Monday, June 25, 2012

Saint Paul's Trouble Comes From Woodbury

Common sense says that you don't put light rail trains on residential streets with children, schools, and the elderly. But what if the chair of your transportation commission doesn't know the difference between a light rail train of today and a streetcar from the 1950s?

The Washington County Commissioner representing Woodbury is Lisa Weik, who is the chair of the Gateway Corridor Commission. The Gateway Corridor is a set of transportation concepts in search of a goal that often shows light rail running on the residential streets of St. Paul. According to the April 2012 commission meeting minutes Weik stated, "This is something very real and the timing is right if the east metro comes on line now with a transit system that they haven't seen since the 1950's and the streetcars."

The streetcars of the 1950s and earlier are not the 49,000 lb. (when empty) Bombardier Flexify light rail trains used on the Hiawatha Line. Light rail trains cannot stop quickly; that's not their purpose. Accidents happen.

Nancy Remakel is running against Weik for Washington County Commissioner this November. She states that she knows the difference between a streetcar and a light rail train.

Lisa Weik is competing with the rest of the Twin Cities for light rail money, when she isn't bickering with other Washington County commissioners (video June 2011 & July 2011).

Ignoring the Amtrak train that runs through the Twin Cities (stopping midway), the Hiawatha Line is $ 715+ million (what are the downtown changes that has it closed weekends?), the Northstar (commuter) is $ 317 million (with lower than projected ridership & five MP36 diesel locomotives by MotivePower & 18 Bombardier Bilevel coaches), the Central light rail is $ 968 million (so far), the Southwest is $ 1.25 billion to start, Bottineau light rail is one billion dollars (over objections of Golden Valley), Rush light rail is $ 959 million to start, Red Rock commuter has a $ 366 million price tag, and the Gateway zigzagging light rail is $ 1.3 billion. The total of all of these non-Amtrak trains is $ 6.875 billion.

Notice that the commuter trains (Northstar, Red Rock) seem to cost a third of their light rail counterparts. Isn't it odd that the commuter option was rejected by the Gateway Commission because it's too expensive? Maybe they should look at their numbers again. Imagine, putting a train on train tracks and a railroad right-of-way instead of on a residential street!

One of the random ideas of the Gateway Corridor is to relieve congestion on Interstate 94. This is Interstate 94 just east of downtown Saint Paul on a recent Friday morning. Many places would like to have this kind of weekday congestion.

Thanks again to everyone signing the petition on the previous post.

East metro citizens do not want light rail, according to signed petitions, open house meetings, and surveys taken by state representatives. "In a recent survey of her constituents, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Republican from Woodbury, [said] most don’t want light rail in the area. Rep. Kathy Lohmer said her survey had similar findings." - Woodbury Patch

To the international visitors of Rip Gateway Corridor:
          Guten Tag!

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