With Railway Age since 1992, Bill Vantuono has broadened and deepened the magazine's coverage of the technological revolution that is so swiftly changing the industry. He has also strengthened Railway Age's leadership position in industry affairs with the conferences he conducts on operating passenger trains on freight railroads and communications-based train control.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday announced $1.58 billion for 28 public transit items, to be funded by Fiscal Year 2011 Section 5309 “New Starts” allocations. Rail transit projects made out exceptionally well, with 16 items garnering more then $1.33 billion, or more than 84%, of the total funding.
LaHood (pictured at left) said the projects will improve public transportation access for millions of Americans while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and curbing air pollution.
“Investing in a modern transportation network is a key part of President Obama’s strategy to win the future by out-building and out-competing the rest of the world,” LaHood said. “America's long-term economic success requires investing now in transportation infrastructure capable of moving people and goods more safely, efficiently and quickly than ever before.”
Added Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, “Our investments in expanding America's transit networks will not only improve reliable transportation access for communities across the country, they will support construction jobs and economic development, and, a more efficient and reliable transit network means new opportunities for Americans to keep more of their paychecks in their wallets and spend less at the gas pump.”
Colorado and Texas were two big winners for rail projects. Denver, in particular, will benefit from $40 million for its East Corridor rail project, $40 million for its Gold Line, and $40 million for its West Corridor light rail transit project.
Dallas gets $86.2 million to continue expanding light rail service through DART’s Northwest/Southeast LRT Minimum Operable Segment (MOS), while intrastate rival Houston will receive $75 million for its North Corridor LRT and another $75 million for Houston’s Southeast Corridor LRT.
New York and Utah also did well. Two New York City rail projects were awarded large sums--$215 million for the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access project, and $197 million for Second Avenue Subway Phase 1 construction. For Utah, Salt Lake City’s Mid Jordan LRT received $100 million, while the state capital’s Weber County to Salt Lake City Commuter Rail project notched $80 million.
Other rail projects include: $23 million for the Perris Valley Metrolink extension southeast from Riverside, Calif.; San Francisco’s Central Subway LRT project, netting $20 million; Orlando’s still uncertain Central Florida Commuter Rail Transit [SunRail]—Initial Operating Segment, $40 million; Honolulu’s High Capacity Transit Corridor Project, $55 million; St. Paul, Minn.’s Central Corridor LRT, now beginning construction, $45 million; northern Virginia’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Extension was awarded $96 million; and Seattle’s University Link LRT extension landed $110 million.
Groundbreaking ceremonies are scheduled for this Thursday for Portland’s 7.3-mile light rail extension to the suburban city of Milwaukie, beginning at the Willamette River, where a multimodal transit bridge will be built.
The extension, expected to cost $1.49 billion, will extend TriMet MAX service from Portland State University to downtown Milwaukie. The bridge, costing $134 million, will handle numerous modes, including LRT and buses, and eventually carry streetcars between inner west and east Portland as part of the Portland Streetcar loop. Auto access is not anticipated.
Funding sources include the Federal Transit Administration, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Lottery, Metro, TriMet, Clackamas County, the city of Portland, and the city of Milwaukie.
A United Transportation conductor died and another wasinjured in a fiery grade crossing collision at Fallon, Nev., last Friday thatalso took the lives of five other people. The story behind that story is toldin a tribute posted Wednesday on the union's website, www.utu.org. Someexcerpts:
American Trucking Associations (ATA) Chief Economist Bob Costello says tuck tonnage has encountered a "slow patch."
He said ATA's seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.3% in May after declining 0.6% in April. He said he remained optimistic that tonnage will improve in the second half.
The Bedford Report, which provides Market Research, noted that fuel costs have led many truckers to move loads to rail intermodal.
Streetcars in the nation’s capital won’t return until late 2013, one year later than the most recent target date, according to the District Department of Transportation. Washington, D.C. is proceeding with two initial streetcar segments, on H Street Northeast and in Anacostia, as the germination points for a citywide system of 37 miles. “2013 is what we are telling people now," says DDOT spokesman John Lisle. "We're probably looking at the fall of 2013.”
Among other delays, the city still must resolve the construction of a storage facility under a bridge on H Street behind Union Station, which has generated concern at Amtrak.
Scott Kubly, director of DDOT’s Progressive Transportation Services Administration, earlier this month expressed confidence that Washington would continue to lead the way in area streetcar development, noting “other parts of the region are catching on” to streetcar development. Kubly made the comments addressing the American Public Transportation Association Rail Conference in Boston.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Wednesday announced that transit providers will be able to compete for a share of $101.4 million in federal funding by proposing innovative projects that create “green” jobs, promote the use of clean fuels, and cut U.S. dependence on oil.
The winning proposals, which can be found here, were chosen from among 274 applications from across the U.S. Bus and Bus Rapid Transit operations are the predominant winners, but some rail-related projects were identified. Among them: A $341,694 grant to the Illinois Department of Transportation to install anti-idling systems to Metra locomotives to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.; $1.2 million to install a geothermal system for the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit Operations and Maintenance and Support Facility in Minneapolis to provide heat, cooling, and hot water for the facility; roughly $2.5 million for New Jersey Transit to install electric rail switch heaters to improve safety and operational efficiency in colder weather; and $4.2 million for Portland, Ore.’s
TriMet to retrofit light rail transit vehicles for on-board energy storage to capture and reutilize braking energy.
The money is being provided competitively through the Federal Transit Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 Sustainability Initiative, which includes funding from two programs: $51.5 million from FTA’s Clean Fuels Grant Program and $49.9 million from FTA’s Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) III Program.
In addition to announcing competitive funds available through the Sustainability Initiative, the FTA Wednesday also issued similar notices for two additional competitive programs: the $750 million State of Good Repair Initiative, which targets U.S. transit agencies' maintenance and repair backlogs, and the $175 million Livability Expansion Initiative, which will fund investments that support the DOT-HUD-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
U.S. railroads reported 225 fatalities to the Federal Railroad Administration in this year’s first four months, an 8.7% increase compared with the corresponding period last year. Trespasser fatalities increased 14% to 130. Highway-rail grade crossing accidents declined 1.2% to 85. There were seven employee fatalities compared with six in the prior-year period. The FRA data show that 737 reporting railroads recorded a total of 3,421 incidents/accidents in January-April 2011, down 8.3% from last year. The number of collisions increased 17.5% to 47, and derailments increased 5.7% to 479. Yard accidents declined 2.8% to 343.
[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the safety figures to the Surface Transportation Board.]