Monday, March 5, 2012

Hyde Park's $100 million Bike Trail

OKI has planned to incorporate the Wasson Rd. railroad into a regional transit plan since the 1970s. After Norfolk-Southern abandoned the line in 2009, a plan to convert it into a paved recreational trail appeared in 2011. The problem with this proposal is that there is not enough space for a double-track railroad and a paved rec trail on the available 30 foot right-of-way in the area between I-71 and Paxton Rd.

From www.hamiltoncountyauditor.org:
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This means if we are to have both the transit line and the paved rec trail, the line must be built in a cut-and-cover subway tunnel between its bridge over I-71 and the Hyde Park Kroger, a distance of about 6,500 feet. For certain, an underground station would be required at Edwards Rd., and if the tunnel must be extended as far as Marburg, at least one more underground station. Although such a tunnel would conflict with few utilities, and no building underpinning would be required, it would add at least $50 million to the project cost, and perhaps $100 million or more.

This drawing shows the tunnel with dashes, and station locations in white:
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Here are photos I took in 2007, when the line was still active. As is obvious from these photos, there is hardly space for a parallel railroad track (the existing tracks would be removed and new tracks built to either side), let alone the 40-50 feet necessary for a double-track line and a 10-foot rec trail:
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Near Paxton Rd.:
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These photos of the gulch east of Paxton show that retaining walls will be necessary along Wasson Rd. and/or the private land south of the ROW in order to double-track the line. The rec trail could probably be built here at street level, with a railing at the top of a retaining wall down to the tracks:
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I'm seeing a manhole down there on the right. Does a utility line cross the line at this point or does it parallel the entire line? If so, add another $10 million to the tunnel cost:
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Ault Park:
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Ault Park:
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Ault Park:
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Passing over Red Bank Rd.:
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So in summary, by increasing the cost of the Hyde Park section of the Wasson Rd. transit line by $50-100~ million, the tunnel means miles of construction east of Red Bank Rd. will be temporarily sacrificed. Does this mean the line gets to Fairfax but not Mariemont? Mariemont but not Terrace Park? There's no way to know that today. But considering the glacial pace at which rail transit projects proceed, the neighborhood left without service might wait a decade or more.

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1 comment:

  1. The relative significance of construction (and deconstruction if necessary) costs of a bike path along this route are minimal compared to the costs and timetable of light rail. Just one example of the problem with the Wasson light rail line: constructing another bridge in the middle of the forest in Ault Park. That's no small task, and it's just one of six or seven major engineering projects that would need to be done to double track the line. Opponents of the bike path concept often regard the Wasson light rail as some unbelievable opportunity for the city that nothing should take precedence over. I'd like to see a thorough and honest assessment of the costs needed to bring this opportunity to reality. I suspect that the real numbers have something to do with the preference towards the Oasis line.

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