Numerous U.S. states, singly or in groups, have jockeyed for a portion of the $8 billion in federal stimulus funds to advance one of 10 proposed high speed rail routes nationwide. Subtract the state of New Hampshire from the competition, at least for now.
The Granite State’s Department of Transportation says it will not submit a $300 million funding request, and blames freight railroad Pan Am Railways for the latter’s uncooperative stance in establishing a 39-mile “New Hampshire Capitol Corridor” route. The state already has applied for $1.4 million in planning funds.
Said DOT Commissioner George Campbell, "By walking away from this unique and exciting initiative, Pan Am has effectively closed the window on strengthening New Hampshire's economy. Our citizens and businesses along this corridor deserve better transportation choices than they have today."
Pan Am Railways owns the right-of-way for the route, identified by New Hampshire for service running roughly northwest of Boston’s North Station to New Hampshire locations including Nashua, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and Concord. Amtrak's Downeaster service currently traverses the state on a coastal route linking Boston and Portland, Maine, stopping in New Hampshire at Dover, Durham (University of New Hampshire), and Exeter.
Mark Richardson, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Railroad Revitalization Association, said that if HSR is established linking Montreal and Boston via Vermont instead of New Hampshire, New Hampshire would lose an economic opportunity.
David Fink, president of Pam Am Railways in North Billerica, Mass., said he would be willing to negotiate with Amtrak if Amtrak approached him about using the rail line between Concord and Nashua for passenger rail. "I do business with Amtrak every day," Fink said. "They run the Downeaster for me every day. They're business partners." But Fink said any focus on HSR for New Hampshire was misplaced.
Los Angeles-based AECOM Technology Corp. Wednesday said it has been awarded a $19.3 million extension contract, the first of three possible one-year option periods, from Dallas Area Rapid Transit to complete the second phase of its light rail expansion program.
Included in the second phase is completion of DART’s 26.5-mile Green Line and 20-mile expansion of DART’s Orange and Blue lines. AECOM will provide a variety of project control, system integration, and staff support services.
“AECOM has worked closely with DART for nearly two decades," said AECOM President and Chief Executive Officer John M. Dionisio. “We are proud to continue this relationship as we enhance the mass transit systems of Dallas.”
AECOM’s work on the current light rail contract began during 2002; the company says the contract has a value of $58.1 million to date.
The Long Island Rail Road's $6.5 billion East Side Access Project reached another milestone Tuesday with the award of a $659 million contract covering what is known as the Queens Bored Tunnels and Structures phase. The joint venture of Granite Construction Northeast Inc., Traylor Bros., and Frontier-Kemper Constructors, Inc. received a "full notice to proceed" as part of the contract.
MTA Capital Construction Co.said this phase will provide the last major link in the tunnels from Queens to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. When completed, riders will have a direct route from Long Island and eastern Queens to Manhattan’s East Side.
The new contract covers the excavation and the precast concrete lining of four bored tunnels beneath an active rail storage yard. Totaling over 10,000 linear feet or nearly two miles in length and approximately 22 feet in diameter, the tunneling will utilize two 500-ton boring machines. The work also includes three emergency exits, underpinning of existing bridges, and demolition of various railyard buildings. Work is to begin immediately and is estimated to take 42 months to complete.
Seattle’s City Council Transportation Committee has given its blessing to a two-mile First Hill streetcar line, to serve Seattle’s Capitol Hill, First Hill, and International District areas and connect to the city’s recently opened Link light rail transit line. Connections to Sounder regional rail services also would be offered.
Under the plan approved by the committee, Sound Transit would pay up to $132 million between 2009 and 2014 to construct the new line and the city would manage it.
The First Hill Streetcar project would be the second new Seattle streetcar operation, following the debut of the South Lake Union Streetcar in late December 2007. The First Hill project was approved last November by voters as part of the regional, $18 billion Sound Transit expansion plan.
U.S. light rail operations seldom expand beyond a single state; St. Louis Metro’s MetroLink light rail is a prime exception, while TriMet is willing to grow its LRT operations in Portland, Ore., across the Columbia River into Vancouver, Wash. But two sister cities, one on each side of the Rio Grande, are proposing reinstating light rail service across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Juarez, Mexico, Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz and most of the Juarez City Council have accepted a resolution from their El Paso, Tex., council counterparts pledging that the two cities will work to re-establish a rail link, most likely LRT, between the two cities. The cities also said they’ll support the creation of a high speed rail line from the state of Chihuahua, which includes the city of Juarez, to Denver.
Ferriz said concerns likely to be voiced by U.S. Customs over immigration enforcement would be the biggest obstacle faced by the two cities in any joint effort. But the economic benefit to both cities would be substantial, he said. "The amount of flow that will come to our communities will more than pay for any public investment that is made to get the rail lines out of there," he said.
El Paso and Juarez were linked by streetcar service until the early 1970s.
Straddled with budget woes that have put a severe strain onexisting light rail and bus services, St. Louis Metro nonetheless is solicitinginput to develop a long-term plan to expand service reach and boost ridership,and is actively seeking options based on other U.S. rail transit operations.
Among other ideas, Metro is pondering diesel multiple-unit(DMU) or diesel light rail transit (DLRT) for suburban rail service, comparableto the beleaguered, delayed startup in Austin, Tex. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)operations, modeled after Los Angeles, are also being suggested, as is theimplementation of smart cards.
Bob Baer, recently named Metro's chief executive, andJessica Mefford-Miller, chief of planning and system development, hosted aninvitation-only forum Tuesday with local leaders, mostly area mayors and othergovernment officials, to begin the process. Eight public forums are to follow,beginning next month, to craft a plan including five-year, 10-year, and 30-yeartimelines. "The vision will be bottom-up based on what the community wantsand expects," Mefford-Miller said.
A draft of the options to enhance service will be releasedthe week of Dec. 7, after which the public will be able to comment again,before a revised draft plan is released early next year.
Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Tuesday said federal statistics show that inattentive drivers contribute to approximately 3% of all vehicle-train crashes at highway-rail grade crossings. In addition, 20% of grade crossing collisions involve motor vehicles striking trains at a crossing. A total of 2,397 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in 2008,resulting in 286 deaths and more than 900 injuries.
The national, nonprofit railroad safety education organization said it was making public the statistics prior to the two-day Distracted Driving Summit, beginning Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
“Distracted driving can lead to serious consequences at highway-rail grade crossings,” said OLI President Helen M.Sramek, who will attend the meeting. “In addition to the tragic deaths and injuries caused by car-train collisions, these events also are costly for communities. Emergency responders and roadways can be tied up for hours, keeping responders from other community emergencies and drivers from their jobs and homes.”
Former Federal Railroad Administrator Gil Carmichael, who also is the founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Intermodal Transportation Institute (ITI) at the University of Denver, will provide closing remarks at Railway Age’s 16th Annual Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads Conference, to be held October 19-20 at the Washington Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Carmichael will summarize the two-day conference dedicated to developing common ground among passenger and freight rail interests and address the need for anethical, holistic approach to solving the nation's 21st century transportation problems. His talk will focus on how freight and passenger rail systems can work together to develop an ethical, holistic, intermodal transportation system.
“I look forward to this significant transportation conference and taking partin the many freight and passenger issues it will address,” said Carmichael. “Its goal is to address a new vision of American transportation that helps solve the challenges of creating a new intermodal system that will build up on the strengths of each mode, will reduce congestion, will reduce injuries and deaths, will be environmentally benign, will not waste fuel, will not cost too much to use, and will provide ongoing economic stability.”
Other speakers addressing the Railway Age event include: Matt Rose, Chairman, President, and CEO of BNSF, who will be the keynote speaker, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, and Amtrak President Joseph Boardman.
Registration is available online at www.railwayage.com/conferences/passenger-trains-on-freight-railroads.html, or by contacting Railway Age Conference Director Jane Poterala at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pittsburgh-based L.B. Foster Co. said Tuesday it has been awarded a $2.1 million contract to supply direct fixation fasteners and bonded insulated joints for the first phase of the new Dallas Area Rapid Transit Orange Line, running from Dallas’ city center to Irving, Tex.
L.B. Foster is coordinating product shipments to the Northwest Corridor Expansion project to meet the scheduling requirements of the general contractor joint venture, Kiewit/Stacy and Witbeck/Reyes/Parsons Corp. "The contractor recognized our hard earned reputation for quality rail products and project management," said Dennis Bachtel, L.B. Foster's Western Regional manager within the Rail Products Group.
L.B. Foster direct fixation fasteners provide noise and vibration dampening, electrical isolation, and ease of installation. The DF fasteners are manufactured by the Transit Products unit of L.B. Foster to meet the standards established for DART's systems.
The DF fastener design has been rigorously tested at L.B. Foster's rail specific development and testing laboratory in Atlanta. The bonded insulated joints are produced by L.B. Foster's Allegheny Rail Products at facilities in Niles, Ohio, and in Pueblo, Colo.
"The reliability and long life cycle of this insulated joint is respected by freight and passenger railroads worldwide," said L.B. Foster Rail Products Group Senior Vice President Sam Fisher.
Three construction phases of the Northwest Corridor Expansion Project will expand the DART Orange Line from Dallas to the terminals of DFW International Airport. Phase One construction began in May and is scheduled to be completed next April.