Friday, June 25, 2010

hand-powered transit

Hey, has there been any progress at all in the idea for a Downtown to Oakland transit link that was floated last year?  A rhetorical question.  Though we do need a name for it.  With a dearth of creativity, how about Spine Line II?   Or what about the much cheaper, and ever envisioned, Allegheny Valley Railroad (AVRR).  Whats up with that? Last news I see without much further followup was this story of legal problems from last December. Few things have been talked about for so long with so little progress as commuter service on the AVRR. The story mentions there were oral arguments in the case which just took place in April, the video record of which is actually online here. (wmv file, AVRR case starts at time 53:00).  Transit wonks, or anyone interested in city development efforts in the Strip or thos interested in the AVRR will want to watch most of it.

The current legal holdup to the AVRR seems to be that the Buncher Company is itself disputing an easement on a very small piece of land which the railroad would need to make it through the Strip District and become a viable route to Downtown.  Buncher is also the developer the city has partnered with and is partnering with on many other projects.  Most notably or relevant of late is the project working to redevelop the terminal building also in the Strip District as well as other big riverfront projects in Lawrenceville and the Strip District. How these ventures and the litigation holding up the AVRR interact I do not know, but the issue seems to be the easement the AVRR needs, and which Buncher is disputing is a  piece of land all of 15'x90' that is right next to the Terminal Building which Buncher is working to redevelop into a produce market again.

Maybe we can just settle for a hand powered monorail here. (h/t to a print story in the Financial Times last week).  So yeah, that may be what we are left with for transit at the rate we are going.


Anonymous BrianTH said...

There was some action earlier this year on the Downtown-Oakland/Oakland-circulator project--ACED formally solicited submissions for proposed PPP projects from private groups, which were due April 30, 2010:

I've been waiting for some enterprising reporter to actually push someone to tell us what sort of submissions ACED got (if any) by the deadline.

Friday, June 25, 2010 8:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the D'oh-kland Line, The Hill Skipper, or MedEdExpress?

Friday, June 25, 2010 9:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Don Orkoskey said...

Buncher doesn't plan to put produce back into the produce terminal. They expect that it will be filled with high end offices (lawyers/docs/architects) with the property behind it filled with residential. Rob Stephany from the URA doesn't believe that any wholesale, warehousing, or even retail will work in the terminal (this includes the Pittsburgh Public Market which the URA seems to be dragging their feet on the lease for).

The current price that the URA is charging (which is market rate) will need to go way up to cover the cost of the work that needs done on the place. That's cost prohibitive for the wholesale produce vendors that have called the terminal home for nearly 100 years.

The URA is promising to relocate them where their business won't be disrupted, (I'll believe it when I see it).

I think everyone in the Strip would love to see a transit line come through, even Buncher, but they are getting into an area of development that they've never gotten into before (residential and mixed use). They've always done industrial and some limited commercial stuff.

Buncher is a very conservative company - they don't just jump into things so before they're going to let a commuter line go through the property they are looking to develop they will check and double check that all their ducks are in a row, that the row is level, that the ground under the ducks is plumb and signed off of by a structural engineer.

There is talk now that any commuter train traveling on the AVRR will turn at 26th, cross Penn and Liberty and continue onto the busway which would bypass the terminal all together.

Friday, June 25, 2010 2:15:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

That's right.. my brain was thinking of the public market project as I typed that. Not what is intended for the terminal building at all.

Getting heavy rail over Penn and Liberty would not be cheap would it since I presume the idea it wouldnt be at grade? and I will again point out, this time as irony, that if the idea is to put the commuter rail onto the East Busway... then why not put light rail onto the busway. Ha. What goes around comes around as ideas.

Friday, June 25, 2010 3:27:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Would it be on the East Busway itself, or along the existing heavy rail (used by Amtrak) into Penn Station that parallels the East Busway?

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:04:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Being a frequent Whole Foods shopper and occasional East Busway rider, it is hard to imagine how they could use that heavy rail for intra-city passenger service. It is heavily used by freight trains.

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:07:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Maybe after all of the expensive stuff gets dismissed, they'll listen to me and build the Greenfield Ave Chairlift.

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:37:00 PM  
Blogger East Busway Blogger said...

Don't think Virginia Rail Express Commuter Rail when thinking of the AVR plan, think River Line

It uses diesel rail cars, but they are not designed to be built to FRA standards for crash-worthiness. In a nutshell, this means they're not intended to inter-mix with freight trains. Because they are light, they can operate at grade with automotive vehicles (meaning they could in theory at least operate on the busway, with buses).

They would not be able to operate on the same tracks as "T" trains either, because of Pittsburgh's "unique" wide gauge. AVR's tracks use standard gauge.

In the Splitting Rails article on the City Paper, I found it interesting that they mentioned a Light Rail line to Lawrenceville. This is new, and to my knowledge there have been no studies or planning done for it.

I'm kind of wishy washy on the AVR plan. I don't know that it's the best plan. However, I think it is the most likely to happen (still doesn't mean it will), and there is the potential to decrease the number of auto commuters coming into town every day.

Monday, July 19, 2010 5:25:00 PM  

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