Posts tagged with "high-speed rail":

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Illinois To Test High-Speed Rail South of Joliet

Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak have sought permission from federal regulators to conduct the first test of high-speed rail in Illinois. A 20-mile track between the cities of Dwight and Pontiac could be a proving ground for the 110 mph passenger train starting October 1. They would be testing a new system of triggers for highway crossing gates — one that uses radio signals to raise gates 80 seconds before a crossing in order to give the faster trains more time to slow down or stop if necessary. The current system uses track circuits to communicate, and allows the normal 79-mph trains 30 to 35 seconds of clearance before a crossing. The Illinois Department of Transportation will conduct a survey to determine whether motorists will tolerate the longer wait times. Funding for high-speed rail was narrowly approved in California earlier this month, as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and others continued to build on growing excitement for high-speed rail in the heartland.
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Competition Winners Imagine Life at the Speed of Rail

Sooner or later, aerodynamic trains will be zipping across the farm fields of the heartland and the Van Alen Institute wondered what cultural, environmental, and economic implications such a novel technology would bring. After revealing ten winners of its Life at the Speed of Rail ideas competition, it appears that high speed rail could one day mean larger-than-life mechanical farm animals roaming around the countryside. At least that's the vision of Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Urbana, IL whose project, Animal Farmatures, reimagines farm implements as entertainment for passing riders. Winners were announced today at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and soon, the Van Alen will be taking Life at the Speed of Rail on the road (although unfortunately not yet by train). Stops include St. Louis' Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:00p.m. on June 28, Houston's James Baker III Institute at Rice University at 6:00p.m. on July 7, and Los Angeles' Caltrans District 7 Headquarters at 4:00p.m. on July 12. Animal Farmatures Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer (Design With Company) / Urbana, IL From the project statement:
As a human/machine/animal hybrid, the “iron horse” locomotive captured the imagination of Americans during the middle of the 19th century by subjugating the pastoral landscape to the ingenuity of human invention. In addition to “conquering space and time,” the train was a new viewing mechanism that transformed the environment into a moving picture show through isolation, speed and framing. Today we have come full circle. Threading high-speed rail through the fabric of the American Midwest stands to recover the demand for mixing humans, commerce, technology and the rural landscape in new spectacular combinations. Which poses the question: what are the techno-natural hybrids that will capture the imagination of today’s rail riders?
What Will You Do? Rael San Fratello Architects / Oakland, CA From the project statement:
LA to San Francisco in 160 minutes—GREAT! But ironically, as the size of cities and the speed in which we are able to travel great distances increases, we are increasingly more sedentary. In fact, we are sitting down more than ever before—9.3 hours per day, which is more time than we spend sleeping. And the amount of time we spend sitting today increases the risks of death up to 40 percent. Instead of sitting for 160 minutes, why not create a high-speed rail that allows us to choreograph a set of experiences that make us productive, healthy and social individuals. Exercise, dance, shop, tan, eat, do laundry, play, take art classes and even sleep (ok, sometimes we need a break too!).
parallelogrammic HOU(S)TATION SEUNGTEAK + MIJUNG / Brooklyn, NY From the project statement:
HOU(S)TATION confronts the negative impact of 20th-century suburbia issues driven by automobile, such as heavy highway interchanges, traffic, parking spaces and sharply increasing CO2 emission. This project looks for a new housing or town type driven by high-speed rail as an alternative which addresses these issues as well as combines benefits from city life and suburbia. HOU(S)TATION is located in the middle of two major cities within one-hour distance by high-speed rail. Thus residences have opportunities to commute and experience both cities.
The Beacon MANIFESTO Architecture P.C. / New York, NY From the project statement:
Compared to 20th-century infrastructure, the new high-speed rail network will allow people to travel far greater distances in a greatly reduced amount of time. This phenomenon can be described as an expansion of the realm of daily life, or rather, a shrinkage of the perceived scale of the entire Midwest region. In effect, through the new rail networks urban nodes will be pulled closer together, and industries, commerce, and most importantly, people will be connected more intimately than ever before. The Beacon, a proposal for a renovation of Chicago’s Union Station will be at the center of this new age, and our design proposal symbolically represents this new paradigm.
Permeable Response Annie Kurtin and Laura Stedman / Tucson, AZ and San Francisco, CA From the project statement:
The Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta located east of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, has long been an important resource providing agricultural and recreational uses, wildlife habitat, infrastructure pathways, and water supply services throughout the state. This delta region is currently in crisis, with weakening levee structures and a deteriorating ecosystem due to rapidly increasing pollution levels. Our proposal for a high-speed rail network in the region will rethink how architecture can become better integrated with large-scale infrastructure to improve the environment and people’s lives.
Check out the other five projects as well at Life at the Speed of Rail's web site: ChiLand Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative / Cleveland, OH The Effect of High-Speed Rail on Six Lives Drew Bly, Brandon Souba, and Steven Vance / Chicago, IL The Expanded Civic Center Rebecca Sibley / Houston, TX Switch Space Karen Lewis / Columbus, OH VPL Rustam Mehta and Thom Moran / New Haven, CT and Ann Arbor, MI
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Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: "It looks like Scott's tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!" Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak's coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it's time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign. Buffalo's Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That's what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley's hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with "young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work." Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country's oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.
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QUICK CLICKS> Highway, High Speed, Detroit, Heated Sidewalks and Ikea

Vancouver Chooses Their Way Over Highway. Vancouver officials are considering permanently closing two viaduct bridges after temporary closures for the 2010 Olympics went smoothly. The city is the latest to join a growing number of places proposing highway removal, including Seattle where the debate is heating up.

High Speed Rail to Slow Down. The government didn't shut down, but President Obama signed off on a $1.5 billion cut to high speed rail to reach a budget deal. High speed rail has been a top transportation priority for the administration, which had been funded at $2.5 billion per year. Are US Cities Like Detroit Really Dying? The short answer is no. An infographic at Fast Company Design looks at migration in Detroit and finds that there's been an influx of residents in the city's core, surrounded by decline. John Pavlus writes, "The undeniable truth is that downtown is flashing the signs of a comeback." Keeping Things Hot. The city of Holland, Michigan heats its sidewalks with waste heat diverted from a local power plant. The system eliminates the need for shoveling and keeping downtown lively all-year round. Fits? Alan Penn, professor of architecture at University College London, suggests that IKEA deliberately designs its stores to be confusing to encourage impulse buying.
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Quick Clicks> Zigzag, Walking, Movies, Retro, Rail

[ Quick Clicks> AN's guided tour of links from across the web. And beyond. ] Zigzag. In April 2009, the Virginia Department of Transportation installed a painted zigzag stripe where a road and a bike trail intersect. Wash Cycle reports that VDOT has since studied the effects of the experimental installation and determined the lines have improved safety and reduced speeds at the trail crossing. These zigzags common overseas, but could they be coming to a street corner near you? Distracted Walking? Better watch where you walk with those headphones. ABC reports that legislators in New York and Arkansas have proposed banning pedestrians from using cell phones or wearing headphones at crosswalks under penalty of a $100 fine. Proponents claim it will increase safety, but it seems to be a classic blame-the-pedestrian response to traffic fatalities. Any chance this will one day hit the books? Starchitecture? Well, sort of. With the Academy Awards right around the corner, Curbed rounded up a collection of design from this year's contenders including the decaying interiors in The King's Speech to the temple-like Inception dining room to Lowell, Mass.'s blue-collar homes in The Fighter. You might also remember AN's recent look at movie architecture. Back in '87. With the proliferation of shiny condo buildings across Manhattan, it's easy to forget the grittier ghost of New York past. EV Grieve uncovered a series of photos of the East Village from the late 1980s showing boarded and burned buildings in Alphabet City. State of the Rail. After last night's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., Transportation Nation takes a look at continued plans to criss-cross the nation with High Speed Rail. In his Speech, the President set a goal that 80 percent of the U.S. population would have access to High Speed Rail in 2036.
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New Routes for High Speed Rail Funds

It’s hard to imagine turning down $1.2 billion. That is, unless you’re the governors-elect of Wisconsin and Ohio. The New York Times reported today that those two states officially withdrew claim to their shares of federal stimulus money awarded for construction of new rail corridors, citing concerns over subsidies needed to run the trains. Instead the money will be redirected to 13 other states. Ironically, both Wisconsin and Ohio had lobbied aggressively for big hunks of the $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail development in Obama’s stimulus package. Things changed when Republicans won both governorships, partly on the platform of denying the stimulus awards. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Wisconsin would have received $810 million for a brand new rail corridor between Milwaukee and Madison and Ohio $385 for the new “3C” corridor between Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. While neither project was intended to be high-speed, they were viewed as significant steps towards creating an efficient rail-network across the country, with the eventual goal of upgrading to high-speed. As an added bonus the projects would have generated thousands of jobs in an economic downturn. Initially, the new Republican Governors tried to redirect the money toward road projects, a move DOT rejected. Luckily for the rest of the country, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the money would be redistributed for rail projects 13 other states. California and Florida will be the biggest winners with $624 million and $342 million respectively. Illionis will get $42.3 million. You can see the official breakdown at the DOT website.
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High Speed Railing in Anaheim

More than 300 architects, planners, and developers had their minds blown and their ambitions frustrated at last week’s California High-Speed Rail TOD Marketplace in Anaheim, produced by the Urban Land Insitute's California District Councils. The mind-blowing part came via France and China. Andreas Heym, director of development for consultants AREP, narrated a tour of French High Speed Rail stations, which connect urban-planning loose ends in many cities, including small villages such as Meuse. China has High Speed Rail on government-controlled steroids. Jeff Heller, partner with Heller Manus Architects, and a member of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s HSR China delegation, noted that Chinese HSR now employs six million people and China recently imported $10 billion of HSR technology to Brazil. The frustrating part: Every other industrialized nation but the U.S. uses high-speed rail (HSR) to propel growth, cut carbon, and avoid airport headaches. “We are being left in the dust in the United States,” said Heller. Still, California is working with $10 billion in jump-start bonds. If the state can remove its many development and funding speed bumps, the placemaking power of HSR stations will be “unlike anything in the American rail transportation experience,” said Gideon Berger, AICP, Fellowship Director, Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use Urban Land Institute. Jack Skelley serves on Executive Committee for ULI Los Angeles.
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Expedited Boarding in the Loop?

Mayor Daley has announced a plan for a high speed rail line linking O'Hare to the Loop and has appointed a 17 member panel to look into the project. According to the Sun-Times, though, he has a major caveat: the line should be entirely privately financed and run with no city or government money of any kind. He gave this ultimatum to the panel of prominent business and civic leaders. The line would connect O'Hare to the currently unfinished station under Block 37. Is such a plan feasible? The mayor thinks so. “There’s already interest by private investment funds, foreign investment funds,” Daley said, according to the Sun-Times. “They’ve come to see me, I’ll be very frank, talking about this. That’s exciting.”
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Kill Beale

Turns out the vociferous opponents to a Beale Street station in San Francisco had it right. The California High Speed Rail Authority voted last week not to build an underground station at Beale Street to serve as the northern endpoint of the state's future high-speed rail line. Instead, the bullet train will make its final stop in the Transbay Terminal that is already slated to be built in downtown San Francisco. The Beale Street station plan had met with months of protest by San Franciscans, including a strongly worded petition from South Beach residents last year. Among their complaints: The Beale Street option would have required the demolition of several residential high-rises; its construction would have endangered the base of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge; it would have cost over $1 billion to acquire the right-of-way; it was being pushed for political reasons by unidentified special interests; and it flouted the wishes of San Franciscans, who voted in 2008 for Proposition 1A, which specified the Transbay Terminal as the endpoint of the high-speed line. The California High Speed Rail Authority was convinced, voting 6-1 last Thursday in favor of Transbay over Beale. The $4 billion Transbay terminal is being designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, who published some dramatic renderings in 2007 showing a rooftop park, retail street, and attached skyscraper. A gamble in 2009 paid off when the team revised their plans and won a $170 million loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, speeding up California's high-speed dreams.

Our Man in Washington

It's been a busy week for Ray LaHood, our favorite Transportation Secretary. On Monday, he sat down with the Times' Green Inc. blog to discuss a range of topics, most notably his recent declaration (video above, shot from atop a table at the National Bike Summit) that cyclists and pedestrians would get equal time, money, and consideration on America's streets. The next day, a blog post, ostensibly by the secretary, featured an interesting study showing that a staggering amount of us—Americans, not just readers of this blog—want more and bet transit options. And this goes for the nation's waterways as well, all delivered through a more transparent DOT. And in an unusually unbureaucratic move, the department is even sharing some of its responsibilities, partnering with the EPA to set fuel efficiency standards. The week was capped off today in a sweep through New York to press drivers stop texting and stump for high-speed rail, one of his pet projects. And to think people were afraid he'd be reactionary just because he was a Republican Congressman. Revolutionary is more like it.
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Fast Train To Sin City

The Las Vegas Sun reports that, in spite of some hold ups with environmental approvals, work is expected to begin this year on the $4 billion DesertXpress, a high-speed rail link between Vegas and Victorville, California. Construction on the 185-mile project, which involves two parallel, at-grade tracks through the Mojave Desert, mostly along the I-15 corridor, should take four years. Service is scheduled to being in late 2014. Aecom and Stantec have both been involved in the project thus far, along with a slew of engineering companies. The decision to begin/end the line at Victorville has raised some eyebrows. There are advocates who are pushing for an extension to Palmdale—the site of a future high-speed rail link to Union Station—allowing non-stop rail service from downtown LA to Vegas. DesertXpress chose the Victorville terminus because it is the first major population center west of the Cajon Pass, easily accessible to millions of people in the Inland Empire, and could be paid for without recourse to public tax dollars. To date, the project has been entirely privately funded, though it could be eligible for Federal Stimulus money in the future.
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Rail Picking Up Steam

California, Florida, and Illinois are receiving the largest pieces of the federal high speed rail pie. According to the a release from the White House, California will receive  $2.32 billion for a forked line running from San Diego to Los Angeles and splitting in Northern California with spurs to San Francisco and Sacramento. Florida will receive $1.25 billion for a new line from Tampa to Orlando, with an additional line connected Orlando to Miami as a part of a "long-term vision." “By investing in high speed rail, we’re doing so many good things for our country at the same time," said Vice President Biden, according to a statement from the White House . "We’re creating good construction and manufacturing jobs in the near-term. We’re spurring economic development in the future. We’re making our communities more livable—and we’re doing it all while decreasing America’s environmental impact and increasing America’s ability to compete in the world.” Illinois will receive $1.13 billion to upgrade its corridor to St. Louis, far less than the $4.5 billion the state sought. While this may seem like a set back from Illionis, the Midwest region as a whole received several other significant grants, which should eventually link to a hub in Chicago. Wisconsin and Minnesota will received $823 for a new line from Milwaukee to Madison, WI, with projects laying the "foundation" for a line connected from Milwaukee to Chicago and a "long-term vision" for a Mineapolis to Madison line. Michigain/Illinois/Indiana are receiving a $244 million grant for upgrades along a line stretching from Chicago to Kalamazoo to Detroit to Pontiac, MI. Ohio will be granted $400 million for a new line conntecting Cleveland to Columbus to Dayton to Cincinatti. The Northeast Corridor, with the nation's largest existing rail ridership, is receiving a comparatively small grant of $1.91 billion in funding, spread across nine states and the District of Columbia. According to the Boston Globe, the complexities stemming from multi-state enviornmental impact statements hindered the region's bid.