The U.S. Conference of Mayors Monday released a new report stressing the positive impact of high speed rail on various U.S. corridors, citing four specific cities as examples. The four cities—Los Angeles, Chicago, Orlando, Fla., and Albany, N.Y. —could significantly benefit from high speed rail (HSR) with as many as 150,000 new jobs and some $19 billion in new business revenues created in total, the report said.
Prepared by the Economic Development Research Group and sponsored by Siemens Mobility, the report, conducted from January through May of 2010, assessed high speed intercity passenger rail’s economic impact on the city,metropolitan, and regional economies. It examined job creation, the effects of improved market access, greater connectivity, work-related travel time savings, and increased income and business sales.
The full report can be accessed at usmayors.org/highspeedrail.
Specific findings show that HSR in the U.S. could significantly increase jobs and business sales if fully implemented as planned by 2035. Higher potential impacts were noted when travel times between cities were reduced to under three hours.
The study also demonstrated that HSR service could help drive higher-density, mixed-use development projects surrounding the stations, ranging from current station additions in Chicago, to new hotel development in Orlando and Albany, as well as additional large-scale developments adjacent to Union Station in Los Angeles. Such local development, the report says, could help create approximately 30,000 new jobs across these four cities alone.
“Transportation is the backbone of America’s economy,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of The United States Conference of Mayors. “Our country cannot successfully compete in the global economy if we fail to invest adequately in our domestic transportation infrastructure, particularly in cities and their metropolitan areas —which underpin so much of our country's economic input. And that investment should include dedicated federal funding for high speed intercity passenger rail service in the pending authorization of the federal surface transportation law.”
Total new business and job growth projections, as provided by the report, include:
In Los Angeles, up to $7.6 billion per year innew business, including $4.3 billion per year in Gross Regional Product (GRP) growth and up to 55,000 jobs.
In Chicago, up to $6.1 billion per year in new business, including up to $3.6 billion per year in GRP growth and up to 42,000 jobs.
In Orlando, up to $2.9 billion per year in new business, including up to $1.7 billion per year in GRP growth and up to 27,500 jobs.
In Albany, up to $2.5 billion per year in new business, including up to $1.4 billion per year in GRP growth and up to 21,000 jobs.
Additionally, HSR’s projected larger flow of passengers will lead to increased tourism and business travel, generating additional spending at local hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. Projections show that by 2035, HSR can annually add roughly $255 million in the Orlando area; $147 million in the Los Angeles area; more than $100 million in the Albany-Saratoga area; and $42 million in the Chicago area.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,204 suchcities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. More information about the Conference is available at usmayors.org.
Canadian National and TSI Terminal Systems Inc. (TSI), the largest container terminal operator in Canada, announced Friday that they have entered into a supply chain collaboration agreement to “enhance service levels to their mutual customers and draw greater volumes of container traffic over Port Metro Vancouver.”
The announcement said the CN-TSI pact complements CN’s recent agreement with Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) designed to promote balanced accountability among all Port stakeholders.
TSI handles 70% of the containerized cargo moving through the two terminals it operates under long-term lease at the port.
Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN, said: “TSI is an important partner of CN in serving the international steamship container lines calling at Port Metro Vancouver. This agreement aims to improve supply chain performance at the port by establishing a close working relationship with TSI in support of increased efficiency and service innovation.”
Seattle’s Sound Transit wants to extend its growing light rail transit system 1.6 miles south into the city of SeaTac by 2016, ahead of schedule by four-to-six years. The segment would extend LRT from SeaTac/Airport Station to a new elevated station near South 200th Street and International Boulevard South, offering expanded parking and improved rail/bus links.
An expedited opening also would dovetail with the planned opening of the north-end Capitol Hill Tunnel, allowing riders to reach the University of Washington from the south suburbs.
But Sound Transit needs to secure roughly $34 million in grants, and make a board decision in spring 2011 to launch construction on the link, expected to cost more than $300 million, said Ron Lewis, Sound Transit deputy director for business services.
Lewis said the proposed extension would be elevated in large measure because elevated right-of-way would minimize conflicts with airpor tloop roads, as well as busy South 188th Street. Also, a dip in the terrain thwarts a surface layout, he said.
Maine voters have approved a bond issue to preserve 240 miles of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway from threatened abandonment by its owners.
“It's a new investment in a new system. It’s always been roads, roads, roads,” said Tony Donovan of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition. “In Aroostook County, central Maine, and western Maine, here’s a chance to look at a new alternative transportation system. It’s time to move in a new direction for rail transportation.”
The $47.8 million bond also contains funds for highway and marine purposes.
The abandonment case is in mediation at the Surface Transportation Board.
U.S. carload freight traffic for the week ending June 5 rose a modest 4.0% compared with the comparable week in 2009, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. Intermodal traffic for the same week edged up 1.6%. AAR noted that the week included the Memorial Day holiday in 2010. Both categories were still below levels for the comparable 2008 period, down 16.4% and 18.9%, respectively.
AAR said 10 of the 19 carload commodities increased from the comparable week in 2009, with metallic ores, up 208%, and metals and metal products, up 69.8%, posting the largest gains. Only one commodity group—the“all other carloads” category—posted an increase over 2008 levels.
Canadian railroads reported carload freight traffic up a substantial 25.5% from a year ago, while intermodal rose a nearly identical 25.4%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload freight traffic rose 25.3%, while intermodal climbed 51.3%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 22 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 10.1% compared with the comparable period in 2009, while intermodal rose 11.7% for the same period.
The Surface Transportation Board announced Thursday that it has scheduled a public hearing for July 29 on a case that will decide whether a railroad may refuse service to coal shippers who do not follow the railroad's rules on coal dust dispersal.
The case, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation—Petition for Declaratory Order, Docket No. FD 35305, questions whether BNSF Railway may set rules on coal dust dispersion from trains operating over its lines and refuse to provide rail service to non-compliant shippers. The STB will decide if this is an “unreasonable” practice and whether it violates the railroad’s common carrier obligation.
The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at STB Headquarters, 395 E Street SW, Washington, D.C. It will be open to the public, but only parties of record in the case will be permitted to speak. Parties wishing to participate must file a notice of intent no later than June 18.
A video broadcast of the hearing will be available through the Board's website at www.stb.dot.gov.
Wabtec Corp. announced Thursday that its Wabtec Rail unit in Doncaster, England has won a $37 million contract to overhaul 90 transit cars for DB Regio Tyne & Wear Ltd. The project is expected to run through 2015, with the work to be performed at Wabtec Rail's facility in Doncaster.
DBTW operates trains on the Tyne & Wear Metro. The refurbishment will include improvements to both the passenger and driver areas of the cars, with the goal of extending their service life to 2025.
The project is part of a $600 million modernization of the Metro system, which is owned and managed by Nexus.
Taking advantage of "an economically favorable construction environment, BNSF Railway says it will begin work this month on replacing seven approach spans on the Mississippi River bridge at Burlington, Iowa, which it is rebuilding to "21st century engineering standards."
The work will complement a separate project that began last year to replace the bridge’s swing span with a new lift span over the navigation channel. Walsh Construction of Chicago will be the prime contractor on the approach span project, which is scheduled to be completed by December 2011.
The replacement approach spans will have new reinforced concrete foundations with 250-foot steel bridge spans.
BNSF said the bridge is used by about 30 trains a day, including two Amtrak trains linking Chicago to Denver. The bridge opens about 300 times a month to let river traffic pass. About 24 million tons of waterborne commerce passed through the bridge in 2008.
“The Burlington Bridge is a vital link in our nation’s transportation infrastructure," said David Freeman, vice president, Engineering, BNSF. "The new approaches will improve the Bridge’s overall rail capacity for freight and passenger movement. Together with the new lift span, these approaches will mean an entirely new bridge that will benefit Iowa and Illinois, as well as customers and passengers all along the BNSF Chicago to Denver corridor.”
He said is also continuing on replacement of the Bridge’s old swing span with a modern lift span, which will increase the river navigation channel width from 150 feet to 307 feet 6 inches. Ames Construction is the contractor on the lift span project, which is scheduled to be completed by March 2011. In addition to the lift span, one fixed span on the east side will be replaced with three smaller, temporary spans.
The lift span project is financed primarily through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and previous appropriations under the Truman-Hobbs Act, which provides federal funding for altering bridges found to be unreasonably obstructive to navigation. The Burlington Bridge is one of the top three U.S. bridges most frequently struck by barges or towing vessels.
At a meeting in Zaragoza, Spain, Wednesday, officials from Spain, France, and Portugal advanced a plan to coordinate high speed rail development among the three nations, using a template similar to that used by Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands overseeing Thalys HSR service.
The declaration of intent signed by the transport ministers of the three nations called for the creation of a joint cross-border passenger company, the French transport ministry said in a statement.
French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said that austerity measures adopted by the three countries in reaction to Europe’s current economic crisis would not affect the advancement of HSR ongoing within the three nations.