The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognizes Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink) for its commitment to sustainability. Also, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) issues a notice to proceed for utility relocation work along Dillingham Boulevard; and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) seeks federal funding for San Antonio rail service.
Member public transit agencies and businesses that voluntarily choose to join the program “pledge to implement processes and actions that create continuous improvements in environmental, social and economic sustainability,” according to APTA. They earn Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze Level recognition based on specific measurable achievements, the association said. Since the Sustainability Commitment Program was established in 2009, 135 organizations have signed on; 49 have received higher level recognition.
Metrolink received Gold for working “tirelessly to honor [its] commitment to sustainability,” despite many challenges posed by the pandemic, APTA reported. To ease environmental impacts, it has installed a train wash-water reclamation system, upgraded a storm water management system, purchased electric non-revenue vehicles, and recycled e-waste products, among other measures.
On the social equity front, Metrolink conducted an accessibility and affordability study, and created an Equity Atlas, a map-based tool to assess the geographic distribution of marginalized communities.
Additionally, Metrolink became the first passenger rail agency in the nation to power 100% of its locomotives with renewable fuel in February 2022, APTA reported.
“We are thrilled to recognize the continued work of Metrolink as they build service for a more sustainable future,” APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said. “Metrolink’s leadership in the sustainability and social equity realms, and the successful results of their actions, serves as a road map and an inspiration to other agencies.”
Hawaii’s HART on Oct. 11 reported issuing a notice to proceed to Nan, Inc., for the relocation of utilities along Dillingham Boulevard from the corner of Kamehameha Highway and Laumaka Street to the corner of Dillingham Boulevard and Kaaahi Street. Nan was awarded the $496.3 million contract in August.
The major scope elements for utility relocations include storm drainage, sanitary sewer, water main, gas/fuel, electrical and communications infrastructure, and roadway improvements. Other elements include traffic signal systems, street lighting and service reconnections.
Physical construction is expected to begin before the end of 2022 and be completed by first-quarter 2026, according to HART.
Earlier this fall, the Federal Transit Administration signed off on HART’s 2022 Recovery Plan documenting how the 20-mile, 21-station rail line in O‘ahu between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center will be completed within the amount of funding available.
TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams in an Oct. 5 letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has requested funding to expand several passenger rail corridors, including “‘new and enhanced, conventional intercity options’ along traffic-clogged Interstate 35, which runs north-south through the state,” the San Antonio Current reported on Oct 11.
“The proposed projects outlined in the letter include an increase in service on Amtrak’s Texas Eagle line connecting San Antonio and Dallas and additional hauls on the Sunset Limited between the Alamo City and Houston,” according to the newspaper. “Currently, the Texas Eagle only runs four days a week, while the Sunset Limited operates on a tri-weekly basis. … The proposal also includes expanding the Texas Eagle Line south, connecting San Antonio with the Rio Grande Valley and adding a new station on the Sunset Limited Line in Flatonia—located between San Antonio and Houston—to expand rural service.”
The request is in response to FRA’s establishment earlier this year of the Corridor Identification Program, which will be funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to the newspaper, which noted that the TxDOT effort “follows a slew of failed public and private projects, including the troubled Dallas to Houston high speed rail line and the since cancelled Lone Star Rail District train line between San Antonio and Austin.”