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CH Jake

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Everything posted by CH Jake

  1. I've been taking the AutoTrain to Florida every other year for over a decade now. We started when the kids were babies and we had a ton of extra stuff to haul along. Just load up the van and unload at our destination. Much easier than air travel with a baby. Now the kids love the train and insist on it over flying. Which now means I can throw in several sets of golf clubs for a single day of golf that I would otherwise skip if I were flying with the family. For those of you who have no idea how the AutoTrain works for us, here's a brief description. There are only two terminals, a northern terminal at Lorton, Virginia, just south of DC, and a southern terminal at Sanford, Florida, just northeast of Orlando. There are no intermediate stations. Basically you load your car, the train leaves around 4pm, and you arrive the next morning around 9am, regardless of the direction you are traveling. The cars seem to be old, particularly the lounge/dining cars, but they are well cared for. We typically get up early and drive to the northern station in about six hours. Without kids and stops it might be faster. We need to arrive before 2pm to line up and get the van loaded into a car carrier. We carry on a piece of luggage and each kid brings a backpack with books/toys/games/DVD player. The train boards around 3 or 3:30pm. We get a family bedroom -- which is a bit cramped now that the kids are growing, but it still works well enough. The cost is about the same as flying in our case. You can also get a regular reclining seat (similar to business class on a plane perhaps) or smaller rooms that are less expensive. We hang out and play games or read, go up to the lounge car, have dinner, watch a movie, and the kids are asleep at their usual hour. Waking up in the morning, I take a shower, we eat breakfast and pull into the station around 9am. The van rolls off and we get in and go. Much easier than driving all the way to Florida, and although it takes a day and a half of travel time, it's much less stressful than flying, which seems to take up an entire day anyway even though the actual travel time is shorter. I highly recommend it. And I'd be glad to answer any questions about our experiences. :wave:
  2. Greenspace is a liability for developers. That says a lot about our society, doesn't it? :drunk: I bet it would be a lot of fun to develop some land -- without having to deal with a "real" developer or a bank. Fat chance of that happening.
  3. I can't say for certain what would bring more large businesses to Cleveland, but I'd rather work in a downtown with ten ten-story buildings and all the potential retail on the ground floor (lunchtime variety, shops that would allow me to run some errands at lunch and before and after work, more people on the street doing the same) than in a 1000 story tower with only its own retail. So if we have a choice of Starks's plan or a Jacobs tower, my vote is for Starks. I would be happy to revisit the idea of another tower after Starks's plan is built. And I agree with what others have chimed in about above.
  4. Exactly. If I need to go to Washington, DC, I can take the train from Cleveland to Union Station. No problem, only about $60 each way. I just have to catch the train in Cleveland at 2:15am and I will arrive at Union Station at 1:30pm. The return trip that day leaves at 4:05pm, so I better be able to get to my meeting, have the meeting, and get back to the train within 2 1/2 hours. All so I can get home again after 2am. If I need to have a meeting in the morning or a longer meeting than I can fit into the 2 1/2 hour time, I have to stay overnight. Unless you can do a lot of work on the train, it doesn't make any sense at all. And anyone who has to be going to and from the Cleveland terminal at 2am isn't going to be happy. Rather than stay overnight, I can fly into Baltimore and take the train into DC for about the same price, only I can leave Cleveland at 7am and be back at 8pm after a full day of meetings. Even as annoying as the new security screening is, it's still better than leaving and returning at 2am. Cost isn't the issue. Convenient scheduling is the problem. Until Amtrak has a regular and convenient schedule, we'll have no idea how many business travelers would choose taking the train over flying. Which of course brings us to Cleveland-Chicago, for which Amtrak now does have a more convenient schedule, 2am Cleveland to 8:40am Chicago, and 7pm Chicago returning to Cleveland at 2am. (Still could be better.) Does anyone know how many riders Amtrak picks up in Cleveland for travel to Chicago vs. riders to NYC or DC?
  5. In new communities, it's hard to set aside land for commercial uses when it's not going to be developed for ten years. Ah, you're too pessimistic! It will be hard to give up my car too, but that doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be done. If a developer plans for it she can put commercial development space in the plan for future development, perhaps left as greenspace until the development has grown to the point where it can support the commercial development.
  6. I'm sure that most people agree, that's why so many people choose to move to ever-more-distant suburbs. How do you propose we preserve the suburban way of life for those who choose it without an auto-dependent lifestyle? With half-acre minimum lot sizes, segregated residential, industrial, commercial, retail, and special purpose uses, where everything is spread out -- do you know of a carfree or car-light suburban community? In the suburbs we have today, the people and the businesses are spread thin, so cars are the most convenient way for those people to travel to the businesses that they might want to engage. If we take away the cars, how do we get the dispersed population to the dispersed businesses they need and that need them? Mass transit doesn't work that well with such a diluted population. Do you have any suggestions? This suburban model just doesn't seem to make much sense. At some point Ohio will be one continuous suburb, unless we plan differently or auto-dependence becomes impossible. In my opinion, saying that we should just let people make their own choice is a failure of government to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people. According to the CDC, http://www.disastercenter.com/cdc/ If you say our suburbs are poorly designed, I agree. Government can and should encourage better designs. Reducing car use would save a lot of lives, and coincidentally also save a lot of energy and reduce pollution. Moreover, Ohio is struggling to maintain its existing infrastructure, our population is decreasing, and I for one am all for not adding to the inventory that we will have to maintain. If people want to make the choice to move further away, they should pay the full cost of making that choice. One way to do that is to stop building roads and water lines and sewer lines beyond a certain point, ten miles from the sewer treatment plant, for example. Anyone who chooses to live further out should pay the full cost to build and maintain that infrastructure. We aren't taking their choice away, but we all must take responsibility for the choices we do make.
  7. Good point, but I don't think we can simply throw up our hands and say it can't be done. I would bet that in some townships they are anxious about retaining their rural character. They don't want to developed and Big-boxed. They might welcome an agreement that gave them a reason to set 40 acre minimum parcel sizes. We'd need a regionally-recognized leader to define a rough boundary and then approach the boundary townships about raising their minimum parcel sizes to 40 acres. Doing so as a way to maintain a rural community might be incentive enough. What could Cleveland and the FirstSuburbs Consortium of inner-ring suburbs offer as an incentive?
  8. London, England, attempted to limit suburban sprawl with a "green belt" strategy. Could something similar work here? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Belt_(UK) What if we create a greenspace buffer zone near county borders and linked or merged it with the ring of Metroparks. The choice to live beyond the buffer zone might be discouraged by limited routes through the buffer zone and the resulting increased congestion. It might not work. Sounds good though. :-D
  9. This looks like a question for JMasek -- why wasn't RTA interested in working with ODOT to include transit in the Opportunity Corridor plan?
  10. X -- I think we all agree that KJP showed how it could be done if done right. But clvndr's questions raise a good point, there are unanswered questions about this project that should be answered before we jump on board. ODOT and the city planners ought to answer those questions. KJP did express some reservations about ODOT's plan for a 45mph boulevard, and it's ODOT's plan that will be built, not KJP's. At least not yet.... If KJP could get ODOT to endorse his plan, we'd all be a lot happier.
  11. What I heard was that once they found that they couldn't fill it, they emptied it of the smaller tenants to keep other properties in town full(er). I don't think that means that they stopped trying to fill it, but maybe they weren't interested in having two buildings below 50%, and instead wanted one building near 100% and closed the empty one (Breuer tower) pending sufficient demand. Seems like a reasonable business practice. At any rate, it doesn't matter whether the Breuer tower was intentionally emptied or not. Let's assume I was misinformed or wrong. My point is still valid, if not clear. If we build a new tower on the square, that's a lot of new space to fill in a metropolitan area that isn't growing. See the numbers Florida Guy posted. If half of those firms move to new construction, that's close to 500,000 sq. ft. of space in older buildings that would be harder to fill. Most likely the vacated spaces would be broken up into smaller square footage spaces and not all of it would be leased. We could see Eaton Center or another building, for example, remain empty. That was what I was trying to say. If we're going to build new construction, I'd prefer to fill Wolstein's East Bank and Stark's Pesht developments before adding to the skyline. Cleveland already has a nice skyline, and Wolstein's and Stark's projects will bring more activity to the street level. That in turn could help to attract more residents and workers into the downtown in a way that I don't think a new tower would. The Avenue District is leading the way. We can watch and see whether the streets in that area are improved by the project or not. Perhaps I'll be wrong again.
  12. Let's also not forget that Jacobs intentionally emptied the Breuer Tower of tenants to keep rents up in other buildings in town. 70 stories is a lot of floor space. (How full is the BP building, by the way?) If for some reason this tower gets built and attracts several large employers out of other buildings, which existing office tower is going to get the Breuer treatment? C'mon Stark! I'd much rather see 7 10-story buildings (and all of the potential increase in sidewalk-interaction) than a new 70-story icon on public square.
  13. Arenn, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree with 8Shades and KJP, but your comments are welcome. I'm sure you're expressing the thoughts of many others. There is a basic problem with sprawl, and this new interchange, that maybe wasn't clearly articulated by 8Shades and KJP. I think we agree that the cost to build the interchange, whether paid by Avon or the developer, doesn't reflect the true cost of that interchange to the region. If only we could determine what that true cost is. Unfortunately, we can only speculate. Although we know some of the costs that aren't being included in the initial construction cost, we don't know for certain how big those costs will be. What is the cost of maintaining the sewer lines, roadway, water, electricity, etc. on X Street if that entire street moved to Avon? (As KJP noted above, our regional population isn't growing, it's just moving around within the region and spreading out.) And for anyone who doesn't like to hear the Mayor of Cleveland Heights, for example, denounce the interchange, note that NOACA wouldn't have a voice in this if Avon/Lorain hadn't decided to join NOACA.
  14. Wow. If only I was as eloquent as KJP. :clap:
  15. Is Avon willing to pay for maintaining it? Ohio's budget for roads and bridges isn't increasing as fast as the cost to maintain the existing roadways, yet the number of bridges and lane-miles of roadway seems to be increasing every year. How do you propose to solve this dilemma?
  16. Although I am a big proponent of public transit, I am not a regular user. On my last (quite a while ago) attempt, I was very frustrated that the bus was not on time (about fifteen minutes late arriving at my stop in Cleveland Heights heading downtown). If I could count on the bus arriving at the same time every day (within two minutes), I might try again. I could not find the information on the RTA website -- what is the on-time performance of various routes? I imagine that the rail lines have much better on-time performance because they don't generally share their right-of-way with other vehicles. What is RTA doing to improve on-time performance for the bus routes? I am curious as to how well the new signals will affect performance on Euclid. I don't think we'll really know until it is up and running, but the signal transponders that control/hurry the signals for the buses should help. Will the non-Euclid-Corridor-dedicated buses with routes down Euclid also have signal transponders? Thanks
  17. Here is an interesting idea to improve upon a Lake Erie windfarm. Basically, one problem with wind energy is that it isn't always blowing when you need power. A firm in the Netherlands has come up with a way to store some energy for when you need it. Build a dike in a windy area with an encircled area inside -- a pond in the middle of the lake. When you have excess power, pump water out of the pond. When you have not enough wind, let water back into the pond through hydro-electric generators (like you would find in a dam). Check out the full story and drawings: http://lievense.magproductions.nl/ariadne/loader.php/-xnVr-/sites/lievense/news/00003/?nls=en
  18. Not to mention making it faster and easier to get to a large employer enables more sprawl. The "sprawlers" IMO do not pay their fair share for extending the water/sewer/pavement/etc. out from the urban core. For example, my guess is that Solon, Westlake, Avon, etc. would not help pay for maintenance upgrades of those lines within the city of Cleveland. We may never stop sprawl, but we should make it harder not easier. If it is more expensive or inconvenient to build on outlying Cuy. Co. farmland, then it will easier and perhaps financially beneficial to encourage renovating property within the city.
  19. I stumbled upon this "oldie but goodie" post recently, and with the progress on the Silver Line, I'd like to remind everyone of some of the ideas previously discussed:
  20. Construction is finally starting on something new in the former Hickerson's in the Hanna Building on the Euclid Avenue side. At one time the rumor was that it would be a Molly Brannigan's, but their website (http://www.mollybrannigans.com/locations/maps.asp) still says that they will be "opening soon" at 1317 Euclid. Anyone have any news on what is happening in the Hanna?
  21. I wish I had $300,000 to give. Would you take $1? :-) Seriously, I hope it happens. It would be nice to see all of CSU covered in greenery. Have to start somewhere.
  22. Maybe they could start by charging a 19-day rate for the monthly pass so that there would be SOME reason to buy it and use it. Chances are many riders wouldn't use all 19 days anyway, between days off and occasional alternative transportation (cars/taxis/bicycle/etc.)
  23. What happened to the green roof on the rec center? Has it been discarded or is it still in the works? Looks like a white roof at the moment (certainly cooler in the summer than the black roof recently laid on the law school).
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