn’t good enough with huge sums of money involved here.

As far as the bedrock around Manhattan? It supports some of the tallest buildings in the world, and survived numerous subway and rail tunnels. I fail to see how it’s too unstable to support one more.

Philip Nasadowski
Lincoln Park, NJ


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2009 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

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In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

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