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Thread: Houston-Galveston Commuter Rail

  1. #1
    High-Rise Member GuerillaBlack's Avatar
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    Houston-Galveston Commuter Rail

    This is going to really help serve the over one million people who live in the Southeast Houston area. It will connect Houston's expanding light rail service with Galveston's trolley/bus service. Can't wait to see it happen.



    Study calls Galveston-Houston rail line a must-do

    By HARVEY RICE

    Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle


    GALVESTON A commuter rail line connecting Galveston to downtown Houston is economical, will reduce air pollution, ease traffic congestion and provide an evacuation route if a hurricane threatens, according to a 14-month study released Wednesday.

    The Galveston-Houston Commuter Rail Study estimates it would cost between $380 million to $415 million to revive commuter service on the 140-year-old Galveston-Houston and Henderson rail corridor that parallels Interstate 45.

    That's a bargain compared with the estimated $2.2 billion cost of a two-way bus lane carrying the same number of passengers, according to the study.

    "If people ask if we can do it, I say it's impossible for us not to do it," said Barry Goodman, whose Goodman Corp. conducted the study.

    Goodman, who is scheduled to present the study today to the Galveston City Council, said, "If we fail to take advantage of a system that is as cost-effective as this, then we have truly dropped the ball."

    The $350,000 study financed by the city of Galveston says that the 45-mile rail corridor is among the most underused in the region and that upgrading it would improve its freight capacity as well as easing traffic congestion in a rapidly growing section of the Houston metropolitan area.

    A commuter rail line would carry about 11,480 passengers per year when it is completed in 2030, reducing travel by vehicles by 51.7 million miles per year, the study says. That translates into a 509-ton annual reduction in air pollution, the study says.

    Development would flourish along the rail line, increasing property and sales tax values by an estimated $131 million within 1,500 feet of transit stations, the report says.

    If a hurricane threatened, the commuter rail could move 6,900 evacuees as far as Austin several times a day, the study says.

    First-phase choices

    The price of a ticket hasn't been determined, but Carl Sharpe, vice president of planning and development for Goodman Corp., said the average nationwide is $4.10 for a one-way ticket. Sharpe said the price is about the same or less than comparable prices for bus transportation, like The Woodlands Express that carries commuters from The Woodlands to downtown Houston round trip for $8.25.

    The study offers two choices for the first phase of the commuter rail line, which is projected to begin operations in 2012 with trains traveling as fast as 79 mph.

    One choice would connect Clear Lake with Galveston, hauling an estimated 1,263 passengers daily. The other would connect Dickinson with downtown Houston, carrying about 2,970 passengers daily, according to the study.

    Goodman said the Clear Lake-to-Galveston section would likely end at the University of Texas Medical Branch during rush hours and at the Galveston Railroad Museum, housed in the former Galveston rail passenger terminal, during off-peak hours. A station also could be built to serve the cruise terminal, he said.

    Cruise ship passengers would cross to the cruise line terminal in a covered walkway from a rail stop surrounded by restaurants and retail shops, according to one possible scenario, Goodman said.

    The Dickinson to downtown Houston alternative could end at a Metro transportation hub that is being considered in the vicinity of Harrisburg Boulevard and Magnolia Park, or continue up the I-45 corridor and end at a transportation hub downtown at Congress Yard, Sharpe said.

    The route down I-45 would cost about $25 million more because of greater engineering challenges such as grade crossings, Goodman said.

    Goodman said completion of the rail line was a political question, but reaction so far has been favorable. "I think there is a lot of support, growing support, for this," he said.

    Galveston City Manager Steve LeBlanc said there is strong political support in his city. "There is total backing for this," he said. LeBlanc said the city has had conversations with Galveston County officials and other cities along the proposed route through the Houston-Galveston Area Council. "They have all been supportive," he said.

    Metro spokeswoman Raequel Roberts said that the commuter rail line fits the transportation blueprint. "We already have a Galveston line on the boards and we are looking at other lines," Roberts said.

    Two-pronged test

    The next phase will be gathering information needed to persuade the federal government to contribute 50 percent of the cost, Goodman said. The phase, known as the alternative analysis, must show that the commuter line is the most efficient and economical way to solve transportation problems on the I-45 corridor.

    Goodman estimates the phase will take about eight months to complete and will include public meetings to assess popular support.

    If the project passes federal muster, the decision will be made on whether to begin designing and building the railway, he said.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metrop...an/5303232.html

  2. #2
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    All the more reason to get a train connection from Dallas to Houston.
    Times weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won't be able to escape it.
    Haruki Murakami

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    High-Rise Member GuerillaBlack's Avatar
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    Yeah, that would be nice, but Southwest Airlines killed it back in the early 90's. For that, I hate Southwest Airlines.

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    BootLegger X Factor's Avatar
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    I wish there was one... I would ride Coriscana to Huntsville anytime I am going home. Ahh, Wouldn't it be nice?
    Somethings ya just can't change.

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    No reason for us to stop trying to push it. Now that Wright is fading away, they may have bigger fish to fry than killing passenger rail in Texas.
    Times weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won't be able to escape it.
    Haruki Murakami

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Tnekster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msutton
    No reason for us to stop trying to push it. Now that Wright is fading away, they may have bigger fish to fry than killing passenger rail in Texas.
    At this point in time I would not think passenger rail would be the treat to airlines it was 10 or 15 years ago. Population growth demands an additional solution and would offer some travelers the option of being delivered much closer to thier destination than Hobby offers.

  7. #7
    High-Rise Member GuerillaBlack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tnekster
    At this point in time I would not think passenger rail would be the treat to airlines it was 10 or 15 years ago. Population growth demands an additional solution and would offer some travelers the option of being delivered much closer to thier destination than Hobby offers.
    Hobby?

  8. #8
    Low-Rise Member NTexUnited's Avatar
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    Wow, just found this thread. I now live in the Clear Lake area of Houston (Webster, TX). This would be a GODSEND for all of the people living in the Gulf freeway corridor (I-45). I swear, after living in North Dallas my whole life, right up next to LBJ, I-45 from north of Houston in Conroe, all the way down to Galveston, this is the worst corridor in terms of congestion, that I have EVER had to drive I went into town last night, Sunday night at 8 p.m. and there was bumper-to-bumper traffic ALL THE WAY INTO DOWNTOWN. It took me an hour and a half to go 30 miles. Unbelievable.

    That being said, I live along this railroad and it is seldom used by freight, I had to stop for a crossing train twice since I moved here in June, and it is perfectly upkept. there is Development all along the corridor since state highway 3 (old Galveston rd.) parallels the track. This is up there, in terms of potential ridership IMHO, with the UP corridor through GP/Arlington, probably more so.

    Traffic in Houston is EXPONENTIALLY worse than in Dallas. Growing up inside the I-635 loop, I didn't have to use Stemmons much, but I have been on I-35 for rush hour, and LBJ between Central and I-35, and neither of those compares to the blood-curdling frustration of gridlock that is I-45 Houston.

  9. #9
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    There are plenty of reasons that my family prefers Matagorda over Galveston, but the traffic in southeast Houston is definitely a factor.

    Crazy idea: instead of rebuilding on Bolivar, build a park-and-ride in Conroe, with an express train to the Strand.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NTexUnited
    Wow, just found this thread. I now live in the Clear Lake area of Houston (Webster, TX). This would be a GODSEND for all of the people living in the Gulf freeway corridor (I-45). I swear, after living in North Dallas my whole life, right up next to LBJ, I-45 from north of Houston in Conroe, all the way down to Galveston, this is the worst corridor in terms of congestion, that I have EVER had to drive I went into town last night, Sunday night at 8 p.m. and there was bumper-to-bumper traffic ALL THE WAY INTO DOWNTOWN. It took me an hour and a half to go 30 miles. Unbelievable.

    That being said, I live along this railroad and it is seldom used by freight, I had to stop for a crossing train twice since I moved here in June, and it is perfectly upkept. there is Development all along the corridor since state highway 3 (old Galveston rd.) parallels the track. This is up there, in terms of potential ridership IMHO, with the UP corridor through GP/Arlington, probably more so.

    Traffic in Houston is EXPONENTIALLY worse than in Dallas. Growing up inside the I-635 loop, I didn't have to use Stemmons much, but I have been on I-35 for rush hour, and LBJ between Central and I-35, and neither of those compares to the blood-curdling frustration of gridlock that is I-45 Houston.
    LOL... I live 3 miles south of downtown Houston, and I only sit in traffic about twice a MONTH. If you don't like the traffic, move inside the loop!!!

    Agreed, I hope we hear more about this project in the near future. It will not only benefit Southeast Texans, but really everyone that travels to Galveston for cruises, vacations or events.

  11. #11
    Supertall Skyscraper Member electricron's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    The Cities of Galveston and Houston could afford the ~$400 million to build it.
    With just 4 to 6 train stations along the route, the commuter trains could travel the 48.6 miles between these cities in less than an hour. Not a bad commute. It would be a boon for the tourist industry.

    But, there would have to be more transit options available at every station along the route for it to work effectually. Houston and Galveston have that covered, but not the intermediate suburbs.
    Last edited by electricron; 20 February 2009 at 07:13 PM.

  12. #12
    Mid-Rise Member Trae's Avatar
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    Galveston needs to work on expanding its trolley service. Houston has the light rail happening.

  13. #13
    Supertall Skyscraper Member electricron's Avatar
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    SMART (Somona-Marin-Area-Rail-Transit) is buying the lift bridge at the intercostal waterway, which will put a big gap in any future Houston-Galveston rail corridor. But it appears BNSF has to put a newer bridge in to please the Army Corps of Engineers anyways.
    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article...cles/120219823
    Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials intend to buy a used drawbridge in Galveston, Texas, to replace the 109-year-old swing bridge over the Petaluma River. Rather than launch a $20 million rehab of the aging structure at Haystack Landing, and then perhaps spending $30 million to replace it in 20 years, SMART says that for $20 million it can buy and install the used bridge and have it last 75 to 80 years.
    The Texas bridge is on the BSFN Railway line linking the Texas mainland to Galveston Island. It was built in 1985 and is being replaced by a new vertical lift bridge to increase the channel width.

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