Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012 weekly rail news

I'm late this week, though things seem to have been fairly quiet. Many of the the things that happened this week were previewed in last week's edition, such as the ramp-up for another season of heavy construction for the Central Corridor/Green Line in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

There has been a fair amount of local coverage of the worries of local business owners who will see continued traffic disruptions along University Avenue and other construction zones. Things are supposed to be better this year because the Metropolitan Council has spent time working with contractors—especially Walsh Construction of Chicago who generated a lot of criticism for their work in Saint Paul—to clarify guidelines and raise standards for things like pedestrian access in construction zones. The first days have still brought confusion, however—the Let There Be Light Rail blog noted that things have been confusing near the border of Minneapolis and Saint Paul at Emerald Street, with confusing lane shifts happening in the intersection at Berry Street as well as contradictory signage for bus #8 put up by Metro Transit.

This past week I participated in a community workshop for a statewide bicycle study underway by Mn/DOT and an open house by Metro Transit for their arterial transit/rapid bus study. They were enjoyable events to participate in since they both allowed a lot of good ideas to circulate around, though there's a bit of a question what will come of all of it. I'm most confused by the bike study at the moment, though that probably has another round or two of public meetings before it's done. The rapid bus study resulted in corridors along Snelling Avenue and West 7th Street in Saint Paul bubbling up to the top of the list for quick implementation, though many other corridors (especially in Minneapolis) had higher ridership. One of the big hold-ups for those other routes are ongoing or planned alternatives analyses (such as along Nicollet and Central). They'd better move quickly in Saint Paul, however, since the city has recently been making noises about streetcar projects that could spin off AA studies pretty soon too.

Alex had an article on covering the Minneapolis Transportation and Public Works Committee, including discussion of the cable anchor plate failures on the Sabo Bridge that caused disruptions to bike, pedestrian, car, and light-rail traffic along Hiawatha Avenue last month.

Outside of Minnesota...

Seemingly not wanting to be left behind with coverage of faster trains in Michigan last month, the Illinois Department of Transportation says that the first 18-mile segment of track capable of 110 mph travel in that state should be ready for testing by fall. The segment runs between the towns of Pontiac and Dwight.


In my previous post, I noted there was a derailment of a VIA Rail train in Burlington, Ontario, Canada that resulted in the deaths of two engineers and a trainee (with 20 years of experience with freight trains, but new to passenger service) who were in the locomotive. The derailment occurred along an 80-mph corridor when the train hit a crossover switch that was supposed to be taken at 15 mph. It now appears the train was going 67 mph when it hit the switch, fast enough for the locomotive to jump off of its bogies.

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