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More Conference Sessions: TOD, High-Speed Rail

TOD and high-speed rail were among the topics of numerous educational sessions during the Rail Conference.

Moving Beyond TOD

A session on “Transit-Oriented Development and Transit-Oriented Communities” considered the interaction between public transit projects and the communities they affect.

Toby Fauver of PennDOT noted that his department is investing in new or rebuilt Amtrak stations on the Harrisburg-Philadelphia Keystone Corridor to help strengthen depressed downtowns and increase access to Penn State’s Harrisburg Campus.

Charles Di Maggio, Greystone Management Solutions, reported on the increasing role of transit agency real estate departments in keeping track of the value of investment in facilities compared with the costs. “Good things happen when you proactively manage the process,” he said, reporting on Boston-area TODs that benefit the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Jim Frazier, Michael Baker International, described the creation of a task force to design and build a new rail station in Ranson, WV, to replace an existing station served by Maryland MTA’s MARC Brunswick Line. Representatives of Maryland, West Virginia and CSX are working with planning and development agencies to make the new station a hub for future development.

Benjamin Limmer, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, moderated the session, sponsored by HNTB.

High-Speed Rail from Many Perspectives

High-speed rail is coming to the U.S. in a variety of forms, according to presenters at a session moderated by Charles Quandel, Quandel Consultants LLC.

Beth McCluskey, Illinois DOT, reported on the $31.5 billion CREATE program, which encompasses 70 projects over 30 years, of which 28 of the projects have been completed. She emphasized that 25 percent of all U.S. rail traffic goes in or out of Chicago and the city is the nation’s top recipient of off-loaded containers as of 2014. CREATE is funded by the federal, state and local governments and participating railroads.

Frank A. Vacca, California High-Speed Rail Authority, showed how the project will first connect San Francisco and Los Angeles and ultimately will operate between Sacramento and San Diego. The authority will use the first 119 miles in the Central Valley as a test track while the rest of Phase 1 is being completed.

Rob Kiernan, the Northeast Maglev LLC, said his organization is working with the Central Japan Railway Company to build an elevated track that will allow maglev trains to run at 311 mph for a one-hour trip between Washington, DC, and New York City. He explained that the Northeast Corridor accounts for 17 percent of U.S. population and 20 percent of the nation’s jobs in just 2 percent of land area.

Chris Brady, Texas Central Partners LLC, said the privately funded 240-mile route between Dallas and Houston would operate on an elevated track with a catenary. The $10 billion investment, he said, would yield a $36 billion direct impact over 25 years, including $2.5 billion in tax revenues to the state.
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