Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

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Friday, 08 August 2014 11:28

Caltrain Board approves capital budget

Caltrain's Board of Directors unanimously approved a $43.6-million capital budget, which will provide funding for bridge repair work in San Mateo, new safety improvements on the rail system and station modifications to allow for longer trains.

Siemens Rail Automation plans to combine and expand its manufacturing and engineering operations in the Pittsburgh area to specifically support Positive Train Control (PTC) projects, including a project to upgrade train control systems on two lines for the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The company plans to add 129 jobs, 68 in engineering and 61 in manufacturing, at its new location in Munhall, Pa.

Fort Wayne, Ind., Mayor Tom Henry and the mayors of eight other cities plan to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) calling for cooperation in development of a Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus passenger rail corridor.

The Indiana cities include Fort Wayne, Warsaw, Plymouth, Valparaiso and Gary. The Ohio cities represented are Columbus, Marysville, Kenton and Lima.

The MOA calls for the parties " systematically and incrementally develop the higher-speed rail intercity system in cooperation with existing freight rail operators and owners of right‐of-way along a corridor from Chicago to Columbus through northern Indiana, hereafter known as the Northern Indiana/Ohio High Speed Rail Initiative."

Specifically, the MOA resolves that the parties will work together to secure funding for the federally-required Environmental Impact Study (EIS), the next step in developing the passenger rail line. The EIS would examine the preliminary engineering, technical analysis, service planning and environmental impacts along several different routes in order to determine the preferred route for locating the rail lines. Once complete, the EIS would be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration. This study could begin in late 2014 and would take 18 months to complete.

"This is a big step forward in the effort to bring passenger rail back to our community," said Mayor Henry. "The Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus corridor will be good for citizens throughout northern Indiana and central Ohio. It will increase transportation alternatives and help boost economic development and tourism."

A rail corridor feasibility study concluded that approximately 2.1-million riders would use the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route in 2020, with that number growing to more than three million in 2040. The study also estimated that for every $1 of investment, $1.70 would be generated in economic return through job growth and increased property values. The study was completed in 2013 by Transportation Economics & Management Systems, Inc. for the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association.

The 300-mile-long passenger rail corridor would operate up to 12 trains daily, each direction, along the route. Express services would link downtown Chicago to Columbus in less than four hours.

Thursday, 07 August 2014 13:18

Santa Fe crossing safety being assessed

Santa Fe, N.M., residents will see a higher level of safety at Rail Runner crossings in their area, following a review of the crossings by Rio Metro Regional Transit District, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and the city of Santa Fe.

Union Pacific will strengthen transportation infrastructure in Wyoming and Nebraska by investing $9.6 million in the rail line between near Scottsbluff, Neb., and Shawnee, Wyo. The project, funded entirely by Union Pacific, began July 13 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's (SCVTA) Warren Avenue grade separation project is now complete and will be open to traffic beginning August 11. This is just one of many projects that will make way for the SCVTA Bay Area Rapid Transportation (BART) Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension.

The Tanana River Bridge in Fairbanks, Alaska, the longest in the state, has been completed on time and on budget, according to Gov. Sean Parnell.

New York City Transit (NYCT) veteran Frank Jezycki has been named vice president and chief officer for Staten Island Railway, effective immediately.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reached an agreement with Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) to perform design work for a portion of the route for the new passenger rail service between Chicago and Moline. Next month, IDOT is planning to begin making improvements to accommodate service on the BNSF portion of the route.

Union Pacific will strengthen Colorado's and Wyoming's transportation infrastructures by investing $11 million in the rail line between LaSalle, Colo., and near Cheyenne, Wyo. The project, funded entirely by Union Pacific, began July 9 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-December.

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