Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation

Advocating for integrated public transportation, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities since 1992.

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All Aboard for the 21st Century!

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was among the dignitaries at Union Station Sunday as he highlighted redevelopment work being undertaken at the historic transportation hub. The proposed project, which would feature a partnership between the city, Amtrak, and other development partners, will bring a variety of new features and attractions to the area around the station, and represents the city’s commitment to creating and maintaining a 21st century transportation infrastructure. “You want a 21st century economy? You have to have a 21st century transportation infrastructure,” Emanuel said. “If you have a middle 20th century mindset, you’ll just run at that speed.” https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/union-station-renovation-creates-thousands-of-jobs-4 98840801.html

The Sherman Minton Rehabilitation Opportunity

Consultants for this project have been selected and they have begun the EIS Process with a couple of public meetings this last week.

Rehabilitating the Sherman Minton is scheduled to begin in late 2021. It will take a two to three years and require frequent lane closures and full shut-downs for periods over that time. The congestion will be a nightmare for everyone. The 65 corridor will take the brunt of the traffic, but the West End, New Albany and downtown Louisville will suffer the worst from congestion and the resulting pollution.

Our impression from the consultants in the Louisville Public Meeting is that they have no real plan to address congestion and cross-river travel beyond creatively moving traffic barriers and hoping for the best. When I suggested implementing a cross-river rail transit system for this project the responses went from neutral to out-right antagonistic.

These are highway men and women who are hired by highway departments to do highways. Our past experience in trying to bring about consideration of rail options has shown a lack of interest in looking outside the curbs.

I imagine that the Kentucky and Indiana Highway Agencies are looking forward to forcing 90,000 more vehicles across the tolled bridges. Their projections for travel on the tolled bridges have fallen way short – having ignored CART’s data and tweaked their own. Forcing 90,000 more trips across the tolled bridges is good for their revenue streams, but it is crappy public policy.

We have two well placed rail bridges that could be used to address some of this congestion and help those who will be most impacted by this project.
We should be looking to utilize them to the fullest. Implementing commuter rail service will allow TARC to maintain cross-river service without being mired in traffic. These bridges are the only options available to make a positive impact during this construction.

The highwaymen will be whining about the cost of implementing this service, But remember that these same guys used the “cost of Congestion” as a major justification for the last Bridges Project. Apparently that argument only works for them.

The other thing to consider is that after two years of study and prep, two to three years of very painful construction, and 90 plus milllion dollars, what will we have? EXACTLY WHAT WE HAVE TODAY. We have fallen down the Rabbit Hole.

This project is important and it also offers the only chance we will have for 30 years to implement a modern transportation system. A commuter rail system will not only address the mobility of our aging population but give us a boost towards addressing the climate issues that threaten us all. Rail is 15 times more efficient than cars for moving people, and it is that much safer, too. So let’s leverage all this pain into something that will actually move us forward and help us confront the climate and resource issues that are barreling down on us. That’s good public policy.

Why My Car Remains Unwashed. David Coyte

My car is filthy.  I park it under a sappy tree.  And we aren’t talking a tad grimy.  We are talking filthy black – and it is a white car .   I get stares, comments, and attitude.

I love my car.  Sporty 4 door, Fun to drive and one of the most efficient gas vehicles on the road.  48 MPG on a recent trip to Minnesota – there, back, and all the travel in between.  And I can put a 9′ 2×12 board inside and close the hatchback.   This marvelous piece of engineering and efficiency is a 1994 Geo Metro.   Eat your hearts out.

“So, why”, you ask, “do you not wash your car.?”

I hate cars.  They are filthy, murderous machines to which we are addicted.  And they are responsible for a significant part of our world’s resource problems as well as a myriad of negative social and health impacts.  As much as I love my car, I refuse to let it lull me into thinking that driving is good for me, or anyone else.

You have a nice car?  Lots of pretty things are poisonous. My car is here to remind you that you are driving a malignancy.  Just like me.

 

Take-aways from Brugge Event

On June 6th, CART hosted Dr. Doug Brugge of the Tusk University Medical School for a presentation on his work as director of the Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health (CAFEH) study.
There is a strong body of research that documents a variety of health problems associated with proximity to major traffic corridors. Ozone precursers, and PM 2.5 particles from vehicle emissions are well documented contributors to health problems. The CAFEH study is looking primarily at the role of Ultra Fine Particulates (UFP’s) that are only slightly larger than individual molecules. These particles are condensed from the gases that leave your tailpipe. CAFEH is actually a series of studies that establishes the health biometrics as well as measuring the particle emissions and individual exposure levels across a number of neighborhoods in the Boston metropolitan area. It is impressively complicated, both technically and logistically. Imagine a long term study that involves multiple blood testing of hundreds of citizens, particle monitoring inside and outside of their homes, particle monitoring from mobile labs that travel the roadways for years gathering data, and an incredible statistical analysis that seeks to adjust exposure to travel habits, work and home, weather conditions, and many other variables.
Most impressive, in the face of these challenges is Dr. Brugge’s commitment to valid science and the search for solutions to these problems.
Take-aways:
There are a number of points from Dr. Brugge’s presentation that stand out.
First: Health problems associated with being close to major corridors are indisputable.
Second: Ultra Fine Particulates, unlike Ozone, are worse in the winter months because they are condensates, and things condense more easily in cold conditions. Ozone is created when sunlight interacts with exhaust gases and this occurs in warm months.
Third: Mitigating particulate exposure is difficult. It helps if you are in a building with a central air system with good filtration and sealed windows. It appears much more difficult to protect residences where just opening a door can significantly impact indoor air quality.
Fourth: Vegetative barriers (rows of trees and bushes), and walls, can help reduce particulate exposure for those close to major traffic corridors, but keeping housing and schools farther away is the best solution. California has legislation that requires keeping schools and public housing farther from traffic corridors. Massachusetts is working on similar legislation.
Fifth: Diesel exhaust is many times worse than gasoline, so truck routes are particularly toxic.
Sixth: Investing in electric powered transport –electric rail, private electric vehicles, and light rail transit – is the best way to reduce exhaust toxins of all kinds.
CART would like to thank Dr. Brugge for an enlightening evening and the important work he is doing. We look forward to updates as his research continues.
We would also like to thank the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and JC and Charlotte for their support of this program and our mission.
Sincerely,
David Coyte,
President.

Coming June 6th

CART is bringing the Director of the Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health Study (CAFEH) to Louisville, June 6th.

Dr. Doug Brugge of Tufts University School of Medicine will present and discuss the results of this landmark study. More information soon!

CART’s new bumper sticker!

It is easy to forget that tailpipes put out as much CO2 as Coal Fired power plants – but they do and it is one of the areas in which we can really make a difference.  Tail pipe emissions are also a leading cause of Ozone pollution and source for Asthma and other heart and respiratory diseases.  CART wants to “Out” the Tailpipe!- to help us remember to drive less, and use and support Transit more.  Get one of our new bumper stickers when you become a member.

 

Twin Cities Gets Transit Right

Great article that reveals all the possibilities when a transit project is done right.  The key element in any major premium transit project is permanence.  The economic, social, and environmental co-benefits illustrated through short visual bites in the linked article are only realized when the community has confidence its not going away.  Rail is best suited for this kind of commitment but BRT and Rapid Bus systems can demonstrate permanence with investments in high quality fixed supporting infrastructure like functional stations at destinations along the way and at both ends, dedicated guideways, transit pass kiosks and more.

Successful transit is close to home, frequent, reliable, and not only gets me where the action is but stimulates action near by. It doesn’t necessarily  matter what kind of wheels it has.

Click here to read more.

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A reserved electric car charging station in St. Paul parking garage.

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