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
 

Contribute To NCI

October 24, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 42

Copyright © 2011
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 12th Newsletter Year

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1024 X 768 screen resolution

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

  News Items…
MWHSR Fall Meeting 2011 In Cleveland October 29
  Commuter Lines…
$928M In Transportation Grants Announced
  Freight Lines…
Schneider National Partners With CN Rail To
   Boost Cross-Border Intermodal Traffic
At Heart Of The U.S. Freight Rail System DOT Grant
   For Chicago Advances Grade Separation
  Political Lines…
NY Gov. Cuomo Appoints FRA’s Karen Rae, Joseph Lhota
   To Key NYS Transportation Posts
 
  Award Lines…
Vermont Rail Action Network Honors Wulfson, VRS,
    And NECR For Flood Reconstruction
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  News From Amtrak…
Amtrak Bridge Work In Eastern Connecticut Impacts
   NYC-BOS Service November 5, 6
  Off The Main Line…
A Pocono Mountain Rail Adventure
  Commentary…
The Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement’s Outrageous Cost
  Publication Notes …


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

MWHSR Fall Meeting 2011
In Cleveland October 29

From Internet Sources

CLEVELAND ---- The Midwest High Speed Rail Association, whose work over the past two decades has been critical in making the central United States a likely locale for America’s first High Speed Rail outside the Northeast Corridor, has set its annual meeting for this Saturday at the City Club of Cleveland from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The annual event will feature addresses by longtime National Association of Railroad Passengers President Ross Capon, President/CEO Bruce Horowitz of ESH Consult, David Phillips of TranSystems and Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council

The City Club of Cleveland is at 850 Euclid Ave, in The City Club Building, 2nd Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114

The meeting will be held in partnership with All Aboard Ohio; doors open at 9:30 AM for registration and a continental breakfast. Go to https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2228/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=70596 to RSVP.

The program will include updates from elected officials, industry leaders and rail advocates from across the Midwest. Cost is $35 for MHSRA or AAO members, $45 for non-members. Registration includes a continental breakfast and lunch buffet.

MWHSR notes that sponsorship opportunities are available. For details, go to www.midwesthsr.org/sponsorship-opportunities or contact Madeline Grennan at Madeline@midwesthsr.org

Inexpensive hotels close to the Cleveland City Club: include

Radisson Hotel Cleveland Gateway
651 Huron Rd E
Cleveland OH 44115
216-377-9000
www.radisson.com

Hampton Inn Cleveland Downtown
1460 E. 9th St
Cleveland OH 44114
216-241-6600
www.hamptoninn.hilton.com

Wyndham Cleveland at Playhouse Square
1260 Euclid Ave
Cleveland OH 44114
216-615-7500
www.wyndham.com

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites
629 Euclid Ave
Cleveland OH 44114
216-443-1000
www.hiexpress.com

Deals on hotel registration can also be obtained at www.hotels.com


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

$928M In Transportation Grants Announced

By DF Staff And From The US Dot

WASHINGTON, DC AND DETROIT, MI --- Continuing its efforts to put Americans back to work, the Obama Administration announced nearly $1 billion in federal transit grants this past week, to bolster public transportation systems now under increasing demand, even as Congress has cut back funding.

Federal grants totaling $928.5 million, for more than 300 public transportation projects across America, were announced in Detroit this past week by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“The money will put people to work renovating and building much needed transit facilities, manufacturing new clean-fuel buses, and helping communities plan responsibly for their future transit needs,” said LaHood. He was joined in making the announcement by Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.

“Investing in America’s transit systems, rails, roads, ports, and airports will generate tens of thousands of construction-related jobs and put more money in the pockets of working Americans,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “But we must do more. Congress needs to pass the American Jobs Act so we can continue to invest in critically needed projects like these, to repair and rebuild our nation’s transportation system.”

The grants announced October 17, made available through the Federal Transit Administration’s fiscal year 2011 Alternatives Analysis, Bus Livability, and State of Good Repair Programs, will go toward replacing or refurbishing aging buses, building or improving bus terminals, garages, and other transit facilities, installing bus-related equipment, and conducting studies to help communities select the best transit options to meet future transportation needs.

“These grant funds will make sure that bus service in our communities remains reliable and desirable while putting thousands of Americans to work at the same time,” said Administrator Rogoff.  “By passing the American Jobs Act, Congress can accelerate these efforts and give the American people the opportunity to keep more of their paycheck in their wallet rather than hand it over at the gas pump.”

The grant selection process was highly competitive, and FTA reviewed 839 project applications representing $4.9 billion in funding requests from transit providers across the country for the Fiscal Year 2011 discretionary grants.    Examples of major projects receiving federal funds include:

The full list of selected projects can be found at http://fta.dot.gov/grants/13094.html


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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

Schneider National Partners With CN Rail
To Boost Cross-Border Intermodal Traffic

From Schneider National

GREEN BAY, WI. -- Schneider National has partnered with CN Rail to offer a new cross-border intermodal service.

The new service, called Canada Direct, aims to eliminate problems from cross-border rail moves, noted the press release, and offer truck-like service.

By capitalizing on their intermodal experience, Schneider claims it can reduce delays and pre-clear customers’ loads to move quickly across the border.

“We put down intermodal roots in Canada more than 20 years ago,” says Steve Van Kirk, senior vice president of intermodal commercial management for Schneider National.

This new relationship with CN also allows customers to receive priority placement on trains, Van Kirk added.


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At Heart Of The U.S. Freight Rail System
DOT Grant For Chicago Advances Grade Separation

From http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/

CHICAGO --- Chicago is at the center of the American freight rail system, handling 40% of U.S. rail freight on 500 daily trains. It forms the primary junction of the four biggest American freight rail companies — BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific — in addition to the two big Canadian carriers, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. But the complex and intertwined web of tracks that brings trains into and out of the city is hopelessly out of date and causing congestion that limits the number of both freight and passenger trains that can run there.

Last week, ground was broken on the Englewood Flyover, a major element of CREATE, a grand scheme to eliminate such delays in the Chicago area. CREATE— which stands for Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program — is a series of 67 individual projects that would speed up freight, commuter, and intercity rail by increasing trackage along heavily used routes and eliminating intersections between competing roads and rails.

Thanks to a significant federal grant, some of those delays will be eliminated.

The Englewood Flyover, but one of the hundreds of infrastructure projects reliant on funds from Washington, is designed to reduce train conflicts for the 130 trains that run through the intersection of the Metra Rock Island District commuter rail line and the Norfolk Southern/Amtrak line just south of 63rd Street and near I-90/I-94 on the South Side. Rock Island trains run between Joliet in the southwest suburbs and LaSalle Street station in the Loop; Amtrak trains connect Union Station with destinations in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

The two corridors currently intersect perpendicularly, meaning that trains can only pass through on one corridor at a time. A new bridge will not only separate the operations of the two rights-of-way, but will also increase the number of tracks on each line.

At $133 million, the Englewood Crossover is no major project when it comes to typical American infrastructure (one may question whether this cost is too high for a bridge and a few hundred feet of tracks), but the cumulative effect of similar investments is an improved rail system both for freight and passenger users.

Though this project is all about improving freight systems, the large majority of the project’s funding ($126 million) originated with the federal government and the DOT’s high-speed and intercity rail passenger program, the same funding source that has been much-maligned by GOP governors in states like Florida and Wisconsin. Illinois’ Jobs Now! Program (*) will fund the remaining costs.

The CREATE project is far from the only intercity and freight rail improvement project being funded through public sector financing. Though the high-speed rail program, with its marquee projects such as the link between San Francisco and Los Angeles, has commanded much of the discussion and controversy in recent months, more mundane improvements will play a significant part in keeping the country moving.

Earlier this month, CSX announced that one-third of its major National Gateway improvement project is either complete or under construction. This project is designed to create a double-decker freight corridor between Mid-Atlantic sea ports and the Midwest. The major program will cost almost a billion dollars by itself and will have a majority of its costs paid by public sector sources.

Meanwhile, slow-speed Amtrak celebrated last Thursday its highest ridership ever: 30 million riders in fiscal year 2011. It may not have the class or the efficiency of its counterparts abroad, but the national passenger railroad has steadily increased its role in the lifestyles of Americans — by almost 50% since 2001. But it faces annual grilling sessions in Congress by conservatives who think the government should get out of the rail business.

Neither the freight rail system, nor the passenger rail system, nor even the highway system, could survive without subsidies from the federal government.

Bipartisan “agreement” in the Congress in September produced a deal that will fund intercity rail projects at just $100 million in Fiscal Year 2012 — not enough even to afford the small Chicago project, not to mention the dozens of similar improvements that are vitally necessary to keep the U.S. rail system in a state of reasonable repair. Projects like the Englewood Flyover have little or nothing to do with true high-speed rail investments, but they have a lot to do with making sure people and goods can continue to get around as they have for the last century.

* A state-level stimulus funding program that is intended to eventually pump $31 billion into Illinois’ economy. In addition to funds for roads, schools, and more, $3 billion will be distributed for transit improvements, $550 million for intercity rail, and $322 million for the CREATE project.


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

NY Gov. Cuomo Appoints FRA’s Karen Rae,
Joseph Lhota To Key NYS Transportation Posts

From Progressive Railroading

ALBANY---New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has nominated Joseph Lhota as chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA); Nuria Fernandez as chief operating officer of MTA; and Karen Rae as deputy secretary of transportation in the governor’s office.

Since March 2009, Rae has served as deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), where she has managed the federal high-speed rail initiative, safety programs and regulatory initiatives, and helped develop national freight- and passenger-rail policies. She previously served as deputy commissioner of policy and planning at the New York State Department of Transportation. 

Lhota served as the New York City deputy mayor for operations under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, where he oversaw day-to-day management of the city and city agencies. He also served as budget director and commissioner of finance for New York City, and has been an MTA board member.

Fernandez currently is senior vice president of CH2M Hill, where she has been responsible for building the engineering firm’s strategic planning and consulting practice focused on urban environments and developing sustainable solutions for large-scale, mixed–use urban communities. 

Meanwhile, in other state transit news, the Massachusetts Port Authority board unanimously elected Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard Davey to head the seven-member board, which oversees the port. By statute, the transportation secretary serves as an ex officio member.


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AWARD LINES... Award Lines...  

Vermont Rail Action Network Honors
Wulfson, VRS, And NECR For Flood Reconstruction

From The Vermont Rail Action Network

MONTPELIER --- The Vermont Rail Action Network has honored New England Central Railroad, the Vermont Rail System, and VRS President David Wulfson for their work in restoring rail service to Vermont in the wake of Hurricane Irene’s massive destruction in that state in late August.

At its annual conference, VRAN celebrated the railroad’s restoration from Irene and gave two awards to honor the Vermont Rail System’s investment in the tracks used by the Ethan Allen and to recognize “…the incredible teamwork of the flood restoration” demonstrated by both major Vermont railroads.

David Wulfson, President of the Vermont Rail System, was given the Jim Jeffords Award as Community Rail Advocate of the Year, in recognition of his commitment to addressing the track issues that had caused timekeeping problems for Amtrak’s Ethan Allen.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin spoke, emphasizing his commitment to rail and its necessity for future environmental and economic benefits and presented Wulfson with the Jeffords’ award.

The Herb Ogden award for Rail Advocacy work was presented jointly to both railroads, the Vermont Rail System and the New England Central Railroad, in recognition of the heroic effort of recovering from Irene, which excepting one bridge, took just three weeks.

Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles presented the awards to the railroads, noting that the best advocacy is results.

The important role of the contractors who helped the railroads was highlighted by the Governor; Engineers Construction and R.J. Corman were present. Shumlin called the restoration “extraordinary.”

Freelance photojournalist Kevin Burkholder presented a slide show narrated by New England Central Railroad General Manager Kevin Coomes of the flood damage and repair as well as “high-speed” rail construction. Burkholder’s photos were also part of a presentation by Dave Wulfson, President of Vermont Rail System about the flood.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)77.4574.75
Canadian National (CNI)74.2673.23
Canadian Pacific (CP) 57.9853.97
CSX (CSX)21.7121.13
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)55.8554.19
Kansas City Southern (KSU)59.5458.36
Norfolk Southern (NSC)70.9068.17
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.1612.74
RailAmerica (RA)14.1514.04
Union Pacific (UNP)96.9691.97

Beginning August 29, 2011, we will be adding Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)
as an indicator for BNSF Railroad, as well as RailAmerica (RA).
 


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NEWS FROM AMTRAK... News From Amtrak...  

Important Northeast Corridor Travel Advisory

 

Amtrak Bridge Work In Eastern Connecticut
Impacts NYC-BOS Service November 5, 6

 

NEW YORK – After more than two years of preparation and construction, Amtrak is about to replace the two existing East/West Harbor bridge spans in Stonington, Conn., As a result of this work, Amtrak Northeast Regional service will be temporarily suspended between New York and Boston from 4:00 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5 through 12 noon, Sunday, Nov. 6.

No alternate transportation is being provided during that period, passengers are encouraged to make reservations on a number of Amtrak trains that are operating before the work begins on Saturday and after it concludes on Sunday. Amtrak New Haven-Springfield Shuttles and local commuter services are not affected and will operate as scheduled.

During the outage, Amtrak will replace the over 100-year old spans by using barges to remove the existing structures and float in the new bridges. This marks the final stage of the multi-year $22.1 million project, funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The work will also provide enhanced reliability and a more pleasant travel experience for passengers.

Passengers planning travel when train service is not available may contact intercity bus companies. Bus service between New York-New Haven-New London-Providence-Boston is available via Greyhound Lines Inc. (www.greyhound.com   1-800-231-2222), Peter Pan Bus Lines (www.peterpanbus.com    1-800-343-9999) and other companies.

The following cancellations and adjustments have been made to accommodate the scheduled bridge replacement work:

Saturday, November 5

Sunday, November 6


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OFF THE MAIN LINE... Off The Main Line...  

A Pocono Mountain Rail Adventure

By David Peter Alan
NCI Contributing Editor

Emergencies seem to happen all the time. Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, long underfunded in the capital department, have been beset by frequent breakdowns of the antiquated electrical system on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Other emergent situations occur far less frequently. This writer was on the westbound Sunset Limited six months ago, when it sat outside Marfa, Texas, because a grass fire had spread to a railroad bridge and damaged it. Any possible emergency can happen at any time and, unlike the regularly-occurring problems on the NEC in New Jersey, emergencies are, by definition, unexpected. That is why this writer and other rider advocates have been pushing for better emergency preparedness on Amtrak, NJT and other properties.

Saturday, October 15th was a day when there was little reason to expect another emergency. Steamtown, a railroad museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was sponsoring an excursion from the museum to East Stroudsburg, a college town and former stop on the historic Lackawanna Railroad. It was a “rare mileage” event and the rare mileage was part of the historic Lackawanna Railroad, also known as the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. The Lackawanna was justly famous for scenery, service and on-time performance. It was also a technically-advanced railroad, having built the famous Cutoff Line in western New Jersey in 1911. The line has been declared an engineering landmark, and there is currently an initiative to replace the tracks that have been removed from it and run passenger trains.

This is an initiative under study in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to restore service from Hoboken (with connections to and from Penn Station, New York) to Scranton, by rebuilding the Cutoff Line between Port Morris and the Delaware River on the New Jersey side, and upgrading the tracks on the Pennsylvania side, which are still in use for freight service. The Lackawanna Coalition, Penn-Jersey Rail Coalition and other rail advocates support this initiative, and New Jersey Transit is committed to building the first several miles of the line to a new park-and-ride facility in Andover, New Jersey.

The October 15th excursion presented an opportunity to ride some of the railroad where the Lackawanna Coalition is pushing for restoration of service. In addition, there would not be any freight service on the line that day. If there was ever a time when a train should be able to make its run without incident, that was the day.

A group of Lackawanna Coalition members, including this writer, boarded the train at 8:52 for the scheduled 9:00 a.m. departure. The train consisted of six antique coaches, formerly used for commuter service in New Jersey. There were two open-vestibule “Boonton Cars” and two cars that had been converted to electric multiple-unit (MU) service when the Morris & Essex Line was electrified in 1930. These four cars came from the Lackawanna Railroad. The other two cars came from the Central Railroad of New Jersey. All cars were built between 1910 and the early 1920s and this writer, along with other riders of suitable age, remembered commuting on them. The head end of the train boasted two ALCO (American Locomotive Company) F-3 engines; a back-to-back pair that sported the 1950s Lackawanna paint scheme of burgundy, gray and yellow.

The train passed along the lakes of the Poconos while climbing the mountains - a replication of some of the journey taken by intercity travelers and resort-goers of another era. The train passed beautiful stations in towns like Moscow, Tobyhanna, Gouldsboro (named after Jay Gould, an early railroad baron) and Cresco -- where trains have not stopped since 1970. We passed other historic places where New Jersey Transit has no plans to stop even if service on that line is restored.

Unfortunately, the experience was marred by the realization of the condition of the railroad. The trip was scheduled to take 70 minutes in 1969, but the once-mighty Lackawanna had become distressingly decrepit. There was a 30mph speed limit over most of the route, although several stretches were governed by slow orders, restricting speed to 10mph. Even at those slow speeds, the ride was not particularly smooth. If passenger service is to be restored and operated with contemporary equipment, it will be necessary to rebuild the railroad completely.

The 52-mile trip ended in Stroudsburg at 11:47, welcomed by a cheering crowd. There was an event scheduled that day, a celebration of progress on the restoration of the train station in town, a historic building that had been damaged by a fire two years ago. Until that time, it had served as a restaurant, where patrons could look at the empty tracks while they ate.

The speakers on the program praised the station for its historic function as a gathering place for the community. There was no mention of prospective future train service, or of restoring the historic building to its former role as a place where travelers received their first impression of the town. Despite the lack of outward support for the service restoration project, or perhaps even the lack of knowledge that it had even been proposed, the event was enjoyable. The live music was good, and the street fair was fun, even though there was no railroad-related merchandise for sale there. The historic railroad tower no longer controls the line, but it is still standing and looks much as it did when it was built in 1908. The levers are still in place and furnished a test of strength. After a visit to the tower, a walk around downtown and the historic houses of Washington Street, and a light lunch, it was time to board the train for the return trip to Scranton.

The train was scheduled to leave at 2:45 p.m., but did not depart until 3:00. The train made good time for a while, but it suddenly stopped, about 3:20. Nobody disclosed why. The train then backed down the hill to Analomink, a location about 10 miles west of East Stroudsburg, where NJT plans to build a park-and-ride station. There is nothing there currently, except a level stretch of ground where vehicles can come from a highway and get close to the railroad. The crew announced that school buses would meet the train there and take everybody back to Scranton.

Nobody on the train liked that news. Neither did anybody like the announcement at about 4:15 that it would take 35 or 40 minutes for the buses to reach the train. Neither did they like the announcement at 5:00 that the buses would be there in about 15 minutes. Neither did the like the waiting from 5:15 until 5:40, when the buses actually arrived.

Eight school buses paraded on the highway and over to a level spot about 100 feet from trainside. The crew told the passengers not to leave the train yet. After about five more minutes, at 5:45, the conductor announced that a rescue engine had arrived to pull the train to Scranton, so there would be no need for the school buses. They would be kept at Analomink, however, in case the train could not make it up the hill and had to back down into Analomink once more. There was a moment for some passengers to take pictures of the school buses, and then the train moved forward.

The trip back was reminiscent of the children’s book The Little Engine That Could. The train was now pulled by Steamtown’s last remaining operable diesel engine, a GP-9 built in the 1950s and sporting the paint scheme of the Nickel Plate Road, the railroad that combined with the Lackawanna to run through trains between Hoboken and Chicago during the golden age of intercity rail travel. The Nickel Plate ran the Buffalo-Chicago portion of the route.

The crew was sure that the train would make it back to Scranton, but many of the riders were not so sure. It seemed that everyone was cheering the GP-9 on, all the way to Pocono Summit and to Tobyhanna, where the railroad started on a downhill trajectory the rest of the way to Scranton. One rider, New Jersey advocate and Lackawanna Coalition member Jesse S. Gribin, said that it was “stupid and irresponsible” to count on the last operable engine on the Steamtown roster to bring the train home. Gribin was concerned that the one locomotive now had to pull two dead locomotive units (the F-3 units that got the train to East Stroudsburg in the first place), six heavyweight steel coaches and about 250 people on board.

It was later disclosed that an inspection at East Stroudsburg during the layover revealed that one of the units had already broken down. The other broke down as a result of an electrical problem. Those facts raised the issue of whether the rescue engine should have been dispatched form Scranton as soon as it was known that one of the F-3 units was inoperable. If it had been, that might have saved over an hour and improved the chances of getting the entire train back to Scranton safely.

Everyone cheered when the train passed Tobyhanna, and it became clear that the train and its riders would make it back to Scranton. The arrival scheduled for 5:00 actually occurred at 7:50, two hours and 50 minutes behind schedule. The excursion turned out to be more of an adventure than the riders had expected, and there were two lessons to remember from the experience: taking passenger trains off a railroad fosters significant deterioration, and emergency preparedness is always vital, whether on Amtrak, a busy railroad like New Jersey Transit, or an excursion line that only operates an occasional train.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Guest Commentary From ‘Pedestrian Observations’

 

The Tappan Zee Bridge
Replacement’s Outrageous Cost

By Alon Levy

[ Editor’s Note: When Are Projects “Too Expensive”? Here Is One View About Another Major New York Area Project Whose Costs Have Gone Off The Charts---
It Can Be Found At:
http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/the-tappan-zee-replacements-outrageous-cost/ ]

 

The Tappan Zee Bridge is about to fall down. As a result, the replacement and widening project is in spare-no-expense mode. Ordinarily, widening a bridge from seven lanes to ten would be judged in terms of costs and benefits, after which the costs would be ignored as they always are for US road projects. But now everyone thinks New York needs this project, to the point that even transit and livable streets advocates are more worried about commuter rail tracks on the new bridge than about the costs of the entire project.

Cap’n Transit cribbed study numbers before they disappeared from the official website. The budget of the project, without the transit component, was about $7 billion, and is now up to $8.3 billion; this includes highway widenings at both ends. The transit component people are fretting about is another $1 billion for BRT and $6.7 billion for commuter rail.

To put things in perspective, consider the Øresund Bridge-Tunnel complex (editor’s note: OBT connects Sweden and Denmark and two major cities, Malmo in Sweden and Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. It is also the longest railroad bridge in Europe.)

Whereas the Tappan Zee is 5 kilometers of bridge, Øresund consists of 8 kilometers of bridge, an artificial island with 4 additional kilometers of road, and 4 kilometers of tunnel. The cost, including landworks on both sides, was a little more than € 3 billion in 2000, which works out to $5.5 billion in 2010. The bridge-tunnel is narrower than the Tappan Zee replacement - four lanes of traffic plus two tracks of rail - but it’s also three times as long, and more complex because of the tunnel.

More importantly, if the Tappan Zee really needs that capacity, and width is such a constraint, they should build rail first, BRT second, and car lanes last. Roads will never beat mass transit on capacity per unit width of right-of-way. With all traffic from Rockland to Westchester County funneled through one chokepoint, and some centralization of employment (in Manhattan, White Plains, and Tarrytown), rail could work if it were given the chance. So the only environment in which a bridge with so many traffic lanes is justified is one in which the cost of ten lanes is not much more than the cost of four.

To be completely fair to irate Rockland County residents, more people use the Tappan Zee than Øresund, since the tolls are lower and it’s a commuter route. But not enough. The bridge is crossed by 138,000 vehicles per day. This means the replacement and widening project, excluding all transit improvements, is $60,000 per car. With normal commuter seat occupancy, it’s perhaps $50,000 per person. Transit projects in the US routinely go over this, but those are for the most part very low-ridership commuter rail projects. Second Avenue Subway, the most expensive urban subway in the world per kilometer, is about $25,000 per expected weekday rider.

Given the high cost, the only correct response is a true no-build: dismantle the bridge, and tell people to ride ferries or live on the same side of the Hudson as their workplace. Given expected ridership and Øresund costs, I believe the Tappan Zee replacement would make sense at $3 billion, with the transit components; without, make it a flat $2 billion. Go much above it and it’s just too cost-ineffective. Not all travel justifies a fixed link at any cost.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2011 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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