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URBAN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION PLANNING PROJECT REPORT

THE FEASIBILITY OF THE NEW LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT SYSTEM IN THE CITY OF BRYAN AND COLLEGE STATION SUBMITTED BY: YOUNGJAE CHO

AVINASH SHRIVASTAVA

MATT SANDIDGE

WENHAO LI

SONJA WILLEMS

YIN YUN

AFIA REHAN SAEED

DECEMBER 2009

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. 2. 3.

The Vision Introduction Purposes and Need of new LRT system 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Preventing Urban Sprawl Reliving traffic congestion Current Freight Rail Operations Impact of Freight Rail Traffic 3.4.1 Operation 3.4.2 Hazardous material 3.4.3 Safety 3.5 Conclusion Rail Corridor - Opportunity 4.1 Ongoing Realignment Process coordinated by BCSMPO 4.2 Environmental Assessment 4.3 Modified Freight Rail Alignment 4.3.1 Traffic Capacity 4.3.2 Safety and Operation 4.3.3 Future Development Land Acquisition 5.1 The Acquisition Procedure 5.1.1 Acquisition with willing sellers 5.1.2 Acquisition with unwilling sellers 5.2 Conclusion Development Opportunities 6.1 Vacant Land along Rail Alignment 6.2 Affordable Land along Rail Alignment 6.3 Total Property Values 6.4 Locations for Development Opportunities Preserve rural heritage by relieving developmental pressure on rural land 7.1 Developmental opportunities 7.2 Proposed Density along light rail transit corridor 7.2.1 Current 7.2.2 Density 7.3 Density illustration 7.4 Development conceptual pattern 7.5 Benefits of transit supportive development (conclusion) Market segmentation 8.1 8.2 8.3

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Light rail Conclusion Peer Comparison: Boulder (Co), Davis (Ca), College Station (Tx)


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

9.

Current Alignment in Bryan/College Station 9.1 9.2

9.3 9.4 9.5

10

11

Realignment Alternatives 9.1.1 General Concept and Introduction of Downtown Bryan Alternative One for Realignment 9.2.1 Pros 9.2.2 Cons Alternative Two for Realignment 9.3.1 Pros 9.3.2 Cons Alternative Three for Realignment 9.4.1 Pros 9.4.2 Cons Stop Locations

9.5.1 Downtown Bryan 9.5.2 FinFeather Lake 9.5.3 Wellborn (Apartment Complex) 9.5.4 Northgate 9.5.5 A&M University 9.5.6 Old College Main 9.5.7 Kyle Field (12th Man Stop) Design of Light Rail Stations 10.1 General Considerations 10.2 Level of Station 10.3 Alignment of Tracks 10.4 Station Configuration 10.4.1 At-grade Boarding 10.4.2 Additional Facilities 10.4.3 Ticket Machines 10.4.4 Waiting Areas and Weather Protection 10.4.5 Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities 10.4.6 Park-and-Ride 10.4.7 Other elements Summary

References Websites referred

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

1. The Vision Our vision for the future provides increased transportation options for the Bryan/College Station (B/CS) area, opens the window for cost-efficient development opportunities, and allows for the preservation of the rural heritage of the Brazos Valley. This concept results in numerous benefits for the citizens of the Brazos Valley. The primary element of our vision involves establishing a light rail system in the community, enabling it to become multi-modal. Implementing plans for a light rail system will transform the B/CS area into a world-class, multi-modal community. The resulting increase in transportation options will decrease our dependency on oil, while at the same time increasing mobility.

The

community

demands

an

improved,

more

progressive

transportation system, with this plan we do meet that demand. Our vision of incorporating light rail into the B/CS area increases the opportunities for more desirable, cost-efficient development. New development would consist of aesthetically appealing, transit-oriented development (TOD) that utilizes existing infrastructure of the city.

This type of development

increases citizens’ mobility, making it viable for both transit and non-motorized options.

Our proposal taps an unmet market demand. The rural heritage

defines the character of the Brazos Valley. This plan for light rail encourages the preservation of the rural farmland in the region. The light rail corridor helps preserve the natural beauty of the area and also the citizens’ way of life. Current development overtakes the farmland, but the rail corridor will promote close-knit development with traditional style neighborhoods. Our vision curbs the problems of today’s development trends, while providing the prospect of responsible, demand driven development.

It

offers transportation options for the future, while maintaining the rural character of our past. This vision is explained graphically by the map on the next page.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

2. Introduction Public transportation is one of the few sustainable transportation solutions for urban or suburban areas. Because public transit system, especially light rail system (LRT), has various traditional positive effects in the perspective of transportation such as mitigating traffic congestion, improving air quality, reducing energy consumption and decreasing accident rate. Additionally the public transit system helps economic development and effective use in land by stopping urban sprawl, since there are strong connections between public transit and economic growth as well as land use (1). Thus, in this study, we suggest a light rail system as an effective measure in Bryan and College Station to solve diverse problems in current and future and to make attractive city. To support our suggestion we examine purposes and needs of LRT development and set up the viable visions based on our intuitive analysis. Furthermore potential alternatives and its feasibility are examined through various approaches in terms of transportation and land development. 3. Purposes and Need of new LRT system The city of Bryan and College Station have several obstacles to sustainable development. They can be summarized as problems on urban sprawl, traffic congestion, safety, and rural heritage preservation. Our solution – new LRT system, therefore, not only has to be able to solve those problems at once but also provides possible opportunities for sustainable development. Prior to suggesting new LRT system deployment we diagnose its purposes and needs. 3.1

Preventing Urban Sprawl

Brazos County is low dense urbanized area having 152,415 of populations and 260 persons per square mile of population density (U.S. Census 2000). However most people live in city of Bryan and College Station, located in the center of Brazos County, so both city has relatively high population density. Moreover population spreads around the central region of both cities where Texas A&M University is located, since they are university-oriented cities and majority of residents in those cities are students or workers of university. Urban form of Bryan and College Station, therefore, has a characteristic that most people live and employees work around central region along the Highway6 corridor stretching from north-east to south-west region (See the left graphic of each Figure 1 and 2), although some residents spread out toward both east and west sides. This current status indicates good sign towards sustainable 7|Page


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

development because there are high-density population in the center and no evidences of discrete dense area over the both cities. However we observe a critical evidence of urban sprawl phenomenon from population projection reflecting land development. In 2030, significant population growth or large scale migration will take place non-contiguously in several regions outward from the core area (See the right graphic of Figure 3, darkness represents increase in population during 2000 to 2030). Those leapfrog development caused by spatially discrete growth in population – one of characteristics of urban sprawl (2, 3, 4), is a clear indication of urban sprawl and it leads to inefficient and costly patterns of development. Under fragile, segregated, and land-consuming development all physical and social costs regarding transportation, community design, water, sanitation, electricity, etc. might increase so that sustainable development cannot be achieved. If we deploy the new light rail transit going along with the corridor between the city of Bryan and College Station and through the Texas A&M University, urban sprawl can be controlled because most land development will be happen along the new corridor resulting in little population growth or migration outward from the central region. This can be done by using Transit Oriented Development (TOD). In other words TOD can promote efficient use of land so that transit demand will increase and induce, although this can be viewed as a chicken-and egg problem. Without a new transit system, it may be difficult to control land use by TOD, and vice versa.

Figure 1 Population Projection

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Figure 2 Employment Projection


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 3 Increase in population

3.2

Figure 4 Increase in employment

Reliving traffic congestion

The city of Bryan and College Station have been designed with the expectation that automobile will be people’s primary means of mobility like as the vast majority of U.S. urbanized area due to few transit services provided in limited area and sprawled development. Under automobile-dominated city shape and circumstances of increasing population and employment (See Figure 5 and 6), road traffics in both cities are not enough to accommodate their capacity, especially at peak hours. During the peak hour, current volume per capacity ratio on each road is over 1 or is close to 1 in several roads, meaning that travelers on these roads are experiencing traffic congestion (See Figure 7). Traffic congestions are observed at Briarcrest Dr., University Dr. and Harvey Rd. for the north-east bound direction, and seem severely at Highway 6, Texas Ave., Wellborn Rd. and Harvey Mitchell Pkwy S for north-west bound direction. In addition it is apparent that traffic congestion will be severe on those roads. Thus it seems clearly feasible to install new transit system along the corridor toward the direction between the north-west and south-east in order to mitigate and disperse increasing traffic congestion on the current and future. By doing that, we can reduce traffic congestion and provide additional travel options to folks of transit dependent as well as transit choice rider, and accommodate sustainable development as a consequence of new LRT system deployment in the city of Bryan and College Station. In other words new LRT system is appropriate remedy for sustainability preventing market failure in urban growth.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 5 Population changes during 2000-30

Figure 6 Employment changes during 2000-30

Figure 7 Estimated traffic volumes and V/C ratio on each road during AM peak using 4-step model

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3.3

Current Freight Rail Operations

The currently existing railroad tracks through Bryan and College Station are used by the single railroad operator, namely Union Pacific, for the purpose of transporting freight. Originally, Southern Pacific Railroad and Missouri Pacific Railroad has been operating rail on the corridor under consideration, but both companies have merged with Union Pacific Railroad leaving it the only operator of the corridor. Union Pacific Railroad Company is operating freight rail from Houston through Bryan – College Station to Dallas/Fort Worth and Waco, respectively. This route is reversed every other day. The majority of rail traffic traverses the area as through-traffic, only a small number of trains actually stop in Bryan – College Station to serve local businesses. Right now, the Bryan – College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization (BCSMPO) estimates a traffic volume of 23 trains per day passing through the area on an average weekday. Additionally, during the time between October and March, there are four to six grain trains on the corridor. BCSMPO states that within the two cities there are 24 railserved business located, but only five of them actively receive or ship freight via rail. The MPO’s forecast for freight traffic is that the volume will increase to 40 trains per day in 2025.

3.4

Impact of Freight Rail Traffic

3.4.1 Operations The impact of the projected increased rail traffic in 2025 affects various other aspects of the transportation system in the area and raises safety concerns as well. Due to the fact that the railroad runs through the center of the two cities, there are a high number of at-grade railroad crossings, which causes motorist congestion for vehicles and affects the transportation system significantly. With increased train traffic in 2025 constituting approximately 40 to 48 trains per day the potential for motorist congestion is increased significantly resulting in an increase of travel times and idle time throughout the entire area. According 11 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

to the Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2010 (MTP), one train has an average length of 6,000 feet and traverses the area with an average speed of 30 mph. This means that one train needs about 2.5 minutes on average to cross an intersection, which currently results in 1 hour idle time per day for traffic at each railroad crossing. With an increase of rail traffic in the future, the idle time for motorists at each railroad crossing will increase to up to 2 hours. Right now, the area has more than 25 at-grade railroad crossings, so the resulting wait time at railroad crossings and the induced congestion is significantly. 3.4.2 Hazardous Material The current freight rail operation raises additional safety concerns, since freight is transported through the center of two cities - including a university campus. The transported freight includes hazardous material, including dry and liquid chemicals which account for about 15% of freight volumes shipped in 2008 as shown by Figure 1. Local studies conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute and the Hazard Center at Texas A&M University have

Transported Materials by Union Pacific Railroad in 2008 with destination or origin in Texas.

shown that the amount of hazardous material which is transported through Bryan and College Station via rail is non-negligible.

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3.4.3 Safety Apart from the transport of hazardous material through the twin cities, there are other safety aspects to consider which result from the current alignment of freight rail through the heart of Brazos Valley. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 20 derailment accidents occurred in Bryan between 1975 and 2004. Additional safety problems arise for pedestrians and emergency vehicles due to the high number of atgrade railroad crossings and a lack of adequate pedestrian facilities. Emergency vehicles may be prevented from crossing the railroad by approaching trains. The current alignment of the tracks constitutes a severe curve in downtown Bryan. This sharp curve causes the trains to slow down to prevent derailments resulting in operational deficiencies. In this area, the current alignment includes only a single track and limited sidings with block crossings.

3.5

Conclusion

As a summary it can be stated that the current alignment of freight rail through a developed area constitutes several problems ranging from safety concerns to operational deficiencies and congestions generation. These factors lead to the assumption that an alternative alignment for freight rail should be considered. The current alignment of railroad tracks would then be freed up for potential light rail use.

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4. Rail Corridor - Opportunity

In order to solve the problems with the current freight rail alignment which were discussed in previous sections and to implement the vision for Bryan and College Station, this section provides an analysis of freight rail realignment options. The freight rail alignment currently traverses through the heart of Brazos Valley and the center of Bryan and College Station, imposing several issues related to the transport of hazardous material, safety concerns and operational deficiencies. As previously discussed all these problems will intensify in the future due to a projected freight rail traffic volume increase. A solution to the problem and a way to avoid further negative impacts to the communities caused by freight rail that traverses the area is to reroute freight rail. BryanCollege Station Metropolitan Planning Organization (BCSMPO) has already recognized the imminent threat and started a process to find an alternative freight rail alignment. 4.1

Ongoing Realignment Process coordinated by BCSMPO

The current process of finding an alternative alignment for freight rail through the metropolitan area of Bryan and College Station began in 1998. The BCSMPO coordinates this process and held its first meeting on the topic under consideration on February 16, 1998. Since then, several meetings have been held; there are numerous newspaper articles, studies and votes, which the MPO documented into a 52 page timeline. The MPO is composed of three committees that were concerned with rail realignment, namely Policy Committee, Technical Advisory Committee, and Rail Advisory Committee. The process started out by collecting a variety of different realignment options for freight rail as alternatives to the current tracks. 24 options were initially 14 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

considered and were narrowed down to three alternative corridors that were chosen for further consideration: 1. An alternative alignment through Burleson County along the Brazos River, 2. an alignment following State Highway 47, and 3. An alignment on the existing tracks through College Station and making a downtown detour in Bryan, referred to as Downtown Detour. Additionally, the no-built scenario, i.e. maintaining the existing alignment, was considered as fourth alternative. Figure 8 illustrates the proposed alternative alignments in reference to the existing railroad tracks. In 2001, the costs of these alternatives have been numbered. The downtown detour is the cheapest project with $98.7 million, followed by the alignment along SH 47 with $131.4 million, and the alternative along the Brazos River is estimated to cost $181.1

Figure 8: Conceptual Illustration of alternative Freight Rail Realignments

million. In 2000, BCSMPO hired a consulting firm, Carter & Burgess, to prepare a “Local Rail Economic Feasibility and Location Study�. This study has been 15 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

adapted by the MPO’s Policy Committee in 2008. Additionally, the consultants completed a Major Investment Study (MIS) in August 2002, and an environmental assessment. The process of the rail feasibility study included public involvement and public meetings were held in 5 series. Each series consisted of three public meetings that were held in 2000 and 2001. Based on this decision process, the locally preferred alternative (LPA) was chosen to be option #12-2, Downtown Detour, as referred to by the Local Rail Economic Feasibility and Location Study. The MPO Policy Committee and all Policy Committee entities endorsed the LPA in April 2002 with resolutions of support. These entities also include Texas A&M University. 4.2

Environmental Assessment

The

Consultants

to

BCSMPO,

Carter

&

Burgess,

completed

a

draft

environmental assessment that was received by the MPO in April 2004. This environmental assessment merely focused on the locally preferred alternative, the downtown detour realignment of freight rail. It was not until November 2008, that BCSMPO finally accepted the overview environmental assessment, which closed out the Local Rail Economic Feasibility and Location Study. Since this assessment is only valid for three years, this means that its expiration date is in 2011 which gives the MPO a tight schedule to start the implementation of the project. The environmental assessment finds that the project’s objectives of realigning the freight rail corridor are met by the proposed downtown detour. The proposed alignment would increase traffic capacity of the area, improve operations and safety, and enhance future development.

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The following results are listed in the environmental assessment: •

“There would be minimal to no environmental impacts to farmland, environmental justice populations, wetlands, water bodies, water quality, vegetation and wildlife, floodplain, or archeological resources.

Positive effects are anticipated for the community, safety, public facilities and services, economics, and land use.

Air quality emissions are anticipated to be below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and improved as a result of the project.

Depending on the solution, additional right-of-way could be needed.

Depending on further USFWS, more surveys for Navasota ladies’-tresses could be required.” (Railroad Relocation – Final Overview Environmental Assessment, p.ES-8)

As a conclusion, the overview environmental assessment states that an Environmental Impact Statement is not necessary, since there were no significant environmental effects caused by the proposed project. 4.3

Modified Freight Rail Alignment

The scope of our study is to relocate the freight rail line in order to improve operations

and

safety,

increase

traffic

capacity

and

enhance

future

development in Bryan and College Station. As stated above, the current alignment results in significant traffic delays and hazards put onto the two communities. However, we propose to completely eliminate the freight rail line from the built environment in the two cities. Our suggestion is to further investigate the proposed rail realignment corridor along SH 47 to detour Bryan and College Station. However, the MPO’s proposal for this alternative is to follow the current alignment and to diverge from it at the intersection with Hwy 2818. With this alignment we observe the following issues: 17 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

•

Freight rail detours most areas of the two cities, but not all. This is especially true for newer subdivisions in South College Station.

•

The alignment still poses a thread for safety and operations on the part of College Station that is not detoured and the original problems persist.

Due to these reasons, we propose a slight modification and a consequent realignment to detour the entire urban area. The proposed freight rail alignment diverges from existing tracks in Wellborn and follows State Highway 47 before joining the existing tracks again north of Bryan. This alternative is illustrated by Figure 9.

Figure 9: Conceptual Illustration of alternative Freight Rail Realignments including proposed one

The above outlined realignment of freight rail to areas outside the two cities entails numerous opportunities. The remainder of this section presents opportunities that are related to safety and operations. Additional development and light rail opportunities are discussed in the following sections of this report.

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4.3.1 Traffic Capacity Rerouting freight rail to the proposed alignment along SH 47 would increase traffic capacity in the two cities significantly. This includes the elimination of around 18 at-grade railroad crossings in Bryan and around at-grade 7 railroad crossings in College Station. The positive effect on traffic congestion in the area, idle time spent at railroad crossings, as well as safety aspects concerning emergency vehicles and pedestrians are immense. 4.3.2 Safety and Operation By realigning the freight rail line outside of the cities, this would eliminate the transport of hazardous materials through the heart of the community and thus increase safety throughout the entire area. This is an improvement over the LPA, downtown detour, since the transport of hazardous materials would also be eliminated from traversing College Station including the campus of Texas A&M University. By shifting the freight rail line outside the built-environment, operational aspects of the railroad can also be improved, since trains can move at higher speeds and the current severe curves are eliminated. A side product is that the noise problem caused by honking the horn of the railroad when approaching a railroad crossing would be solved as well. 4.3.3 Future Development Realignment of the railroad frees up an entire corridor for new development throughout the two cities. The corridor with existing tracks can be used to establish a light rail system serving the two communities, adjacent businesses and industry as well as the university. New transit-oriented development can be attracted to the vacant and undeveloped properties along the existing tracks. This presents a prime opportunity for the municipalities to establish new transit-oriented developments and urban renewal of the existing rail corridor to meet the developmental needs for the projected population growth of the metropolitan area.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

The additional cost of the project when relocating the freight rail corridor along SH 47, instead of implementing the downtown detour, is $32.7 million. This cost difference can be justified by the savings in costs of travel delay that the relocation of freight rail out of College Station has as compared to the downtown detour concept. As calculated above, the realignment of the freight rail corridor and the associated travel delay caused by at-grade railroad crossing account for up to 2 hours at each of the 25 intersections per day. If we only regard travel time not including the waste of fuel consumption through idle time at railroad crossings, an estimated public cost of $282,327 per year can be calculated for the area. This is based upon the cost of delay time multiplier by Texas Transportation Institute, where travel time has a value of $15.47 per person-hour and $102.12 per truck-hour in 2007. The above calculated amount only includes the cost of delay per person-hour. By taking additional factors into account, the public cost savings would be even more.

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5.

Land Acquisition

In order to Re-start commuter service on the railroad there are two options. The first option works when the corridor is Inactive i.e. where the corridor is no longer in use, the process is relatively straight forward. Purchase the ROW, then “abandon” the freight company’s easement. Abandonment is a federal process

that

is

lengthy

and

complicated,

but

nevertheless

pretty

straightforward. It is mostly the purview of lawyers. The second option which can be considered when the freight line is still active again has two alternatives to be considered. Former one is to relocate or purchase any of the industries that are still using the freight line, and then purchase the property. This is approach has already been successfully used for the South Eastern portion of the Atlanta BeltLine where there was just one user who used to get 2 – 3 freight shipments per week. The speedy implementation, low capital cost, and relatively benign environmental effects of commuter rail new starts are somewhat offset by their limitations (for details see Appendix A). The second one is to share the corridor. This is by far the most complicated.

One approach, temporal separation, is used on the

RiverLine, NJ among other places. FRA compliant transit vehicles use the corridor during the day and the freight trains use the tracks at night. Temporal separation and sharing track is not an easy option to be considered because it involves a lot of technicalities, as we need to have to have separation tracks side-by-side in the corridor. This requires either a barrier wall between the transit vehicles and the freight trains or a distance separation of about 30’ and other such complicated legalities. Sharing a rail corridor with a freight operator can create the following other problems:

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In-service restrictions on schedule making

Difficult to manage schedule parallel by both freight and passenger operators

Delay in the addition of desirable capacity can result is critical service discontinuations

The Railroad regulation in the United States forbids the simultaneous operation of light rail derivative diesel multiple unit (DMU) equipment and conservative railroad equipment on the shared track except if it is time-separated.

Thus we can also not assimilate the commuter and the light rail service.

Additionally, there are many other safety assessments which are quite cumbersome to manage.

5.1 The Acquisition Procedure There are basically two categories for this kind of acquisition of the right-ofway: 5.1.2 Acquisition with willing sellers This procedure has been already summarized in the introduction of this section. Sheys. James B.McDaniel (1994)

suggest that managers, planners,

and attorneys who intend to carry out

any kind of establishment and

development of transit system in the present law, have sound opportunities and favorable climate for voluntary acquisition and use of railroad rights of way, whether transit use is exclusive or on a shared freight corridor. Their research further indicates that with respect to active rail lines, the most common prospects, freight railroads are motivated to sell rights of way or grant access

rights

to

transit

providers.

Sales

and

shared-use

agreements

characterize good prospects for freight railroads to leverage assets and share certain operating expenses. Numerous ICC cases have established a pattern for 22 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

voluntary sales of non-abandonable lines to transit systems for exclusive or shared use, without subjecting transit systems to the costly and burdensome laws that plague the freight railroad industry. This type of acquisition has been successfully implemented in the case of the Atlanta Beltline. The project history,

concept

and

procedures

are

explained

the

in the following paragraphs: 5.1.2 Acquisition with unwilling sellers This may occur if the freight agency is unwilling to sell out the right-off way. In our case the freight agency is “The Union Pacific�. Following are the possible strategies we can use to purchase the Right of way: According to a research carried out by Kevin Sheys. James B.McDaniel (1994) if a transit system faces a freight railroad unwilling to sell rail line or grant access upon rational compensation offer there are some options under present law to tackle the issue. Transit systems in this predicament are not at the mercy of freight railroads. These Transit systems have momentous powers to influence local and state governments, which in turn have considerable political sway with freight railroads. Besides this, the transit systems have the ability (in fact, the obligation) to study and consider numerous alternative solutions to public transit problems. Thus, in many cases transit systems are as able as any other buyer of property (or access rights) to create a competitive atmosphere among potential sellers of property (or access rights) for public transit. However, the legal options accompanying these other powers are limited. The most fruitful solution to the problem of the unwilling seller would be federal legislation giving transit systems a right to seek access to railroad rights of way for public transit service. Although this approach would raise formidable freight railroad industry conflict, legislation presents a possible acquisition/use strategy for transit providers. 23 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Another option that can be considered is the power of eminent domain, this can aid a state or municipality in securing private property necessary to meet a public purpose. The eminent domain (or condemnation) power has already been successfully used to secure railroad property for public use in several contexts. In both the above mentioned cases the federal law allows the forced access by a railroad operator on rail line and right of way owned and operated by another railroad. A discussion of these provisions helps to understand how the transit industry might structure a legislative proposal for right-ofway access. As a precedent to the above mentioned complication we can consider the example that The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) has the statutory right to gain access to a rail line operated in interstate commerce, in spite of the objections of the freight railroad that owns or operates the line, if the line is necessary for interstate passenger service. The weakness of the Freight Railroad lies in the Section 402 of the Rail Passenger Service Act (RPSA).89 Under Section 402(a)(1) whereby, Amtrak may contract with a freight railroad for the use of rail line and right of way and the provision of services by the freight railroad. Incase Amtrak and a freight railroad do not come to some kind of mutual understanding or deal, Amtrak may file an application for the ICC to establish terms. Whereby ICC will check if the compensation amount offered is reasonable or not, additionally it may try to find solutions to remove the gridlock between the two agencies. As a last resort, Under Section 402(d), if Amtrak and a railroad cannot agree on terms for Amtrak's purchase of the railroad's property required for intercity rail passenger service, Amtrak may seek an ICC regulation developing terms for a forced sale. Rules and regulations further suggest that (90)Rail carriers subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission under the ICA may also look for the right to use to a rail terminal (and trackage for a reasonable distance outside the terminal) owned or operated by another rail carrier.91 The carrier seeking access has the burden to demonstrate, among other things, that terminal 24 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

access is in the public interest. If the carriers cannot agree as to terms, the Commission has authority to prescribe terms.

5.1.3 Conclusion We can conclude that the acquisition procedure to obtain a right-of-way is pretty easy and simple if the freight rail company/companies plying currently are willing to sell it out. However the system is complicated incase of unwilling sellers, but help from the federal legislation and the eminent domain options definitely assure a solution.

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6.

Development Opportunities

The current development trend within the B/CS area, is directing growth to the periphery of the cities, while most destinations are located within the core. This trend is projected to continue for the next twenty years. Currently several development opportunities exist along our proposed light rail alignment. Several parcels of land are undeveloped, which means they are either vacant, or currently being utilized for an agricultural purpose. There are also several undervalued

parcels

of

land

along

this

corridor,

which

also

creates

opportunities for development. The abundance of development opportunities along

the

proposed

rail

alignment

offers

alternatives

to

the

current

development trends and has the ability to preserve the rural land of the Brazos Valley. 6.1

Vacant Land along Rail Alignment

Currently, several parcels of land have no development along the alignment. The rail alignment travels through the heart of the B/CS area, and these vacant parcels provide prime location for immediate potential development. Table 1 below provides the acreage of undeveloped land within .25 and .5 miles of the rail alignment.

Distance Rail

from

Acres

.25 miles

350

.5 miles

959.62

Table 1 Vacant Land Adjacent to Rail Alignment

As seen in the table, within .25 miles of the alignment several immediate development opportunities exist. Within .5 miles there are almost 1,000 acres of land available for development. 26 | P a g e

This available land provides unique


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

opportunities for developers to utilize. These are locations within the core of the B/CS area and are ideal locations for the proposed transportation opportunities. Figure 10 below presents the locations of vacant land near the alignment.

Figure 10: Map of Vacant Parcel Within .5 miles of Rail Alignment

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6.2

Affordable Land along Rail Alignment

Despite the prime location parcels of land along the rail alignment, land values are relatively low as compared to land values in other parts of Brazos County. These low values present opportunities for developers to obtain affordable properties in crucial locations within the region. There are also several large parcels of land that could be obtained from only a handful of property owners, and this would make it easier for developer to acquire the necessary land for their development. Table 2 displays the average land value per acre along the rail.

Within Within .25 Miles Miles of Rail Rail Average Land Value Per Acre Along Proposed Rail Alignment $92,445

.5 of

$89,972

Average Land Value Per Acre in College Station $139,638 $134,696 Average Land Value Per Acre in Bryan $72,831

$66,569

Table 2 2008 Average Value Per Acre of Property Parcels

The average land value per acre within the city limits of College Station and Bryan are $143,460 and $72,905 respectively.

As compared to average per

acre value within both city limits, the land is somewhat more affordable near the rail. However, the discrepancy in value is more easily displayed in map form.

Map 2 displays the land values per acre within .5 miles of the rail

alignment.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 11 Land Value of Property per Acre along Rail

By observing the map, it can be seen there are large parcels of undervalued land along the corridor. Several areas within the corridor have exceptionally high valued parcels, and these skew the averages along the corridor. However, the abundance of large parcels of undervalued land creates a number of development opportunities. 6.3

Total Property Values

In addition to land values, an important indicator of development opportunity is the total value of the property parcel. This includes the build value of the structure on the property plus the land where it is located. This value was 29 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

found per acre for all of the parcels within .5 miles of the rail alignment. Table 3 presents the average total property value per acre along the rail.

Within .25 Within Miles of Miles Rail Average Total Value Per Proposed Rail Alignment

Acre

.5

Along $507,323

$465,191

Average Total Value Per Acre In College Station $750,610

$678,647

Average Total Value Per Acre in Bryan

$361,472

$401,215

Table 3 2008 Average Total Value Per Acre of Property Parcels

The average total value per acre within the city limits of College Station is $681,440. As compared to the average value of properties within .25 miles and .5 miles of the rail in College Station, property values are fairly comparable to values within the city limits. The average total property value within the city limits of Bryan is $392,570 per acre, and this value is comparable to Bryan’s property values along the rail alignment.

Map 3 provides a better

representation of the total value per acre for each property within .5 miles of the rail alignment.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 11: Total Value of Property Per Acre Along Rail

The color scale on the map is representative of the range of all property values within Brazos County. It should be observed that within the rail corridor, the entire range of property values is represented. The map shows large areas of undervalued properties and pockets of high valued properties within College Station and Bryan. The small pockets of high valued properties drive up the average value within the corridor. Downtown Bryan is representative of this, having high property values within the downtown core, but north and south of the downtown area present large areas of undervalued properties. These areas are excellent opportunities for development or redevelopment. 31 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

As a general observation, there are many acres of undervalued properties along the

rail

alignment.

These

properties

offer

unique

development

or

redevelopment opportunities that would help preserve the character of the Brazos Valley. The next section will discuss specific locations for development opportunities.

6.4

Locations for Development Opportunities

After locating undervalued and undeveloped properties, specific locations were identified for potential development or redevelopment opportunities.

The

following maps include the locations of specific areas well suited for development. A short discussion of possible development follows each map.

The segment of the alignment located in Bryan has exceptional development potential. Figure 12 presents locations of possible opportunities.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 12 Locations of Potential Development Bryan

The north terminus (outlined in red) of the light rail alignment is located in an area with undervalued properties.

This could be a potential location for a

multi-modal transportation center that incorporates automobile, bus, bicycle, and walking. Because it is located at the northern most portion of the line, it would make an excellent location for a park-and-ride structure. The park-and-

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

ride could have ground level retail or office space and be a destination not only for transit riders, but also for people to shop or work.

A pivotal location for development along the corridor is the Finfeather Lake area (outlined in red at the southern portion of Bryan).

This area has

undervalued and undeveloped properties and is configured in a unique way. Opportunities exist to develop to the east and west of the rail lines, but also in between the two lines.

This would be a very successful transit oriented

development (TOD) location.

The location could incorporate dwelling units,

retail, entertainment, and possibly recreation with the lake nearby.

The

location would also be well served by the light rail. The proximity to Downtown Bryan and Texas A&M University would make this an extremely desirable location, for students and young professionals.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 13: Locations of Potential Development South College Station

South of Texas A&M University several development opportunities along the rail exist.

Figure 13 displays potential locations that could be developed

specifically to serve the new light rail system.

Outlined in red are several

undervalued parcels of land and also several vacant properties. locations would be would be excellent TOD locations.

These

These could serve as

housing for students or other affiliates with the university. These could also be

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

areas for increased employment or commercial activity. The area will be well served with transportation options, and will have much potential for TOD.

Along the proposed rail alignment, abundant development opportunities exist. The corridor has the potential for immediate development and also the potential to meet unmet demand within the Brazos Valley.

The excellent

location

prospect

of

the

rail

corridor

intensifies

this

exceptional

for

development within the B/CS area. The corridor’s numerous undervalued and undeveloped properties make this an area that should not be overlooked.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

7. Preserve rural heritage by relieving developmental pressure on rural land In previous section, we have discussed current land development pattern in Bryan-College station, which proved to be phenomena of sprawl. Current uncentralized land use pattern, low-dense development trend is not only hard to create walkable and multi-modal communities which is considered as possible factors of smart growth, but also could lead to inefficient large number of rural land occupation in the future. By rough estimation, at current land use development trend in Bryan-College station, approximately 35% of new built-land will be required from rural land by 2030, given current Bryan-College station land development density remaining unchanged. Apparently, this growth rate is unsustainable approach to future environment and will aggravate further sprawl and transportation problems in the future. Thus, it is necessary to rethink about the land development pattern not only for purpose of establishing transit supportive built-environment, but also for purpose of relieving developmental pressure on rural lands in Bryan-College station. 7.1

Developmental opportunities

Developmental pattern along Bryan Downtown-Wellborn corridor proposed in this section ties to multi-advantages and purposes. First of all, a number of vacant and low cost lands along the corridor allow redevelopment more efficient and benefit to developers and the city than other locations in Bryan-College station. What’s more, and more importantly, redevelopment could be an opportunity to relieve developmental pressure on rural land in Bryan-College station by reallocating certain number of population and employment into the corridor redevelopment, besides providing a light rail transit supportive intensive built-environment. 37 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

7.2

Proposed Density along light rail transit corridor

7.2.1 Current Current population density of Bryan-College station is relatively low in terms of efficient land usage. Map below shows current house hold density. According to the map, few TAZ areas are really at density of transit supportive, given that at least 10 houses hold units per acre is considered as ideal to transit supportive land use development.So, we propose a new ideal developmental density that supports transit for the area, particularly for Bryan Downtown-Wellborn Light rail transit corridor.

Figure 14: Household Per Acre, 2000(Source:BCS/MPO) 38 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

7.2.2 Density A number of empirical studies have been conducted to propose transit supportive developmental densities. Some of respective studies conducted by researchers proposed that based on analysis of the three land use factors related to transit ridership -Density, Diversity, and Design, residential density within a one mile radius from transit facility can increase potential rail transit ridership. The proposed density and ridership as follow:

Density

of

Residential Percentage of Rail

Units (Per Gross Acre)

Commuters

10

24.3%

20

43.4%

40

66.6%

The studies suggest that at least 10 dwelling units of developmental density within one mile radius from transit facility is optimistic. As density increasing, potential ridership increase as well, and the percentage of empirical ridership are presented right column in the table. We also propose similar developmental densities to Bryan Downtown-Wellborn light rail corridor. In Bryan-College station, if supposing 10 dwelling units per acre density would be built along the quarter- mile light rail corridor, it would result in, roughly, allocating 28620 of population, generating 3148 potential ridership, and 54.5% of projected population increase could be able to fit into the quarter-mile light rail corridor, which is extremely efficient and effective way to reduce sprawl by utilizing existing conditions including vacant land, infrastructure, and already existing potential ridership. Furthermore, higher 39 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

density than 10 dwelling units per acre expects higher ridership and allocating more populations.

Quarter

mile Pop allocated in Ridership

buffer area (Acre)

Quarter

mile generated

buffer area 2862

28620

Pct.

Of

projected

Total Pop

increase 3148

54.5%

Fig 15: Bryan Downtown-Wellborn Light Rail Transit Corridor and current land use

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

7.3

Density illustration

Higher density is not necessary to be having intensive development throughout the neighborhood. On the contrary, density configuration in a neighborhood can be quite flexible at the same given average density. One neighborhood can able to contain higher to lower developmental density and variety of use as well. In order to accommodate variety of residential needs and mixed use in a neighborhood unit within the quarter-mile light rail corridor, some of illustrative development configuration patterns are provided in terms of density.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 16 : Achieving Developmental Densities that Support Transit

Source: Calthorpe, 1993

Single Family Residential at 10 DU/Acre

Townhomes and Condominiums at 16 (Left) and 26 (Right) DU/Acre

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

The figure above shows three different density configurations at an average density of 18 dwelling units per acre. As could be seen from those patterns, average of 18 dwelling units per acre is able to contain 10 dwelling units per acre, 16 units per acre, and 26 units per acre as well. 7.4

Development conceptual pattern

In terms of these neighborhoods’ developmental components, quarter mile distance from the neighborhood center – where transit station usually placed nearby, guarantees walkability within the neighborhood; the neighborhood center – one of nodes along the corridor- might containing a mixture of uses in close proximity including office, residential, retail, and civic uses; High density, high-quality development within 10-minute walk circle surrounding train station; neighborhood designed to include the easy use of bicycles, scooters, and rollerblades as daily support transportation systems; Reduced and managed parking inside 10-minute walk circle around town center / train station, etc.

Figure 17: Transit supportive neighborhood

Transit Corridor Illustrative Example

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Walkability and Activity supportive

Daily Transit Supportive Facilities

Mixed use of apartment building, office buildings, shopping mall, etc

7.5

Benefits of transit supportive development (conclusion)

Transit supportive redevelopment along Bryan Downtown – Welborn light rail corridor not only could prevent sprawl, enhance efficient and effective land

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

usage, but also brings a number of benefits to the city and citizen’s quality of life. Those benefits are including: -Higher quality of life -Better places to live, work, and play -Greater mobility with ease of moving around -Increased transit ridership -Reduced traffic congestion and driving -Reduced car accidents and injuries -Reduced household spending on transportation, resulting in more affordable housing -Healthier lifestyle with more walking, and less stress -Higher, more stable property values -Increased foot traffic and customers for area businesses -Greatly reduced pollution and environmental destruction -Reduced incentive to sprawl, increased incentive for compact development -Less expensive than building roads and sprawl -Enhanced ability to maintain economic competitiveness

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 18: Showing proposed potential stops along the alignment 8.

MARKET SEGMENTATION

A transit ridership survey was conducted by staff members of the ‘BryanCollege Station District’, on the buses and at the transfer point, in 2008. According to the survey, it was found that 69% of transit passengers are female and the largest group to use transit is in the age bracket of 25-34. For trip purpose, 42% used transit for work trips, 25% for shopping, 16% for medical, 15% for other personal, and 2% for school. Since the highest percentage (42%) of total population, in the district, uses public transportation to commute to work, we primarily focus on work trips. For this purpose, we studied and analyzed the segmentation variables (i.e. age, gender, income, occupation, industry, tenure etc.), for consumer markets, for the Bryan-College Station District. The consumers, here, refers to those people who use public transportation for work trips.

According to the 2006-2008 American Community Survey 3 year estimates, it was observed that the segment which contributes to almost 4/5th of the total work trips (by public transportation) are in the age-cohort of 20-44 years (almost 81%); have earning less than $25,000 per annum (almost 82%); householders living in rented occupied units (almost 91%); people in service, sales, office and management related occupations (almost 90%). Which clearly illustrates, it is the transit dependant sector that uses public transportation for

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

work trips primarily. In other words, the transit system chiefly serves to those relying on public transportation for commuting to work.

It was also evident from the survey that the segment using alternative mode of transportation (not dependent on transit) i.e. ‘the choice riders’ seldom use public transportation for trips. Some of the traditional problems associated to the existing bus transit system are cleanliness of the buses, walking and waiting times, time to reach destination, time spent in buses, drive access time, and the number of transfers. Apart from these, there are some non-traditional problems like schedule reliability, hours of service, personal security, comfort of the buses, courtesy of the drivers, etc. As far as customer satisfaction goes, all these factors are significant to run an efficient public transportation system. Due to these limitations, the existing transit system fails to attract the choice riders and hence, this segment remains as the underserved market of public transit.

Thus, there is an inevitable need to serve this market segment with an alternative

mode

of

efficient

transit

system

in

order

to

cater

their

transportation needs. To the extent that the above mentioned traditional and non-traditional issues represent an important part of the appeal of premium transit services – “Light rail”.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

8.1 Light

Light Rail rail or light

rail

transit

(LRT) is

a

form

of urban

rail public

transportation that generally has a higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running bus systems. A light rail system can operate under a more reliable schedule. While bus systems are subject to traffic conditions, a light rail system's exposure to these circumstances is significantly lower. This results in more consistent arrival/departure times at designated stops. This in turn, builds a certain degree of trust with the public that is often nonexistent with bus systems. Light rail cars are more spacious, offer more freedom of movement and are easier to board and exit. And the ride is smoother i.e. fewer sharp turn, no potholes, and no sudden stops.

Commuters tend to see light rail as more modern, more upscale and safer, faster schedule speed, with no real possibility of operator error. According to Ed Tennyson (a technical consultant for the ‘Light Rail Now’ project), “because of features such as faster acceleration and faster loading (through wider, multiple doors), we can assume 15% faster schedule speed for light rail than bus.” Studies suggest that, since light rails are more attractive to users, it appeals to actual riders in a way that buses do not.

Though the initial cost to build new light rail system is high (as compared to buses), once light rail is up and running, both infrastructure and train cars are 49 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

more durable and less expensive to maintain than a fleet of buses and the roads they travel. A rail car can last up to 60 years whereas a bus can last maybe a quarter of that. While every bus needs one driver in a street bus system, one driver can pilot a train several cars long. This means that a light rail can run at a lower payroll. Also, light rails run on clean, non CO2 emitting relatively cheap electricity, and

Figure 1: Boulder Transit Village, CO - An Example of TOD

are therefore much more environmental beneficial. Light rail lines have also historically catalyzed development of local business districts connected to them. The end result

is

an

additional

increase

in

Figure 19: Boulder Transit Village, CO - Aerial satellite view

economic development for the region that

would

not

have

happened

otherwise. It can be thought of as a fertilizer for local businesses. Certainly it is not assured to have businesses sprout up intensely, but if

Figure 20: Walkable Boulder (Pedestrian Mall)

an area is already favorable, the potential growth can be augmented. 50 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Also, light rail system often leads to transit oriented development (TOD) and traditional neighborhood design (TND), thus minimizing urban sprawl. It also works well for highly dense regions, since we can add capacity by adding an additional car and still use the same Transit Operator. According to Dan Burden's talk on walkable communities, if attractive walkable communities are built at places where people actually want to go to, we can attract more people to live in those communities. To summarize, light rail system promotes building healthy and traditional communities along its line of service.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 21: Davis Square, CA - An Example of TOD

Figure 22: Light Rail - Davis, CA

Figure 23: Bicycling in Davis, CA

8.2

CONCLUSION

Due to the generated need of the alternative transit system for the underserved market segment, we proposed a commuter light rail transit service, on the existing freight rail line, in the Bryan-College Station district. This premium service i.e. light rail transit system would not only address and cater to the

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

transit needs of the underserved segment, but also provide efficient public transportation system to the existing riders. It also aims to bring new transit-oriented development along the proposed rail line (i.e. in the central city or urban core) and trim down on developments inducing sprawl. Sensible growth brought by this proposed transit system includes new pedestrian-friendly development, with homes, shops and businesses located around transit nodes in the district. With public support it can help to reduce sprawl, auto congestion and build more livable and traditional communities.

8.3

PEER COMPARISON: Boulder (CO), Davis (CA), College Station (TX)

The three cities of Boulder (Colorado), Davis (California) and College Station (Texas)

come

under

the

category

of

being

‘College

Towns’

A college

town or university town is a community, often literally a town; a small or medium sized city, or in some cases a neighborhood or a district of a city, which is dominated by its university population. All these hubs, being centre for universities, broadly have certain very visible structural and functional similarities which are quite characteristic of any college town i.e. the economy of these cities is closely related with the university activity and highly supported by the entire university structure, which may include university hospitals and clinics, university printing houses, libraries, laboratories, business incubators, student rooms, dining halls, students' unions, student societies, and academic festivities. 53 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Demographic

Boulder, CO

Davis, CA

Variables

College Station, TX

Area (sq. mi.)

25.4

10.5

40.34

Population

94,268 (2008)

64,938 (2007)

74,125 (2006)

Pop. Density

3884.1/sq.mi.

6,185/sq.mi.

2960.9/sq.mi.

HH Density

1670.8/sq.mi.

2259.3/sq.mi.

647.2/sq.mi.

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

As per the comparison in the above table one can see that the population density of College Station is relatively lower than the other two towns however simultaneously it should also be noted that the population of College Station is significantly higher than that of Davis where already a Premium Mass Transit system is operational. At the University of California, Davis, ridership continues to grow by 10 per cent each year, which demonstrates the potential for transit-demand management programs over a longer period. 1 As per the ranking of the light rail systems in the United States, based on ridership, the Sacramento Regional Transit District Light rail stands 9th. 2 Transit Ridership, Davis (CA) - Annual ridership has steadily increased on both the bus and light rail systems from 1987 to FY2008. Bus ridership declined earlier in the decade but has seen resurgence over the year 2008.

1

http://ubyssey.ca/ideas/?p=7732

2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_light_rail_systems_by_ridership

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure below shows the ridership on the RT system over the past decade. Lately the increase in light rail ridership has brought its ratio to the bus service closer to 50/50. 3

REGIONAL TRANSIT PASSENGER GROWTH 4

The city of Boulder too has an operational transit system in place. It has an extensive bus system operated by the Regional Transportation District (RTD). The routes run throughout the city and connect to nearby communities on a frequent basis. 5 It is redefining urban transit.

3

http://flashpresents.com/tmp/tac/Chapter3.pdf

Ch. 3-Existing Conditions: The Regional Transit Audit: Sacramento Regional Transit Master Plan, April 2009

4

5

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boulder,_Colorado

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Local transit planners call it community-oriented transit. Building transit service from the community up is resulting in higher ridership and a new respect for public transit’s role in meeting transportation demand. 6 Beginning in 2014, commuter rail will travel between Longmont, Boulder and Denver, with stops in major communities along the way. This commuter rail line is funded by FasTracks, a transit improvement plan funded by a 0.4% increase in the sales tax throughout the Denver metro area.3 Another aspect to be taken into consideration is the respective areas of the towns. The area of College Station being the greatest amongst the three is bound to see a rise in its population in the future, thus making the need for a mass transit system even more evident and also the projected effectiveness of the system in the city. Apart from the need of a mass transit system at College Station it can also be derived from the above propositions that effectiveness of the same would be as good in comparison to the other college towns of Boulder and Davis.

6

http://www.ctaa.org/webmodules/webarticles/articlefiles/ct/fall98/boulder.pdf

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

9.

Current Alignment in Bryan/College Station

The Union Pacific (UP) Class I railroad company is currently providing freight service to the Bryan/College Station planning area. The existing train track passes through the cities of Bryan and College Station, through urban and rural areas. UP operates a main freight line, the UP Houston Division (Navasota Subdivision

and

Bryan

Subdivision

line),

from

Houston

throughout

Bryan/College Station to Dallas/Fort Worth and beyond. Service to the Bryan/College Station is primarily on the Houston Local route, which originates

in

Houston,

stops

in

Bryan/College

(BCSMPO

2015-2035

Metropolitan Transportation Plan).

Figure 24: Existing train track in the cities of Bryan and College Station

The UP train enters the Bryan/College Station area from the south on a rail line from Navasota and diverges into two routes just north of Villa Maria Road in Bryan. At this point, the former Southern Pacific route to Hearne and Dallas continues north along FinFeather Road, through downtown Bryan, and follows Texas Avenue and Highway 6 out of town. The former Missouri Pacific route to Waco and Fort Worth diverges and runs to downtown Bryan where it crosses 57 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

the other line and follows West 27th and West 28th Streets and SH 21 out of town (BCSMPO 2015-2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan).

Within the city of College Station, two rail tracks are all closed and paralleled with each other along the Old Wellborn Road and Wellborn. When approaching the point where FinFeather road begins, two tracks are parallel as well while they are divided by some landscapes and a gutter. But, at the point of north of Villa Maria Road in Bryan, two tracks approach again and then diverge widely to two direction. One of The tracks runs all the way along the FinFeather Road, then goes through the 32th Street, 31th Street, 30th Street, 29th Street, 28th street and then ahead to west along the 27th street out of town. The other track diverges into two tracks when crossing the 32th street: one branch merges into the track along the FinFeather Road; the other branch goes to north to the downtown Bryan between Main Street and the Tabor Street. Diverse rail tracks are illustrated by figure 25.

Figure 25: Railroad alignment At the finfeather

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

9.1

Realignment Alternatives

9.1.1 General Concept and Introduction of Downtown Bryan Based on the current alignment and the consideration on the need of double track for Light Rail application, a new track needs to be redesigned, which shall be paralleled with the one which goes through the downtown Bryan. Downtown district in Bryan is designated by mixed-use overlay district and it is featured by its historic buildings and landmarks. Apartments comprise about 5% of businesses, 15% are shops/commercial stores, 20% are restaurants, 5% are salons, 15% are hotels, 5% are bars, and 35% are offices(Fall 2008 Final LCAT Report Page 106). Main Street and Bryan Avenue is the centre of the downtown, which gathered a lot of restaurants, bars, shops, salons, theatres, museums and offices. On both Main Street and Bryan Avenue, wide sidewalk and on-street parking are available and buildings along the street directly face the street and most of them have great connection to the street. Therefore, it is an ideal place for people to walk, eat, gather, relax and communicate. The residential area is located in the westside of the downtown district, where the type of dwelling units is mainly single detached family and few mix use is applied. The District transit bus route doesn’t run through the downtown area. And there is no bus stop in the surrounding area. The reason is not very clear, but based on the characteristics of downtown Bryan and surrounding areas, this area shall be a big potential market for the transit. There are three alternatives, illustrated by Graphic 2: The proposed tract will be built up right beside the current track that is between Main Street and Tabor Street in alternative one; in alternative two, the proposed track will be applied in Main Street, which is separated by one block from the current track;

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

and in alternative three, the proposed track will be applied in Bryan Street, which is separated by two blocks from the current track.

Figure 26: Railroad alignment at Bryan Downtown Area

9.2

Alternative One for Realignment:

The proposed tract will be built up right beside the current track that is between Main Street and Tabor Street in alternative one. It will begin on the 32th Street and stop at the terminus approaching 21th Street. In this alternative, the train will run along its own right-of-way and separated from the road traffic, just as the same as the current train does.

Figure 27: Current track and proposed truck in Alternative One 60 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

9.2.1

Pros:

1. Lands along the current track are almost undeveloped and less valuable so that they are easy to be taken. 2. New alignment can provide the chance for new development adjacent to downtown area. 3. Train can run along its own right-of-way and separated from the road traffic. In this way, it is easy for speeding and it won’t cause the traffic congestion and the safety issue.

Figure 28: The Undeveloped land along the current track 9.2.2

Cons:

1. Based on the fact that the train cannot go through the center of downtown Bryan where a lot of restaurants, shops, and businesses are located, passengers need walking a little bit to these places after they getting off because the stop cannot set up on the street, even though the distance between the stop and the downtown area is within a quarter mile walking distance. 2. Extra parking space might need to be provided either along the alignment or adjacent to the stop, because parking space are only available on the street.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

9.3

Alternative Two for Realignment:

The proposed track will be built up on the Main Street. After Main Street stops at the intersection between Martin Luther King Street and 20th street, the track will be set up on the undeveloped land. The Street conditions indicate that: •

Between 27th Street and 20th Street, no median landscape and diagonal parking is on both sides, one traffic lane for each direction, which is illustrated by figure 29.

Between 26th street and 23th Street, median landscapes (trees), diagonal parking is on both sides, one traffic lane for each direction, which is illustrated by figure 30

After 23th Street, no median landscape, no marked on street parking but cars parks along the street, no marked traffic lane

Figure 29: 27th street(Downtown)Bryan

9.3.1

Figure30: 23rd and 26th street(downtown)Bryan

Pros:

1. Given the fact that Main Street is the center of the downtown area, passengers can directly access to the center of the downtown 2. Parking spaces already exist along the street 3. Proposed track can direct connect to the current track on 28th Street 62 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

9.3.2

Cons:

1. The median landscapes between 20th Street and 23th Street takes a lot of space, which divides the street into two separate traffic lanes, so it is hard to put rail track on the Main Street. 2. Turning around issue for vehicles 3. Congestion might be caused when the train coming.

9.4

Alternative Three for Realignment:

The proposed track will be built up on the Bryan Street. Median buffer on Bryan Street is about 9 to 10 feet, which can be ideal space to put rail track. Street conditions suggest that: •

Between 27th Street and 23th Street, median buffer (different pavement but no landscapes), one traffic lane for each direction, diagonal parking on both sides, which is illustrated by figure 31.

Figure 31: Proposed trail in the median buffer •

Between 23th Street and Martin Luther King Street, no median buffer, no marked traffic lane and diagonal parking on both sides, which is illustrated by figure 32.

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

Figure 32 •

After Martin Luther King Street, no median buffer, no marked traffic lane and no marked parking lots. It is showed by figure 33

Figure 33 •

After 23th street, the scenario is much different from downtown: a lot of vacancies and abandoned buildings along Bryan Street.

Figure 34: Vacancy and abandoned buildings along Bryan Street 64 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

9.4.1

Pros:

4. Passengers can directly access to the center of the downtown 5. Parking spaces already exist along the street 6. The median buffer is ideal for new track, and it won’t take space on traffic lane 7. Proposed track can direct connect to the current track on 28th Street 8. A small street garden connected between Main Street and Bryan Street on 26th Street is a wonderful possible stop location in the downtown

Figure 35: A small street garden on 26th Street

9.4.2

Cons:

1. Due to the train will share the space with the road traffic, safety issue might be caused when pedestrians or bikers crossing the street 2. Turning around issue for vehicles 3. Congestion might be caused when the train coming.

9.5

Stop Locations:

The rationale of the proposed key stops for the transit is as under: 9.5.8 Downtown Bryan Downtown district in Bryan is designated by mixed-use overlay district and it is featured by its historic buildings and landmarks. Apartments comprise 65 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

about 5% of businesses, 15% are shops/commercial stores, 20% are restaurants, 5% are salons, 15% are hotels, 5% are bars, and 35% are offices(Fall 2008 Final LCAT Report Page 106). Main Street and Bryan Avenue is the centre of the downtown, which gathered a lot of restaurants, bars, shops, salons, theatres, museums and offices. On both Main Street and Bryan Avenue, wide sidewalk and on-street parking are available and buildings along the street directly face the street and most of them have great connection to the street. Therefore, it is an ideal place for people to walk, eat, gather, and communicate. The residential area is located in the westside of the downtown district, where the type of dwelling units are mainly single detached family and few mix use is applied. The District transit bus route doesn’t run through the downtown area. And there is no bus stop in the surrounding area. The reason is not very clear, but based on the characteristics of downtown Bryan; it shall be a big potential market for the transit.

9.5.9 FinFeather Lake Figure 36: New apartment complexes located along the FinFether Road

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9.5.10 Wellborn (Apartment Complex) From the 3645 Wellborn Road to 4610 Wellborn Road, three big apartment complexes locate along wellborn Road, including Z Ireland, Aggie station and Revile Ranch. This area gathers a lot of students living there

Figure 37 Ireland Apartment Complex

Figure 38 Aggie Station Apartment Complex

Figure 39 Revile Ranch Apartment Complex

9.5.11 Northgate Northgate is zoned by Retail and Entertainment district in the city of College

Station,

which

gathers

bars,

clubs,

lounges,

small shops,

restaurants and residential uses. It is adjacent to Texas A&M University and regarded as the original downtown of College Station. Considered as the distinctive features in Northgate, the City made investment, totaling over $25 million, in street, utility, sidewalks, and streetscape to reshape its future through redevelopment and revitalization. Besides, only one public parking lot serves this area. During the weekend and the football game and other special events are hold, people can hardly park in the Northgate so a lot of people parked in the surrounding 67 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

residential area. If people can take light rail rather than driving, the parking pressure can be released.

Figure 40: Bars in the Northgate

Figure 42: Northgate Pavilion

Figure 43: Traditional restaurant in Northgate 9.5.12 A&M University 9.5.13 Old College Main 9.5.14 Kyle Field (12th Man Stop) Texas A&M’s Kyle Field has been the home of the Aggie football team since the mid-1920s. Kyle Field has a capacity 82,600 plus and it is a biggest football stadium is Texas. The tradition at A&M University is what really make the Kyle Field special and appealing, like 12th Man. When the game day coming, the whole city of College Station is empty and quite rather than Kyle Field, where is overloaded by yelling and noise. Given the fact of the fueling atmosphere of game day, the traffic and parking are under big pressure. The parking on game day is pretty difficult. Kyle Field is on campus so there are lots of parking lots but they’re pretty pricey and people have to walk a lot to get to the stadium. And there are several game day parking lots surrounding the campus, like the Northgate public parking lots and game parking at the mall 68 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

(then taking shuttle to the campus). Besides, after game, the traffic congestion

is

extremely

severe,

especially

on

the

two

main

thoroughfares---University Drive and Texas Avenue. Thus, if people can access to the LRT to the Kyle Field, the parking pressure and traffic congestion is going to be relieved a lot.

Figure 44: Bird view of Kyle Field (http://www.aggieathletics.com/facilities/kylefield.html)

10

Design of Light Rail Stations

The design of light rail stations is critical for the success of a station. The station is one of the first characteristics of light rail that is perceived by customers. Thus, in order to create an attractive and pleasant environment for transit, the station design needs to be designed for that aim. Stations can be designed in several ways with varying facilities, but they need to fulfill the needs of their customers. 10.1 General Considerations The design of light rail stations requires several general considerations that depend on the geographic and spatial characteristics of the chosen stop as well as its relationship to the entire transportation network and other modes of transportation. In the case of Bryan and College Station, this means that light rail stops should provide connections to bus transit, bicycle and pedestrian 69 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

facilities, park-and-ride as well as potential future intercity high-speed rail. As a result, each station has its own requirements on how the station is connected to other modes of transportation, which means that not a single design can be applied to every proposed station, but individual analyses need to be conducted to adapt each station to its need and demand. The following considerations present a guideline on some of the major decision criteria in station design. 10.2 Level of Station A light rail station can be built at two levels: • At-grade • Above grade The decision on the level should be based upon required space for the station as well as station

dimensions.

Above-grade

level

stations are most appropriate in locations where space is limited. In such a situation, above-grade design provides more flexibility. Additionally, an above-grade design should be considered in larger stations that act as transfer stations between different modes of rail transit or several lines. The

existing

situation

in

Figure 45: Example of separate right-ofway, source: http://edvard.org/forms/images/PhoenixLi ghtRailS.jpg

Bryan-College

Station is neither characterized by space restrictions nor by larger transfer stations. Therefore, an at-grade design of light rail stations is usually recommended and feasible in most locations.

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10.3 Alignment of Tracks There are three basic alignments of tracks: •

Separate right-of-way

On-street

on

a

separate

lane •

On-street mixed with traffic

Separate right-of-way for light rail is usually recommended in all cases where there is sufficient space.

Figure 4: Example of on-street on a separate lane, source:

In the case of Bryan and College Station, we are facing a situation where existing rail right-of-way can be used in order to implement light rail. Thus,

for

the

most

part

of

the

alignment, tracks can be located on a separate

right-of-way.

However,

existing tracks are single-tracked on parts

of

Downtown

the

alignment,

Bryan.

As

e.g. we

in

have

Figure 47: Example of on-street mixed with traffic, source: http://www.lilano.de/catalog/images/Tram-

discussed in the previous section, there are several possibilities to align light rail tracks. Among those, the possibility of aligning the tracks on-street on a separate lane is discussed. However, it should be noted that additional safety measures are necessary for a light rail alignment on-street. This Figure 48: Example of a dual station, source:

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb /0/07/METRO_Light_Rail_ASUT C St ti j /300


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

applies to the alignment in general and to crossings and stations in particular. An alignment on-street mixed with traffic is not recommended and is usually not the preferred alternative. This kind of alignment is exclusively used in situations where space limitations constitute a serious problem. Since this is not the case in Bryan and College Station, this third possibility is not considered for the alignment. 10.4 Station Configuration Configuration of light rail stations can be done in two different ways. Design a station as •

Dual station

•

Single station

A dual station has two separate loading areas where the tracks are aligned in the center. A single station on the other hand has one

Figure 49: Example of a single station, source: http://www.lgbcontractors.com/assets/images/web/mun

loading area that is located in the center with tracks aligned to either side of the platform. There

are

several

disadvantages

to

advantages the

or

different

configurations. Dual areas can be easily created if the double tracked tracks are already in place. This is the case with most of the alignment through Bryan and College Station, which entails that in these locations

Figure 8: Example of at-grade boarding, source: // / / /

dual stations are applicable. Single stations however, have the advantage of having only one loading area, 72 | P a g e

Figure 51: Example of an upgraded loading area, source: http://marcel-marchon.com/img--443267385-Sacramento-RTD-Sacramento-Valley-Light-Rail-Station-m.jpg


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

which means that additional facilities need to be provided only on one loading area. Transfers are also faster with only one loading area, but people need to cross the tracks in order to reach the platform in the first place.

10.4.1

At-grade Boarding

Light rail stations should be designed in a way to enable and facilitate at-grade boarding. This aspect of universal design makes transit vehicles easily accessible

for

population. boarding

all

This and

parts

of

the

easement

for

alighting

can

be

achieved through the use of •

Low floor vehicles, or

•

Upgraded loading areas, c.f. Figure 52.

The use of high-floor vehicles without upgraded loading areas as illustrated by Figure 10 should be avoided, since

Figure 52: Example of inadequate vehicle access, source: http://www.lightrail.com/photos/sanjose/sanjose31.jp g

the steps constitute barriers for a lot of people. Upgraded stations can also be built in areas where light rail tracks are on-street on a separate lane by upgrading the pavement

for

the

length

of

loading

purposes as shown by Figure 53. Figure 53: Example of an upgraded on-street loading area, source: http://www.lightrail.com/photos/portland/portl

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

10.4.2

Additional Facilities

Additional Facilities to a transit station are all services and amenities that complement the station. These facilities are very important to customers and achieve several goals. As discussed earlier

in

this

section,

additional

facilities to a light rail station connect the station to its environment by enabling transfers to other modes of transportation and providing access to adjacent land uses. Additionally, they supplement a station in terms of customer attraction by serving transit riders and in an optimal way and providing

a

safe

and

pleasant

Figure 54: Example of a ticket machine, source: http://www.lightrail.com/photos/denver/denver33.jpg

atmosphere. Some examples for additional facilities of a transit station are the following: 10.4.3

Ticket Machines

The provision of ticket machines, c.f. Figure

12

enables

customers

to

purchase their ticket before boarding, which speeds up the loading process enormously. Ticket machines should be easy to understand and use, especially for

people

impairments

that and

have people

visibility that

have

Figure 55: Example of a waiting area, source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c /Bf-merzenich.jpg

never used a machine like this before. Ideally,

it

should

be

possible

to

purchase a single ticket for the entire trip, e.g. consisting of a light rail part and a bus part. 74 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

10.4.4

Waiting

Areas

and

Weather Protection Waiting areas, c.f. Figure 13, and weather

protection

facilities,

c.f.

Figure 14, provide a more pleasant atmosphere to people riding light rail.

Figure 56: Example of weather protection, source:

Attractive waiting areas with sitting spaces

also

make

transfers

more

acceptable. 10.4.5

Pedestrian

and

Bicycle

Facilities Pedestrian and bicycle facilities, c.f. Figure 15, account for the fact that trips do not start or end at the light rail station but are usually continued

Figure 57: Example of bicycle facilities, source: own

to another destination. This is often done by biking or by walking. 10.4.6

Park-and-Ride

Park-and-Ride facilities, c.f. Figure 13, complement a transit station in terms of parking.

These

facilities

enable

customers to use the car only for a part of the trip and use rail for the remaining part.

Figure 58: Example of ramps to an upgraded station, source:

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

10.4.7

Other elements

Additional facilities to a transit station also include ramps and elevators if appropriate, as well as way-finding signs. Both of these elements are tailored towards the easement of boarding and alighting. As discussed in previous sections of this report, adjacent land uses have a huge impact on transit and on the environment of a transit station. Therefore, adjacent land uses can in some way be considered as additional elements to a light rail station.

Figure 59: Example of signage at a transit station, source: http://livingcarfree.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/ho uston-light-rail.jpg

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

11.

Summary:

Now, the city of Bryan and College Station meet some problems, which include urban sprawl, traffic congestion, safety, and rural heritage preservation, impeding their development. Besides, the current alignment of freight rail through Bryan-College Station constitutes several problems ranging from safety concerns to operational deficiencies and congestions generation. To solve these problems, we propose a potential light rail using the same railroad tracks with the current freight rail. Establishing such a light rail in Bryan and College Station area is also a primary element of our vision for Bryan and College Station. And our vision for this light rail involves increasing in transportation options and decreasing our dependency on oil, while at the same time increasing mobility; increasing the opportunities for more desirable, costefficient development; encouraging the preservation of the rural farmland in Brazos Valley. The freight rail alignment currently traverses through the heart of Brazos Valley and the center of Bryan and College Station and would produce some negative impacts to the communities. A solution for such a problem is to reroute freight rail. We propose to completely eliminate the freight rail line from the built environment in Bryan and College Station, and the freight rail alignment diverges from existing tracks in Wellborn and follows State Highway 47 before joining the existing tracks again north of Bryan. Along this proposed rail alignment, there are numerous undervalued and undeveloped properties, which create opportunities for development. Besides, comparing with high growth area, the land value along the corridor is much cheaper. The excellent location of the rail corridor intensifies exceptional prospect for development within the Bryan and College Station area. Thus we propose a transit supportive redevelopment along Bryan Downtown – Wellborn light rail corridor by reallocating certain number of population and employment into the corridor redevelopment, besides providing a light rail transit supportive intensive built77 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

environment. And this kind of redevelopment not only could prevent sprawl, enhance efficient and effective land usage, but also produce a higher quality of life, a better place to live, work and play, the greater mobility with ease of moving around, and higher, more stable property values, etc. Through the market segmentation analysis, we also find this light rail transit service, on the existing freight rail line, can address and cater to the transit needs of the underserved segment, and provide efficient public transportation system to the existing riders. Overall, this proposed light rail line can bring Bryan-College Station a new transit-oriented development, prevent urban sprawl, reduce traffic congestion, and build a more livable community. And for implementation of this light rail project, we prepare three alternatives of light rail route, and suggest several stop locations along the freight rail line, based on the current situation and potential market for the transit.

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Figure.1 Light Rail Route and Stops 79 | P a g e


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

References •

Cervero, R Ridership Impacts of Transit-Focused Development in California, Federal Transit Administration, 1993.

Cervero, R and Ewing, R., Travel and the Built Environment-Synthesis, University of California Institute of Urban and Regional Development, 2002.

Jan

K.

Brueckner

(2000),

“Urban

Sprawl:

Diagnosis

and

Remedies”,

International Regional Science Review Vol. 23 No. 2 pp. 160-171., Sage Publications Inc. •

Kingsley Haynes and Kenneth J. Button (2001), “Transportation Systems and Economic Development”, Handbook of Transport Systems and Traffic Control, Pergamon, Elsevier.

Robert W. Burchell, et. al (2002), “Costs of Sprawl – 2000”, NCHRP Report 74, Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board.

Robert W. Burchell, et. al (1998), “The Costs of Sprawl – Revisited”, Report 39, Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board.

Richard B. Peiser (1989), “Density and Urban Sprawl”, Land Economics, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 193-204, University of Wisconsin Press.

2010-2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (2009), Bryan-College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization

2008 Brazos County Appraisal District data obtained from the City of College Station

2010-2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (2009), Bryan-College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization

Railroad Relocation – Final Overview Environmental Assessment (2008), US DOT Federal Highway Administration, TxDOT, Bryan-College Station MPO.

Timeline of Rail Issue (2008), Bryan-College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Union Pacific in Texas – Factsheet (2009), Union Pacific Railroad, www.up.com. Track design handbook for light rail transit. (2000). Washington, D.C.: United States. National Research Council. Transportation Research Board.

2010-2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (2009), Bryan-College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization.

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Websites referred: •

Transit Examples. Metro South – Planning Metro Link in South St. Louis County,

retrieved

on

11/14/09

from

http://www.ewgateway.org/metrosouth/pdfs/meeting3/meeting3station2.pdf. •

North American Light Rail Information and News Site retrieved on 11/14/09 from http://www.lightrail.com/

http://www.camponc.us/LRTP/2035/LRTP_Section_Downloads/Page55_56.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_rail#Capacity_of_light_rail_versus_roads

http://144.171.11.40/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=1596

http://www.portlandtribune.com/sustainable/story.php?story_id=1194635226 30488700

http://i.feedtacoma.com/Nick/streetcars-light-rail-vs-buses/#comments

http://www.discovery.org/a/437

http://www.ozarch.com/user_files/file_1339.jpg

http://media.photobucket.com/image/boulder%20transit%20village/HHC_pho to/tvap_boundary.jpg

http://images.absoluteastronomy.com/images/encyclopediaimages/d/da/davi s_sq_aug_2006.jpg

http://www.chaffeeyiu.com/usbus/scrt-lightrail.jpg

http://www.streetsblog.org/wpcontent/uploads/2006/07/Bicycling_in_Davis_CA.jpeg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c5/Dixie_chicken_in_coll ege_station.jpg/350px-Dixie_chicken_in_college_station.jpg

http://tti.tamu.edu/publications/researcher/v39n3/images/northgate.jpg

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Appendix A Atlanta beltline History The concept was based on the research thesis of Ryan Gravel, Georgia Tech graduate

student

.In

1999

he

recommended

linking

multiple

city

neighborhoods with a new transit system along the BeltLine. The integral parts of his concept was the revitalization of transit, parks and trails, neighborhood preservation, mixed-use development, affordable housing, cleaner air, and an improved tax base – all advancing economic development and quality of life. His proposal immediately gained popularity among the citizens and specially the former City Council President Cathy Woolard. •

It was such an interesting proposal that it easily captured people’s attention; as such the concept got an easy funding for advanced research. This was to check its practicality, feasibility and potential.

As a result to this investigation, in the year 2004, The Trust for Public Land hired internationally recognized park planner Alexander Garvin to study the opportunities of connecting green spaces with the Atlanta beltline, mile by mile. Garvin carried out an Emerald Necklace Study which identified that a connected park, trail and transit system along the BeltLine was attainable. Thus he sketched out a revitalization scheme.

In accordance with the suggestions put forward by Garvin, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, built another study but this one to check out the likelihood of funding the BeltLine allied to a Tax Allocation District (TAD). A committee was formularized chaired by Carl Patton and Barney Simms and led by the BeltLine Tax Allocation District. The two lessons generated from the study say:

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Income created from a BeltLine TAD would cover approximately 60 percent of estimated project costs – without requiring a tax increase

It also anticipated generous number of long-term economic development gains for the city.

Another piece of research study conducted by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) indicated that after the comparison carried out in the the Inner Core Feasibility Study (which investigated several transit options for the City of Atlanta) advocated the BeltLine for inclusion in its Alternatives Analysis Study. Thus the Alternatives Analysis Study supplemented by the thorough public ultimately led the MARTA Board in January 2007 to approve the full 22-mile loop of the BeltLine and a light rail mode of transit as its Locally Preferred Alternative. Nevertheless, the initial difficulty was to secure the federal funding for the project.

Making the BeltLine Real •

The formation of the BeltLine Partnership was announced in April 2005 by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and renowned veteran civic and business leader Ray Weeks as Chairman. The BeltLine Partnership was successful to create a 22-mile live-work-play-transit corridor from vision to reality; definitely the public support played a key role in its success. Consequently the BeltLine Redevelopment Plan, completed in November 2005 and the major players were ADA, the BeltLine Partnership, City Departments and the consultants.

The Redevelopment Plan formed a baseline to carry the project forward by outlining the major public infrastructure projects that comprise the BeltLine project, by delineating the type and scope of development that is consistent with good planning practices, and by setting the boundaries of

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The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

the Tax Allocation District which was demonstrated to successfully provide a primary local funding source for the project. •

The feasibility of the project earned great public support, by the end of 2005 the Atlanta City Council, Fulton County Board of Commissioners, and the Atlanta Public School Board of Education approved the BeltLine Redevelopment Plan and the BeltLine TAD.

•

The Five-Year Work Plan, was created in the early 2006, with the assistance from a senior Boston Consulting Group team, the Atlanta Development Authority and the BeltLine Partnership. The Work Plan invited inputs from more than 10,000 community members and outlined the priorities, goals, organizational structure, and $427 million budget for the first five years of the BeltLine project. The proposal got authorization from Atlanta City Council in July 2006, and the stage was set for execution of this visionary project.

The concept The basic idea is to integrate transit and trails into a setting which integrates them best with the neighborhoods and economic development centers including existing transit networks like MARTA and major regional commotion centers and attractions, such as the Zoo Atlanta. The BeltLine concept is to implement a combined system of trails and transit that would connect BeltLine with existing and planned BeltLine parks. The BeltLine's trails and transit system are regarded of having the same vitality as its parks system, streetscapes, and other infrastructure projects in determining the location and concentration of development in our city.

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Transit They major components of the Atlana Beltline transit include: •

BeltLine transit includes a 22 miles of rail-based transit with Light Rail vehicles e.g. streetcars

The concept is the provision of safe and convenient access through regularly spaced stops serving neighborhoods and development nodes at a proper access level.

It connects to the existing MARTA rail system at four stations. Service is planned to be frequent with street cars serving dual directions having headway of ten minutes during the peak hours.

The step by step notion was, initially securing the right of way, followed by the design work and then the implementation process. The preliminary stage being acquisition of the northeast corridor followed by the southwest railroad section. This whole procedure was given a time frame of 5 years to get accomplished.

Transit and Trails Studies Underway Environmental Impact Study (EIS)

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and Atlanta Beltline, Inc. are in a process of conducting a thorough research of the environmental impacts that may result from building transit and trails facilities in the 22-mile Beltline Corridor by identifying the right-of-way to be preserved and satisfying requirements for Federal funding eligibility.

The study will also assist in the advancement and implementation of future transit and trail improvements along the Beltline Corridor.

The EIS will consider the social, environmental, and economic impacts that may result from Beltline trails and transit implementation.

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Additionally, the EIS will help to better inform decisions regarding the project scope, design concepts and transit technology choices for the Beltline corridor initiative. Atlanta Memorial Trail •

The 33-mile BeltLine trail system includes a 22 mile loop trail and an additional 11 miles of spur trails. The Atlanta Memorial Trail is second trail project to be designed and built and forms part of the 22 mile core trail loop.

This trail project is a partnership between Atlanta BeltLine Inc., the PATH Foundation, and the City of Atlanta’s Parks Department. About one mile long, this trail begins at the multi-use trail in Ardmore Park and runs north to Bobby Jones Golf Course, ending at Dellwood Drive. The serene trail section runs through Tanyard Creek Park and several beautifully forested parcels including the recently acquired Howard Property.

Characteristics of Atlanta beltline: •

exclusive right-of-way-paths

exclusive right of way station

in-street stations

vehicle propulsion: electrically powered via overhead wire

pedestrian and automobile crossings

Street crossings with signals

Gated street crossings as well as grade separated street crossings

Service to existing as well as new residential and commercial areas

at grade ingress egress

Bicycle boarding

handicapped services-disabled access

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automated off-vehicle fare-collection system

small-medium sized vehicles

light rail uses heavier vehicles

The BeltLine Today •

To oversee implementation of the BeltLine, including coordination with City of Atlanta departments and ongoing community engagement, the Work Plan contemplated the creation of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI). Its formation was authorized by the board of the Atlanta Development Authority in late June 2006. Under the leadership of President and CEO Terri Montague and Board Chairman Cal Darden, ABI commenced operations in September 2006.

The BeltLine Partnership hired Valarie Wilson to serve as Executive Director in August 2006, and now focuses its efforts on securing private funding for the BeltLine, raising general awareness and broad-based support for the project, and mobilizing resources to address social concerns raised by new development around the BeltLine.

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the BeltLine Partnership, in collaboration with multiple departments within the City of Atlanta, the Trust for Public Land, the PATH Foundation, MARTA, Fulton County, Atlanta Public Schools, and many community partners, are working diligently to make the BeltLine vision a reality. Land acquisition, trail development, robust community engagement, detailed master planning, fundraising, and key foundational studies are all underway. Please refer to the implementation section of the website for more detailed updates.

Funding Tax Allocation District (TAD) •

BeltLine Tax Allocation District (TAD) financing is the primary local funding

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source

for

the

BeltLine

and

is

expected

to

generate


The feasibility of the new LRT system in the city of Bryan and College Station

approximately $1.7 billion of the total project cost of $2.8 billion over 25 years. •

The 6500-acre BeltLine TAD was created in 2005 after receiving overwhelming support from the community and votes of approval by the Atlanta City Council, the Atlanta Public School Board, and the Fulton County Commission. Importantly, TAD financing does not require a tax increase. It is a means of using future tax funds to pay for investment in the BeltLine now.

References:

http://www.beltline.org/BeltLineBasics/BeltLineHistory/tabid/1703/Defau lt.aspx http://www.beltline.org/Implementation/TransitandTrails/tabid/1805/Def ault.aspx http://www.beltline.org/Funding/TaxAllocationDistrictTAD/tabid/1731/De fault.aspx

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Project Report: Urban Public Transportation Planning - The feasibility of the new LRT system