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Texas high-speed rail: public scoping meetings; possible routes


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#21 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 05:15 PM

The Woodlands people wanting the HS line are not thinking things through.  There is no public transportation worth mentioning (if any at all) in the Woodlands.  It is sprawl on steroids.  Any station would have to be surrounded by a huge parking lot or more likely multi-story parking structure.

 

Also, a freeway median line only sounds good.  It is usually going to be more expensive and disruptive than a line elsewhere.  essentially all overhead structure will have to be rebuilt with different spans and almost certainly with the road higher, which means rebuild the approach roads.  Then there is the curve issue.  Freeway curves are designed for 70 to 80 mph so will be far smaller in radius than needed for 200 plus mph.



#22 Tokkyu40

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 11:16 AM

The Woodlands people wanting the HS line are not thinking things through.  There is no public transportation worth mentioning (if any at all) in the Woodlands.  It is sprawl on steroids.  Any station would have to be surrounded by a huge parking lot or more likely multi-story parking structure.

 

Also, a freeway median line only sounds good.  It is usually going to be more expensive and disruptive than a line elsewhere.  essentially all overhead structure will have to be rebuilt with different spans and almost certainly with the road higher, which means rebuild the approach roads.  Then there is the curve issue.  Freeway curves are designed for 70 to 80 mph so will be far smaller in radius than needed for 200 plus mph.

A station in Woodlands with plenty of parking could be a good start for a serious transit system.
And 80 mph is minimal radius for highway curves in mountains. In Texas curves may not be needed on freeways.

The overhead structures are the real problem, but the rail line could be built in the ROW alongside the freeway where it can rise over the approaches.



#23 beautifulplanet

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 03:42 PM

 

 

 

Though some might think it is good how TCR stresses that these locations also leave open the door for an extended service towards Arlington and Fort Worth, some might also be wondering about the connections to local Dallas rail and bus service. Of course many may think it is great if transit-oriented development is created near the new station site, and that TCR wants to be close to downtown, versus some far-flung station in the suburbs, still it seems like the closest DART light-rail stop would be at the Convention Center, and still a significant walk away. So some might ask: In case the final destination of a rail traveler is not the TCR development itself or the Convention Center, how will a rail traveler be able to continue to the final destination, besides by car?

 

 

 

 

Isn't DART still studying a second cross-city line. Proposals have seen that running in front of the Convention Center. Maybe that line could be redesigned to take a detour past the HSR station as well?

 

However, I think an elevated structure above the tracks of the present Union Station would be a good idea, while solving all these problems.

 

EDIT: looking at the site on Google Earth, it seems there is actually a DART line passing right by the proposed site, so no problem there

 

 

DART's plans for downtown Dallas were also mentioned in this thread, in post #9.

 

When following the link in that post, and looking at the map of possible future DART improvements, one sees in the downtown map how there is no rail connection to the two sites recently mentioned as a possible high-speed rail Dallas station. In that map from last November, a different possible station location was still marked, that would have been much closer to Union Station, like close to where Reunion Park is.

 

Especially with the possible station location that would be completely south of the freeway, the connections to other rail and bus service would not seem so good.

 

- The possible Phase 1 of a second DART light-rail downtown line, a tunnel towards Union Station, wouldn't go close to these new possible stations at all.

- The streetcar (and it's future Central Dallas Streetcar Link) also would not directly go by the station location south of the I-30 freeway, and even with the other one that's on both sides of the freeway, it would be closest to it only on the Houston St bridge, and it's kind of unlikely that a streetcar stop for the high-speed rail station would be on that bridge, so the high-speed rail station surely would not be served by any streetcar, though the streetcars pass by kind of close.

 

Just because on Google Maps it looks like there might be some tracks somewhere close to the high-speed rail station, that does not mean that those are light-rail tracks. And for the location south of the freeway, the closest it seems to get is at least 200 yards, to the light rail line, not even to a light rail station, because the closest light rail station is the one that is underneath the Convention Center, or at Cedars Station. And if the high-speed rail station would be south of the freeway, then there would be 2 blocks of buildings, and some other rail line, inbetween high-speed rail and the light rail line. So that doesn't seem so close at all.

 

Some might just wish for Teas high-speed rail to have good transit connections, in order for high-speed rail to be a success. And so some might have wished, TCR would have selected something like depicted in the map of the November article, a location very close to Union Station, as Union Station is where a lot of transit will pass through anyway (existing light-rail service, new light-rail service with phase 1 of the Second Downtown light-rail line, and streetcar service, especially once the Central Dallas Streetcar Link would be in place). Still especially with a location south of the freeway, high-speed rail would still be kind of close to downtown, and many might think that is good. At the same time, there would be very few convenient transit connections, which many might think would not be as good.

 

Of course it is understandable though, that TCR being a private, for-profit company wants to maximize the money they can get out of development of the land surrounding the station. And so, if close to Union Station, with all the transit connections, there is less land to develop, and south of the freeway (or having the station both partially north and south of it) there is more land to develop and make money with, then of course TCR is going to choose this, even if there is little to none convenient transit around.


Edited by beautifulplanet, 21 February 2015 - 05:05 PM.


#24 beautifulplanet

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 05:20 PM

 

The Woodlands people wanting the HS line are not thinking things through.  There is no public transportation worth mentioning (if any at all) in the Woodlands.  It is sprawl on steroids.  Any station would have to be surrounded by a huge parking lot or more likely multi-story parking structure.

 

Also, a freeway median line only sounds good.  It is usually going to be more expensive and disruptive than a line elsewhere.  essentially all overhead structure will have to be rebuilt with different spans and almost certainly with the road higher, which means rebuild the approach roads.  Then there is the curve issue.  Freeway curves are designed for 70 to 80 mph so will be far smaller in radius than needed for 200 plus mph.

A station in Woodlands with plenty of parking could be a good start for a serious transit system.
And 80 mph is minimal radius for highway curves in mountains. In Texas curves may not be needed on freeways.

The overhead structures are the real problem, but the rail line could be built in the ROW alongside the freeway where it can rise over the approaches.

 

 

 

Despite what may have been possible earlier (station in Woodlands), there will be no station in Woodlands anymore, because of the "utility alignment" corridor that was chosen. It is clearly visible when looking at the routes on the maps earlier in this thread. Woodlands might theoretically have gotten a station a station with any I-45 alignment. Then, from a total of 9 routes (4 BNSF options and 5 "alternative alignments") the selection was reduced to only two. So, with a BNSF option, there could have been a station somewhere near Woodlands though it wouldn't have been in the center like a I-45 alignment station. Then, the "utility alignment" route was chosen. So the route is going to be dozens of miles away from Woodlands. There definitely will be no Woodlands station.


Edited by beautifulplanet, 05 March 2015 - 05:14 PM.


#25 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 03 March 2015 - 11:36 PM

 

The Woodlands people wanting the HS line are not thinking things through.  There is no public transportation worth mentioning (if any at all) in the Woodlands.  It is sprawl on steroids.  Any station would have to be surrounded by a huge parking lot or more likely multi-story parking structure.

 

Also, a freeway median line only sounds good.  It is usually going to be more expensive and disruptive than a line elsewhere.  essentially all overhead structure will have to be rebuilt with different spans and almost certainly with the road higher, which means rebuild the approach roads.  Then there is the curve issue.  Freeway curves are designed for 70 to 80 mph so will be far smaller in radius than needed for 200 plus mph.

A station in Woodlands with plenty of parking could be a good start for a serious transit system.
And 80 mph is minimal radius for highway curves in mountains. In Texas curves may not be needed on freeways.

The overhead structures are the real problem, but the rail line could be built in the ROW alongside the freeway where it can rise over the approaches.

 

Don't know where you are getting your 80 mph.  Here it is from the Federal Highway Administration web site:

 

 

 

The standards are included in the AASHTO publication 

A Policy on Design Standards -- Interstate System available from the AASHTO web site. Examples of design standards for the Interstate System include full control of access, design speeds of 50 to 70 miles per hour (depending on type of terrain), a minimum of two travel lanes in each direction, 12-foot lane widths, 10-foot right paved shoulder, and 4-foot left paved shoulder. Initially, the design had to be adequate to meet the traffic volumes expected in 1975. Later, the requirement was changed to a more general 20-year design period to allow for evolution of the System.

 

Yes, some states do use 80 mph in easy terrain, but the Feds are not going to fund their share it this kicks up the cost more than minimally if at all.  (Is known that parts of I-49 are designed for 80 mph for curves horizontal and vertical, but curves still superelevated for 70 mph.)  Maybe I-45 is designed for 80 mph, but given the age of the alignment, doubtful.

 

80 mph in mountains?  Nope, that is where 50 mph is used.



#26 Tokkyu40

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:58 AM

I live near some pretty convincing mountains and the speed limit is 70mph. This is nowhere near the limits imposed by the curves, which should handle 90-100 just fine.
Some of the old two lane sections of old highway 80 are a lot tighter.
Texas being Texas, they would have to add curves to design it for 80mph. The I-45 doesn't look too challenging on the map.



#27 Shawn Ryu

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 01:16 PM

Why is this schrade being discussed? We all knowit is not happening.



#28 jis

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 07:41 AM

Well, apparently you may think so, but how do you know what others know or not? ;)

#29 Tokkyu40

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 10:30 AM

Why is this charade being discussed? We all know it is not happening.

Because the people building it don't know it's not happening. They're making good progress and have a high probability of completing the project and having good success with it.
And since everyone here is interested in trains, we talk about these projects.



#30 afigg

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 12:00 AM

The FRA posted a set of draft EIS documents on their eLibrary site with alignment alternatives. Link to the November 2015 environmental reviews for the Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail Project draft EIS documents.  I have not looked at the documents yet, but figured should post the link for those interested.



#31 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 12:28 AM

Why is this schrade being discussed? We all knowit is not happening.

 

If you think a thread is devoid of purpose then why on Earth are you even in here?  I don't think this project is going to happen myself but I still don't see the point of telling other people to stop discussing it.  And besides there's always a possibility that I could be wrong and they could be right.  The only thing I know for certain is that you don't have anything worthwhile to bring to the discussion because you just got done proving it.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 11 November 2015 - 12:29 AM.

If I had a tumor I'd name it Marla.


#32 cirdan

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 04:43 AM

Why is this charade being discussed? We all know it is not happening.

Because the people building it don't know it's not happening. They're making good progress and have a high probability of completing the project and having good success with it.
And since everyone here is interested in trains, we talk about these projects.


In the early days I was pretty sceptical, suspecting this was a PR exercise by JR or their partners.

But it has been going for too long now and too much money has been invested in corridor studies for that to be the case.

I think it has a real and fair chance of being completed.

#33 Caesar La Rock

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 06:36 PM

I seriously doubt this isn't going to happen, especially with all the planning going into this. All I can say is, if this project can happen in Florida, it can happen in Texas as well. ;)



#34 jis

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 09:37 AM

I think this has a significant likelihood of happening provided the THSR folks are able to take a couple of pages out of the FECI/AAF playbook and apply it to Texas to ward of the NIMBYs and show clear path to cash positiveness, while not using too much taxpayer funding. Getting funding in the form of loans and tax free bonds seems to be OK though. The game the AAF played with NIMBYs is to use very detailed knowledge of the wants of individual communities and address them, and not worry about a relatively small remaining group of NIMBYs, other than to outflank them at each turn.

 

THSR needs to get not only Houston and DFW on board with their plan but also several en route large urban/suburban communities. They will face NIMBYs from rural areas, that should be taken as a given. That has to be counterbalanced by strong visible support both on the ground and in local county commissions and state house.. Look at how AAF finally divvied things up. Basically they have the large relatively urban counties firmly on their side - Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Brevard and Orange), and small rural counties against (Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River). Thia has made it relatively hard for the NIMBYs to get enough traction to do much damage, though they have and continue to try mightily. They also partitioned the source of construction funding to make sure that only FECI sourced money is used in the opposed counties and the huge pile of bond money is used only in counties that support their effort. They have even tacitly promised favored treatment to supporting counties both on the service front and priority in addition of new stations front. It has all been about economic impact that the supporting counties foresee.

 

THSR will have a bit of a challenge in the sticks unless they can line up at least a few counties outside of Houston and Dallas to be on their side. Not an insurmountable problem but adds to the difficulty if they can't.

 

On the real estate front, to understand FECI/AAF's game, you have to understand that AAF is a passenger railroad attached to a huge real-estate empire, and the whole project is really supported by the projected growth in the real estate empire as a result of building this project. I am not sure how THSR is structured financially since I have not seen much on it. but if they are depending purely on rail revenues, they may have a difficult path to hoe. They need to bring in the real estate angle and figure out how to plow back some of the real estate growth resulting from the project into operating budget of the railroad. The Japanese passenger operations do this in spades. Purely on rail operations they'd barely make it.

 

But for now I am optimistic. but we'll see.



#35 cirdan

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 10:34 AM

I guess FEC has it easier as they alraedy have much of the real estate they are counting on developing. THSR will need to buy these first and the moment it becomes clear that that land is going to be a hub of profitable development, up goes the value and hence the price they will have to pay. So unless THSR has already been sneakily buying land ahead of their station and alignment announcements (especially at the Houston end) I don't see them making a big killing on the real estate.

FEC also has it easier in another respect in that they already have an operation railroad line. There's not very much you can do as a NIMBY to prevent somebody from running trains on their own railroad.

On the other hand, Miami has always had a fairly functional downtown with good land utilization wheres Houston has long been blighted by abandoned buildings and empty tracts of land and this has only really improved in the last couple of years as the light rail system made the downtown area attractive once again. So possibly land can still be bought at a bargain and then totally transformed.

#36 jis

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 10:57 AM

All those points further highlight the reality that the FECI/AAF experience may not be transferable as is to the THSR situation. But there still are some core lessons that can transfer.

 

Interestingly, FECR is no longer a subsidiary of FECI. AAF is a subsidiary of FECI. Both FECI and FECR are separate subsidiaries of the Fortress Group.



#37 Palmetto

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 03:46 PM

I just read that the FRA has nixed both possible routes into downtown Houston.  They're not getting any closer to it that US290 and Loop 610, if I read it correctly.  If so, why even bother?  The advantage of the train is to take people to downtown.



#38 cirdan

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 06:14 AM

I just read that the FRA has nixed both possible routes into downtown Houston.  They're not getting any closer to it that US290 and Loop 610, if I read it correctly.  If so, why even bother?  The advantage of the train is to take people to downtown.


This would be very bad news indeed.

#39 Caesar La Rock

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 02:01 PM

 

I just read that the FRA has nixed both possible routes into downtown Houston.  They're not getting any closer to it that US290 and Loop 610, if I read it correctly.  If so, why even bother?  The advantage of the train is to take people to downtown.


This would be very bad news indeed.

 

 

The team is confident the project will still gain ridership even then.

 

http://transportatio...n-houston.html/



#40 Palmetto

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 02:59 PM

Does anyone know why the FRA will not allow going to downtown?  The rails are there, so it's not a lack of infrastructure.


Edited by Palmetto, 17 November 2015 - 02:59 PM.





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