Friday, May 18, 2012

The Ups and Downs of the East Side

If Gateway Corridor light rail comes to Seventh Street and White Bear Avenue, it won't last.

It would take less than a decade to be torn out and even less than that to be called a Colossal Failure and a riderless menace to the public good.

The conceptual flaws start with putting a train on a residential street (35 mph in a 30 mph zone) with hills and valleys, and no effective stopping distance (essentially no brakes). The result would be accidents and deaths on a scale beyond the current level of light rail accidents.

Accidents and deaths aside, the system flaws will include:
       high costs & cost overruns
       low ridership & system inflexibility -- is it for commuting or touring or selling old 3M property?
       neighborhood barriers & business closings
        noise -- the rumbling of 25+ tons of train, the squeal of wheels on rails as it makes ridiculous twists and turns, the DING-DING chimes...

Light rail would scar the neighborhood. The neighborhood is still scarred from the trolley.

Drive Seventh, slowly. See the houses lower than the road? See the houses higher than the road? (Would you like to deal with the flooding issues and the lawn mowing issues?)

The slope of Seventh Street was changed for the trolley. It will have to be changed further for light rail. The trolley weighed nothing compared to light rail. Trolleys were light rail, more than light rail is light rail. Light rail is heavy.

Seventh Street is hilly, and it used to be hillier and wetter. The Mississippi River used to run through it.

Here's a topographical map of the East Side of St. Paul.

Notice how the railroads used river beds for their routes, instead of climbing bluffs and plunging into river valleys and climbing bluffs again, only to plunge back into valleys again, etc.

This map (above) shows a course of the glacial runoff, proto-Mississippi River #1, filling the Battle Creek valleys.

This map (above) shows a straighter-than-present-day, proto-Mississippi River #2, stretching north (along Etna & Barclay), connecting Lake Phalen (shown), Round Lake, Keller Lake, Gervais Lake, Kohlman Lake, then arcing eastward to Willow Lake, Gem Lake, Goose Lake, and White Bear Lake. Over time much of the proto-Mississippi River valley was buried in material, leaving behind a string of lakes and depressions (kettles).

This map (above) shows a zigzagging proto-Mississippi River #3 filling the Phalen Creek valley to Lake Phalen. This map does not mean to indicate that the areas between the proto-Mississippi River valley are high and dry. No. The neighborhood of Dayton's Bluff is porous with underground springs and sometimes above-ground springs.

This map (above) shows the path that the Gateway Corridor Commission likes to show as a potential light rail path. Notice how it drops from Union Station into the Phalen Creek valley (proto-Mississippi 3), then rises up Dayton's Bluff, then down to Earl Street, then up and down again (proto-Mississippi 2) and up to White Bear Avenue, then down to I-94, then down into the Battle Creek valley (proto-Mississippi 1), then up to Ruth Street and down again to Sun Ray shopping center to pick up groceries at Cub Foods and take them by train to Woodbury.

It's a ridiculous concept. The sanity of its planners should be questioned.

I question their loco motives.

No comments:

Post a Comment