9-line access access management access point accessibility ADA air quality alignment amenity antiplanner atlanta BART BID bike Blogs boston branded bus branded buses brookings brt bus Bus Rapid Transit BYU capacity car pool cars central link Centrality certification commuter rail condo congestion congestion pricing connections consistency coverage crossings CRT cycling DART dedicated dedicated right of way density denver depreciation developers development economics efficiency Envision Utah equity eugene exclusive extension FAQ favela Federal Funding Flex Bus florida free fare zone freeways Frequent Transit Network frontrunner frontunner Gallivan garden cities gas prices geotagging goat Google grade-separation Granary District growth headway heavy rail hedonic High Speed Rail history housing housing affordability housing bubble housing prices HOV income infill innovative intersections intensity ITS junk science LA land use LEED legacy city light rail linear park location LRT lyft M/ART malls mapping maps metrics metro MetroRail missoula mixed mixed traffic mixed-traffic mobile mode choice Mode Share multi-family MXD neighborhood networks news NIMBY office online op-ed open letter Operations parking parking meters peak travel pedestrian environment phasing Photomorphing planning Portland property property values Provo proximity quality_transit rail railvolution rant rapid rapid transit RDA real estate redevelopment reliability research retail Ridership ridesharing right of way roadway network ROW salt lake city san diego schedule schedule span seattle separated shuttle silver line single family SLC SLC transit master plan slums smartphone snow sprawl standing stop spacing streetcar streetscape streetscaping subdivision subsidy Sugarhouse Sugarhouse Streetcar Tacoma taxi technology tenure termini time-separation TOD townhouse traffic signal tram transit transit networks transit oriented development Transit Planning transponder transportation travel time TRAX trip planning trolley tunnel uber university of utah urban design urban economics urban land UTA UTA 2 Go Trip Planner utah Utah County Utah Transit Authority vmt walking distance web welfare transit Westside Connector WFRC wheelchairs zoning

Monday, August 6, 2012

"UTA only knows how to build Light Rail'

I was looking at the illustrations for Sugarhouse Streetcar, and the criticism that UTA only knows how to build light rail sings true. Sugarhouse Streetcar looks like a TRAX line--a dedicated corridor, with a gravel bed and fences along both sides. I've ridden streetcar systems in Portland and Barcelona. Like the name suggests, streetcars run in the street...sometimes on the edge, sometimes down a center median.

UTA built most of the TRAX system using old railway corridor (Sandy--SLC--Mid-Jordan) and seems to be comfortable and familiar doing so. It certainly makes sense to do so. Building in an existing corridor reduces utility conflicts, and makes the property acquisition for right of way relatively simple.

Cost-wise, I know that the per-mile costs associated with running TRAX light rail through Salt Lake City on city streets was fairly high compared to the initial Sandy-Salt Lake stretch, and certainly more complex in terms of traffic engineering, and the need to come to negotiated agreements with UDOT and Salt Lake City.

The next phase of the Sugarhouse Streetcar will have to be along roadway (east on 21st, or north on 1100 East), so UTA is going to have learn how to build 'real' streetcar, and not just TRAX-lite.

TRAX shares right of way with automobiles only at intersections (typically left turn arrows). The rest of the street right of way is protected by curbs or jersey barriers separating the train from auto-traffic. That wasn't originally so, but a two or three cars got themselves t-boned as they tried to make (illegal) turns across the TRAX right of way). Hence, curbs.

But that's not something that is going to work with streetcar, which is going to have to run 'in traffic', right with the cars. That it is possible to do so is really the big difference between the two vehicles. A light rail car weights about 98,500 lbs, while a streetcar weights about 30,000 lbs, or about 1/3 as much. Thus, faster, more responsive stopping capacity.