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thomasbw

Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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The problem I have with a tunnel is that I don't see traffic being an issue on the Vine Street hill. The tunnel should bypass the streetcar driving on congested areas, and Vine Street hill is not one of them. I could see it going underground to bypass McMillan and Taft/Calhoun where the streetcar could sit at lights for a couple of minutes before reaching Corryville. But it seems pointless and really expensive to tunnel the length of Vine Street.

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Doesn't all this tunnel talk kind of defeat the purpose of streetcars which is running them through area that can be redeveloped? I mean if there is an 8,000 foot long tunnel, that's just 8,000 feet of potential properties that are being skipped over (under). That's fine for light rail but shouldn't  STREETcars run on the street?

 

Also does anyone know when they usually do the thermite welding? It's cold and I could use a little warming up... plus it looks really cool. I was just wondering if there was a construction schedule that could be found anywhere.

 

Running on the street is ideal, but what you're overlooking is that the portion of the streetcar driving development is the stop, not the vehicle or the tracks (though the tracks do ensure that the stops are unlikely to disappear in the near future).  The stop is where people disembark and may pop into a nearby store, restaurant, bar, etc.  The streetcar can run up Vine Street's hill with no problem, but it can't stop/unload/restart effectively on the hill.  I'm sure it can stop and restart in traffic, but it's not worth the increased maintenance costs that would be associated with the extra strain on the vehicles generated by scheduled mid-hill stops. 

 

So basically, you have two options, running up the hill with no scheduled stops or running through a tunnel.  Neither spurs development along that portion of Vine Street because the passengers can't get off in the middle of the hill, so the increase in redevelopment value along that section of track is negligible.  That leaves you to choose between a tunnel and on-street-running based on price, time to build, efficiency, and expansion potential.

 

Good post. IMO, expansion potential should be weighed the highest, because we are building for the future. This relates to the other factors you mentioned in these ways:

 

Price - A segment with less expansion potential, while cheaper up front, may be more expensive in the long term. Tracks on Vine are useful for a streetcar and a streetcar only. A tunnel has many more potential uses. If we decide we want those uses in the future, the tracks up Vine become redundant and all money invested in them is wasted.

 

Time to build - Compared to the life of the infrastructure, the extra time to build a tunnel is negligible.

 

Efficiency - Um, yeah. jmeck estimated 10+ min for running up Vine Street and 2-3 for going through the tunnel (the high estimate was for including a stop under Mt. Auburn). No question a tunnel wins this one. And with greater efficiency comes greater expansion potential; it also guides where the tunnel should go (Mt. Auburn is a diversion, but would be a good site for a stop -- even if that's not part of initial construction).

 

Another thing we should consider is potential ROI. That's practically limitless for a segment with the expansion potential provided by a tunnel, but very limited by a long, inefficient street segment without stops.

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We don't have anything in Cincinnati that will require such complicated engineering (London's new Canary Warf station is being built underwater), and we have good construction staging areas near any contemplated subway station.  For example, Hoffner Park in Northside, the many parking lots along MLK near University Hospital, or Christ Hospital's front lawn. 

 

Yes, can we please build the station right below the surface parking lot that Christ leveled the whole neighborhood for?  I actually have visions of an underground station with a portal out the hillside to Little Bethlehem. That would be a huge boon to that little enclave.

 

I don't think that the precise location of the station matters too much.  People heading downtown who live on Bigelow, Carmalt, Young, and even Walker and Dorsey I think would be much more likely to do a backtrack walk to a subway station with an entrance in front of Christ Hospital rather than wait on Dorchester for the infrequent #24 bus. 

 

The thing working against redevelopment of Mt. Auburn's many poorly-maintained homes is that residents would have to walk uphill, mostly on McGregor, to Auburn Ave.  There is a psychology that works against people choosing to take public transportation when they have to walk uphill to start a trip, even though they get to walk downhill on their return. 

 

The other possibility I haven't seen anyone mention is that it is technically possible to have a streetcar/light rail line branch at the Christ Hospital station, with one tunnel branch headed north to Jefferson or Short Vine and a second tunnel diverting northwest to the so-called "Losantiville Triangle", where Reading and Burnett fork.  The line could surface in the recently cleared lot (ironically an old streetcar barn) or in the landscaped triangle, then travel up Reading Rd. to Avondale. use to what would likely be the most expensive part of the system. 

 

The problem with that idea is that it probably doubles the cost of construction despite only adding maybe 1,500 feet of tunnel because of the complexities associated with creating a crossover track 100 feet below ground.  This is one of the ways the subway expansion costs in New York and London get out of control. 

 

 

 

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During MetroMoves planning, the engineers estimated that the trip from Fountain Square to Jefferson @ Daniels, running on Main/Walnut in downtown and in OTR and then through a mile-long tunnel under Mt. Auburn would take eight minutes.

 

Eight minutes! It would totally change the economics of living and working in the core. Especially if you put I-75 and Wasson trains on the same alignment, then branching those lines off north of UC -- thereby providing train service between the CBD and UC every 2-3 minutes at peak.

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During MetroMoves planning, the engineers estimated that the trip from Fountain Square to Jefferson @ Daniels, running on Main/Walnut in downtown and in OTR and then through a mile-long tunnel under Mt. Auburn would take eight minutes.

 

Eight minutes! It would totally change the economics of living and working in the core. Especially if you put I-75 and Wasson trains on the same alignment, then branching those lines off north of UC -- thereby providing train service between the CBD and UC every 2-3 minutes at peak.

 

I would absolutely love that, it is my dream to be able to just get on a train and be downtown in like 10-15 min.  No worry about parking or anything.

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Pittsburgh is interesting because of the similarity of the urban geography.  Anybody out there ever ride the #52 Allentown line on a Port Authority Transit Siemens or CAF LRV?  How does the grade on Arlington Ave. compare with the grade on Vine St. or Clifton in Cincinnati?  PCC streetcars ascended the grade on Arlington Ave. for years, followed by LRV's, with seemingly few problems (as far as I know).  Revenue service on the #52 Allentown (otherwise known as the brown line) was discontinued recently, but not because of the extreme grade.  It was a package of service cuts due to budget problems.  However, PAT transit left the infrastructure in place as a bypass in case the Mt. Washington tunnel is ever closed for any reason.  So, Pittsburgh has both a tunnel and grade-level street running. If the tunnel were closed for any reason every southbound LRV would need to ascend Arlington Ave.

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Returning briefly to discussion of the W. Clifton alignment, here is a 1950s-era photo of the sharp turn at Hastings Ave. which would give modern streetcars some trouble:

cliftonave_zps800a3f6f.jpg

 

You can see here how the Cincinnati Street Railway's unique 2-wire system made it much easier to convert to trolleybuses...yes the streetcar tracks are still in W. Clifton and we got to see them during resurfacing in 2009.

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^Congrats to Cincinnati for its two-wire system, I always did like it even though I think the technical (electrical grounding) basis for it may have eventually been discredited.  I believe Havana Cuba was the only other city worldwide to have a two wire streetcar system.

 

Re. the hill on Clifton: the horizontal curvature would give modern streetcars trouble?  Or, the vertical curve (slope) would give modern streetcars trouble, or both?  Is it the length or weight of the modern car?  I don't recall PCC's having those kinds of issues. 

 

BTW, when I rode a Cleveland Waterfront line Breda LRV up over the flyover in the flats, by Lake Erie, (flyover over the NS freight line) I was astounded and walked away believing the modern LRV could be designed to accomplish all kinds of amazing things! :)

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Looking at some of the Enquirer editorial and staff twitter feeds, its apparent that they are sick of the COAST/700wlw/Smitherman antics as well

 

Meanwhile COAST comes out against regional transportation(Shocking)

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This is slightly off-topic, but most who follow this thread are aware that part of the reason why interurbans and streetcars were replaced with buses was because the companies were able to pay creditors with proceeds from the sale of scrapped overhead wire, streetcar barns located in high-priced areas, etc. 

 

I was watching the following video recently and recognized right away that General Motors (and presumably Chrysler) were permitted to keep their large collection of show cars through their recent bankruptcies rather than auction them off to pay creditors.  I realize that those corporations are probably smart enough to hold ownership of those cars through a separate company, but nevertheless it is one more example of the double-standard for the automobile industry versus public transportation.  Start watching at 9:30 to hear the estimated $10 million price of this Corvette:

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Today Smitherman claimed that there is a "power line suspended in oil" that prevents the streetcar from being extended up the Vine St. hill.

 

Duke Energy is spending $87 million to move an electrical power substation and clean up a brownfield site in order to make room for the new Brent Spence Bridge.

 

But somehow, moving this one power line under Vine Street for the streetcar is impossible!

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BTW, when I rode a Cleveland Waterfront line Breda LRV up over the flyover in the flats, by Lake Erie, (flyover over the NS freight line) I was astounded and walked away believing the modern LRV could be designed to accomplish all kinds of amazing things! :)

 

Very true. You should also see what it does to weave its way through a thicket of highway ramps, streets and railroads on the south side of downtown Baltimore near M&T Stadium. Some of the LRT's gradients are in the 7% range.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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Is this the most inconsequential OpEd ever printed in the Enquirer?

 

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20140205/EDIT02/302050050/OPINION-Let-s-create-landmark?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

 

Just asking.

 

That's why he's in Graphic Design, as opposed to planning.

 

But, more on point, that was a most confusing OpEd. It didn't really make any point about it's opening few paragraphs before jumping to criticisms of the streetcar. Yikes!

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So, he doesn't like the streetcar and feels that re-establishing the inclines would make more sense.  Does he not realize that the inclines were part of the original streetcar network?  Without streetcars, what would their purpose be?

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They are installing the track bed on upper Race Street now.

 

Now that the straight length of Elm Street is completed, you can see how completely unobtrusive the rails are.  Also interesting, you can see that they bend in slightly towards the curb at the location where stops will be installed.  It is pretty slight, seems hardly worth doing, but I guess it ensures that they are out far enough from parked cars and that the stops don't have to be built too far out into the street.

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They are installing the track bed on upper Race Street now.

 

Now that the straight length of Elm Street is completed, you can see how completely unobtrusive the rails are.  Also interesting, you can see that they bend in slightly towards the curb at the location where stops will be installed.  It is pretty slight, seems hardly worth doing, but I guess it ensures that they are out far enough from parked cars and that the stops don't have to be built too far out into the street.

 

 

I was thinking the same thing about the bends in the tracks.  They don't appear to deviate more than maybe 12" at most?  It does seem kind of pointless, but I'm assuming the engineers had good reason for it.

My question is when are they going to be installing the curved tracks to start down Henry St.?

Its fun to drive a car following the streetcar tracks down that street.  It makes for a very smooth ride. 

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Those bends make it so there is no need for retractable accessibility ramps. First streetcar system in the country to have the feature.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding it but couldn't the stops being changed?  And if so, wouldn't that affect where the curves are placed?

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Those bends make it so there is no need for retractable accessibility ramps. First streetcar system in the country to have the feature.

 

Actually, that's not quite right.

 

The "rampless" CAF cars would have worked fine even if the bends weren't there. The engineers designed the stops that way because the industry has noticed that bump-outs suffer a lot of abuse from trucks and snow plows and the like scraping them. By moving the bump-outs a little more out of harm's way, it makes them a little less susceptiable to being hit.

 

One kinda cool thing is that every time one of our streetcars pulls up to a stop, the vehicle will calculate the total weight of its passengers and adjust its suspensions so there is a perfect vertical match where the curb meets the floor of the car. This is a unique feature of the CAF cars.

 

I suspect some stops will be changed over time, mainly by adding more of them. Still think there are too few of them.

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^ Thanks for the clarification.

 

If stops are added, do you expect segments of rail to be replaced, or larger station bump-outs (despite the snow plow, etc. problems)?

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I suspect some stops will be changed over time, mainly by adding more of them. Still think there are too few of them.

 

Where would the most logical place be to add a stop?  I think in general our transit has too many stops anyways, and the streetcar is just about right considering the density of the area it travels through.

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I suspect some stops will be changed over time, mainly by adding more of them. Still think there are too few of them.

 

Where would the most logical place be to add a stop?  I think in general our transit has too many stops anyways, and the streetcar is just about right considering the density of the area it travels through.

 

Not necessarily right now, but as the core repopulates, 12th Street and Elm for one. Maybe  Maybe Court and Walnut. Could use stops on Main and Walnut between 2nd and Fifth, which is easier said than done.

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An ice storm has screwed the Portland streetcar system because of freezing on the power lines.

CO    is thrilled even tho buses, cyclists, pedestrians & cars are screwed, too.

Does the Cincinnati system have any safeguards along these lines?

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My understanding is that as long as ice isn't bad enough to cause the lines to fall, then the movement of the pantograph and resulting bending of the wire would break ice away.  It's not pretty, and there's still a fair bit of arcing, but it works.  Frankly I'm surprised that 750 volt DC wires get cold enough for ice to form on them at all.  What else can be done anyway?

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Look at Portland's historic weather data.  Only two days since 1950 with sub-zero readings.  We've had about 10 sub-zero days already in 2014.  Clearly their system was not built for winters it doesn't experience with any frequency. 

 

http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_PortlandKgwTv_Portland_OR_January.html

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When you talk about adverse weather, I think it's important to keep some perspective that middle and northern North America is always going to be subject to temperature extremes (upwards of 120 degrees Fahrenheit), tornados, floods, ice and snow. It's not a mild Mediterranean climate. I personally think there is only limited value in comparing infrastructure choices based on weather resiliency, because pretty much everything we can build is going to be subject to adverse events at some point. Rail might be somewhat more resilient in the snow, but it's not immune, and it's other benefits are so much more important to promote.

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My understanding is that as long as ice isn't bad enough to cause the lines to fall, then the movement of the pantograph and resulting bending of the wire would break ice away.  It's not pretty, and there's still a fair bit of arcing, but it works.  Frankly I'm surprised that 750 volt DC wires get cold enough for ice to form on them at all.  What else can be done anyway?

 

The other problem is frozen switches. After a similar ice storm in 2008 which closed the Portland airport for most of three days, they installed switch warmers, and from my understanding, these have mostly failed over the past few days. They've been out with propane torches trying to thaw switches to get the trains moving.

 

Dunno about the streetcar -- there is less switching involved there -- but it was closed down completely for a while yesterday.

 

I'm taking another group out there next month, and I plan to ask about this and compare it to what's planned for Cincinnati. If anyone wants to go on this trip, let me know. I think we have about ten people signed up so far.

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My understanding is that as long as ice isn't bad enough to cause the lines to fall, then the movement of the pantograph and resulting bending of the wire would break ice away.  It's not pretty, and there's still a fair bit of arcing, but it works.  Frankly I'm surprised that 750 volt DC wires get cold enough for ice to form on them at all.  What else can be done anyway?

 

If they were warm that means the resistance is high and the wire isn't long for this world. With AC wires can get warm, but with DC not so much. When there's problems with DC, the components fry (like switches) but with AC the wire fries first. Correct me if I'm wrong.

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