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Akron Metro RTA-Commuter Rail

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It's really interesting to read about this kind of stuff. Hopefully something happens soon!

 

Just curious, but how long would it take Akron METRO to get something like this started? For the sake of example, let's just say that METRO magically had all the money it needs to start the project tomorrow (heh, would be nice, wouldn't it? :-P). Approximately how long would it take them to get everything set up and start accepting passengers?

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If they had the capital and operating money right now? Probably a year or two before service could start rolling, depending on what train equipment they would need. If they planned to order new trains, two years. If they acquired existing second-hand equipment and rebuilt it, one year. Other than used equipment, there are no trains sitting in a showroom someplace waiting for Akron Metro RTA to buy them.

 

Considering that all the right of way is already owned by the public sector (including Akron Metro itself), this could happen much more quickly than other new-start commuter rail operations. Here is a POSSIBLE, THEORETICAL, COULD BE, MAYBE timeline:

 

Winter/spring 2012: start Alternatives Analysis

Winter/spring 2013: complete Alternatives Analysis

Spring 2013: select LPA (Locally Preferred Alternative) and submit it to FTA (Federal Transit Administration)

Fall 2013: secure FTA funding with up to 50% local match for PE/EIS (preliminary engineering/environmental impact statement) of LPA

Fall 2014: complete PE/EIS

Fall 2014: start seeking private, local, state and federal (up to half of the money from FTA) for final design and construction

Fall 2015: begin final design, secure property for stations, order or rebuild train equipment, construction, testing

Fall 2017: service begins

 

Six years would be REALLY fast!!!! If there are any complications in securing funding for any of the above steps (there usually is!), or if the FTA is really busy with reviewing other projects, or if the FTA's planning requirements or funding requirements change, add time to this POSSIBLE, THEORETICAL, COULD BE, MAYBE timeline.

 

More realistically, sometime in 2018 is probably the earliest that any service could start.

 

BTW, if you want to go window shopping for some railcars, here's a couple of good places to look:

 

http://www.trains-trams-trolleys.com/home/coaches.htm (the New Jersey Transit Comets might be good!)

http://www.cabooses4sale.com/passenger.htm (the Long Island RR blue stripes carbodies are good but their interiors need replacement)

http://www.ozarkmountainrailcar.com/catalog.asp?catid=380&n=Passenger-Cars (the stainless steel bilevels from Chicago are nice)

http://www.thedieselshop.us/LTE.HTML If you need second-hand locomotives, this is the place to go -- especially since they are nearby in McDonald, OH near Youngstown.

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There are times when I-480 takes 30 minutes to go from 77 to 271. I avoid that stretch of the road like the plague, especially in the afternoons.

 

I drive that 5 days/week on my commute from Berea to Twinsburg.  Luckily my employer offers flex time, so I can start and leave early enough to miss the worst of the traffic.  I hate my commute, but like the compactness of Berea and its proximity to the metroparks multi-purpose trails and the red line.  It gives me a quality of life I could not have if I lived in the Twinsburg area...

 

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Nah, I'm saying for visiting Akron. You'd still have to drive to work in the 'Burg but at least it wouldn't be as far.

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Passenger rail service in Akron could be on track

By Bob Downing

Beacon Journal staff writer

Published: December 9, 2011 - 12:40 AM

 

Could a new public passenger rail line be in the city of Akron’s future?

 

The Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority is embarking on a study to investigate the feasibility of developing rail service from the Merriman Valley to downtown Akron to the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters to points south.

 

That study, by the engineering firm of New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, probably will get under way early next year, said Robert Pfaff, executive director/secretary-treasurer of the Akron-based transit authority.

 

READ MORE AT:

http://www.ohio.com/news/passenger-rail-service-in-akron-could-be-on-track-1.249536

 

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If capital and operating funding is found, this type of vehicle might be perfect for the Akron-Canton region and other potential routes in Ohio....

 

6/5/2012 11:30:00 AM   

 

FRA issues alternative-design vehicle waiver to Denton County Transportation Authority

 

Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it approved the Denton County Transportation Authority’s (DCTA) request to operate Stadler GTW vehicles concurrent with traditional, federally compliant equipment. The waiver means that for the first time, lightweight low-floor vehicles will be permitted to operate in rail corridors concurrently with traditional vehicles, helping to expand commuter-rail options for U.S. transportation authorities, DCTA officials said in a prepared statement.

 

In 2009, the FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) prepared a set of technical criteria and procedures for evaluating passenger train-sets built to alternative designs that enable lighter, more fuel-efficient rail vehicles equipped with a crash energy management system to commingle with traditional equipment. The DCTA/Stadler U.S. Inc. alternative design waiver is the first comprehensive submittal that follows the RSAC Engineering Task Force procedures for Tier I equipment, DCTA officials said.

 

The waiver request “demonstrates that the enhanced crashworthiness and passenger protection systems inherent to DCTA’s new rail vehicles meet the latest and most stringent safety standards in the U.S.,” they said.

 

READ MORE AT:

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/FRA-issues-alternativedesign-vehicle-waiver-to-Denton-County-Transportation-Authority--31230

 

 

They can be operated as diesel-electric (as they do in Austin, TX) or pure electrics (as they do in Europe)....

 

swi_sbb_rbe520nr009_seetalbahn_stadler_gtw2-8_lenzburg_2003_600.jpg

 

aus-lry-trn-trestle-CapMetro104-20080308x_Patrick-Phelan.jpg

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I wonder with these trainsets if the CVNP would be ok with weekday service to Cleveland at some point.

There could be not one but two casinos in Summit county. One partially owned by Gilbert if Thistledown moves to Summit county.

  I don't think Gilbert has honestly given much consideration of Summit county to this point. However if he is going to invest in the county now and with a huge investment upcoming in his phase II of the casino downtown, i suspect he will be looking at all transportation methods to make it successful. With the longer window before it opens he may have a chance to do a little maneuvering to help rail. Also, if he knows that the racino could move near a train track that connects Akron and Canton and could also directly connect to his casino in Cleveland, wouldn't that be baller?  I believe he'd throw a few million to help various phases make that a reality.

 

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Just heard about this. Sorry for the late notice.......

 

METRO will discuss findings from its recent master planning study (see: http://www.akronmetro.org/Data/Sites/2/Assets/PDF/finalmetrorailfreightsystemstudy(optimized).pdf ) & W. Market/Arlington Rd. transit corridor service needs (includes analysis of Merriman-Goodyear commuter rail).

 

Please stop by the meetings below to share your thoughts or gather info:

 

Tues., July 24: 11a - 12:30p @ Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center; 631 S. Broadway Ave.

Tues., July 24: 6p - 7:30p @ Northwest Akron Branch Library; 1720 Shatto Ave.;

Weds., July 25: 6p - 7:30p @ Goodyear Branch Library; 60 Goodyear Blvd.

 

http://www.akronmetro.org/public-meetings-july-24--25.aspx

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This has nothing directly to do with commuter rail.  I'm kind of confused that I thought I saw an article that stated the secondary freedom trail was going to be started in early August through Tallmadge. To me that kind of implies that the metroparks are going to start pulling up the rails for a walking path. Is this one gov dept not know what the other is doing or will there be a walking trail alongside? Here it is:

http://kent.patch.com/articles/groundbreaking-for-trail-linking-kent-tallmadge-set-tuesday

The Board of Park Commissioners for Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will break ground on a new multipurpose trail that will connect Akron and Kent, Tuesday, July 3, at 10 a.m., near the intersection of East Avenue and Erie Road in Tallmadge.

 

The Freedom Trail will follow an unused railroad corridor on land owned by METRO Regional Transit Authority, and construction will take place in three phases. The first phase, which should be completed in December, is 4.2 miles long and runs between Tallmadge Circle and Kent’s Middlebury Road.

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The public meetings have everything to do with commuter rail.

 

So does what's happening along the Freedom Secondary. The trail is being built next to the tracks, not in place of them. It was the only way Akron Metro RTA could prevent losing that ROW to nature if nothing else was done to it.

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I still think there is confusion. There are 2 separate studies going on for metro. One is evaluating the commuter rail section from the Merriman valley to the Goodyear complex and a half mile either side of that. The other study is what this is, an inventory of Metro-owned rail lines and what can be "fast tracked" to improve the tracks for industry in Summit county.  I don't think the commuter study will be out until closer to the end of the year.  The freight rail is an important basis point to guide Summit county and AMAT.  I guess some improvement to the tracks will give more impetus to using them for passenger rail since there will be less startup costs for passenger rail and additional money for rail improvements from rail revenue that is currently non-existent.

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Your last sentence should clear up the confusion.

 

EDIT: so will attendance at one of the public meetings.

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I attempted to alter/delete my previous post but my iphone died just as I hit send..  The Metro announcement is incredibly vague and I guess I got confused on the emphasis from KJP and missing the & symbol..  I went over the 140 page document on my iphone being the geek that I am but already had seen most of that..  There was nothing in that study that alluded to the commuter rail which is why I commented. 

 

  To me when I see METRO list 2 streets and suggest it as transit corridor needs, I think bus not train since there has been serious contemplation about a brt type thing going from Goodyear(Arlington-ish) to maybe as far as Summit Mall(W. Market)..

 

Here's the announcement of the meetings in the Akron Beacon Journal, a little more fleshed out.  Sounds like an airing out of ideas to try to get general public feel and feedback.  I suppose they're going to see if people hate the idea of light rail or maybe are indifferent along with other proposals:

Metro RTA seeks to bolster routes

 

By Dave Scott

Beacon Journal staff writer

 

Published: July 22, 2012 - 10:59 PM

Metro RTA says its busiest routes are overcrowded and the bus system is looking for suggestions on ways to deal with it.

 

The routes along Market and Arlington streets average more than 40 people per hour and often are above capacity, with as many as three people for every two seats available.

 

The bus system is paying for a $350,000 study to look at ways to improve service and speed traffic along the key “corridors.”

http://www.ohio.com/news/metro-rta-seeks-to-bolster-routes-1.322027

 

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This funding was provided to Akron Metro through the Federal Transit Administration's Alternatives Analysis program. So even though there is interest in providing commuter rail on tracks available in this corridor, Akron Metro must review all options available including the "No build" alternative to show the consequences of inaction. Options could include reorganizing or expanding service on existing bus routes, provision of bus rapid transit on a routing where it could attract the greatest ridership, or the provision of a commuter rail on existing tracks (and maybe even some proposed tracks?).

 

This initial round of meetings is typically held to gather input on what options should be considered. So think of some ideas and bring them to one of those three meetings. If you can't attend, you can still share them with Akron Metro RTA. One of their lead planners is a nice man named Roger Bacon. You can share your ideas with him at: 330-762-7267 or Roger.Bacon@akronmetro.org

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Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic:

"What if two communities could see high speed rail as a link to a future system? An investment in a rail link would connect Akron and Cleveland and and solidly pale us in the future on the route between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. People in Cleveland might think Akron is in Ohio and not northern Kentucky if they could get here in about 20 minutes."

 

MORE:

http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2015/03/follow_akron_mayor_don_plusque.html

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Mayor Don Plusquellic's Akron to Cleveland high-speed rail idea: What do you think?

By John Harper, Northeast Ohio Media Group

on March 20, 2015 at 5:00 PM, updated March 20, 2015 at 5:40 PM

 

AKRON, Ohio -- Among a slew of futuristic ideas Mayor Don Plusquellic launched at his State of the State speech Friday was a dream sealed shut when Gov. John Kasich took office: high-speed rail.

 

"What if we went around the governor and established a high speed rail line between Cleveland and Akron?" the mayor said. "People in Cleveland might realize that Akron is in Ohio, not northern Kentucky, if they could get here in 20 minutes."

 

Kasich killed a railway that would have linked Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. The federal government pledged $400 million in stimulus money to help pay for construction, but Kasich wanted none of it.

 

On Friday the Mayor posited a different idea: a line between Cleveland and Akron, and at the very least make it easier to commute between Northeast Ohio's two biggest commercial centers.

 

MORE:

http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2015/03/don_plusquellics_akron_to_clev_1.html

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Not sure this is related, but perhaps it is. Metro RTA in their latest board meeting pdf announced that they are seeking to divest themselves of the responsibilty of the rail lines they own.

www.akronmetro.org/metro-board-meetings.aspx

 

Essentially, they feel the tracks they own are not aligned with their purpose of transporting people. They want to perhaps sell the tracks or at least transfer the rights to another entity.

  I think this would be an opportune time for the port authority to step forward.  This is now called the development finance authority. The benefit is this entity sees the bigger picture and a longer term outlook with fairly deep pockets. This could help package the land by these tracks to companies. It could also spur the commuter rail on the tracks they control and help in funding that. 

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Not sure this is related, but perhaps it is. Metro RTA in their latest board meeting pdf announced that they are seeking to divest themselves of the responsibilty of the rail lines they own.

www.akronmetro.org/metro-board-meetings.aspx

 

Essentially, they feel the tracks they own are not aligned with their purpose of transporting people. They want to perhaps sell the tracks or at least transfer the rights to another entity.

  I think this would be an opportune time for the port authority to step forward.  This is now called the development finance authority. The benefit is this entity sees the bigger picture and a longer term outlook with fairly deep pockets. This could help package the land by these tracks to companies. It could also spur the commuter rail on the tracks they control and help in funding that. 

 

Akron Metro RTA has to go through an immense amount of compliance paperwork and due process required by the Federal Transit Administration before it can do anything with its rail lines -- including working with freight carriers to serve online shippers. Metro has to prove to the FTA (and its board) how any new activity involving its rail assets will benefit moving people. And there are persons on Metro's board who don't want Metro to have anything to do with rail. The freight railroads also want Metro to divest of its rail lines. They are used to moving more swiftly than Metro can respond, so having Metro sell its rail lines is a very good thing for freight railroads.

 

But it has nothing to with Mayor P's announcement at his SOC address, which was the first that anyone at Metro had heard of the mayor's interest in linking Akron and Cleveland with HSR.

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Updating this thread with recently posted old data (how's that for confusing?).....

 

The summary of the 2002 NEOrail commuter rail study is at:

http://freepdfhosting.com/9207e94716.pdf

 

Other reports and studies of Ohio transit are at:

http://allaboardohio.org/transportation-planning-library/localregional-transit-planning-documents/

 

While Lorain-Cleveland and Aurora-Cleveland, at most Levels of Service, had lower ridership projections as separate routes than Cleveland-Akron, a combined Lorain-Aurora route was higher and had a greater chance of winning federal funds.

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