Saturday, December 31, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The 3C Corridor is one of the top-10 most heavily traveled intercity routes in the United States, according to the US Dept of Transportation. And the 3C project would have given Columbus Amtrak service to the east via Cleveland then through New York state -- the flattest and fastest route to the east. The link wasn't touted as much as it probably should have, but such travel would been possible had the guv kept the money to upgrade the rail lines to the same quality as the direct Chicago-East Coast lines through Toledo and Cleveland. Instead, Columbus remains the largest metropolitan area in North America and possibly the Western Hemisphere without any regularly scheduled passenger rail services, and few local officials seem interested in doing anything about changing that dubious honor. Consider this recent, sad example.... US Railcar Corp. had to ask the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority to sponsor a grant to develop a manufacturing facility in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna! Why? Because local officials wouldn't support it. If Central Ohio won't financially support passenger rail while other states/regions do, then why should passenger rail come there?
But why does Northern Ohio have Amtrak service? Because congressional leaders along that route, especially in Cleveland, fought for it in 1975 as Amtrak's first experimental route. Today, the Lake Shore Limited is one of Amtrak's most heavily used trains. The Capitol Limited was rerouted through Toledo and Cleveland in 1990 after track was downgraded through Canton, Mansfield and Lima.
Then why does Cincinnati have Amtrak service? Because Congressman Harley Staggers Sr. and Senator Robert Byrd both of West Virginia fought to include the Cardinal route in Amtrak's initial system in 1971 to link their state with the East Coast and Chicago. And they fought to keep it, albeit with service reduced to thrice-weekly operations, in the face of repeated Amtrak budget cuts in the 1980s and early 1990s. Cincinnati got and kept its trains because there was no higher quality rail route between West Virginia and Chicago.
No Senator or Congressional leader in Columbus has fought to keep passenger rail since Amtrak's creation 40 years ago. It's why Columbus lost the New York City-Kansas City National Limited in 1979. If a Congressman didn't fight to put or keep your city on the Amtrak route map, then Amtrak isn't going to do it for you. Same deal happened with mapping out federal highway routes. Ohio had won $400 million in no-match federal funds -- as good as it gets -- to put Columbus back on Amtrak's map. Never before has no-match federal dollars been provided for passenger rail, let alone in such large amounts. And Ohio threw it away. Why? In the hopes of getting a better deal?
If you want rail infrastructure that enables fast, drive-time competitive Amtrak service between Columbus and Pittsburgh to the East Coast, as well as to Columbus to Chicago, be prepared for a price tag in excess of $400 million. The highest quality, least expensive route with the greatest ridership potential for Columbus is the 3C Corridor. But if Central Ohio wants something else, then it should seek funding leveraged by some of its own because the no-match rail grants were a one-shot stimulus deal and they're all gone. Local officials should be prepared for a higher start-up cost, leveraged by a 20% non-federal funding match such as from the state or local governments (meaning if Ohio wants to reapply for a $400 million grant, it will now have to pony up $100 million of its own funding to get it). The per passenger-mile operating subsidy would be higher too, based on the Ohio Hub studies, since no Ohio-involved passenger rail route was as promising as 3C when it came to ridership, revenue or operating subsidy per passenger-mile.
But we keep hoping and fighting for change. And I hope you will too, including sharing some ideas on how to get train service back to Ohio's third-largest metropolitan area.
Read more: http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php/topic,18328.5340.html#ixzz1fuxJWclG
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
"A functionally obsolete bridge is one that was built to standards that are not used today. These bridges are not automatically rated as structurally deficient, nor are they inherently unsafe. Functionally obsolete bridges are those that do not have adequate lane widths, shoulder widths, or vertical clearances to serve current traffic demand, or those that may be occasionally flooded.
A functionally obsolete bridge is similar to an older house. A house built in 1950 might be perfectly acceptable to live in, but it does not meet all of today’s building codes. Yet, when it comes time to consider upgrading that house or making improvements, the owner must look at ways to bring the structure up to current standards.
A bridge sufficiency rating includes a multitude of factors: inspection results of the structural condition of the bridge, traffic volumes, number of lanes, road widths, clearances, and importance for national security and public use, to name just a few.
The sufficiency rating is calculated per a formula defined in Federal Highway Administration’s Recording and Coding Guide for the Structure Inventory and Appraisal of the Nation’s Bridges. This rating is indicative of a bridge’s sufficiency to remain in service. The formula places 55 percent value on the structural condition of the bridge, 30 percent on its serviceability and obsolescence, and 15 percent on its essentiality to public use.
The point calculation is based on a 0-100 scale and it compares the existing bridge to a new bridge designed to current engineering standards.
The bridge’s sufficiency rating provides an overall measure of the bridge’s condition and is used to determine eligibility for federal funds. Bridges are considered structurally deficient if significant load carrying elements are found to be in poor condition due to deterioration or the adequacy of the waterway opening provided by the bridge is determined to be extremely insufficient to point of causing intolerable traffic interruptions.
Every bridge constructed goes through a natural deterioration or aging process, although each bridge is unique in the way it ages.
The fact that a bridge is classified under the federal definition as “structurally deficient" does not imply that it is unsafe. A structurally deficient bridge, when left open to traffic, typically requires significant maintenance and repair to remain in service and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to address deficiencies. To remain in service, structurally deficient bridges are often posted with weight limits to restrict the gross weight of vehicles using the bridges to less than the maximum weight typically allowed by statute.
To be eligible for federal aid the following is necessary (a local match is required):
- Replacement: bridge must have a sufficiency rating of less than 50 and be either functionally obsolete or structurally deficient.
- Repair: bridge must have a sufficiency rating of less than 80 and the jurisdiction is prevented from using any additional federal aid for 10 years.
- The $3 billion East Side Access tunnel will bring Long Island Railroad commuter trains into Grand Central Station by 2016
- Construction of the 8.5-mile, $17 billion Second Avenue Subway resumed in 2007 after a 30-year hiatus. The first 3-station segment is scheduled to open in 2016.
- Construction of an extension of the #7 subway from Times Square southwest to Chelsea is underway and will be completed in 2013. This project sets the stage for further extension of the line beneath the Hudson River to New Jersey.