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N.J. Governor Chris Christie’s administration has announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award $71,419,023 in Sandy recovery funds to NJ Transit for repair and resiliency projects. A portion of the funding will be used for the elevation of key substations in Hoboken, Kearny, and Bay Head, which provide electric power for the trains and other critical facilities, such as Hoboken terminal.
“With this funding, we will be making critical investments to protect against future weather events and ensure a more resilient commuter rail system for our residents,” said Governor Christie.
To date, the FTA has allocated NJ Transit a total of $1.724 billion of Public Transportation Emergency Relief Funds in response to Superstorm Sandy. The funds have supported critical recovery and resilience projects, including:
- NJ TransitGRID – incorporated renewable energy, distributed generation, and other technologies to provide resilient power to key NJ Transit stations, maintenance facilities, bus garages, and other buildings;
- Raritan River Drawbridge Replacement – North Jersey Coast Line’s Raritan River Drawbridge was repositioned and the tracks reset to support train operations;
- Hoboken Long Slip Flood Projection – filled the Long Slip to an elevation above the Federal Emergency Management Agency base flood elevation and included construction on the filled area of six new tracks serving three high-level, ADA-accessible boarding platforms;
- Train Storage and Service Restoration Project – development of permanent safe haven storage for rail rolling stock; and
- Train Control & Communication Resiliency Project – continues commuter and light rail line resiliency efforts for certain assets that while not damaged by Superstorm Sandy, remain vulnerable to storm events, including critical life-safety signal and communications systems.
NJ Transit Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim said, “Each of these projects helps ensure the resiliency of our operations, equipment, and assets.”
TriMet, the commuter transit operator in the Portland, Ore., area, has announced that test trains will begin running frequently on the MAX Orange Line. The light rail trains will operate at their regular schedules on the 7.3-mile route between Downtown Portland and north Clackamas County but will not pick up riders during two weeks of simulated revenue service. The Orange Line opens on September 2.
MAX Blue, Green, Red and Yellow line trains will see minor adjustments to their schedules starting August 30 to accommodate the Orange Line into the system.
With new train operations, the Transit Police Division and the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division will begin a multiweek safety campaign at the SE 8th, 11th and 12th rail crossings south of Division Street on Monday, August 31. People violating traffic and pedestrian control devices will be issued warnings or citations.
TriMet is also alerting the public that the Orange Line tracks are for transit-use only. The transit-only trackways include the Harbor Viaduct (east of SW Naito Parkway), Tilikum Way (east of SE Water Ave) and Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People.
The MAX Orange Line will expand the MAX system 60 miles, adding 10 new MAX stations for a total of 97 stations systemwide.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillan was joined by Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) representatives, and state and local officials to celebrate the opening of the RT’s Blue Line light rail extension. The 4.3-mile extension travels from Meadowview Road to Cosumnes River College.
“Sacramento’s new light rail extension will improve access to jobs, education and other important ladders of opportunity for thousands of area residents, including CRC students, faculty and staff,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The Obama Administration is proud to support projects like this one that spur new economic development, reduce congestion and offer new travel options that will meet the needs of a growing population.”
The blue Line extension features new stations at Franklin Boulevard, Center Parkway and the college, and a new park-and-ride lot. The RT estimates the extension will provide approximately 2,800 trips in addition to the existing 39,400 average weekday light rail ridership.
“California’s capital region needs and deserves a robust public transportation network that connects residents to employment opportunities downtown, as well as South Sacramento, and other destinations throughout Sacramento County,” said McMillan. “With continued population growth expected in the coming decades, Sacramento’s expanded light rail system will bring much-needed world class transit options to this growing region.”
The FTA contributed $135 million toward the $270 million total project cost through its Capital Investment Grant Program and an additional $7.1 million in other Department of Transportation funds. The remaining cost was covered by state and local funding.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported that U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 22, 2015, totaled 567,943 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.4 percent compared to the same week in 2014.
U.S. carloads, with a total of 288,971 for the week, were down by 3.7 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume for the week totaled 278,972 units, up by 5 percent compared to 2014.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups that are tracked by the AAR posted an increase for the week ending August 22, 2015, when compared with the same week in 2014. Miscellaneous carloads increased 16.4 percent to 10,204 carloads, followed by farm products, up 7.1 percent to 16,670 carloads, and motor vehicles and parts, up 4.8 percent to 18,077 carloads.
Metallic ores and metals showed the largest decrease in the commodity groups, with a drop of 15.1 percent to 22,970 carloads, and petroleum and petroleum products were down 12.1 percent to 14,420 carloads. Coal declined by 6.4 percent to 107,273 carloads.
For the first 33 weeks of 2015, U.S. rail volume totaled 17,938,900 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1 percent when compared to last year. Carloads, with a total of 9,172,144, were down by 4.3 percent, and intermodal, with a total of 8,766,756, was up by 2.6 percent.
On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail volume for the week ending August 22, 2015, was 735,174 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent.
For the first 33 weeks of 2015, North American rail volume was down 0.5 percent, with a total of 23,391,005 carloads and intermodal units.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is continuing project work on its Winter Resiliency Plan that has earmarked $83.7 million to fund improvements to MBTA’s infrastructure, equipment, and operations.
Workers have begun replacing third rail and switch heaters on the Red line subway service and will also make the line more resilient to harsh winter weather conditions. The work will take place on designated weekends through September, with work continuing through the fall. Similar work began this summer on outdoor sections of the Orange Line subway, with work continuing through December.
The $83.7 million MBTA Winter Resiliency Plan was announced in June of this year and is funded through $62 million in federal formula funds for capital investments, $10 million in non-federal, MBTA capital funds, and $11.7 million in operating funds.
The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Foothill Gold Line), which is responsible for the construction of Los Angeles’ Metro Gold Line light rail extension, held a dedication ceremony for its new Arcadia Station. The station is one of six stations located on the nearly $1 billion Metro Gold Line extension, which will travel 11.5-miles from Pasadena to Azusa, Calif.
The event was attended by government and transportation officials along with hundreds of community stakeholders. Speakers included U.S. Representative Judy Chu, State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez and Arcadia Mayor Gary Kovacic.
“Completing the Foothill Gold Line on-time, on-budget to Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, and Azusa took an exceptional partnership,” stated Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian. “We are thankful for the local leaders who lobbied and rallied for this project, and partnered with us to plan a project that would transform communities for generations to come.”
The new station, located in downtown Arcadia, features artwork titled “Arcadian Zephyr” created by local artist Michael Davis. The artwork is inspired by two of the city’s major destinations: the racetrack at Santa Anita Park and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. It includes a 22-foot-tall weathervane with bronze sculptures; stainless steel panels featuring racehorses; sandblasted black granite and signature green painted benches; and a glass canopy designed after the eye of a peacock feather, which is based on Arcadia’s symbol of the peacock.
“Many of you probably know that railroads have played an important role in the history of our city,” said Mayor Kovacic. “Trains brought people who settled here and others who came to partake in our Racetrack. Today, we celebrate the rebirth of rail in Arcadia and the important changes it will bring to our downtown.”
The Foothill Gold Line project is on time and on budget and will be turned over to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) for pre-revenue service in late September 2015. Metro anticipates starting pre-revenue service this fall and passenger service in 2016. An opening date has not yet been determined.
The city of Mesa, Ariz., and Valley Metro, the transit authority for the Phoenix area, celebrated opening day of the Central Mesa light rail extension on August 22. Celebrations for the 3.1 mile extension were held at the four new stations located on Main Street and featured live music, food, activities and free commemorative passes. The light rail extension opened seven months ahead of schedule and on budget.
“Light rail has generated an $8.2 billion investment along the first 20 miles into Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, and with this extension we know that investment is only going to grow,” stated Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “With Mesa’s new extension and the opening of the Northwest extension next March, more residents have greater access to jobs, education, medical appointments, shopping and entertainment.”
Construction of the Central Mesa light rail extension started in 2012, with funding provided by a $75 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant, $71 million in countywide transportation tax funds and $53 million in federal air quality funds. Valley Metro Rail will continue to expand, with an additional two miles of service to Gilbert Road. Opening is anticipated in 2018.
Alstom, in a joint venture with Taylor Woodrow, has completed work on the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) tram extension, adding 17.5 km of new track and 28 new stops to the tram line. The joint venture delivered all infrastructure for the project, including overhead wires, track and signaling.
Terence Watson, UK managing director of Alstom Transport, said, “We’re delighted to have finished what was the region’s biggest construction project and, more importantly, a project that offers the people of Nottingham a modern, effective, low carbon transportation system. Everyone can now see, and enjoy, the benefits of the expanded network.”
The new network has more than doubled the existing tram line, with the South and Southwest extension linking directly to the existing NET Line One at Nottingham Station. The total tram network is now 32km in length, serves seven park and ride sites, and has capacity for up to 20 million passenger journeys a year.
“Whilst not without its challenges, it has been a hugely significant project for the city,” said Steve Lowe, chief executive of Tramlink Nottingham. “We set out to create a world class tram network for Nottingham and all consortium partners are proud to have worked together to ensure we achieve that aim.”
Alstom has supplied 22 Citadis trams for the City of Nottingham and maintains all 37 vehicles in the city’s tram fleet. Alstom is a Tramlink Nottingham consortium member, together with Keolis, Wellglade, Vinci UK, Meridiam Infrastructure and Infravia.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA‘s) Metro-North Railroad has received a $20.8 million federal grant to harden the railroad’s Hudson Line against storm surge flooding events. The grant will be matched by $6.9 million in MTA funds.
During Superstorm Sandy, more than half of the Hudson Line right-of-way was completely submerged, causing significant damage to power, communications and signal systems, which were flooded by salt water.
“Our trains cannot run without live signals, third rail power, and communications systems,” stated Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We are extremely grateful for this critical systems grant, which will significantly reduce the likelihood that Metro-North could again experience the magnitude of damage to our electrical infrastructure that we faced after Sandy. This grant will enable us to protect our equipment from future storms.”
The grant will be used to design and build 92 elevated steel equipment platforms along 30 miles of track from the South Bronx to Croton-Harmon, in Westchester County. Metro-North intends to place its communications, power and signal electrical components on these steel platforms, including third rail switches, cases for snow melters, signal power transformers and communications systems pedestals.
Funds will also be used on Metro-North facilities and infrastructure for design and construction of perimeter protection, waterproofing, hardening of substations and train yard buildings, and installation of video and electronic monitoring. The project will help prevent damage on the line from corrosive salt water in the event of a storm surge within the next 50 years.
“Superstorm Sandy walloped our tracks, electrical systems, rail equipment and more and this federal funding will help make our transit system more resilient without leaving local commuters on the hook for these expenses,” commented New York Senator Charles E. Schumer. “This massive federal investment means that Hudson River line riders can rest assured that their rail system will be stronger and more resilient in the event of a future storm.”
The grant was awarded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through Section 5324 of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which was enacted by Congress in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, along with Congressman Larry Bucshon and Indiana’s Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, attended the grand opening of Indiana Rail Road’s (INRD) new White River Bridge.
The $14 million steel-girder and prestressed concrete bridge, located two miles north of Elnora, Ind., will handle trains at 40 mph and rail industry maximum loads of 286,000 pounds. The new bridge replaced a pinconnected truss bridge built in 1899, which had weight restrictions and a speed limit of 10 mph due to its age.
“We look at this (bridge) as such a critical part of the growth of southern Indiana,” said Donnelly. “You hear a lot of stories about partisan politics but this is a perfect example of everybody working together, making sure our communities thrive and grow.”
Peter Mills, INRD president and CEO, noted that the new bridge makes business development opportunities possible for the railroad and the region.
“Thanks to our Odon Transload’s close proximity to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane and Interstate 69, we see a host of economic development opportunities for the Town of Odon and the entire I-69 corridor,” Mills said. “With a combination of superior customer service and aggressive comarketing of the region with our local partners, we can bring a lot of opportunities for growth.”
INRD’s Odon Transload is a rail-to-truck transfer facility near the I-69 and State Road interchange.
The new bridge was funded by a federal TIGER Grant, obtained with help from the offices of Senator Donnelly, Congressman Bucshon and the Indiana Department of Transportation. INRD, The Indiana Southern Railroad (ISRR) and a host of shippers also made capital investments. ISRR uses the bridge to link the north and south segments of its Indianapolis-Evansville route.