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FIVE POINTS BUSINESS DISTRICT Streetcar Coordination Plan Final Report | August 2013

SOPHISTICATED HISTORY AFFLUENT CULTURE NEW URBANISM COMMUNITY REDESIGNED 24 4 4 Wa s h i n g t o n S t r e e t | D e n v e r, C O 8 0 2 0 5 | P : 3 0 3 - 8 3 2 - 5 0 0 0 | F : 3 0 3 - 8 3 2 - 5 0 01


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan Final Report May 2013

Prepared for: Five Points Business District/Colorado Department of Local Affairs Prepared by: Steer Davies Gleave 600 17th St., Suite 2800 South Denver, CO 80202 303 226 5863 In partnership with:

Leese & Associates/Rexford Canady Architects Holland & Knight Infrastructure Management Group

The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under an award with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government.


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AGENCY WORKING GROUP Five Points Business District Tracy Winchester Joel Noble Renee Martinez-Stone (consultant) City and County of Denver Caryn Champine Crissy Fanganello David Gaspers Courtland Hyser Justin Schmitz Emily Snyder Regional Transportation District Michelle Brier Andy Mutz Mike Turner

CONSULTANT TEAM Steer Davies Gleave Tim Baldwin Shari Frank Leese and Associates/Canady Architects Mark Leese Rexford Canady Genevieve Sellers Holland & Knight LLC Jeff Boothe Infrastructure Management Group Sasha Page

Downtown Denver Partnership John Desmond

Acknowledgements


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

CONTENTS 1

INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 1-1 Five Points in Context ........................................................................................................................ 1-1 Overview of This Project .................................................................................................................... 1-1 Scope of this Project .......................................................................................................................... 1-2

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LIVING, GROWING, AND MOVING IN FIVE POINTS....................................................................... 2-1 Living and Growing in Five Points ...................................................................................................... 2-1 Moving in Five Points....................................................................................................................... 2-13

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KEY ISSUES: CORRIDOR ANALYSIS ................................................................................................ 3-1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 3-1 Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Challenges Analysis ............................................................. 3-1 Conclusions ........................................................................................................................................ 3-7

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KEY ISSUES RELATED TO STREETCAR IMPLEMENTATION.............................................................. 4-1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 4-1 Integration with the Local Transportation Network .......................................................................... 4-1 Vehicles.............................................................................................................................................. 4-3 Stations/Stops ................................................................................................................................. 4-12 Streetcar Systems and Maintenance Considerations ...................................................................... 4-14 Typical Capital Costs ....................................................................................................................... 4-16 Conclusions ..................................................................................................................................... 4-17

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KEY ISSUES: STREETCARS IN OTHER COMMUNITIES ..................................................................... 5-1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 5-1 Streetcar Systems Currently in Operation ......................................................................................... 5-2 Streetcar Systems in Planning or Construction ................................................................................. 5-8 Conclusions ...................................................................................................................................... 5-14

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OPTIONS TO CONSIDER: ALIGNMENTS ........................................................................................ 6-1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 6-1 Key Alignment Issues/Assumptions/Questions ................................................................................. 6-2 Alignment Options: Initial Issues and Analysis .................................................................................. 6-5 Conclusions ...................................................................................................................................... 6-12

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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OPTIONS TO CONSIDER: STREET LAYOUTS ................................................................................... 7-1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 7-1 Track Placement Options ................................................................................................................... 7-4 Conclusions ...................................................................................................................................... 7-15

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OPTIONS TO CONSIDER: FUNDING AND FINANCING/ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION ... 8-1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 8-1 Funding and Financing Options .......................................................................................................... 8-1 Example Funding and Financing Scenarios for a Five Points Streetcar Project................................ 8-14 Organizational/Administrative Options ........................................................................................... 8-14

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BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE ....................................................................................................... 9-1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 9-1 Key Findings/Issues to Consider in the Next Phase of Study ............................................................. 9-1 Example Phasing Plan for Welton Street Conversion to Streetcar Service ........................................ 9-8 Next Steps ........................................................................................................................................ 9-13

Contents


1 Introduction


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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INTRODUCTION FIVE POINTS IN CONTEXT

What is Five Points? “…a multi-cultural entertainment and business district rooted in African-American history and seen as a destination for arts, culture, and entertainment….” Grow Denver Neighborhood Marketplace Profile

“There is a neighborhood in Denver with a history so rich you can feel it as you walk through its streets. This neighborhood is known affectionately as ‘Five Points,’ a name derived from Denver’s old tramway company, which used the nickname because their streetcar signs were not big enough to list all of the street name at this end-of-line stop…” Downtowndenver.com/ Downtown Denver Partnership

“One of Denver’s most culturally vibrant neighborhoods, Five Points is a tradition in itself…” Confluence-Denver.com

The Five Points neighborhood – and its Welton Street Corridor - is one of Denver’s most diverse and unique areas. It has a rich history in jazz dating back to the roaring 20’s. As noted in the Welton Corridor Urban Renewal Plan, “Historically, the Welton Corridor has been the heart of the Five Points neighborhood, which is one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods and was prominent from the 1860s through the 1950s. Starting in the 1920s, Five Points had an African-American majority population and was known as the ‘Harlem of the West’ for a thriving community with a rich mix of local business and commerce along the Welton Corridor, including over fifty bars and clubs where some of the greatest jazz musicians performed.” Welton Street was home to some of the first horse-drawn and cable streetcar lines in the Denver area, and with that many neighborhood businesses emerged along the tracks. As the Urban Renewal Plan notes, “Starting in the late 1950s, the Five Points neighborhood began to suffer because of drugs, crime and urban flight. Many properties were abandoned, and the larger market found local business conditions unappealing. Although the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library and the Central Corridor Light Rail System represent significant investment in the area, continued commercial investment is still needed to revitalize the Urban Redevelopment Area.” OVERVIEW OF THIS PROJECT In 2010, the Five Points Welton Street Marketplace (FPWSM) area was chosen to be one of four communities in the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Sustainable Main Street Initiative. A key priority of that project was the creation of a Vision Plan for the FPWSM district, led by the Five Points Business District. The Vision Plan process included a community survey and outreach to explore issues of history, culture, service needs, health, the City of Denver's new zoning code, parking and pedestrian safety. The City and County of Denver's Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan (NDNP) adopted several of the recommendations of the FPWSM Vision Plan. One of the eight transformative concepts of the plan is the construction and operations of a streetcar on Welton Street. This concept envisions a modern streetcar vehicle operating on rails in mixed traffic on Welton and Downing streets. Streetcar service, in the NDNP plan and in the FPWSM Vision Plan, was seen as providing a key opportunity to improve pedestrian safety, create space for a pedestrian environment on Welton (with the removal of existing light rail infrastructure), increase the level of transit service to the local community, and provide additional stops – and thereby access to transit - through the growing neighborhoods adjacent to downtown, including the Five Points neighborhood. Phase 2 of the Five Points

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Sustainable Main Streets Initiative includes an analysis of infrastructure, market opportunities and investment potential in the neighborhood. Despite its initial intention, the implementation of light rail service through the neighborhood in 1994 did not result in significant new development in the Welton Street corridor. The FasTracks plan of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) th includes $62 million for a light rail extension from the 30 /Downing station on the east end of the Welton Street corridor to the East Corridor rail line station being th constructed at 38 /Blake. RTD conducted an environmental evaluation of the corridor in 2010 that examined both streetcar and light rail options for the extension; that study ultimately recommended a streetcar-type connection th th operating in mixed traffic between 30 /Downing and 38 /Blake using light rail vehicles, continuing on the existing light rail tracks into the downtown light rail loop. However, under current funding constraints, that extension would not be built and operational until 2044. Partly in response to the streetcar preference expressed in the Sustainable Main Street Initiative project, RTD is re-examining the issues associated with streetcar implementation in the corridor, both for the Welton Street corridor and for the th extension to 38 /Blake. In anticipation of that formal RTD re-examination (a feasibility study scheduled for the spring of 2013), the Five Points Business District worked with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the City and County of Denver, and other entities to undertake a transportation, planning, and funding options analysis for the potential implementation of a streetcar in the Welton Street corridor. GOALS AND SCOPE OF THIS PROJECT This study was conducted as a response to the goals and desires of local stakeholders and the Five Points business community regarding the future of the Welton Street corridor as embodied in the Northeast Denver Neighborhoods Plan, the Five Points Sustainable Main Streets Initiative Vision plan, and other local plans, focused on: I

Improving the pedestrian environment in the Welton Street corridor to make it a more vibrant, economically viable community

I

Converting Welton Street from one-way to two-way auto traffic to increase visibility of and connectivity to the neighborhood

I

Converting the existing light rail investment to a lower-profile streetcar system to promote walkability, improve safety, and encourage economic development

This project was broken down into four tasks: I

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Task 1: Project Management/Initiation, including:


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

 Establishment of an Agency Working Group comprised of key consultant team task leaders and key Five Points Business District, RTD, City and County of Denver, and other staff and stakeholders who met on a regular basis to review project progress.  A project kickoff meeting/workshop to review key issues and brainstorm on potential alternatives.  A followup meeting/workshop that included a corridor walking tour, followed by a strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/ challenges (SWOC) workshop to document all relevant issues and concerns related to the study area.  Data collection, including documentation of existing land uses and zoning, demographics, economic and market data, transportation and utility infrastructure, and peer city research. I

Task 2: Develop and Refine Streetcar Options, including AWG workshops to examine:  Issues associated with streetcar operations options (such as routing and integration with existing light rail corridors)  Issues related to street running options, including implications on traffic operations and urban design.

I

Task 3: Funding and Financing Options, including:  An examination of federal funding opportunities under current laws and regulations.  A review of alternative funding options used in other streetcar systems around the country.

I

Task 4: Final Report, including final recommendations and conclusions from the AWG, with supporting presentation materials and documentation.

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Why Streetcars? Streetcars have a proven history of attracting and supporting economic development in many cities. Today's streetcar is a fixed-guideway rail transit system designed to operate in city streets in mixed traffic. Streetcars maximize transportation benefits in an urban area as well as provide and encourage economic development benefits. Streetcars are seen by communities, residents, and workers as permanent investments that can be used to attract new development and improve the walkable nature of local neighborhoods. All across America, more than 75 cities have included streetcar systems in their transportation and comprehensive planning documents, and several dozen cities have been operating streetcars for years. San Francisco, New Orleans, Portland, Seattle, Little Rock, Tampa and many others are in this group. The Five Points community believes it is important to consider streetcars as a viable transportation option and potential development catalyst for the Welton Street corridor . One of the best resources available on streetcars is a publication called “Streetsmart 2: Streetcars and Cities in the Twenty-First Century”, published by Reconnecting America. Another recent valuable document is the Minneapolis Streetcar Feasibility Study published by the City of Minneapolis in December 2007. That report reported on many of the key reasons why so many American cities are either planning or building new streetcar systems or are examining their feasibility. Those factors are adapted and summarized below: I

Streetcars generally attract more riders than bus routes in the same area. A new streetcar route in Toronto that replaced existing bus service attracted 15-25% higher ridership. Tacoma’s new streetcar line attracted ridership five times as large as ridership on a bus route on the identical route (with the proviso that the route did not charge fares and provided free parking near its terminus). San Francisco’s F-Line saw ridership increase by 300% over the previous bus line that served the same corridor.

I

Streetcars often attract private funding. Private property owners along the streetcar lines in Portland and other cities have been willing to “tax” themselves through fees, benefit districts, or other forms of exactions or assessments to help pay for the costs of building a streetcar system. Roughly half of the operating costs of Tampa’s TECO streetcar system come from an endowment created by local businesses.

I

Streetcars provide local circulation and increased pedestrian and transit mobility between and through activity centers of multi-use corridors. Unlike other long-distance types of fixed-guideway, high-capacity, high-speed transit such as light rail, commuter rail, or Bus Rapid Transit, streetcars are generally focused on serving local neighborhoods. They can promote “park once” programs and can encourage more pedestrian and bicycle and other “on-street” activities.

I

Streetcars provide a permanent and easy-to-understand route that attracts new users. Rail systems generally provide a permanent physical presence that is easy to comprehend by their users. This is especially true for visitors and occasional users who may be less familiar with local travel options than everyday commuters.

I

Streetcars can attract both visitors local users. Many streetcar systems – such as those in Little Rock and Tampa - start out as serving primarily a tourist or daytime visitor market. As development patterns change, and more residents are attracted to the downtown area, those systems are starting to serve more of a daily user market (such as commuters) by extending operating hours and improving frequencies.

I

Streetcars attract and organize development. In most cities, streetcars are as much about development as they are about mobility. Modern streetcar systems have been valuable catalysts in attracting new development and focusing development along the streetcar lines. Portland is probably the best example, with more than $3 billion in new development occurring along that city’s lines since the system was announced. Even smaller systems such as Tampa and Little Rock have attracted new development worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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2 Living, Growing, and Moving in Five Points


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 2

LIVING, GROWING, AND MOVING IN FIVE POINTS LIVING AND GROWING IN FIVE POINTS Snapshot of The Study Area For demographic analysis purposes, the study area for this project consisted of all DRCOG traffic analysis zones (or TAZs) that border Welton Street from Broadway to Downing Street, and from that point north on Downing to approximately the th location of the 38 /Blake East Corridor station (a total of 17 TAZs). DRCOG periodically estimates population and employment changes throughout the Denver metro region based on past growth trends and on changes in land use as documented by local jurisdictions. Population Table 2-1 summarizes population and employment in the Five Points area in 2010 compared with 2035 DRCOG projections; the table also shows similar data for the City and County of Denver and the DRCOG region. Table 2-1: Population and Employment, 2010 and 2035, for Study Area, City and County of Denver, and DRCOG Region

9,636

City and County of Denver 582,447

12,290

777,159

4,348,739

27.5% 1,925

33.4% 416,425

59.35% 1,354,865

4,297

713,367

2,575,941

123.2%

71.3%

90.13%

Five Points Area 2010 Population 2035 Population Estimates % Change 2010 Employment 2035 Employment Estimates % Change

DRCOG Region 2,729,066

Source: DRCOG

The table shows that population in the study area is anticipated to grow by more than a fourth between now and 2035, a rate slightly lower than that of the City and County of Denver. However, employment in the study area is projected to more than double by 2035, a growth rate faster than that of Denver and the DRCOG region. Figures 2-1a and 2-1b show changes in population and employment density in the TAZs included in the study area (the maps include TAZs north on Downing from Welton Street and are included for reference only).

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-1a: Changes in Population Density, 2010-2035

Source: DRCOG Figure 2-1b: Changes in Employment Density, 2010-2035

Source: DRCOG

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

The figures show that the largest changes in both population and employment density between now and 2035 are anticipated to occur in the area closest to Broadway adjacent to downtown. Moderate increases are forecast to occur in most other areas, with minor losses of population in the zone north of Welton and east of Park, and of employment in the zone south of Welton just west of Downing. Why is this important?: These figures show that the area around the Welton Street Corridor will experience higher rates of growth of employment than the City and County of Denver, indicating that the area will be attractive to new residents and new employment opportunities as catalysts for economic development over the next two decades. Around the Study Area the Past Decade: American Community Survey Data Information from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) provides a good look backwards and shows how the Five Points area has changed over the past decade. Three census tracts comprise the study area from Broadway th to 38 /Blake and were used in this analysis, as shown in Figure 2-2. Figure 2-2: Census Tracts used in American Community Survey Analysis

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Highlights of that analysis include: I

Ethnicity: ACS data show some differences in ethnic makeup in study area census tracts. Tract 2402 (in the southeast part of the area) is 53% white, the highest percentage of that ethnicity of the four tracts. Tract 23 has the highest African-American population (37%), and tract 2403 closest to Welton Street has the highest percentage of Hispanic residents of any of the tracts (43%).

I

Median household income: Tract 23 has the highest median household income at over $42,000 (an increase of 3% between 2000 and 2009), with tract 2403 having the lowest household income at $35,000 (though with an increase of 53% over the decade). By way of comparison, median household income in the City and County of Denver in 2009 was just over $45,000, a decrease of 11% over the decade.

I

Median home value: Tract 2402 has the highest median home value at $278,000, an increase of 23% between 2000 and 2009. Tract 2403 has the lowest home value at $242,000, though that is an increase of 39% over the decade. Median home values in the City and County of Denver were at $236,700 in 2009, an increase of 19% over the decade.

I

Education level: Tract 2402 had the highest percentage of high school and college graduates (89% and 55% of the population respectively), and tract 2403 had the lowest (73% are high school graduates, and 37% are college graduates). The City and County of Denver has 83% of its population as high school graduates and 39% as college graduates.

Why is this important?: This analysis shows that many portions of the study area have relatively high household incomes, home values, and education levels, especially when compared to the City and County of Denver as a whole. However, some census tracts have metrics lower than the average for Denver, indicating opportunities for economic development in the area to improve household income and home values for many residents. Land Use/Zoning Figure 2-3 shows current zoning in the study area. The zoning along Welton Street is primarily mixed use with an open space designation where the park is located. Zoning is currently undergoing re-evaluation by the City and County of Denver as a result of the Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan .

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-3: Current Zoning

Source: Five Points Welton Street Marketplace; City and County of Denver

Previous Land Use/Neighborhood Plans Over the past few years, the City and County of Denver and other partner agencies and entities have studied and categorized land use and related activities along the Welton Corridor. Blueprint Denver The City and County of Denver developed Blueprint Denver in 2002 as an outgrowth of its 2002 Comprehensive Plan. That plan designated several areas of change and areas of stability related to future land use decisions. Five Points was included in an area of change designated for the Northeast Downtown neighborhood, which was described as a ‘mixed-use neighborhood.’ The area along Welton was designated as a pedestrian shopping district surrounded by mixed-use and urban residential uses, as shown in Figure 2-4.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-4: Blueprint Denver Land Use Designation for Welton Street Corridor

Source: City and County of Denver

Denver’s Neighborhood Marketplace Initiative: Five Points District Development Plan This 2009 report was commissioned by Denver’s Office of Economic Development as a pilot project for the City’s Neighborhood Marketplace Initiative. Its aims were to provide guidance on economic strengthening of the Welton Street Corridor by helping to create a ‘more accessible and relevant’ business district along the corridor; responding to land use and business challenges faced by the corridor; strengthening relationships between businesses, property owners, and residents; and attracting new development and investment to the corridor. Some of its key recommendations related to a potential streetcar project include: I

Establishing the ‘optimum’ zoning for the corridor to maximize development potential

I

Development of strategies to improve multi-modal access and to create ‘a street that is more accessible to transit riders, pedestrians, and bicycles’, including an

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

exploration of transit alternatives and an investigation of ‘ an alternative to the existing light rail configuration.’ The report noted, ‘The Welton Stakeholder Group [established for the study] has expressed great interest in exploring streetcar and other transit alternatives to better serve the corridor.’ Five Points Sustainable Main Streets Initiative Vision Plan This 2011 project, a collaboration between the Five Points Community and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, was focused on working with community stakeholders in developing priorities for the corridor, including a vision and goal plan, a business revitalization strategy, a visitors center, a community health plan, and a sustainability plan. It had as a part of its overall outcome the aim of improving pedestrian friendliness and increasing transportation choices for the corridor. A major goal established for the process included transforming Welton Street ‘into a neighborhood commercial street scaled to achieve a balance of cars, pedestrians and transit….’ A major recommendation related to business development and marketplace identity was pursuing the ‘feasibility for converting the current rail system to streetcar.’ A recommendation under land use and parking was to support ‘transit oriented uses’ and create ‘ transit supportive strategies that support an accessible and vibrant commercial neighborhood marketplace.’ More specific ideas related to transit were included in the project’s ‘transportation, streets, and sidewalks’ recommendations. The study noted, ‘A streetcar was frequently identified as a solution more in scale with the desired neighborhood,’ and a specific recommendation was to convert Welton Street to two-way operations and replace the existing light rail system with a ‘two-way streetcar.’ Study participants developed a ‘consensus vision’ for Welton Street in relation to the ‘positive impacts that streetcar could achieve for Welton, specifically slowing traffic, activating sidewalks with amenities and improving pedestrian safety on Welton Street.’ Figure 2-5 illustrates the study participants’ consensus vision for Welton Street, which includes wider sidewalks, mixed streetcar/auto lanes, and two-way traffic operations.

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Figure 2-5: Consensus Vision for Welton Street

Source: Five Points Sustainable Main Streets Initiative

Final recommendations related to transportation include: I

Working with the City of Denver to plan for a Welton Street corridor that balances ‘access and safety for cars, bikes, transit and pedestrians’ by advocating for conversion of Welton to two-way operations ‘to improve business access, slow traffic and to allow for future two-way transit.’

I

Working with the City to ‘pursue plans consistent with the community Vision Plan’s preferred street cross-section’ including consideration of ‘a streetcar as more in scale with the proposed RTD Central Corridor circulator and with a neighborhood commercial district’, urban design features that provide safe separation from transit and autos, and preventing a ‘transit investment or reconfiguration that does not support the community vision and economic development.’

I

Working with the City, RTD, the Downtown Denver Partnership, and the community to ‘discuss and study support for the potential of a streetcar’ on Welton and Downing, including identifying ‘the community’s vision for streetcar to improve pedestrian mobility, fuel economic development and extend tourism and business from downtown through Five Points to the East Corridor,’ pursuing ‘funding for alternatives analysis, regional system feasibility and operation/maintenance planning’ for a streetcar. The study noted that the Five Points Business District Office will continue to seek grants, partners and funding ‘to study the concept of streetcar on Downing and Welton Street through Arapahoe Square and into downtown Denver.’ The report further notes, ‘Built

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

initially around horse-drawn streetcar, the Welton corridor is well-suited and located to serve as a streetcar demonstration project.’ The plan established a number of ‘next steps’ for Phase 2 (now under way), including working with RTD and the City to ‘identify benefits of streetcar, cost of the streetcar alternative, how it ties into downtown and to project the potential economic benefit.’ It also recommended evaluating federal ‘small starts criteria and funding sources ‘ for potential future streetcar design, construction, and operation on Welton. Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan This report, adopted by the City and County of Denver in 2011, was aimed at improving the land use, transportation, and urban form of the northeast Denver neighborhoods, including the Welton Street corridor and all of Five Points. Key findings related to Five Points included: I The area (including Five Points) is very close to downtown, regional transportation routes, and major amenities including the South Platte River and Coors Field. I The neighborhoods in this area are among the oldest in Denver and have a collection of Victorian-era buildings dating back to the 1860’s that is unmatched in the city. I Main Street development and zoning opportunities exist on Welton. It is an historic main street with a rich history that could make it a regional cultural destination, especially north of 24th Street. South of 24th Street, a predominance of vacant lots presents significant redevelopment opportunities to create a dense, urban, mixed-use area along Welton. I

Two way operations on Welton may help support the main street character of this corridor. Conversion of Welton would be necessary to support any future two-way streetcar operations and is contingent on that project and the associated removal of the current light rail infrastructure.

I

It is clear from the previous experience of introducing rail transit onto Welton in the 1990s that the investment of transit infrastructure alone will not result in development.

I

The most significant private investment has been made by hundreds of individual homeowners in the surrounding neighborhoods. These investments have changed the character of the area into a multi-racial, multi-cultural, and mixed income area.

In particular, the report highlighted a streetcar system as a way to enhance transit service and economic development opportunities in the Welton and Downing corridors ‘while improving the walkable character’ of the corridor. As the report

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

noted, ‘The vision for the Northeast Downtown Neighborhood Plan’s streetcar concept is a streetcar system featuring a modern streetcar vehicle operating on rails in mixed traffic for the length of the [Welton-Downing] route. The conversion of th Welton to two-way operations between 24 Street and Downing Street is likely required, with the existing light rail infrastructure being removed or modified to allow streetcar vehicles to run in mixed traffic. This would include removal of the high platforms for boarding at existing stations and could provide more right of way for sider sidewalks.’ The report further noted, ‘A thorough analysis of the streetcar concept, including an inclusive public engagement process, is necessary to understand the impact on adjacent neighborhoods and historic properties, city-wide transit services, pedestrian access, automobile traffic, and side street movements as well as overall feasibility and cost. The options for a streetcar maintenance facility location, either in the corridor or elsewhere, would also need further exploration. The location would greatly depend on the potential streetcar vehicle compatibility with existing RTD light rail vehicles and future potential streetcar service in other urban corridors.’ The report specified several areas where a streetcar investment could benefit the neighborhood, including improving neighborhoods connection and character, mobility, development opportunities, and livability and the public realm. It further recommended: I

The use of modern streetcar vehicles (shorter and narrower, with shorter turning radii and low floors) in place of the existing light rail vehicles

I

Further study to help determine if a potential streetcar couplet on Welton and th California between 24 and Broadway is ‘feasible or advisable.’

I

Examination of feasibility of alignment options to interact with downtown circulation, including the potential of accessing the downtown light rail loop.

I

Development of a ‘streetcar concept plan’ to establish a long-range vision for streetcar service in other Denver neighborhoods.

Figure 2-6 is a conceptual streetcar alignment option map developed for the report to outline options for further study in the future.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-6: Northeast Neighborhood Plan Streetcar Concept

Source: Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan

Five Points/Welton Corridor TAP Report This 2012 report was produced by a Technical Advisory Panel of the Colorado chapter of the Urban Land Institute. Its purpose was to produce strategies and practical ideas to revitalize the Welton Street corridor. The report identified several issues as top priorities to facilitate that redevelopment, including a more diverse mix of uses for commercial development and redevelopment in the corridor (including office uses), an improved public realm, and improved pedestrian safety and transit. Its recommendations included the pursuit of reconfiguring the Welton Street cross-section and ‘repositioning’ light rail as a solution to support commercial revitalization of the area. The report’s panel ‘strongly supports developing a new street cross section that places transit in the middle of the street.’ Key elements of the recommendation included: I

Examining streetcar as an alternative to light rail to replace the ‘currently th inadequate’ light rail corridor that terminates at 30 and Downing.

I

Encouraging the use of Welton Street as a ‘streetcar pilot’ for Denver, including seeking alternative funding from the US Department of Transportation and encouraging the use of Welton ‘as a streetcar pilot to address emerging difficulties of light rail access in to the Central Business District.’

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Five Points Welton Street Marketplace Vision Plan Implementation & Revitalization Strategy This 2013 report was an outgrowth of the 2011 Sustainable Main Streets Initiative Vision Plan and was focused on examining how the vision could be implemented. It examined mixed-use development potential for the area, the market potential for redevelopment, the potential of the existing public infrastructure (primarily utilities) to support additional development, potential zoning changes for the area to implement the vision, and financing options for new development. The report noted that ‘Though light rail and one-way traffic were created for regional mobility, they are not designed to best support a pedestrian friendly neighborhood business district. Together the street and alleys are 32% of land in the study area, more than enough area to rebalance cars, pedestrians and transit thereby improving safety and activating sidewalks. The community vision for a mixed-use neighborhood commercial district requires a safe pedestrian environment, business visibility and accessibility to redevelopment sites. Efforts, both public and private, must jointly work to create a safer pedestrian environment and a street that supports business access in the short and long term including the potential of a two-way Welton.’ One of its major recommendations was: ‘Continue to pursue streetcar as a solution that mitigates the challenges light rail created for safety, economic development and the rising cost of light rail for planned connections between the East corridor and downtown. The community has long supported transit on Welton and the light rail, originally identified as a pilot project in 1996, has provided important connectivity into downtown, but the rising cost of light rail and the need for a more pedestrian friendly solution means that streetcar may be a refinement and solution to better weave Downing, Welton and Araphoe Square with downtown Denver. Do not compromise on the need for a safe and vibrant pedestrian environment along Welton that supports access and visibility for a strong business environment.’ Why is this important?: These studies and reports indicate a growing consensus among staff members of the City and County of Denver and the Five Points community regarding the need to re-think the light rail investment in Welton Street. Support has been growing during the past few years for a streetcar alternative in the corridor as a means to provide mobility and promote and support economic development in the corridor.

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MOVING IN FIVE POINTS Transit th

Currently, the LRT D line runs on Welton Street from the 30 /Downing Station to th th the southern terminus in Littleton. It is double-track from 20 Street to 24 Street th and then runs single-track to 30 Street. Figures 2-7a and 2-7b show general th existing conditions on Welton on either side of 24 Street (note that parking varies from block to block). In addition, the study area is served by five RTD bus routes (12, 28, 38, 43, and AF), though all are focused on connecting with the th 30 /Downing light rail station and none operate on Welton through the heart of Five Points. Figure 2-7a: Current General Conditions on Welton Street from 20th to 24th Streets

Source: Study Project Team

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Figure 2-7b: General Current Conditions on Welton Street from 25th to 29th Streets

Source: Study Project Team

Why is this important?: Existing transit services in the study area are fairly th robust, with a regional light rail connection from 30 /Downing southward and with a number of local bus routes traversing the area (though none operate on the Welton Street corridor). The possibility of an urban-circulator type of rail investment on Welton could make those regional connections even more important and significant in the future.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Auto Traffic The City and County of Denver conducted traffic counts along Welton in the 20032005 timeframe. That traffic count information was included in the 2009 Denver’s Neighborhood Market Place Initiative: Five Points District Development Plan report. The information collected showed that the Welton Street corridor has an average of th just over 6,400 vehicle per day, ranging from a low of 4,600 just west of 30 Street th and a high of 10,300 just north of 26 Street. Figure 2-8 shows the traffic counts in the study area. Figure 2-8: Traffic Counts on Welton Street

Source: City and County of Denver

Why is this important?: Traffic on Welton is fairly heavy for a roadway that consists primarily of two one-way travel lanes (the average traffic volume results in a Level of Service rating between C and D, with a D rating indicating decreasing free-flow levels, slightly decreasing speeds, more limited freedom to maneuver within the traffic stream, and with minor incidents expecting to create delays. The City and County of Denver plans on studying the option of converting Welton to two-way operations as part of its Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan Next Steps study, anticipated to begin in 2013.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Bicycle Facilities Figure 2-9 shows bicycle facilities in the study area. The figure shows that the Welton Street corridor is flanked by bicycle facilities, with bike lanes on Champa and Stout to the north, and a sharrow (shared roadway) on Glenarm th to the south. A grid bike route crosses Welton at 30 on the northeast end of the study area. Figure 2-9: Study Area Bicycle Facilities

Source: City and County of Denver

Why is this important?: Welton Street itself is not seen as a desirable bicycle corridor at the moment due to its one-way operations and the relative abundance of parallel bicycle routes. A streetcar investment in Welton would make the street even less desirable as a bicycle corridor, though any new investment should incorporate good bicycle access from existing routes (including good wayfinding and bicycle facilities at streetcar stops).

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

RTD’s Plans for the Corridor In 2010, RTD completed the Central Corridor Extension Environmental Evaluation (EE), the aim of which was to complete an environmental and operational analysis th for the proposed Central Corridor Extension from the existing 30 /Downing light th rail station to the East Corridor station proposed for 38 /Blake as part of the FasTracks program. The study examined several alternative alignment options for rail transit in Downing, including both light rail and streetcar alternatives. A variety of single-track and double-track light rail extension options were examined during the study, with the preferred alternative being a two-track rail extension from th th 30 /Downing to 38 /Blake, with the trains operating in traffic on Downing, with the northbound light rail vehicle in the northbound travel lane and the southbound light rail vehicle in the southbound travel lane between the two stations. Light rail trains would then travel along the existing tracks on Welton Street and into the downtown light rail loop, as shown in Figure 2-10. Figure 2-10: Preferred Alternative for the RTD Central Corridor Extension

Source: RTD

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Streetcar Alternative In response to community requests, RTD included a streetcar alternative in its th th analysis primarily focused on the connection between 30 /Downing and 38 /Blake th th (then called 40 /40 ), with a three-lane typical section on Downing selected for further study (as shown in Figure 2-11). This option was initially designed to require th a transfer to the existing light rail station at 30 /Downing. Figure 2-11: Initial Streetcar Alternative Alignment in RTD Central Corridor EE

Source: RTD th

th

Because of the relatively short segment between 38 /Blake and 30 /Downing, the alternative’s design was extended to operate on the existing Welton Street light rail th tracks, terminating (and requiring a transfer) at the existing 20 /Welton light rail station on the east side of downtown, as shown in Figure 2-12.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-12: Revised Streetcar Alternative in RTD Central Corridor EE

Source: RTD

Additional concepts were considered, including the potential of extending the streetcar alignment to Civic Center station in Broadway and Lincoln as shown in th Figures 2-13a and 2-13b, providing a convenient connection to the 16 Street Mall Shuttle at Civic Center.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-13a: Central Corridor Streetcar Extension Option to Civic Center

Source: RTD

Figure 2-13b: Potential Streetcar Connection at Civic Center

Source: RTD

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Final Recommendation The ‘streetcar’ alternative to Civic Center was initially recommended as the study’s preferred alternative because it would have fewer impacts and would be within the corridor’s FasTracks budget. The EE noted that the streetcar alternative could be served by either a light rail vehicle or a modern streetcar vehicle. However, during RTD’s Annual Program Evaluation in 2007, program budget increases eliminated the proposed extension to Civic Center and focused on interaction with the downtown light rail loop. In addition, light rail vehicles (rather than streetcar vehicles) were recommended for use on the service to promote fleet operations and maintenance consistency. The final recommended alternative proposed using single-vehicle light rail consists on the segment, with integration into the downtown loop. Capital th th construction costs for the segment between 30 /Downing and 38 /Blake were estimated at $67 million (in 2009 dollars), with annual operating costs estimated at $3 million. Post-EE Analysis Since the conclusion of the EE, RTD in 2012 continued to examine the potential for streetcar use in the Central Corridor as an alternative to light rail. Two options in particular were analyzed in some detail: I

Alternative 1 (shown in Figure 2-14a) again examined the option of extending th streetcar service from 38 /Blake through Five Points and on to the Civic Center th Station. This option proposes a split southward from 24 , with southbound tracks running on California to Broadway. This option was tested at 10-minute peak service and 15-minute off-peak service and resulted in total daily 2020 ridership of approximately 11,000 riders.

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Alternative 2 (shown in Figure 2-14b) examined the option of extending a streetcar alignment through downtown. Initial RTD analysis showed that adding an additional rail service to the existing downtown loop would not be possible due to existing and proposed capacity on the loop, so a new downtown loop was examined that focused on Champa and Welton, with a southern connection th th th th assumed on the 16 Street Mall (additional options that used 14 , 15 , and 18 Streets in varying combinations were also examined). That option resulted in daily 2020 ridership projections of just over 11,000 riders.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-14a: RTD Downtown Streetcar Option Analysis Alternative 1: Civic Center Connection

Source: RTD

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 2-14b: RTD Downtown Streetcar Option Analysis Alternative 2: Downtown Connection

Source: RTD

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Next Steps RTD plans on continuing its re-examination of the streetcar issue in the corridor. In 2013, the agency plans on conducting a feasibility study to examine streetcar th alignment and operating options between 38 /Blake and downtown, including to and through the Five Points community, with a focus on capital and operating costs and ridership. Why is this important?: RTD’s initial examination of a streetcar option in the Welton Street corridor during the EE, and its subsequent continuing examination of the option, shows the agency’s willingness to be responsive to the views of the Five Points community that a streetcar option could be more beneficial to the economic health and community fabric of the area.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

What Make a Good Streetcar Corridor? I

There should be good transit attractors at both ends of a corridor. When exploring potential streetcar corridors, the community should look at convenient links between key residential and employment areas, medical centers, educational institutions, tourist attractions, and of course transit hubs. The presence of transit attractors – or anchors – at the ends or within proposed corridors, will increase the competitiveness of the potential streetcar corridors, especially when trying to fulfill goals to reduce single occupant vehicles and overall vehicle miles traveled. Anchors include major institutions such as hospitals, colleges, major tourist/visitor destinations, and transit hubs. Additionally, the greater the density in a corridor, the higher likelihood that transit could serve both work and non-work trips.

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Transit ridership should be relatively strong in the corridor. Existing bus frequencies should indicate demand for both peak and off-peak service in the corridor. Several local bus routes in potential corridors are heavily utilized; we will examine the best routes to determine if they could be more effectively served by streetcars.

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A streetcar corridor should complement the area’s vision and values for future growth and development. The extent of developable and re-developable land should be examined along a potential streetcar corridor along with zoning codes and other regulatory frameworks to help determine the streetcar potential of specific corridors.

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Streetcar corridors must be designated by the local jurisdiction for compatible activities. Corridors that have active residential or commercial uses, or those with new zoning codes or TOD overlay districts, should be targeted for streetcar implementation. Streetcars should enhance the pedestrian environment and focus on corridors that have potential for walkability and bicycle connectivity.

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Demonstrated public support is a key factor for successful streetcar implementation, with strong political support and local champions from the public and private sectors.

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3 Key Issues: Corridor Analysis


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 3

KEY ISSUES: CORRIDOR ANALYSIS INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to summarize the issues discussed and analyzed by the Project’s Agency Working Group in relation to the Five Points community in general and the Welton Street corridor in particular regarding the potential implementation of a streetcar system. In October 2012, this project’s Agency Working Group (comprised of representatives of the Five Points District, the City and County of Denver, RTD, and the consulting team) met in a workshop format (one of four conducted during the project) for two purposes: I

To conduct a ‘walking audit’ of the Welton Street corridor to survey current conditions and to discuss and document key issues related to streetcar implementation.

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To conduct a strengths / weaknesses / opportunities / challenges (SWOC) analysis to ensure documentation and discussion of wider policy issues and geographical as well as physical issues that may influence the design and operation of a streetcar system. This process was also aimed at helping establish and focus on key goals and objectives supported by the local community as the streetcar development process moves forward.

STRENGTHS / WEAKNESSES / OPPORTUNITIES / CHALLENGES ANALYSIS Strengths and weaknesses are generally considered as tangible, physical, shortterm or immediately observable issues or features that can be addressed through technical analysis. Opportunities and challenges are generally considered to be broader, big-picture issues and factors that are addressed by policy makers and the local community and are more long-term in nature. Tables 3-1a and 3-1b summarize the key factors, issues, and themes addressed by the Agency Working Group’s SWOC analysis. Table 3-1a deals with strengths and weaknesses; Table 3-1b focused on opportunities and challenges. Each discussion focused on three key areas: infrastructure issues; development and urban design issues; and mobility issues. More detailed review of the issues discussed are included in the sections following the tables.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 3-1a: Agency Working Group Assessment of Key Strengths and Weaknesses of the Welton Street Corridor

Strengths Strengths: Infrastructure Issues I

There is good station/stop spacing (approximately every two blocks) northeast th of 25 .

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There is significant existing rail infrastructure, portions of which could potentially be re-used for a streetcar.

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Welton has a wide right-of-way (approximately 80 feet in almost all locations).

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There are already major public investments in the corridor including the library, museum, and parks.

Strengths: Development and Urban Design Issues I

Pockets of new housing have been developed over the last few years adjacent to the corridor (1-2 blocks on either side at various points along the corridor).

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The corridor is already an ‘urban neighborhood’ in many respects, so local residents understand the lifestyle associated with an urban environment and would be amenable to additional urban development.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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There has been a commitment from local businesses to locate in the corridor (especially local banks).

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The surrounding neighborhoods (such as Arapahoe Square and Uptown) are experiencing a resurgence, which could provide critical mass and impetus for spillover development activity into the corridor.

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Many buildings along the corridor already are built with street-facing facades, giving it a Main Street feel.

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There is a significant diversity of architecture and building types and sizes along the corridor.

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The existing Five Points Plaza (including the DMV office) already provides a significant activity center for the corridor, and the DMV’s potential relocation nearby keeps the activity in the corridor while providing the opportunity for the property to be redesigned and redeveloped.

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The existing community groups – including the Five Points Business District, the Local Maintenance District, and the Washington Street maintenance district – provide a good organizational nucleus for a future district that could provide support for streetcar development.

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The existing urban center mixed-use zoning in place for the corridor provides a good framework for future development.

Strengths: Mobility Issues I

The corridor has established transit ridership given that the light rail line has been in place since 1994.

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FasTracks funding is already committed for the rail line extension to the East th Corridor at 38 /Blake.

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Due to its strategic location between the East Corridor and downtown, the corridor has major potential to provide significant regional connectivity.

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The corridor is manageable – approximately one mile long – which makes it advantageous for a neighborhood-scale transit investment such as a streetcar.

Weaknesses Weaknesses: Infrastructure Issues I

No light rail stop currently exists at Park Avenue, resulting in a fairly wide gap th th between 20 and 25 .

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The two parking lots along the corridor owned by RTD are currently free and unregulated.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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There is a lack of safe parking in the activity center area, and a general perception of the corridor as being unsafe past the Wells Fargo building to Downing St.

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There was a lack of coordination between the placement of catenary poles and streetlights and other utility poles along the corridor.

Weaknesses: Development and Urban Design Issues I

Developers consistently want a traditional design approach of having highly visible and available parking for their tenants either along the street or on the ground floor to draw tenants.

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The Deep Rock building is a large mass and not conducive to the desired character of the street.

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Due to flooding issues in the corridor, the 18-inch flood elevation requirement could make development more expensive in several areas.

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Few developers have been willing to propose new developments in the corridor recently.

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While approximately 60% of the properties in the corridor are owned by only 12 property owners, there are still large numbers of individual property owners in the corridor, making parcel assembly cumbersome and difficult.

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Due to the number of underutilized and underdeveloped parcels, there is a current lack of ‘curb appeal’ in the corridor to attract new development and activity.

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There is a decided lack of basic community service businesses in the corridor – such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and other types of neighborhoodoriented businesses. While many of those types of businesses are located relatively nearby in adjacent neighborhoods, access to those businesses is often not evident or direct.

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The current mix of land uses along the corridor lacks diversity.

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While local business groups do exist, there is not a single business district for the entire length of the corridor.

Weaknesses: Mobility Issues I

Welton is a one-way street from south to north, resulting in it having relatively high speeds and providing an exit from downtown Denver for evening commuters.

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The current single LRT track beginning east of 24 presents severe operational issues for RTD.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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While there are bike routes adjacent to the corridor, direct bike access to the corridor could be improved especially as development occurs and the corridor becomes more of an activity center.

Table 3-1b: Agency Working Group Assessment of Key Challenges and Opportunities of the Welton Street Corridor

Challenges Challenges: Infrastructure Issues I

There are significant utilities in the Welton right-of-way, making relocation potentially expensive and difficult.

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While existing rail infrastructure exists, it would potentially be difficult to salvage or re-use much or all of it due to the different nature of streetcar vs. LRT and the desire for a more neighborhood-friendly streetcar alignment in the corridor.

Challenges: Development and Urban Design Issues I

The private development market continues to be unpredictable, resulting in an uncertain future for development in the corridor.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

Given past experience with the urban renewal blight study and other projects, local residents and business owners will likely be wary of redevelopment plans primarily due to the potential for gentrification. A significant education and community relations effort will likely be needed to support significant development proposals.

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There will be a challenge to overcome the community culture in Five Points that people ‘move up and out’ of the area as their incomes increase.

Challenges: Mobility Issues I

If funding for the streetcar improvement for this corridor is found (either public or private), RTD may face significant political issues if this corridor is advanced while other corridors in the north are still delayed.

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Any public or private funding for a streetcar would be competing with finite funding resources for other projects in the City.

Opportunities Opportunities: Infrastructure Issues I

Implementation of a streetcar project could leverage (both timing and funding) other public improvements such as drainage improvements and other capital projects.

Opportunities: Development and Urban Design Issues I

There are significant numbers of good existing structures along the corridor that would be good targets for adaptive re-use.

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The corridor – and much of its building stock - would be a perfect location for emerging small business such as the small-tech incubator start-up buildings being offered in the Golden Triangle.

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The corridor should capitalize and expand upon the current entertainment venues, especially given the area’s heritage in that area, resulting in an ‘entertainment district’ as a potential theme or sub-area.

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The corridor should incorporate and promote the historic nature of the buildings along the corridor in any new development plans – that historic nature adds to the ‘authenticity’ of the corridor.

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The existing character of the corridor gives rise to the potential for three major redevelopment nodes:  Anchoring the west end of the corridor, an underdeveloped ‘arc’ extending th from 20 /Broadway to Park Avenue that includes part of Arapahoe Square and could provide linkages to other nearby neighborhoods

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

 The Five Points intersection in the central portion of the corridor, building on redevelopment that has already occurred th

 Anchoring the east end of the corridor, the Welton/30 intersection, with the good building stock including the former gas station that is now an artist studio I

The corridor is a perfect place to shape development for the emerging demographic groups – the baby boomers and ‘Gen Y’ – who together make up the largest population cohort in the US and have shown an increasing preference for urban, mixed-use, transit-friendly residences and environments.

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The corridor appears likely to be a good location for a hotel or other touristrelated use that could benefit from a streetcar investment, especially in the portion of the study area nearest downtown (Broadway to Park Ave) given its proximity to downtown and the potential availability of entertainment and restaurant venues.

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The corridor – and the streetcar project – could be branded together to promote the diversity and history of the neighborhood and its unique urban character.

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The project presents the opportunity for a true champion to provide political impetus to the streetcar and related development.

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The project presents the opportunity to consolidate the various groups now functioning in the corridor into a unified organization such as a Community Development Corporation.

Opportunities: Mobility Issues I

The City’s current alternatives analysis on Colfax provides an opportunity to examine streetcar or other transit connections that could be integrated with that project, the new downtown circulator, and/or Civic Center station. If and when a streetcar is implemented on the corridor, it could be an example and impetus for other streetcar projects in the City and region.

CONCLUSIONS This community-focused analysis provides a good basis for initial analysis of how a streetcar can fit into the urban environment – and potentially change the urban fabric – of the Five Points Community. Its key points will be re-examined later in the project to determine how a future streetcar might better align with the community observations and aspirations contained in this analysis.

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4 Key Issues Related to Streetcar Implementation


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 4

KEY ISSUES RELATED TO STREETCAR IMPLEMENTATION INTRODUCTION As the Five Points community, the City, and RTD continue to consider potential implementation of a streetcar investment in the Welton Street corridor, a number of key issues should be documented and reviewed to assist in the decision-making process. Streetcars, while in various stages of operations, construction, and planning in cities throughout the country and the world, would be a new transit technology in the Denver area. While local residents are familiar with how the RTD bus and light rail network operate, there are several new issues and considerations that the local community will need to evaluate to determine how a streetcar system could best fit into the existing urban environment. This section analyzes several technical issues to consider, including vehicle options, operations and maintenance issues, passenger station/stop design and infrastructure, and other key issues. INTEGRATION WITH THE LOCAL TRANSPORTATION NETWORK A streetcar system typically performs a variety of mobility functions . Figure 4-1 is a graphic adapted from the City and County of Denver’s Streetcar Feasibility Study showing where streetcars traditionally fit into the continuum of transit options. Figure 4-1: Streetcar Mobility Functions Related to Other Modes

Source: Col fax Streetcar Feasibility Study, Ci ty a nd County of Denver, 2010

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

As the figure shows, local buses and shuttles are at the lowest end of the spectrum, providing slow operating speeds and focusing almost entirely on local service, with some ability to receive priority treatment in mixed traffic. Bus Rapid Transit is a step up in the realm of bus service, able to operate more of a regional service with priority treatment transitioning into semi -exclusive or exclusive guideways as speeds increase. Light rail operates at relatively slow speeds in a localized urban environment in a semi-exclusive guideway, though its speeds (and regional service ability) increase as it moves into a fully dedicated guideway. Commuter rail (and in larger cities, heavy rail) is on the highest end of the spectrum, focused almost entirely on regional service in a full y dedicated guideway (usually a railroad corridor). Streetcars are able to span several service scenarios. They can provide relatively localized service at slow speeds in mixed traffic, but they can also receive priority treatment for slightly higher speeds and can operate in semi -exclusive or exclusive guideways in some areas to provide even higher speeds, depending on station spacing. Streetcars also fall somewhere between Bus Rapid Transit and light rail in capital cost and construction complexity, with a few key differences: I

Streetcar construction costs more than Bus Rapid Transit primarily due to their need for in-street rail construction (compared to use of existing roadway surfaces or, in some cases, minor modifications to roadways to accommodate BRT). However, unlike buses (which are limited to 60 feet in length for articulated buses, the longest buses used in the US today), streetcars come in a variety of vehicle lengths and passenger capacities, further increasing their flexibility as a mobility option.

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Streetcar construction usually costs less than light rail primarily because of its less-intensive passenger stop infrastructure and its ability to, in many cases, avoid total relocation of adjacent or crossing utilities. New shallow-depth track slab construction techniques used in many systems across the US results in fewer construction costs and impacts than light rail.

Many of these issues are explored in more depth in the following sections.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

VEHICLES Vehicle Options The choice of a streetcar vehicle for use in Five Points and potentially elsewhere in Denver represents one of the most important decisions the local community can make. The vehicles become the most important element in the public image of the project, as they become the most visible element of the project. The vehicles will be able to serve as both a transportation mode for the community and as a local neighborhood asset or amenity that should be able to attract development and be able to serve as a local attraction in its own right. For those reasons, the streetcar vehicle will be vitally important to the overall success of the project. There are typically three types of streetcar vehicles available for use in the US: vintage restored (historic vehicles that are refurbished and rehabilitated to operate in modern conditions); vintage replica (new vehicles designed to resemble vintage or historic vehicles); and modern. This analysis will focus on modern streetcar vehicles, as those provide the types of capacity needed for an urban circulator system such as that proposed for the Welton Street corridor to integrate with the RTD system. Vehicle Overview Modern streetcar systems typically operate in dense urban corridors and are aimed at providing supplemental capacity to existing transit networks, filling ‘gaps’ that are not being served by existing transit networks, and providing both short-distance and long-distance trips in urban corridors. Recent examples in Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma have served as urban circulators, connecting key activity centers in relatively short corridors. Newly emerging applications may include a Europeanstyle combination urban circulator and longer-distance trip provider; the Austin Urban Rail project, for example, is ultimately planned as a downtown circulator in addition to a long-haul, higher-speed, limited-stop connection to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Modern streetcars (defined as such to distinguish ‘modern’ vehicles from smaller ‘vintage replica’ vehicles seen in cities such as Little Rock) can operate in a shared-traffic roadway environment (as is often the case in downtown circulators) or semi-exclusive or exclusive guideway environments for higher speeds and better travel times. Modern streetcars typically operate in single-car consists though can be coupled if needed (and if the cars are constructed for coupling). Streetcars have similar features to those of light rail, but are typically operated with smaller vehicles with lower capacity, operate at lower speeds within general traffic, and with lower levels of segregation and traffic priority provided. They can sometimes be classified as local pedestrian accelerators.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

The most common recent modern streetcar systems in the US use a vehicle design that originated in Czechoslovakia (and is now being manufactured in the US). This vehicle is approximately 66 feet long and accommodates 30 seated passengers and approximately 90 standing passengers. Another option being considered by some cities is a longer, European tramway-type design that features a vehicle that is 100 to 120 feet long with multiple articulations. A moderate-sized option is being built for the US market by Siemens and is a shortened version of its low-floor light rail car at approximately 80 feet. The key components of modern streetcars are: I

They are steel wheel on steel rail, with track flush with the road surface

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They operate generally on-street in lanes usually shared with autos, often in downtowns destination neighborhoods , but may also include segregated sections where available

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Its flexible alignment criteria allow the track guideway to be well integrated into the existing urban fabric

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They can operate with modern low-floor vehicles

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Vehicles typically are electrically powered via overhead lines supported by poles or building fittings

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Simple “raised curb� platforms provide level access for easy boarding and alighting

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Passenger stops can range from bus -system type stops with simple shelters with static information to more complex shelters with real -time passenger information and other amenities

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They can use off-board ticketing to improve dwell times, or fare collection can be on the vehicle

Table 4-1 summarizes the key general characteristics of modern streetcar applications. More detailed descriptions of key features are described in the sections that follow.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 4-1: Modern Streetcar Key Features Feature

Description

Typical construction costs/route mile

$20-$100 mi l lion depending on a menities

Typical maximum operating speeds

45-55 mph

Typical distance between station/stops

¼- ½ mi l es depending on a pplication

Types of alignments/guideways

Sha red roadway, semi-excl usive, or exclusive

Typical vehicle length

60-120 feet

Typical vehicle width

7 - 8½ feet

Typical passenger capacity/vehicle

60-120 depending on l ength

Multiple vehicle operation

Typi ca lly not but could be i f desired

Typical system passenger capacity per hour per direction

500-2,500 depending on headways

Typical alignment width

10-12 feet

Maximum grade

8%

Typical power source

Typi ca lly overhead electric but could operate on ba ttery power or ground-level power for s hort di s tances

Typical vehicle life

30 yea rs

Example cities/systems in use

Portl a nd, Seattle, Tacoma

Vehicle Choice Issues There are several characteristics and requirements that will impact the selection of a streetcar vehicle for the Five Points area and potentially other areas of Denver: I

They must be able to adapt to the nature of the service desired by the community. The local community will need to determine if it wants to concentrate on mobility and commuter transportation, special events and weekend transit, connections to nearby activity centers, peak period or off-peak service, and other often competing factors.

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The vehicles must have the rider capacity for and accommodate the needs of all potential passengers, including ADA requirements, rider comfort, and the needs of either regular public transit service, special events, or both.

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They must be able to operate in the local environment, including weather, topography, and track geometry.

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They must meet performance criteria for frequency of service, acceleration and deceleration characteristics, maximum and typical operating speeds, and rail geometry, while providing an acceptable level of safety, comfort, and reliability. 4-5


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Other key issues to consider in the selection of a streetcar vehicle include: I

The use of single-end vs. double-end equipment. Single-end streetcars can only be operated in one direction. Double-end vehicles can move in both directions but could result in lower passenger capacity due to the requirement to construct an operator’s area on both ends. Most modern streetcars are being designed and constructed to operate in both directions.

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The use of single-side vs. double-side entry vehicles. Single-side vehicles (similar to most buses, which open on the right side for curbside pickup) provide slightly higher passenger capacity but are more limited in operational flexibility than double-side vehicles, which can load and unload passengers from either side or center platforms.

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The use of single-unit vs. multiple-unit equipment. As with light rail, most modern streetcars could conceivably be operated in consists of two or more vehicles, providing more passenger carrying capacity and limiting operational costs (with one operator able to serve more than one vehicle at a time).

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Turning radius and other geometric considerations. Most vintage restored or replica cars can negotiate a turning radius of approximately 50 feet, allowing right-lane-to-right-lane turns around corners in most downtown areas. Modern vehicles have a slightly larger turning radius (usually 62 feet), which generally requires curb cuts or other special designs to negotiate tight turns .

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ADA compliance. Compliance with ADA accessibility regulations is a requirement regardless of the funding source of vehicles. Vintage restored or replica vehicles may have construction and cost issues related to retrofitting to allow ADA accessibility. High blocks (ramps or lifts on passenger platforms) can be used, though they could affect passenger circulation and could result in high costs given the typical close spacing of streetcar stops. Low-floor vehicles such as most modern streetcars provide the greatest flexibility with ADA accessibility, though passenger platforms must be built to accommodate low-floor boarding (typically higher than a standard curb height).

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Fare collection systems can include on-board equipment, similar to that found on many vintage restored or replica vehicles. However, on-board equipment can cause maintenance issues and costs and can limit passenger capacity and delay boarding. Off-vehicle ticketing – provided at passenger stops – is more common with newer systems and provides quicker multi-door boarding.

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Propulsion including alternative power sources. Most vehicles used in urban streetcar systems today are powered by overhead electric lines, typically at 600 to 750 volts DC. However, at least three historic tourist-oriented systems in the country are powered by non-electric (diesel or biofuel) propulsion systems. In addition, some companies worldwide are experimenting with battery power;

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Kawasaki has recently been advertising a new light rail vehicle that combines onboard regenerative battery propulsion that can reportedly travel six miles without connection to overhead catenaries. An early version of this system is being tested in Paris, though reportedly the cars do not include air conditioning. Bordeaux, France, uses an in-ground power system, though that system has been reported as having complex maintenance issues and costs and does not have the weather extremes of Denver. Bombardier is testing a magnetic induction propulsion system in Europe (which would only power the segment of track occupied by the vehicle). These new technologies, while unproven and likely more expensive than traditional electric power (at least in the near term), nevertheless provides future options for cities such as Denver to consider. Two recent publications from the American Public Transit Association provide valuable guidance on streetcar vehicle options and specifications: I

The 2010 Carbuilder Survey: North American Application of Modern Streetcar Vehicles, and

I

The 2013 Modern Streetcar Vehicle Guideline, a draft version of which was recently produced by APTA’s Streetcar Subcommitttee.

The latter document provides a good description of streetcars and how they operate in the urban environment: “Modern light rail and streetcar vehicles are fundamentally very similar, the differences having to do with how they are applied. The primary difference between the two modes is the degree of integration into the urban environment and the scale of the associated infrastructure…. “Streetcar and light rail system (often defined collectively as ‘tramways’ in Europe) operate in more than 400 cities throughout the world, with systems varying considerably in form and function, as well as regulatory requirements. While streetcars are often thought of in the urban circulator context here in the U.S., they can also be deployed in a ‘rapid streetcar’ mode that speeds service by using less frequent stops and traffic separation/priority…. “Vehicle requirements vary… as do the opinions of different citi es about the desired ‘look’ and overall aesthetics of their vehicles. In Europe, the major carbuilders have responded by developing modular product lines that permit multiple vehicle configurations and visual design elements based around standardized vehi cle ‘platforms.’ Within these modular product families, customers can select from a catalog of ‘standard’ typically include the number of vehicle ‘modules’ (and thus overall length and capacity), the number and location of doors, … widths, varying interior appointments, vehicle end styling, and interior and exterior color schemes. By selecting options rom within a standard product range,

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

vehicle costs and delivery times are reduced, while still providing an individual identity for the vehicles in each city. “To a certain extent, this same approach has also been applied to vehicles in the U.S. market; however, lower overall market volume has tended to limit the number of different ‘standard options’ offered.” According to the APTA Modern Streetcar Vehicle Guideline, some key factors related to the design and operations of streetcars include: I

Passenger capacity, related to size and interior layout. Capacity requirements are determined through ridership forecasting and related operations plans (primarily headways or frequency of service) and operating speeds. Factors related to capacity include: 

Vehicle length, ranging from roughly 66 feet for the Czech-type model used in Portland and Seattle to the European standard of 120 feet. Capacity often can be increased by adding modules. Vehicle length also impacts urban fit including station/stop design.

Vehicle width, with most carbuilders having developed three standard widths ranging from 7’-6” to 8’-8”. Wider vehicles and their operating envelope could have more impacts on urban street lane widths and related issues such as adjacent traffic and parking lanes.

Interior layout and ratio of seating to standing space. Streetcars usually have more standee space than light rail vehicles because streetcar trips tend to be shorter, they may have more doorways, and standing is more typically acceptable to streetcar passengers. As the Guideline notes, ‘The inherently stable ride of a railed vehicle makes the ride more comfortable for standees, and so it is common to see extra standee room… in streetcar applications.’

I

Partial low-floor vs. 100 percent low floor vehicles. Partial low-floor vehicles are defined as those with a low floor in only a portion of the interior (50 to 70%). Vehicles with a low floor throughout the passenger compartment are defined as 100% low-floor. As the Guideline notes, ‘More than 8,000 low-floor light rail and streetcar vehicles have now been built or placed on order in the 25 years since the advent of low-floor technology. About half of those vehicles are 100 percent low-floor, and recent Western European orders suggest that the market trend is decidedly in favor of 100 percent low-floor vehicles for tramways and streetcars. As of July 2012, there were 1,040 partial low-floor vehicles in service or on order in the U.S. and five 100 percent low-floor vehicles…. Toronto has a total of 386 100 percent low-floor vehicles on order to replace its existing streetcar fleet….’

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Vehicles and Typical Operating Environments Alignment Design Modern Streetcars can run on a range of alignment types, including shared running with other traffic, operation through pedestrianized areas and on segregated alignments, most commonly at-grade, but they can be grade-separated either on elevated structures or in tunnel. Shared running with other traffic is commonly used in central areas. Modern streetcars can also, subject to appropriate speed limits and operational procedures, run in pedestrian areas where other vehicles are not permitted. On-street alignments that are segregated from other vehicular traffic allow for greater reliability. Modern streetcars can also run on fully segregated alignments, typically running parallel to roadways or rail lines or on abandoned rail alignments. Community Integration and Environment Streetcar systems are generally installed in existing central urban locations, and often planned in conjunction with urban regeneration and renewal schemes. In such cases, the wider community and urban realm benefits are often key element in the case for introducing the mode. Streetcar introduction usually forms part of a wider program of upgrading the streetscape; re-evaluating and re-designing traffic movements, parking and loading facilities; and improving pedestrian environments . This can also include improvements to landscaping, the introduction of public art, and other amenities. Vehicles Currently Available The APTA Carbuilder Survey: North American Application of Modern Streetcar Vehicles provides significant details on the range of streetcar vehicle types available for use in North America. Table 4-2 summarizes the key characteristics of the vehicles currently available. The information below summarizes those vehicles.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 4-2: Streetcar Vehicles Available in North America Partial or 100% lowfloor?

Floor height

Width

Alstom Citadis X02

100%

13”

7’10”–8’8”

Alstom Citadix X04

100%

13”

AnsaldoBreda Sirio

100%

AnseldoBreda Sirio Tram-Train

Bombardier Flexity Outlook

Manufacturer/ Name

4-10

Passenger capacity (seated + standingl)

Turning radius

Where in use

106.6’143.7’/ 5-7 modules

216-296

66’

Bordeaux

7’10”-8’8”

110’-140.4’/ 3-5 modules

213-295

59’

Istanbul

13.8”

7’6”-8’8”

68.9’-141’/ 37 modules

120-290

59’-66’

Naples

100%

13.8”

7’10”=8’8”

108.3’144’/5-7 modules

200-300

66’

Milan

100%

12.8”

8’8”

98.4’-147.6’/ 5-7 modules

190-262

82’

Just ordered for Toronto

Length/ modules


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 4-2 (cont.): Streetcar Vehicles Available in North America Partial or 100% lowfloor?

Length/ modules

Passenger capacity (seated + standingl)

Floor height

Width

Turning radius

CAF Urbos

100%

14”

7’10”-8’8”

77.4’-146’

148-317

59’

Just ordered for Cincinnati

Kinkisharyo ameriTram

100%

13.8”

8’-8’8”

65.6’-131.2’/ 3-7 modules

115-190

59’

Not yet in service

Siemens Avenue

100%

14”

8’8”

91’

202

59’

Not yet in service

Siemens S70 Streetcar

Partial (68%)

14”

8’8”

79’

149

82’

Salt Lake, ordered for Atlanta

United Streetcar USC 100

Partial (50%)

13.8”

8”

66’

115

59’

Portland, ordered for Tucson and Washington DC

Manufacturer/ Name

Where in use

Source: American Public Tra nsportation Association; photos courtesy modernstreetcar.org

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

STATIONS/STOPS A streetcar system’s stations or passenger loading areas are the second most-visible components of the system after the vehicles. These facilities are the entrance or gateway to the system for the rider, and have the potential to become an essential part of the urban fabric and street environment through which the streetcar guideways and vehicles pass. Therefore, they should be designed to fit into the character, scale, and style of the surrounding neighborhood. Several issues are important when considering streetcar stop locations and designs. I

In a developed urban area, streetcar stops generally are provided every two to three blocks, but can be slightly farther apart in less developed areas, much like traditional bus stops.

I

Where possible, stations should be located near or adjacent to major cross streets or near major activity centers and near or adjacent to a si gnalized intersection to facilitate streetcar movements through those intersections after passenger loading.

I

Passenger boarding and de-boarding areas ideally should always be on tangent (straight) tracks to facilitate ADA accessibility and passenger safety when loading. Passenger stops work best when they are located along curb lines to prevent the guideway from curving or diverting to line up with a loading area. This usually means that passenger loading occurs in an active auto travel lane and would be located on curb extensions (or bulb-outs) where parking currently exists, resulting in the loss of 2-3 parking spaces per boarding area depending on the length of the platform.

I

The selection of the vehicle obviously influences the design of the station, both in architectural style and in size. At approximately 66 feet in length, a Czechstyle vehicle like that used in Portland and Seattle would have a smaller passenger platform than a tramway-type that is approximately 80 to 120 feet.

I

ADA accessibility of the vehicle also influences station design. Low-floor modern vehicles require only a raised curb for loading.

I

Passenger loading areas should be designed to work well with the surrounding pedestrian activity; stops or stations should be designed so they do not interfere with pedestrian activity on the adjacent sidewalk.

I

The design of the station can be as simple or complicated as budgets and local preferences allow. Passenger amenities can vary and typically include: 

Shelter or canopies for protection for riders from the elements;



Seating may be provided but is not always required; more than likely, if local bus stops provide seating, streetcar stops would also;

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Customer information, either printed schedules and system information and/or real-time electronic schedule information, along with wayfinding and maps for the local neighborhood;

Other amenities such as trash cans, lighting and bike racks if enough space is available;

Optional amenities include advertising panels, concessions and newspaper racks, public art, and other conveniences.

Basic Station Design Streetcar passenger station/stops generally are located alongside curbs in outer traffic lanes near major cross-street intersections, preferably a signalized intersection to facilitate streetcar movement through the intersection. Two types of streetcar passenger platforms are typical: I

Stations can be located at a near side or far side of an intersection. Both could typically utilize a ‘bump-out’ in a parking lane to accommodate the passenger loading area. The passenger loading area or platform would vary depending on the exact size of the vehicle. Another design preference would be to locate the ends of the passenger loading area 30 to 50 feet away from the intersection to minimize traffic interference.

I

Mid-block passenger stops could be located designed to serve a major midblock activity center or to minimize conflicts at a nearby intersection. This option could use ‘bump-out’ stations in parking lanes or could load directly from a sidewalk.

Center-loading platforms – which would be used only if a streetcar guideway were in the center of a street - are used in some instances, though this type of configuration does present other issues that should be taken into consideration. Center platforms generally require either the removal of a center turn lane or other significant change to existing traffic configurations, or additional right-of-way to accommodate existing traffic lanes, which could result in narrowing of lanes, sidewalks, curb lanes, or other major redesign of the street where the streetcar is operating. Other Station/Stop Issues I

Platform height and accessibility are key issues related to passenger loading – including ADA accessibility. A curb or platform height of 14 inches is most common for low-floor vehicles. As noted in the APTA Guideline, ‘the platform may be of uniform height, or it may incorporate one or more raised (ramped) sections adjacent to the berthing point for the accessible doorway(s) on the vehicle(s).’

I

ADA-compliant boarding is either ‘fully level’ or ‘near level’ depending on local design requirements and conditions.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

‘Fully-level’ boarding is where the vehicle floor and platform are at the same height. No bridgeplates to accommodate wheelchairs are necessary, but this configuration does usually require an ‘active suspension’ (or automatic load leveling) on the vehicle to maintain compliance with ADA requirements.

‘Near-level’ boarding allows a lower platform height to be used (usually 8 to 10 inches), but does require a bridgeplate, which could increase dwell times for deployment and increase maintenance requirements.

STREETCAR SYSTEMS AND MAINTENANCE CONSIDERATIONS Systems As noted earlier, most modern streetcar systems are powered by overhead electric wires; while new battery technology may provide alternatives in the future, electric power will likely be the propuls ion system available for cities in the near term. Overhead electric power has a number of key factors and issues associated with it that should be taken into consideration in the planning and design of a streetcar system. I

Electric power for streetcars is generally 600 to 750 volts DC provided, as noted, through overhead wires.

I

Vehicles draw power from the overhead contact wire with either a springloaded trolley pole that straddles the wire, or a pantograph with a wide contact surface that slides along the wire. Vintage restored or vintage replica cars traditionally use a trolley pole; modern vehicles traditionally use pantographs.

I

Overhead wires are either single trolley wires hung from pole to pole or a catenary that is a double wire that allows longer spans and more efficient electrical power distribution.

I

Small substations for electrical power distribution will be needed at intervals along the route, usually at half-mile or mile intervals (these can often be incorporated into station/stop design).

I

Electrical grounding is required to complete the DC circuit and allow a return current back to a substation. This is usually done by isolating the track from the ground with a rubber “boot” or other means.

Other systems elements include: I

Signaling and communications to coordinate vehicle movements, which can include train-to-wayside communications (radios, in-street detection loops, or other means) that are integrated with local traffic signalization systems and Intelligent Transportation Systems, and vehicle location systems including GPS

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

that allow tracking of vehicle movements and potentially a rider information system. I Fare collection, which can be on-board, which requires fareboxes near the front doors (limiting passenger capacity), or a proof-of-payment system with wayside ticketing similar to most light rail systems. Under the latter system, riders can enter through any doors, and roving fare inspectors can request tickets ; this system is common on most newer streetcar applications . Maintenance Facilities A streetcar system, like other passenger rail systems, requires one or more maintenance and storage facilities . The exact number and location will depend on the specific alignment and length of the system. Traditionally, streetcar maintenance facilities can be located on parcels from two to five acres in size depending on the number of vehicles in the fleet. Activities that could be performed at such a facility include: I

Vehicle storage and layover;

I

Operator reporting and dispatching;

I

System operations supervision;

I

Daily maintenance, such as interior and exterior cleaning;

I

Inspections, including daily safety inspections, and long-term cyclical inspections;

I

Running repairs or light maintenance such as replacing broken glass or indicator lights, door malfunctions, and similar activities;

I

Component change-out, including major components such as motors;

I

Vehicle unscheduled and daily repairs; and

I

Parts and materials storage.

Maintenance facilities generally include interior track, repair pits, jacks and cranes as needed, and related facilities. As with stations, exterior design of maintenance facilities can be as simple or sophisticated as budgetary resources allow or as local design standards dictate. Consideration should be given to improving the neighborhood acceptance of streetcar maintenance facilities by integrating other community-based uses into the facility or parcel. Transit maintenance facilities of any type often encounter community resistance, so that facilities usually are located in less-desirable quasiindustrial or underutilized areas. Cities could enhance the desirability of such facilities by including public activities such as streetcar museums or maintenance viewing rooms or by adding functions to the building such as polic e substations,

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

recreation centers, community meeting rooms, or even other transit-oriented development components such as retail, office, or residential development. Streetcar systems around the U.S. have dealt with maintenance facilities in several different ways: I

The Portland streetcar system conducts its maintenance in a facility tucked under an interstate highway (I-405 at 16th Street).

I

Seattle’s facility is approximately one block off the current alignment on a parcel in a semi-industrial area approximately 32,500 square feet in size.

I

Tacoma’s facility is directly adjacent to the alignment in a semi -industrial area.

I

Little Rock’s facility is a simple facility directly on the alignment in North Little Rock.

I

Tampa’s maintenance facility is located on the line in a quasi-industrial area and is integrated with the HART bus and administrative offices.

I

Washington DC’s new proposed streetcar maintenance facility (left) is proposed to be located on the campus of a neighborhood high school and to provide j ob training opportunities for local students.

TYPICAL CAPITAL COSTS Recent modern streetcar systems in planning or construction and their typical capital costs include: I

Salt Lake City Sugarhouse (1.75 two-way route miles, $36.7 million, $20 million/route mile)

I

Charlotte (1.5 miles, $37 million capital cost or $24 million/route mile)

I

Cincinnati (2.4 miles, $84 million capital cost or $34 million/route mile)

I

Los Angeles (2.37 miles, $106 million, $44 million/route mile)

I

Tucson (4.9 miles, $196.8 million capital cost, $50.8 million/route mile)

I

Kansas City (2.0 miles, $100 million or $51.2 million/route mile)

I

Austin Urban Rail (16.9 miles, $955 million capital cost or $56.6 million/route mile)

A survey of 22 modern streetcar projects in construction or planning shows that capital costs range from a low of $20 million per route mile for a project proposed for Augusta, GA, to $100 million per route mile for the Anaheim streetcar project. Averaging all 22 recent modern streetcar project capital costs results in a typical conceptual capital unit cost of $44 million per two-way route mile.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

CONCLUSIONS This review of vehicle options presents a variety of choices for the local community to consider as it begins to implement a streetcar system in Five Points and Denver. As noted at the beginning of the chapter, the choice of the streetcar vehicle is probably the most important decision that a streetcar project sponsor can make, as the vehicle represents the public image of the project. Overall concluding observations related to streetcar issues and choices include: I

The Five Points streetcar project is, first and foremost, a mobility project (connecting the RTD East Rail line with downtown Denver). Therefore, its vehicle should be a modern low-floor streetcar vehicle, capable of providing relatively rapid and efficient movement for people to and through the corridor.

I

Based on RTD’s preliminary ridership forecasts for the corridor (in the range of 11,000 riders per day for a complete system that links into downtown), the streetcar vehicle’s ultimate size should likely be longer than the 66-foot Czechstyle vehicle currently used in Portland and Seattle to ensure it can meet passenger capacity. However, more detailed ridership forecasting is needed in future phases to confirm that preliminary conclusion.

I

While alternative propulsion systems are becoming more readily available, a streetcar system in Five Points should focus on using overhead electric power, as that is a traditional source of power already used in Denver for its light rail system, and there is the potential to re-use existing light rail electric power infrastructure for an interim streetcar operation in Five Points.

I

To promote efficient passenger loading and unloading, off-vehicle ticketing and multi-door boarding is recommended.

I

A streetcar maintenance facility will need to be planned, sited, and constructed to provide storage and maintenance space for the streetcar fleet. This issue should be addressed early in any streetcar system planning, and every effort should be made to make a maintenance facility a community asset by integrating it into the community (such as providing a maintenance public viewing facility, a streetcar museum, integration with an education facility, or other strategies to increase a facility’s community integration).

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5 Key Issues: Streetcars in Other Communities


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 5

KEY ISSUES: STREETCARS IN OTHER COMMUNITIES INTRODUCTION This section summarizes the experiences and characteristics of other streetcar systems throughout the U.S. While there are at least fifteen or twenty cities with some form of streetcar service in this country, the majority of those systems are either heritage systems with long histories of service (including San Francisco, New Orleans, and Philadelphia) or tourist-oriented systems that do not serve a traditional day-to-day or commute market (such as Little Rock’s River Rail, the Tampa TECO Trolley, Denver’s Platte Valley Trolley and systems in Kenosha, WI, and Lowell, MA). There are only three cities with recent experiences in streetcar construction and operations that are comparable models for potential systems similar to that envisioned in Five Points: I

Portland, Oregon;

I

Seattle, Washington; and

I

Tacoma, Washington;

I

In addition, several cities have streetcar systems in various phases of construction or planning, including:

I

Austin

I

Cincinnati;

I

Dallas;

I

Kansas City;

I

Los Angeles; and

I

Tucson.

The purpose of this analysis is to point out not only the key technical features of these systems but also the community factors behind their initiation and implementation.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

STREETCAR SYSTEMS CURRENTLY IN OPERATION Portland The Portland streetcar opened its initial segment in 2001 as a single-track counterclockwise loop from the Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Portland to Portland State University in July 2001. Construction for this 4.8 trackmile system was approximately $55 million (or $11.9 million per track mile). The streetcar was seen as an option to help redevelop downtown Portland and its surrounding neighborhoods, and as a way to connect the north and south sides of town, which were previously bisected by a freeway off ramp. Working with a property owner/developer, the area known as the Pearl District was rezoned from 15 units per acres to 125 units an acre and was to include parks, affordable housing, and the demolition of the elevated freeway off ramp (according to Value Capture and Tax-Increment Financing Options for Streetcar Construction, The Brookings Institute, HDR, Re-Connecting America, and RLCO, June 2009, commissioned by D.C Surface Transportation [DCST]). Additional extensions to the south waterfront redevelopment area in 2007 added 3.2 more track miles to the system, and the Eastside (or Central Loop Line) opened in 2012, adding another 10.7 miles to the system across the Willamette River and to the Lloyd District east of the river, for a total of 14.7 miles. Total construction cost for the system stands at $251 million, or $17.1 million per mile. Its funding consisted of a variety of public and private local, regional, state, and federal funding sources (its funding is analyzed in more detail in Chapter 8 of this report). Its operations are managed by a private non-profit group (Portland Streetcar, Inc.) that has become a model for other urban streetcar programs around the country. Economic Impact: The property values along the streetcar line have increased at a greater rate than other comparable properties in the rest of the city. According to the DCST report, the former rail yards have redeveloped into mostly commercial and multi-family residential with the property value between 2003 and 2008 increasing by 50 to 400 percent, the closer the property to the rail line typically the greater the percent increase in value in that area. The property around the Good Samaritan Hospital, including single-family, multi-family, and commercial, have increased property values between 2003 and 2008 by 50 to 200 percent. The density of the redevelopment has increased greatly near the streetcar rail lines. Rick Gustafson, Director of Portland Streetcar, Inc. said “although some of this property [Central Business District] would have developed, it developed at an enormously higher density because of the streetcar.� Key economic development information includes: I

5-2

$3.5 billion of new development have occurred within three blocks of the alignment since the system was approved.


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

10,212 new residential units have been constructed along the alignment.

I

5.5 million square feet of new commercial space have been added in proximity to the alignment since opening.

Figure 5-1 shows the system map for the Portland Streetcar system. Figure 5-1: Portland Streetcar System

Source: Portland Streetcar, Inc.

Implications for Five Points: The Portland Streetcar system was the first modern streetcar system in the US. Originally focused on a redeveloping area north of downtown, the system has expanded to become a vital part of the City’s inner-city mobility network. Its economic development results have been touted nationwide as a prime example of the positive impact a streetcar system can have on urban revitalization. It is also a prime example of the use of a variety of innovative funding

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

sources from public and private sources at all levels, and its use of a private nonprofit group for its management has become a model for other systems around the country and is one that the Five Points community should consider.

Seattle Streetcar The Seattle South Lake Union streetcar is a 2.6 track-mile system that was proposed as a transportation investment for the South Lake Union District by local developers after seeing the success of initial development in the area around the Portland streetcar line. Property owners in the neighborhood south of Lake Union wanted a way to increase the redevelopment of the industrial nature of the area into a biosciences hub (DCST report). Planning for the streetcar system began in 2003, with financing approved in 2005 and construction initiated in 2006. The streetcar system began operation in December 2007. The streetcar line connects downtown Seattle with the South Lake Union District and the Denny Triangle area. The initial 2.6 track mile system cost $52.1 million, or $20.1 million per track mile. The system currently serves approximately 1,000 riders per day. Figure 5-2 shows the current system. Figure 5-2: Seattle South Lake Union Streetcar Map

Source: City of Seattle In November 2008, voters in the Seattle area approved a second streetcar line (to the First Hill and Capitol Hill neighborhoods) as part of a regional transportation measure; in December 2008, the Seattle city council voted to create a multi-line

5-4


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

streetcar network with three additional extensions, as shown in Figure 5-3. Construction began in April 2012 on the First Hill Streetcar, the first leg of expansion that is a 2.5 mile, $134 million route that will connect the Capitol Hill, First Hill, Central Area, and Yesler Terrace neighborhoods, the Chinatown International District, and Pioneer Square, as well as major employment centers, medical centers (Harborview, Swedish, and Virginia Mason), institutions of higher learning (Seattle University and Seattle Central Community College), and major sporting event locations (Century Link and Safeco Fields). Opening is scheduled for 2014. Figure 5-3: Seattle Streetcar Network

Source: City of Seattle Economic Impact: Since the initial South Lake Union streetcar system opened: I

3.3 million square feet of new commercial space opened within 4 blocks of the alignment since it opened;

I

6,100 new residential units have opened along the alignment since opening;

I

7,000 new jobs have been created in the corridor;

I

Amazon.com has relocated its headquarters along the corridor (11 new buildings on 6 blocks of land);

I

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is opening a 12-acre campus in the corridor;

I

The University of Washington is opening 850,000 square feet of medical research space in the corridor;

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

During the 5-year planning and construction period, vacant land prices 3 blocks or closer to the alignment rose by 123 percent compared with the 53 percent increase in land throughout Seattle (DCST report).

Implications for Five Points: The Seattle Streetcar system is another good example of a streetcar investment being focused on not only economic development but overall regional mobility. The evolution of a city-wide streetcar network is seen as a vital part of the regional transportation network to supplement the larger transit investments occurring in other neighborhoods. The system is also representative of the commitment of the local private sector development community (such as Amazon) to locate major employment centers along streetcar corridors, providing impetus for additional development.

Tacoma Link The Tacoma Link system is a fare-free 2.4 track mile system that is called “light rail� by its owner/operator (Sound Transit) but is actually a modern streetcar system. The system was designed as a downtown circulator to connect major activity and transit centers in downtown Tacoma starting at the Tacoma Dome (including the Sounder commuter rail system) and ending at the Theatre District to the north. In addition to being a connector, the system was designed to facilitate economic development in the downtown and surrounding area as well as to reduce street and parking congestion. The Tacoma system began operation in August 2003. It was constructed at a cost of $78.2 million, or $32.6 million per track mile (primarily because the trackwork and related construction were built to light rail standards), and currently carries approximately 3,000 riders per day. Its annual operating cost is approximately $3 million. Sound Transit is considering a number of extensions to the system, including a route to SeaTac Airport, as a result of the passage of a regional funding referendum in 2008. Figure 5-4 shows the Tacoma Link’s sy6stem map.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 5-4: Tacoma Link System Map

Source: Tacoma Link

Economic impact: The streetcar has had substantial positive impact on surrounding downtown businesses. According to Tacoma New Tribune, 26 September 2003, some businesses in the Freighthouse Square (a 108,000-square-foot shopping center located near the Tacoma Dome Station) have seen profits increase as much as 30 percent since the commuter rail and streetcar began operating. The streetcar has attracted new businesses, development, and helped revitalize the downtown area. According to Sound Transit, more than 2,000 new residential units have been permitted along the alignment since operations began. Implications for Five Points: The Tacoma Link system serves two purposes: it is a local circulator for downtown Tacoma while providing the potential for future direct connections to a regional light rail network. It is also focused on key activity centers in downtown Tacoma and is a vital part of downtown circulation given its connection to a regional commuter rail system.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

STREETCAR SYSTEMS IN PLANNING OR CONSTRUCTION Austin Urban Rail The City of Austin is planning an Urban Rail system, a different name for a modern streetcar system. The ultimate system is proposed for almost 34 track miles serving downtown Austin as an urban circulator in addition to connecting through the University of Texas campus and the new Mueller redevelopment area to the north and eventually to Austin Bergstrom Airport to the southeast. The project’s total cost is estimated at $955 million and is anticipated to be built in phases (with the downtown segment and possibly the Mueller extensions being constructed first). The City of Austin may ask for voter approval for bonds to help fund the system within the next two years. The project is currently in the environmental review phase. Figure 5-5 is a map showing the potential urban rail system and its interaction with other regional transit projects in Austin. Figure 5-5: Austin Urban Rail System

Source: City of Austin

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Implications for Five Points: The Austin Urban Rail system is one of the first in the country to seriously focus on more of a European-style tramway approach in that it sees streetcar as more than a local circulator system given its planned future connections to longer-distance activity centers such as the Austin airport.

Cincinnati The City of Cincinnati is currently seeking construction bids for its 3.6 mile loop planned streetcar system. The planned route is to connect downtown (Cincinnati’s largest employment center) to Findlay Market and the Over-the-Rhine Historic District. The project is expected to open in the summer of 2015. The project’s total project cost is estimated at $110.4 million ($30.6 million/track mile). Funding is coming from three Federal Grants (Urban Circulator Grant, CMAQ Grant, TIGER 3), and local sources (property tax capital, TIF, Blue Ash Airport Sale, other Development Fund Revenue, and other local contributions). The City has selected CAF as the manufacturer of its vehicle. Figure 5-6 shows the proposed system. Figure 5-6: Cincinnati Streetcar System

Source: City of Cincinnati

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Implications for Five Points: The Cincinnati system is a good example of a community-based approach to streetcar implementation. Its success has been driven almost entirely by a community-focused advocacy effort and faced several major political and funding obstacles throughout its history. Despite those obstacles, the local community continued its support for the project and has been successful in both finding alternative funding sources and developing political support for the project to keep it moving forward.

Dallas The City of Dallas is working with Dallas Area Rapid Transit developing its Union Station to Oak Cliff streetcar system. streetcar track would be contained within existing roadway right-of-way along Houston Street, crossing the Trinity River via the Houston Street Viaduct, then transitioning to Zang Boulevard, and finally turning west on Colorado Boulevard before terminating at the Beckley Avenue Intersection. The system is anticipated to open in 2014 and covers 1.6 route miles (or 3.2 track miles). In December 2010, FTA awarded a $23 million TIGER grant for the streetcar project. Construction slated to begin this year. Total project cost is estimated at $58 million ($18.1 million/track mile). The City has selected the Brookville Liberty car as its streetcar vehicle. Figure 5-7 shows the proposed route of the system. Figure 5-7: Dallas Streetcar System Alignment

Source: The Transport Politic

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Implications for Five Points: The Dallas system was also a community-based project, with local streetcar advocates in the Oak Cliff area (across the river to the southwest of downtown) providing the initial political impetus for the project. The streetcar system has since gathered considerable political support as a means to promote further development in the Oak Cliff area while providing a major mobility link between downtown and the Oak Cliff neighborhood that was not being provided by the DART light rail system.

Kansas City The Kansas City Streetcar system is currently in the planning stage. The total project cost for the 2.2 route-mile (or 4.4 track-mile) system is estimated at $100 million ($23 million/track mile). In 2012, Kansas City downtown transit district voters (primarily property owners) approved funding to build the proposed streetcar system (more information on the financing of the system is included in Chapter 7 of this document). The project is slated for a 2015 opening. Figure 5-8 is a map of the proposed system. Figure 5-8: Kansas City Streetcar System

Source: Kansas City Downtown Neighborhood Association

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Implications for Five Points: The Kanas City system is another community-based approach that entails a major commitment of the downtown business community in assessing themselves to pay for the project.

Los Angeles The City of Los Angeles and LA Metro are working on a streetcar system for downtown Los Angeles, currently in the planning state. Metro completed an Alternatives Analysis process and selected a Locally Preferred Alternative alignment for the Downtown Streetcar in February 2012. The designated LPA consists of a 3.8 mile loop that serves many Downtown districts and destinations/attractions, including Historic Broadway, South Park (L.A. LIVE, STAPLES Center, LA Convention Center), Bunker Hill (Music Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, MOCA, Broad Museum), Civic Center (City Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles), and the Financial Business District (Pershing Square, Central Library). Metro is currently assisting the City with the preparation of the environmental document and application for a federal grant. The total project cost is estimated at $100 million ($26 million/track mile). Funding is coming partially from a downtown assessment district (more information on its funding is included in Chapter 7). The project is anticipated to open in 2016. Figure 5-9 is a map of the proposed system. Figure 5-9: Los Angeles Streetcar System

Source: Los Angeles Streetcar Inc.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Implications for Five Points: Similar to the Kansas City project, the downtown Los Angeles system is a prime example of the downtown business community making the streetcar system a priority and demonstrating that commitment through supporting the system financially through a local assessment district.

Tucson Tucson’s Sun Link Streetcar is in the construction phase. The Tucson Modern Streetcar is the product of extensive transit study and one of the voter-mandated projects outlined in the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Plan approved by voters in 2006. The route connects major centers of social & economic activity, with more than 100,000 people living & working within a half mile of the route. The 3-9 track-mile route is anticipated to open in late 2013. Total project cost is estimated at $196 million or $25.2 million/track mile (includes project oversight, construction of the streetcar line and maintenance and storage facility, and streetcar vehicles) $55.8 million of the total goes to building the streetcar line, tracks, stops, overhead electrical lines & roadway improvements. Funding for the system comes from federal grants (a $63 million TIGER grant, $6 million in New Starts funds, and $15 million from the Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge Project) and local funds ($88 million from the Tucson RTA, $11 million from Public Utilities, $3.2 million from the Gadsden Co., and $4.6 million from City of Tucson grants and other sources). Figure 5-10 is a map of the proposed system. Figure 5-10: Tucson Streetcar System

Souurce: City of Tucson

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Implications for Five Points: The Tucson streetcar system is a good example of a local City government, a regional transportation authority, and a major regional activity center (in this case the University of Arizona) working cooperatively to implement a system that could have far-reaching economic benefits to the local community. CONCLUSIONS The examples cited in this chapter demonstrate a mix of different implementation scenarios for streetcar systems. Some were motivated primarily as mobility improvements to fill gaps not being served by other transit investment. Others were seen as economic investment tools that provided an additional mobility benefit. In most cases, however, the rationale for the implementation of those systems were a combination of factors – providing both local mobility benefits (with regional connections) while providing significant economic regeneration and urban design improvement benefits. In addition, a range of construction and operation options are being used for streetcar implementation, ranging from total project management and operations by a public entity (a transit agency or municipal government) to the use of a non-profit organization such as Portland Streetcar, Inc., as an umbrella organization to manage the overall project. The Five Points community should continue to study these examples to find the best mix of project justifications – and funding and administrative alternatives - for future streetcar implementation.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Streetcars and Economic Benefits Streetcars and transit investments in general have many economic benefits. There are direct economic impacts and benefits from constructing the system. These benefits include construction jobs, and equipment and material purchases which support local suppliers and contractors. These are one-time impacts that occur during construction. The broader and more significant economic benefits come from the increase in mobility and access provided by the streetcar. Streetcar systems are designed to provide frequent regular service with closely spaced stops. This level of service provides assurance that there will always be another train, with only a short wait. The convenience and no need for a schedule make it easy for people to use the streetcar to get to and from their destinations. Convenience and access are important drivers of real estate values for commercial and residential property. A retail district along a streetcar line has access to a larger trade area or customer base. Housing also benefits from the increased access to entertainment and cultural destinations, shopping and services, and employment centers. The access and convenience provided by streetcars can have substantial impacts on urban residential and commercial development. In cities with strong housing markets and market acceptance for urban style housing, streetcars can help to catalyze redevelopment and revitalization by connecting districts, market areas, and people. Portland, OR, is perhaps the most often cited example of streetcars as a tool for revitalization, with 10,200 housing units and 5.2 million square feet of commercial development constructed within two blocks of the alignment. It is impossible to determine the amount of development attributable to the “streetcar effect”, compared to the amount that would have occurred on its own. However, the general real estate principles described above suggest that the streetcar was a major factor. Streetcars by themselves do not transform real estate markets and revitalize areas that have experienced disinvestment. Favorable real estate market conditions and supportive public policies are also needed. The cities that have leveraged the most from their streetcar and transit investments – Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Little Rock, AR – have used their streetcar investments as part of a larger tool kit of urban redevelopment and revitalization strategies. These strategies include investing in high quality cultural and entertainment destinations, and land use regulations and a development climate that are supportive of urban densities. Portland and Seattle have also benefitted from already strong downtown housing and commercial development markets. The streetcars in Portland and Seattle have re-focused new development around the transit investments, not necessarily generating net additional growth in their regions.

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6 Options to Consider: Alignments


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 6

OPTIONS TO CONSIDER: ALIGNMENTS INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to review the various streetcar alignment options that have been considered by RTD and others in the past to determine the key issues, opportunities, and challenges presented by each. Some of the key issues to be addressed include: I

What are the advantages or disadvantages of splitting the alignment to two oneth th way segments on Champa at Park, 24 , or 25 before entering downtown from Five Points? What are the cost and operational implications? What are the development and urban design implications to Five Points in general and Welton Street in particular?

I

What are the issues associated with downtown circulation of a streetcar alignment? Is there any possibility of using the existing downtown light rail loop for streetcar operations, or does existing and future light rail operations completely eliminate that option? If interlining is possible, how would the differing station requirements for the two technologies be handled? If interlining is not possible, is a multi-block loop to avoid existing LRT feasible th operationally? Would it be feasible to use part of the 16 Street Mall for the southern part of the loop? What would be a large streetcar loop’s impact on overall downtown circulation? Are there additional potential routes for a downtown streetcar loop other than those already considered by RTD?

I

What are right-of-way and traffic issues associated with using Broadway and Lincoln to connect a streetcar system to Civic Center Station? How would a streetcar operation interact with Civic Center?

All of these issues and others should be kept in mind as any alignment analysis is conducted; they will form the backdrop for future decision-making regarding alignments. The purpose of this document is to raise as many of those issues as possible and explain their implications without necessarily making any fi nal recommendations.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

KEY ALIGNMENT ISSUES/ASSUMPTIONS/QUESTIONS Summary of Community Comments Related to Streetcars Chapter 2 summarized a variety of options studied by a variety of groups related to streetcar implementation in Five Points: I

The 2009 Neighborhood Marktetplace Initiative: Five Points District Development Plan focused on the development of strategies to improve multi -modal access and to create ‘a [Welton] street that is more accessible to transit riders, pedestrians, and bicycles’, including an exploration of transit alternatives and an investigation of ‘ an alternative to the existing light rail configuration.’ The report noted, ‘The Welton Stakeholder Group [established for the study] has expressed great interest in exploring streetcar and other transit alternatives to better serve the corridor.’

I

The 2011 Five Points Sustainable Main Streets Initiative Vision Plan recommended pursuing the ‘feasibility for converting the current rail system to streetcar.’ The study also noted, ‘A streetcar was frequently identified as a solution more in scale with the desired neighborhood,’ and a specific recommendation was to convert Welton Street to two-way operations and replace the existing light rail system with a ‘two-way streetcar.’ Study participants developed a ‘consensus vision’ for Welton Street that incorporated a streetcar alignment. The study recommended that the community work with the City to ‘pursue plans consistent with the community Vision Plan’s preferred street cross-section’ including consideration of ‘a streetcar as more in scale with the proposed RTD Central Corridor circulator and with a neighborhood commercial district.’ The study also recommended that the community work with the City, RTD, the Downtown Denver Partnership, and the community to ‘discuss and study support for the potential of a streetcar’ on Welton and Downing, including identifying ‘the community’s vision for streetcar to improve pedestrian mobility, fuel economic development and extend tourism and business from downtown through Five Points to the East Corridor,’ pursuing ‘funding for alternatives analysis, regional system feasibility and operation/maintenance planning’ for a streetcar.

I

The 2011 Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan highlighted a streetcar system as a way to enhance transit service and economic development opportunities in the Welton and Downing corridors ‘while improving the walkable character’ of the corridor. The report noted, ‘The vision for the Northeast Downtown Neighborhood Plan’s streetcar concept is a streetcar system featuring a modern streetcar vehicle operating on rails in mixed traffic for the length of the [Welton-Downing] route. The conversion of Welton to twoth

way operations between 24 Street and Downing Street is likely required, with the existing light rail infrastructure being removed or modified to allow streetcar vehicles to run in mixed traffic. This would include removal of the high

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

platforms for boarding at existing stations and could provide more right of way for sider sidewalks.’ The report further noted, ‘A thorough analysis of the streetcar concept, including an inclusive public engagement process, is necessary to understand the impact on adjacent neighborhoods and historic properties, city-wide transit services, pedestrian access, automobile traffic, and side street movements as well as overall feasibility and cost. The options for a streetcar maintenance facility location, either in the corridor or elsewhere, would also need further exploration. The location would greatly depend on the potential streetcar vehicle compatibility with existing RTD light rail vehicles and future potential streetcar service in other urban corridors.’ The report specified several areas where a streetcar investment could benefit the neighborhood, including improving neighborhoods connection and character, mobility, development opportunities, and livability and the public realm. It further recommended: 

The use of modern streetcar vehicles (shorter and narrower, with shorter turning radii and low floors) in place of the existing light rail vehicles

Further study to help determine if a potential streetcar couplet on Welton th and California between 24 and Broadway is ‘feasible or advisable.’

Examination of feasibility of alignment options to interact with downtown circulation, including the potential of accessing the downtown light rail loop.

Development of a ‘streetcar concept plan’ to establish a long-range vision for streetcar service in other Denver neighborhoods.

The report also included a conceptual streetcar alignment option map to outline options for further study in the future. I

The 2012 Five Points/Welton Corridor TAP Report recommended examining streetcar as an alternative to light rail to replace the ‘currently inadequate’ light th rail corridor that terminates at 30 and Downing. It also encouraged the use of Welton Street as a ‘streetcar pilot’ for Denver, including seeking alternative funding from the US Department of Transportation and encouraging the use of Welton ‘as a streetcar pi lot to address emerging difficulties of light rail access in to the Central Business District.’

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

RTD EE Alignment Options As noted in Chapter 2, RTD examined a variety of potential streetcar alignment options as part of its Central Corridor Environmental Evaluation. RTD included a streetcar alternative in its analysis primarily focused on the connection between th

th

th

th

30 /Downing and 38 /Blake (then called 40 /40 ), with a three-lane typical section on Downing selected for further study. This option was initially designed to th

require a transfer to the existing light rail station at 30 /Downing. th

th

Because of the relatively short segment between 38 /Blake and 30 /Downing, the alternative’s design was extended to operate on the existing Welton Street light rail th tracks, terminating (and requiring a transfer) at the existing 20 /Welton light rail station on the east side of downtown. Additional concepts were considered, including the potential of extending the streetcar alignment to Civic Center station in Broadway and Lincoln as shown in th

Figures 2-13a and 2-13b, providing a convenient connection to the 16 Street Mall Shuttle at Civic Center. The ‘streetcar’ alternative to Civic Center was initially recommended as the study’s preferred alternative because it would have fewer impacts and would be within the corridor’s FasTracks budget. The EE noted that the streetcar alternative could be served by either a light rail vehicle or a modern streetcar vehicle. However, during RTD’s Annual Program Evaluation in 2007, program budget increases eliminated the proposed extension to Civic Center and focused on interaction with the downtown light rail loop. In addition, light rail vehicles (rather than streetcar vehicles) were recommended for use on the s ervice to promote fleet operations and maintenance consistency. The final recommended alternative proposed using single-vehicle light rail consists on the segment, with integration into the downtown loop. RTD Post-EE Analysis Since the conclusion of the EE, in 2012, RTD continued to examine the potential for streetcar use in the Central Corridor as an alternative to light rail. Two options in particular have been analysed in some detail: I

Alternative 1 again examined the option of extending streetcar service from th 38 /Blake through Five Points and on to the Civic Center Station. This option th

proposes a split southward from 24 , with southbound tracks running on California to Broadway. I

Alternative 2 examined the option of extending a streetcar alignment through downtown. Initial RTD analysis showed that adding an additional rail service to the existing downtown loop would not be possible due to existing and proposed capacity on the loop, so a new downtown loop was examined that focused on th

Champa and Welton, with a southern connection assumed on the 16 Street Mall.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

ALIGNMENT OPTIONS: INITIAL ISSUES AND ANALYSIS All of those previously analysed alignment options and concepts were reviewed in detail with this project’s Agency Working Group to ensure that all key issues and concerns were addressed in advance of future RTD analysis. Three basic alignment concepts were examined and discussed: I

Split one-way alignments entering downtown;

I

The use of the Broadway/Lincoln to connect a Five Points streetcar alignment with the Civic Center Station; and

I

Streetcar routes providing downtown circulation.

Split One-Way Alignments Several alignment options would split the proposed

One-way split at 24th

streetcar alignment into two one-way segments for a portion of the proposed route. For example, the RTD post-EE analysis included two options that proposed split alignments coming out of Five Points and into downtown. Option 1 (shown at right) would split the th

alignment at 24 Street, with southbound streetcar service proceeding on California to Broadway, and northbound streetcar service on Welton, with the two tracks th

merging on Welton from 24 Street northward. (Note: The City and County of Denver’s Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan included an identical alignment concept). RTD Post-EE Option 2 proposed an even wider split for the

One-way split at 25th

transition into downtown. That option (right) proposed a split at th

25 Street, with the southbound alignment turning onto Champa to enter downtown (a threeblock separation from Welton).

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

In addition, as part of the Arapahoe Square redevelopment analysis undertaken by the City and County of Denver, a community design charrette developed at least two potential split streetcar alignments for a Welton Street streetcar alignment. Both were focused on the potential for linking a Welton Street streetcar into the Broadway/Lincoln corridor to Civic Center Station. Both options are shown at right.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Transit planning practice encompasses a variety of opinions about the efficacy of one-way split alignments. Advantages of a split alignment (as discussed with the Agency Working Group) include: I

The potential for ‘spreading’ potential economic benefits acr oss a wider area, where a streetcar alignment is able to expand its potential benefits into more than one corridor.

I

The potential for spreading the ‘pedestrian environment’ in the district through the need for users of the streetcar system to traverse a block through the neighborhood to connect with a reverse-direction transit trip.

I

The reduction of roadway and parking impacts by requiring only one lane of travel on the one-way pairs instead of placing both streetcar alignments into one roadway right-of-way for the entire length of the corridor.

I

Specifically related to the geometric alignment of streets, a split alignment simplifies the potential design of the Welton Street streetcar’s interaction with the Broadway/Lincoln pair and avoids many of the complications that a two-way th

streetcar alignment would cause at the complicated Broadway/20 /Welton intersection. However, the Agency Working Group explored the potential disadvantages of oneway paired split alignments , including: I

The potential for diluting the potential economic development impact of a streetcar investment across a broader area instead of concentrating it in one distinct corridor.

I

A split alignment adds some track length to the route and introduces more complicated trackwork because there are more corners and right-angle turns for the alignment to navigate. Both of those issues affect total capital cost and operating speeds.

I

A split alignment has the potential for introducing pedestrian confusion for reverse-direction transit trips (which can be mitigated through proper wayfinding and signage).

I

Finally, depending on the width of the split, the pedestrian experience can potentially be negative. Traditionally, a one-block split is a comfortable distance for a pedestrian to traverse for reverse-direction transit trips. However, split alignment distances beyond one block tend to discourage pedestrian activity and add confusion as to navigating to the reverse-direction alignment. Again, good wayfinding and signage can help mitigate that issue, but splits beyond one block are usually discouraged for urban circulators. The maps in Chapter 4 showed that the streetcar systems in operation in Portland and Seattle – and the systems being planned or constructed in Cincinnati and Tucson – have a maximum one-block split. The lone exception is the system planned for

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

downtown Los Angeles; that streetcar alignment has a one-block split in its northern section but a six-block split in its southern section. Broadway/Lincoln Connection to Civic Center Station As mentioned earlier, a number of studies examined the potential to connect a Five Points streetcar alignment with the Civic Center station using the Broadway/Lincoln one-way pair.

The Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan included a diagram (shown at left) that advocated consideration of both a Broadway/ Lincoln connection to Civic Center as well as a connection into downtown using the existing LRT loop (that issue will be discussed in more detail in the next section of this chapter).

The original RTD EE also explored the issue, using an alignment that transitioned from a two-way alignment on Welton through the th Broadway/Lincoln/20 / Welton intersection to Civic Center (as shown at left).

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

RTD’s post-EE analysis examined a variation on the original concept by analyzing a th one-way split on Welton and California south of 24 Street, transitioning south th

into the Broadway/Lincoln corridor at 20 Street (shown at left). As explored with the Agency Working Group, advantages of connecting a Welton Street streetcar alignment with Civic Center Station on the Broadway/Lincoln corridor include: : I This alignment provides direct connection for the streetcar alignment to the th

Civic Center Station and the 16 Street Mall shuttle (with its connections to light rail and Denver Union Station). I This alternative provides a local circulator option for the Broadway/Lincoln corridor, improving the ‘pedestrian neighborhood’ and walkability of the corridor and providing the opportunity for improving the overall urban design of the corridor. I This alternative could be a catalyst for a re-thinking of how the entire Civic Station Center area operates from a pedestrian, transit, and auto perspective. Disadvantages of extending the streetcar alignment to Civic Center station include: I

This option requires a transfer for all streetcar riders to circulate through the greater downtown area.

I

There is already a significant amount of a uto and bus congestion on both Broadway and Lincoln near Civic Center Station; introduction of a streetcar alignment (and a passenger station – one concept from the RTD EE is shown at left) would only exacerbate that congestion and complicate vehicular movements in the area.

I

This alternative would require a significant amount of new reconstruction on Broadway and Lincoln, both of which have recently undergone major reconstruction projects.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Downtown Circulation

As noted earlier, one original RTD EE concept was for a streetcar operation to terminate at th 20 /Broadway (as shown at left).

A subsequent RTD EE analysis would use the existing downtown LRT loop to provide downtown circulation as an ‘overlay’ on top of the existing LRT network (as shown at left) .

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

However, subsequent RTD analysis determined that use of the downtown LRT loop as an overlay for streetcar (or streetcarlike) service would be impractical given existing and future capacity constraints on the LRT loop. Therefore, RTD examined a different type of downtown circulator alternative, one that bordered the existing LRT alignment and focused on using Welton for northbound circulation and Champa for southbound circulation (a three-block th

separation). This concept would use the 16 Street Mall for a southern one-way th th th (eastbound) connection (additional options that used 14 , 15 , and 18 Streets in varying combinations were also examined). . Key advantages of this concept as discussed with the Agency Working Group include: I

This option avoids the complicated intersection interaction at the Broadway/Lincoln corridor.

I

The option provides direct connection for streetcar riders to the 16 Street Mall Shuttle at its southern terminus.

I

This option avoids complicated operational issues related to interaction with the downtown LRT loop.

I

The alternative provides additional economic development opportunities (and related pedestrian environment and urban design) to new sections of downtown

th

not previously adjacent to rail transit. Disadvantages of this option include: I

The three-block split for reverse-direction travel could be a pedestrian inconvenience (though as mentioned before, this issue could be mitigated with proper wayfinding and signage).

I

As noted earlier, a split alignment adds track length to the route and introduces more complicated trackwork because there are more corners and right-angle turns for the alignment to navigate. Both of those issues affect total capital cost and operating speeds.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

th

The use of the 16 Street Mall on the southern end could provide significant operating challenges for both streetcar vehicles and the Mall shuttle buses and would require complicated coordination to eliminate operational conflicts.

CONCLUSIONS This analysis of alignment options reiterated a number of earlier issues raised by previous studies and – with the help of the project’s Agency Working Group – helped raise community understanding and consideration of new issues not previously raised. Overall conclusions to be drawn from this issues documentation exercise include: I

Split alignments entering downtown provide both advantages and disadvantages related to economic development potential, construction and operations complexity, and pedestrian friendliness. Future, more detailed analysis should examine all of these issues more closely, especially those related to economic development potential, and in particular the impacts of a split alignment farther than three blocks should be examined in great detail to ensure that all of its opportunities and challenges are considered thoroughly before the community considers an investment of that type.

I

The use of the Broadway/Lincoln corridor to connect with Civic Center provides a number of challenges and opportunities for a streetcar alignment, not the least of which are the existing auto and transit congestion around Civic Center Station. However, a streetcar alignment interacting with the Station could provide significant regional connectivity benefits and could provide a good urban circulator-type transit improvement to the corridor.

I

Regarding downtown circulation, the limitations of the use of the existing LRT downtown loop for a streetcar ‘overlay’ complicate the issues related to using streetcar as a downtown circulator. In addition, the three-block separation for one-way pairs as examined by RTD could be difficult for riders to navigate, and th the use of the 16 Street Mall for the southern terminus could present significant operational difficulties for both the streetcars system and Mall Shuttle buses. It is important to note that RTD is not advocating for this particular alignment; it was only one of many examined as part of the agency’s post-EE activities in advance of its upcoming feasibility study. That study should closely examine the issues associated with this particular proposal in addition to studying additional downtown circulator options and destinations (including Denver Union Station and other major activity centers).

I

Overall, the Working Group expressed a preference for maximum and convenient connectivity opportunities between and among the East Rail line (and potentially the National Western Stock Show complex) , the Five Points neighborhood, and downtown Denver, including its major activity centers such as the convention center and performing arts center.

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7 Options to Consider: Street Layouts


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 7

OPTIONS TO CONSIDER: STREET LAYOUTS INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to review the options for streetcar track placement in Welton Street. This analysis includes a pro and con analysis of alternative track placement options, taking into account a variety of issues, including: I

Could a streetcar option use part of all of the existing RTD tracks/infrastructure on Welton? If so, what are the cost implications? What are the traffic and urban design implications? How much of the infrastructure is usable and how much would need to be discarded? What are the impacts of existing utilities in Welton Street on streetcar track placement?

I

What are the impacts of streetcar track placement on auto traffic flow and turning movements on Welton Street?

I

What are the implications of track placement on pedestrian access to passenger boarding stations and related safety issues?

I

What are the impacts of alternative track placement scenarios on urban design considerations, including sidewalk widths and parallel pedestrian movements?

All of these issues and others should be kept in mind as any alternative track placement analysis is conducted in the future. These issues will form the backdrop for future decision-making regarding in-street track placement. The purpose of this document is to raise as many of those issues as possible and explain their implications without necessarily making any final recommendations, which will be explored in more detail in future efforts by RTD and its partners.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Existing Typical Sections As noted in Chapter 2, the LRT D line currently runs on Welton Street from the th

30 /Downing Station to the southern terminus in Littleton. It is double-track from th th th 20 Street to 24 Street and then runs single-track to 30 Street. Figures 7-1a and th

7-1b show existing general conditions on Welton on either side of 24 Street (the extent of parking varies from block to block). Figure 7-1a: General Current Conditions on Welton Street from 20 th to 24th Streets

Source: Study Project Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 7-1b: General Current Conditions on Welton Street from 25th to 30th Streets

Source: Study Project Team

A Note on Utilities Detailed documentation on utilities in the corridor was included in the 2013 Five Points Welton Street Marketplace Vision Plan Implementation and Revitalization Strategy report. That report noted: I

Sanitary sewer lines run approximately in the center of Welton from 20 to Park th th and from 26 to 30 , with manholes roughly every half block

I

Storm sewer lines cross Welton at various intersections throughout the corridor

I

A water line (installed in 1993) runs along the west side of Welton virtually the

th

entire length of the corridor at a depth of 4.5-5 feet, with additional crossings at most intersections Obviously, the location (and potential relocation) of utilities is a major factor in the location of a streetcar line, so extensive analysis of those utilities should be undertaken in future phases. Traditionally, relocation for streetcar construction is not as extensive as that for light rail (primarily through the usual use of a shallow track slab construction method); however, the exact location of utilities and a program for dealing with potential relocations should be a top priority of future phases.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

The publication Streetsmart 2: Streetcars and Cities in the Twenty-First Century (published by Reconnecting America in 2009) discusses issues surrounding utilities in relation to streetcar construction and oper ations. It defines several types of potential utility conflicts for streetcar construction: I

Direct conflicts – when ‘streetcar infrastructure needs to occupy the same space as an existing (or proposed) utility or access structure’

I

Longitudinal (or maintenance or access) conflicts – when ‘streetcar improvements are located directly above’ a utility or ‘within a specified distance’ of a utility that runs parallel to a streetcar alignment

I

Crossings – when utilities cross under or over a streetcar line

The analysis notes that, ‘The greatest flexibility a streetcar operation can offer to the utility is the ability to shut down service when necessary to accommodate’ utility repair or maintenance. That determination – if service can be stopped for short times and potentially replaced by bus service in the interim – can often help determine whether or not a utility needs to be relocated. The document notes that the best course is to ‘accommodate access and maintenance requirements into the design of the streetcar project where by possible by including offset manholes; by servicing utilities during hours when the streetcar is not in service; by installing structural track slab capable of spanning utility trenches; and by providing for limited relocations at critical service points.’ TRACK PLACEMENT OPTIONS The project team, working with the Agency Working Group, developed four alternative streetcar track placement options for the Welton Street corridor, two of which use a portion of the existing light rail infrastructure, and two of which assume total elimination of the existing infrastructure: I

Concept A proposes to use the existing southbound light rail track south of 24

th

th

Street (since there is a single bi -directional track north of 24 ) for northbound streetcar service, with a new southbound track on the opposite side of the street; I

Concept B proposes to use the existing northbound light rail track south of 24

th

th

Street (again since there is a single bi -directional track north of 24 ) for northbound streetcar service, with a new southbound track on the opposite side of the street; I

Concept C proposes center platforms for streetcar passenger boarding, flanked by streetcar tracks; and

I

Concept D proposes side-loading passenger platforms for streetcar service, with streetcar tracks on either side of Welton Street.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Multi-modal Connections Throughout the consideration of alternative street-running alignments, the Agency Working Group discussed the pros and cons of providing improved bicycle connections in the corridor. The general consensus of the Group was to not provide bicycle lanes on Welton Street primarily due to its limited right-of-way, the potential safety hazards of mixing bicycles with streetcars, and the relative abundance of bicycle routes and lanes on parallel and adjacent streets. However, it was strongly recommended by the Group that all alternatives include assumptions for bicycle racks and storage facilities on Welton at or near streetcar stops, and for improved wayfinding to allow convenient connections between Welton and nearby bicycle routes and lanes with the intent of making Welton an easily accessible destination for bicyclists. Implications of Using Existing RTD Infrastructure As noted, two alternatives propose using a portion of existing RTD light rail infrastructure in Welton Street. The concept of re-using some of the RTD infrastructure was proposed as a means to save construction costs for a streetcar option (RTD has prepared a rough estimate of $60 million to remove all light rail infrastructure). Factors related to the discussion of RTD infrastructure re-use include: I

How much of the existing trackwork could be salvaged and re-used? Would the existing construction technique (a semi -exclusive trackbed with a short raised curb) allow a shared use with auto traffic? Could the existing semi -exclusive trackbed be re-designed to allow a smooth transition into the street surface?

I

th

Could the existing southbound track (south of 24 Street) be eliminated while allowing continued use of the northbound track for streetcar service?

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Could any part of the existing light rail power system infrastructure (including power poles and overhead catenary) could be re-used for a streetcar service?

I

What are the issues involved with removing the existing light rail high-blocks (the platforms that allow boarding for persons with disabilities)? Could they merely be removed or would their removal require the reconstruction of the existing sidewalks and passenger loading platforms ?

All of those issues have significant cost and construction implications for streetcar system implementation and will need to be explored in more detail in future phases, and all have some bearing on ultimate pros and cons of the alignment options explored in this effort. Concept A: Use Existing Southbound LRT Track for Streetcar This option proposes the use of the existing southbound LRT track for northbound streetcar operations, with southbound streetcar service provided on the opposite side of Welton Street. Note that this option only applies to the segment of Welton

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

th

Street between Broadway and 24 ; north of that point, the RTD light rail tracks merge to a single-track bi-directional configuration. Figure 7-2a shows a plan and profile view of this option; Figure 7-2b is a simulated aerial view of the alternative; and Figure 7-2c shows a street-level simulated view of the option. Note that this option assumes use of the existing northbound track as an extended and widened sidewalk (from its existing 12’ to 24’) for the south side of th Welton (though only for the portion between Broadway and 24 ). It assumes that the current southbound light rail track remains exclusive for streetcar use, with two auto travel lanes (northbound auto-only, southbound shared with streetcar) and parking on the north side of Welton with retention of the existing sidewalk. Figure 7-2a: Concept A Plan and Profile View Between 20th and 24th

Source: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 7-2a: Concept A Aerial Simulation (Looking North Between 20th and 24th)

Source: Project Study Team

Figure 7-2b: Concept A Ground-Level Simulation (Looking North Between 20th and 24th)

Source: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Key advantages of Concept A noted by the Agency Working Group include:

Key Features of Concept A:

I

I

Uses existing southbound LRT track

I

Widened sidewalk on east side of Welton

I

No center turn lane

I

Auto-only lane northbound

I

Shared auto/streetcar lane southbound

I

Parking on west side of Welton

Provides a positive urban design impact with widened sidewalk (though only th

from Broadway to 24 ) I

Provides some cost savings through re-use of existing rail infrastructure (including semi-exclusive lane and possibly power poles and catenary)

Key disadvantages discussed by the Agency Working Group for this concept include: I

No center turn or passing lane is provided

I

Parking is provided on one side of Welton (west side) only

I

The existing narrow sidewalk on west side of Welton is unchanged so no urban design or pedestrian benefit is provi ded

Concept B: Use Existing Northbound LRT Track for Streetcar This option proposes the use of the existing northound LRT track for northbound streetcar operations, with southbound streetcar service provided on the opposite side of Welton Street. This option applies to the entire length of Welton Street th

between Broadway and 30 /Downing.

Key Features of Concept B: I

Uses existing northbound LRT track

I

Retains existing sidewalks

I

No center turn lane

Figures 7-3a and 7-3b show a plan and profile view of this option; Figure 7-3b is a simulated aerial view of the alternative; and Figure 7-3c shows a street-level

I

Auto-only lane northbound

simulated view of the option. Note that this option assumes current northbound light rail track remains exclusive for streetcar use, with two auto travel lanes

I

Shared auto/streetcar lane southbound

(northbound auto-only, southbound shared with streetcar) and parking on the both sides of Welton with retention of the existing sidewalk. It also assumes retention of

I

Parking on both sides of Welton

a portion of the existing southbound infra structure as a safety barrier and pedestrian refuge, though that feature could be removed if needed.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

th

Figure 7-3a: Concept B Plan and Profile View Between 24 and 30

th

Source: Project Study Team

th

th

Figure 7-3b: Concept B Aerial Simulation (Looking North Between 24 and 30 )

Source: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

th

Figure 7-3c: Concept B Ground-Level Simulation (Looking North Between 24 and th 30 )

Source: Project Study Team

Key advantages noted by the Agency Working Group for Concept B include: I

Provides a consistent cross-section the length of the Welton Street corridor

I

Allows cost savings through retention of a portion of the southbound LRT th

infrastructure (south of 24 only) that could be used as a safety barrier/pedestrian refuge and that coul d allow re-use of existing power poles and overhead catenary I

Parking is allowed on both sides of Welton

Key disadvantages noted by the Group for Concept B include: I

No center turn or passing lane is provided in this concept

I

There is no potential for widening sidewalks and improving the pedestrian experience

I

Existing safety issues with rail line running next to sidewalk is unchanged

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Concept C: Removal of all LRT Infrastructure with Center Loading Platforms This option proposes the removal of all existing LRT infrastructure and implementation of center-running streetcar operations in Welton Street through its th entire length between Broadway and 30 /Downing. It proposes two auto traffic lanes that are shared with streetcar service, center-loading platforms the length of Welton, and parking on both sides of Welton. This option provides the opportunity for a widening of sidewalks along Welton from its current 12-13’ to 15’ or more. Figure 7-4a shows a plan and profile view of this option; Figure 7-4b is a simulated aerial view of the alternative; and Figure 7-4c shows a street-level simulated view of the option. Figure 7-4a: Concept C Plan and Profile View (Center Loading Platform)

Source: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 7-4b: Concept C Aerial Simulation (Center Loading Platform Looking North at 24th)

Source: Project Study Team

Figure 7-4c: Concept C Ground-Level Simulation (Center Loading Platform Looking North at 24th)

Source: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Key Features of Concept C:

Key advantages of Concept C noted by the Agency Working Group include:

I

Removes all existing LRT tracks

I

Allows wider sidewalks and an improved pedestrian experience

I

Widens sidewalks on both sides of Welton

I

Eliminates stop infrastructure on sidewalks

I

No center turn lane

I

Retains parking on both sides of Welton

I

Shared auto/streetcar lanes northbound and southbound

I

Provides an opportunity for landscaped medians and mid-block pedestrian crossings/refuges between passenger stops

I

Parking on both sides of Welton

I

Allows flexibility for catenary poles either on sidewalks or in center medians

Key disadvantages for Concept C discussed by the group include: I

Does not allow for a center turn lane or for passing around streetcar vehicles stopped in traffic lane for pass enger loading or unloading

I

Requires pedestrian crossings of Welton for all passenger boardings and alightings

Concept D: Removal of all LRT Infrastructure with Center Loading Platforms This option proposes the removal of all existing LRT infrastructure and implementation of side--running streetcar operations in Welton Street through its th entire length between Broadway and 30 /Downing. It proposes two auto traffic lanes that are shared with streetcar service, side-loading platforms the length of Welton, parking on both sides of Welton, and a center turn lane. This option provides the opportunity for a widening of sidewalks along Welton from its current 8’-12’ to 15’ or more. Figure 7-5a shows a plan and profile view of this option; Figure 7-5b is a simulated aerial view of the alternative; and Figure 7-5c shows a street-level simulated view of the option.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 7-5a: Concept D Plan and Profile View (Side Loading Platforms)

Source: Study Project Team

Figure 7-5b: Concept D Aerial Simulation (Side Loading Platforms Looking North at 24th)

Source: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 7-5c: Concept D Ground-Level Simulation (Side Loading Platforms Looking North at 24th)

Source: Project Study Team

Key advantages noted by the Agency Working Group for Concept D include:

Key Features of Concept D:

I

Allows a center turn/passing lane

I

Provides parking on both sides of Welton

I

Allows wider sidewalks and improved pedestrian and urban design experience

I

Removes all existing LRT tracks

I

Widens sidewalks on both sides of Welton

I

Provides center turn lane

I

Key disadvantages of Concept D discussed by the Group include:

Shared auto/streetcar lanes northbound and southbound

I

I

Requires passenger stop infrastructure on sidewalks or in bump-outs in parking lanes (though their impact could be mitigated through good urban design).

Parking on both sides of Welton CONCLUSIONS After review of potential street-running options, the Agency Working Group expressed a preference for Concept D (Side-Running Alignment). The major issues associated with this preliminary recommendation preference include: I

The ability to provide parking on both sides of Welton

I

The ability to provide two lanes of auto traffic with a center turning/passing lane

I

The potential to provide wider sidewalks on Welton Street, further enhancing urban design possibilities and improving the overall pedestrian environment

I

The integration of streetcar-related amenities – including passenger stops and related wayfinding – into the urban design of the sidewalks

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8 Options to Consider: Funding and Financing/ Organization and Administration


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 8

OPTIONS TO CONSIDER: FUNDING AND FINANCING/ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to review the options available to the Five Points Community – and the Denver region as a whole – in funding and financing a potential streetcar system along with options for administration and organization. The funding/financing review examines the current status of federal funding opportunities and the range of alternative funding and financing options being used in other communities on other projects that might be applicable to a Five Points streetcar system, along with a series of example funding and financing scenarios. The administrative/organization review documents the options available to the community to provide an overall project sponsor for the project. FUNDING AND FINANCING OPTIONS Overview of Funding and Financing Programs Transit agencies and other transit project sponsors have traditionally relied on farebox revenues and grants from state, local, and federal governments to fund annual operating costs and capital improvements. To leverage these revenue streams to increase purchasing power for capital needs, agencies typically issue revenue bonds, often backed by the local government sponsor. In addition, there are non-farebox revenues that can be used to provide funds for a project, such as advertising, air rights, station or system naming rights, and station revenues such as parking and concessions. Other non-revenue funding sources that may be available range from traditional (such as state and local taxes, tax-exempt debt and federal grants) to innovative (such as joint development and special tax districts). These innovative sources of funds can provide additional revenue streams that can be leveraged to provide sufficient capital for the development of the project. Finally, local governments (such as RTD or the City and County of Denver) can also access the financial markets through traditional debt issuance, innovative loans and credit programs, and possible equity contribution through a Public-Private Partnership (P3). Table 8-1 summarizes the traditional and innovative revenues, funding sources, and financing mechanisms typically available for a streetcar project.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 8-1: Potential Funding Sources and Financing Mechanisms Funding Mechanisms Direct System Revenues

Other Funding Sources

I

Farebox

I

I

Non-Farebox  Advertising  Air rights  Station or system naming rights  Station revenues (including concessions)

I

Traditional  State/Local (Appropriations, sales taxes, other local taxes)  Federal grants Innovative  TOD/Joint Development  Benefit assessment districts  Tax increment finance  Parking increment

Financing Mechanisms I

Traditional  Tax-exempt and taxable debt

I

Innovative  SIB loans  Tax credit loans  TIFIA  Private activity bonds  P3 Mechanisms (including availability payments)

Source: Infrastructure Ma nagement Group

Funding Mechanisms Direct System Revenues Farebox Revenues: Typically, farebox revenues do not come close to covering

the long-term operations and maintenance of a transit system. A streetcar system is no exception. Transit operators can traditionally anticipate a farebox recovery ratio for light rail and streetcar operations that is less than 30%. Non-farebox Revenues: Non-farebox revenues include system revenues not

generated by ticket sales, including: I

Advertising: Transit agencies typically enter into contracts to provide advertising space on shelters, stations, and transit vehicles, which can amount to up to three percent of operating revenue. Innovative advertising concepts may move beyond this to areas such as fare collection media, floor space, and wrapping transit vehicles. Typically, this funding source can provide some additional revenue but it is subject to market conditions and may not yield significant increases in revenue.

I

Air rights: Many agencies have been successful in selling the right to build above transit stations to private developers. Air rights may have some limited applications in a Five Points project, perhaps above a maintenance facility.

I Naming rights: A familiar concept for sports venues, naming rights involve an upfront and/or ongoing payment from a private entity to a transit agency or

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

operator in return for naming a station or other assets for the private firm. For example, Cleveland’s Health Line was so named because of a naming rights purchase by two competing local hospitals for $6.25 million over a 25 year period. Tampa sold naming rights to its system for $1 million to Tampa Electric Company (TECO) over a 10 year period. The value of the asset to be named could be assessed for potential advertising value (such as the number of times the line is mentioned on the radio, on TV, on the sides of trains themselves, etc.). The project could explore selling naming rights for stations at schools, shopping centers, specific local businesses or venues, or for entire segments of the system. I

Station revenues (including concessions/commercialization): Providing space for food and retail vendors at transit stations is a potential revenue source. Similar to concessions, but on a larger scale, commercialization involves generating revenue from public space through development of retail, restaurant, and office space.

Other Funding Sources Traditional Funding Sources: Funding sources differ from system revenues in that they provide revenue targeted to a single station or project, most often to support capital projects (although some grants, of course, are used to fund operating expenses). I

State or local funding sources include items such as: 

Local government appropriations or allocations of funding specifically for a project: These are usually subject to an annual approval process and do not necessarily provide long-term funding stability.

Sales taxes to support a transit project: In this case, since RTD already assesses a regional sales tax totaling 1% for its programs, it is unlikely that a sales tax specifically for a Five Points project could be established. However, if RTD goes to the voters to expand its sales tax percentage, a portion of that new tax could be allocated to a Five Points project.

Lodging or rental car taxes: These could be expanded above their current levels in Denver, or with appropriate legislative approval, they could be expanded to provide a specific allocation for a Five Points project.

I

Federal grant programs are discussed in detail later in this chapter, but in summary they include: 

The Small Starts program of the Federal Transit Administration;

Other funding programs including the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program; and

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

The loan program funded under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).

Other potential federal funding opportunities could include: 

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, which is a grant program jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to fund state transportation programs that meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The FHWA requires States to give priority CMAQ funds to diesel engine retrofit and other cost-effective emission reduction and congestion mitigation activities that provide air quality benefits.

Surface Transportation Program: Of all of the FTA’s grants, the Surface Transportation Program (STP) provides the greatest flexibility in the use of funds. Funds from the STP may be used (as capital funding) for public transportation capital improvements, car and vanpool projects, fringe and corridor parking facilities, intercity or intracity bus terminals and bus facilities, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. STP funds, however, are apportioned to each state and are distributed among various population and programmatic categories.

Livable Community Grants: The FTA started the Livable Community Initiative (LCI) to improve mobility and quality of services available to residents of neighborhoods by, among others, strengthening transit links. Eligible recipients of the LCI funds are transi t operators, metropolitan planning organizations, city and county governments, state, planning agencies and other public bodies with the authority to plan or construct transit projects.

Innovative Funding Sources: Transit agencies across the country have increased the use of innovative funding sources to supplement traditional grants in developing capital projects. Key innovative funding sources include: I

TOD/Joint Development: Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a well -known planning concept whereby zoning, tax, and development regulations are set up to encourage compact, high-density development near transit stations (or streetcar alignments). Typical TODs consist of a mix of use including residential, commercial, and retail, are pedestrian- and cycle-friendly, may offer public and civic spaces near stations, and the stations may serve as community hubs. The Five Points area is already engaged in exploring TOD opportunities in the study area, and those efforts should continue and expand to provide the largest potential development opportunities possible. Joint development occurs when private (or public) entities other than the transit operator provide land, assets, or funding to support TODs near a station. For example, a real estate developer may provide parking in return for development rights near a station or alignment. Transit agencies can take direct equity stakes in projects through

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

direct cash investments, or as is more usual, investing land in the Project. Care must be taken to determine whether the transit agencies investment is paid back based on “gross” or “net” revenues of the project, since the risk and return levels in either scheme can differ widely. I

Local Assessment Districts: Assessment districts are special tax assessment areas that may be created to support the construction and operation of new transit service, such as a Business Improvement District (BID) or a Local Improvement District (LID). A typical district creates a zone around a station or alignment, often up to a half a mile, with all businesses within the zone paying a tax based on real estate valuation per square foot. Frequently, residential property is exempted. Sometimes, assessments are “tiered” reflecting the fact that properties nearer to the station have higher benefit. In special cases, as with the Dulles Metrorail extension in Fairfax County, a benefit assessment district may cover an entire rail corridor. Because businesses must pay higher taxes in a distrtict, they can be controversial, and are only appropriate under certain conditions. Assessment districts are most successful where new transit service can be shown to correlate strongly with increased sales at local businesses. Assessment districts often need a majority or more of property owner approval. In the case of the New York Avenue WMATA Metro station in Washington, DC, a not-for-profit entity worked with property owners to advocate for the implementation of the assessment district. Strong local property owner support helped to facilitate project delivery. Los Angeles, Tampa, Portland, and Seattle have also used assessment districts successfully, in the latter two cases the districts paying for 17 and 50 percent respectively of streetcar project capital costs. As noted in more detail below, both Los Angeles and Kansas City recently have established benefit assessment districts in their downtown areas to help fund those cities’ new streetcar projects. Another option is the establishment of impact fees a subset of an assessment district. An impact fee is a fee assessed on new development within a jurisdiction as a means to defray the cost to the jurisdiction of expanding and extending public services to the development. Since it is a onetime fee, it has less benefit from transit, which needs funding for both capital and operating costs.

I

Tax increment financing: Similar to a benefit assessment district, a TIF district is a special assessment zone. However, unlike an assessment district, property owners in the TIF pay no surcharge on their property taxes. Rather, the TIF district retains any increases in real estate (or income) taxes as property values rise due to the new transit service. Because they do not involve additional taxes, TIFs are more politically palatable than assessment districts. However, they are not without controversy since they will eventually result in subsidizing development by creating tax-privileged districts. Furthermore, a TIF district may be appropriate in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood that will enjoy growth due to transit. The recent establishment of the Five Points area as an

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

urban renewal district could open the door to use a portion of local TIF funding for a streetcar investment. I

Parking increment revenue: An increase in parking rates in the Five Poi nts area could create additional revenue. The City could then choose to dedicate those revenues from the parking increment, which could be used to directly fund a transportation project or used to back revenue bonds.

Financing Mechanisms Traditional Financing Mechanisms Financing mechanisms are used to access either debt or equity capital. Traditionally, public infrastructure assets utilize tax-exempt debt to fund capital costs. Taxexempt debt provides the benefits of low interest rates, long maturities, and the ability to sculpt principal repayment to match the cash flows of the project. Tax exempt debt however, restricts potential private investors. Taxable debt can also be a source of financing for a project and gives a project sponsor flexibility in utilizing a P3 approach. Typically, taxable debt has higher interest rates and a shorter maturity date, but the a project sponsor could explore other credit options to best meet its capital needs. The size of a project may limit the taxable financing mechanisms a sponsor can utilize. Typically, the minimum issuance size threshold is $100 million to generate sufficient lender/bondholder interest. Innovative Financing Mechanisms

In addition to traditional financing mechanisms, there are several innovative financing mechanisms that could be considered for a streetcar system. I

Infrastructure bank loans: The Colorado State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) is a Colorado DOT program that provides funding to transportation projects in the state. SIB loans are subordinate to senior debt, so long as senior debt has a BBB credit rating or better. When funds are ava ilable to the SIB program, there is an annual application process. Applicants provide a proposed drawdown and repayment schedule, which may include a number of years with no interest accrual and/or no principal repayment. The applicant also selects the i nterest rate it would like to pay. However, the SIB program is competitive, and applicants requiring a smaller subsidy (whether from low interest rates or repayment holidays) are more likely to receive funding. The financial model does not include the use of SIB loans.

I Tax Credit Bonds (TCBs) are a type of bond that offers the holder a federal tax credit instead of interest. This provides a major benefit to bond issuers, as they are responsible only for principal repayments, rather than full principal and interest payments under typical municipal bonds I

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The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) is a federal loan program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This loan


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

program provides credit assistance to eligible surface transportation projects, including highways and transit. Four types of financing are provided: 

Secured Loans – direct loans with flexible repayment terms and providing combined construction and permanent financing – up to 49% of project cost.

Loan Guarantees – full-faith and credit loan guarantees by Federal government to institutional investors – up to 49% of project cost.

Lines of Credit – contingent sources of funding in form of loans that may be drawn down during first ten years of construction – up to 33% of project cost.

Master Credit Agreements – contingent commitment of future TIFIA assistance for a program of projects secured by a common revenue pledge.

TIFIA loans must be repaid through dedicated funding sources that secure the obligation, such as tolls, user fees or tax increment financing, and are for up to 35-year terms. The best local examples of TIFIA use are on the US 36 Bus Rapid Transit project, which received a $54 million TIFIA loan for construction, RTD’s Eagle P3 rail project, which received a $280 million TIFIA loan, and Denver Union Station, which received a $146 million TIFIA loan. TIFIA loans have generally been used for roadway projects and for major transit projects (for example, to accelerate the Los Angeles region’s major transit expansion project). It has not yet been used for a streetcar project, though the Kansas City streetcar project is considering applying for a TIFIA loan to help pay for its construction. TIFIA loans are seen as financing tools with attractive ra tes and terms. A TIFIA loan is flexible and low cost: it can finance a major portion of a project at US Treasury rates. This program was expanded from $122 million in Fiscal Year 2012 to $750 million in FY 2013 and $1 billion in FY 2014. I

In addition to innovative financing mechanisms, there are other tools that are associated with Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) that could also provide additional tools to reduce the cost of borrowing or speed project delivery. An availability payment is a rent-like payment where a concessionaire receives periodic payments based solely on the condition and/or performance of the facility. In some cases, such as the Miami Port Tunnel, the concessionaire will be paid milestone payments during construction and availability payments over the life of the contract. Increasingly common for transportation infrastructure, availability payments are a mechanism for public infrastructure sponsors to share risk with private contractors. A typical availability payment deal would involve construction of the asset by a private firm or consortium of firms. The consortium may be responsible for any or all of the following: planning, design, engineering, right-of-way acquisition, construction, operations, maintenance, and enforcement. In return, the consortium is paid fixed, pre-agreed availability payments on certain milestone dates. The availability payments are subject to the asset being operational, safe, and meeting all standards of the public

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

sponsor. Availability payments are attractive because they shift construction risk, financing risk, and operational risk to the private consortium, while retaining public oversight over the development process. Private developers like availability payments since they are not asked to take on risks that are difficult to predict or manage, such as the level of ridership. A “warranty� like contract with the construction firm may serve a similar function to the availability payment. Table 8-2 provides a summary of where the innovative funding and financing tools described above have been used by other cities and systems, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each tool.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 8-2: Summary of Innovative Funding and Financing Tools Funding/Financing Tool

Example

Advantages

Disadvantages

Non-Farebox Revenue Advertising

WMATA

Easy to implement

Limited revenues

Air rights

WMATA

Provides TOD benefits in addition to revenue source

Naming rights

Cleveland, Little Rock

No cost to implement

Concessions/ commercialization

Chicago CTA

Easy to implement; could provide a good opportunity for vendors and other retail outlets

Works best for underground/at-grade stations in high-density areas Private sector may not be interested; public resistance Could clutter station area and compete with other local retail

TOD/Joint Development

MARTA

Benefit Assessment Districts

Portland Streetcar, WMATA

Tax increment financing

Portland Streetcar, BART, Charlotte

Increases ridership by focusing density around stations or alignment Major, ongoing revenue source that can be leveraged No cost to implement, ongoing revenue source

Parking increments

Portland, San Francisco

No cost to implement

Lodging and rental car tax

Numerous

Upfront revenue, taxing non-residents

SIB Loans

Lee County

Availability payments

London Underground, Miami Port Tunnel

TIFIA loans

Denver Union Station, US 36

Highly subsidized loan without federal strings attached Transfers risk to private sector; spreads out payments Subsidized long-term loan that works well with both public and private projects

Innovative Funding Sources Lengthy development period (10-20 years) Difficult to implement

Uncertainty of pace of development; requires blight designation in Colorado Can reduce activity in area and reduce ridership Can impact tourism and local activity and ridership

Financing Mechanisms Competitive; funding may not be available Must allow for developer profit; still needs funding source Extremely competitive

Source: Infrastructure Management Group

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Recent Funding and Financing Options and Opportunities Recent Federal Funding Opportunities In January 2013, Jeff Boothe of Holland and Knight LLC in Washington, DC, briefed the Agency Working Group on federal funding issues and opportunities. Mr. Boothe is Executive Director of the New Starts Working Group and of the Community Streetcar Coalition, both of which are non-profit advocacy groups working with transit agencies, cities, and other interest groups around the country that are interested in federal funding issues for transit in general and funding options for streetcar systems in particular. Three types of federal funding programs were reviewed and discussed with the Agency Working Group: I

The Small Starts program of the Federal Transit Administrati on;

I

Other funding programs including the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program; and

I

The loan program funded under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).

The FTA Small Starts Program Key facts related to the Small Starts program include: I

Small Starts is part of FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (GIG) program (which also includes New Starts funding for larger projects)

I

The program is currently authorized at $1.905 billion for FY 13 and FY 14

I

Small starts grants are available to projects with capital costs under $250 million and with a federal share of less than $75 million

I

The CIG program is very competitive with many more applicants than grantees each year

I

The FTA Final Rule related to the implementation of the new federal st

transportation authorization bill (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 Century Act, or MAP-21) makes the Small Starts program friendlier to streetcar projects; previously it seemed to favor BRT projects. Figure 8-1 illustrates the stages in the development of a Small Starts project under the new MAP-21 regulations.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 8-1: The Small Starts Process

Project Development NEPA Process Locally Preferred Alternative Justification under Small Starts Criteria Commitment of Non-Federal Funding Construction Plans

Source: Federal Transit Administration

Small Starts Approval Steps I

Under the new regulations, a s eparate New Starts Alternative Analysis (AA) is eliminated.

I

Instead, a project emerges from NEPA to establish a locally preferred alternative (LPA).

I

The ‘baseline’ alternative (previously required under New Starts and Small Starts regulations, and which generally consisted of a ‘best bus’ alternative not requiring a major capital expenditure) is eliminated. Instead, Small Starts projects are now compared to a ‘No Build’ alternative that includes funded investments in the local Transportation Improvement Program.

I

The new regulations outline a s treamlined project approval process: 

Project sponsors request approval into Project Development (PD) from FTA.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Early Project Development allows a sponsor to initiate and complete NEPA analysis, select its LPA, and adopt it into the regional Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

Later in Project Development, the sponsor completes design and engineering, demonstrates that the project meets its project justification criteria, and finalizes the project’s Financial Plan.

Small Starts Project Evaluation Criteria Figure 8-2 summarizes the evaluation process used by FTA for Small Starts projects. The individual categories are described in more detail below. Figure 8-2: Small Starts Evaluation Process

Source: Federal Transit Administration

I

Land Use Criteria: This category uses current criteria (including transitsupportive land use policies) in addition to measuring existing “legally binding affordability restricted” housing in corridor.

I

Mobility Improvements: This category focuses on the overall number of transit trips with trips taken by transit dependent persons counted double in the analysis.

I

Economic Development Effects: This category summarizes current plans and policies that could provide economic benefits from a transit investment. An optional methodology is to use a scenario-based estimate that considers the impact of the project on development/redevelopment, changes in population, and availability of land for development/redevelopment. This category also examines the estimated change in vehicles miles travelled (VMT) and then monetizes the environmental benefits that result.

I

Environmental Benefits: This category includes a process to monetize the direct and indirect benefits to human health, safety, energy, and air quality compared to the current system; those benefits are as compared to the annualized Federal

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

share of project. This category also measures reductions in auto emissions, changes in air quality, changes in energy use, changes in greenhouse gases, and reductions in injuries and fatalities . I

Cost Effectiveness: This category formerly evaluated the cost per user benefit (travel time savings) of a Build alternative compared with a Baseline (or ‘best bus’) alternative. The new regulations merely calculate the a nnualized federal share of the project per trip, a much simpler (and probably more impactful) criterion. Project sponsors are encouraged to use the current year as the base year, which compares the project’s cost effectiveness to the current system. If the project sponsor uses a horizon year as the evaluation year, the proposed project is compared against investments funded in a ten-year regional Transportation Improvement Program or a fiscally constrained twenty-year Long-Range Transportation Plan.

I

Congestion Relief: No measure is in place for this criterion currently, though FTA may develop one later.

Projects Funded Under the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Program This program was created in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus program and was funded in Fiscal Years 2009-2012. Key considerations for grants under this program included: I

Readiness: an eligible project needed to be far along in the NEPA schedule, needed to have a substantial local match, and needed to have high status in terms of design and engineering and schedule.

I

TIGER funds are considered the “last dollar” necessary to advance the project.

I

Projects needed demonstrated political and community support.

Streetcar projects – in all cases, ready for construction – received TIGER funding (and similar urban circulator grant funding) in the past few fiscal years as follows: I

I

TIGER I grants: 

Tucson - $63 million

New Orleans - $45 million

Dallas - $23 million

Urban Circulator grants (unearmarked funds from Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009): 

St. Louis Loop Trolley - $24.99 million

Charlotte - $24.99 million

Cincinnati - $24.99 million

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

I

Fort Worth - $24.99 million

Dallas - Olive/St. Paul Street Loop - $4.9 million

TIGER II grants: 

Atlanta - $47.668 million

Salt Lake City/South Salt Lake City - $26 million

TIGER III grant: 

I

Cincinnati - $10.92 million

TIGER IV grant: 

Fort Lauderdale WAVE - $18 million

MAP-21 did not renew the TIGER grant program. I n place of the TIGER grants program, MAP-21 adds $500 million for "projects of national and regional significance,” though it is a smaller pot of money, unavailable to local governments, and limited to large-scale transportation projects (and has so far not been included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget by Congress). Alternatively, the TIGER V program was funded at about $80 million for FY 13, and funds should be available to project sponsors in the first half of 2013. Implications for Five Points: The streamlining of the Small Starts program and its focus on projects other than Bus Rapid Transit could make a streetcar project in Five Points more attractive to FTA. However, any potential project in Five Points would face fierce competition from other projects around the country, meaning that the Five Points project would need to be a high performer in terms of ridership, costeffectiveness, land use and economic development impact, and political and community support to improve its likelihood of receiving Small Starts funding. Other alternative means of funding – including TIFIA loans – could be a possibility for a streetcar project in Five Points, but again the competition would be strong. Recent Private Funding Options and Opportunities In January 2013, Sasha Page of Infrastructure Management Group of Bethesda, MD, briefed the Agency Working Group on private sector funding and financing options and opportunities. Mr. Page has been involved with several major transportation funding projects and is currently assisting the Colorado Department of Transportation with its financing program for the US 36 BRT project. Summary and Overview There are several examples of streetcar systems around the country that have used private funding sources as supplements to public sector funding. The examples studied show that streetcar projects must assemble a variety of capital and operating funding sources to be successful. While some systems have won grants, including from the federal government, these monies are scarce and getting scarcer

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

in the years ahead. Therefore, streetcar programs are increasingly turning to alternative funding sources from the private sector, including various forms of value capture (including local development or assessment districts and tax increment financing programs), the federal TIFIA loan program as described above, and other financing means. Examples of streetcar projects that have utilized alternative private financing are described in the sections that follow. Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar As noted earlier in Chapter 5, the City of Los Angeles and LA Metro are working on a streetcar system for downtown Los Angeles, currently in the planning state. Metro completed an Alternatives Analysis process and selected a Locally Preferred Alternative alignment for the Downtown Streetcar in February 2012. The designated LPA consists of a 3.8 mile loop that serves many Downtown di stricts and destinations/ attractions, including Historic Broadway, South Park (L.A. LIVE, STAPLES Center, LA Convention Center), Bunker Hill (Music Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, MOCA, Broad Museum), Civic Center (City Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles), and the Financial Business District (Pershing Square, Central Library). Metro is currently assisting the City with the preparation of the environmental document and application for a federal grant. One of its primary sources of funding is an assessment of local property owners through the establishment of a Community Facilities District (CFD), the boundaries for which are shown in Figure 8-3. A referendum of local landowners to establish the district and implement assessments passed at the end of 2012 (garnering a 73% favorable vote). The CFD’s assessment will fund a $62.5 million 30-year municipal bond (which will pay for up to half of the project’s capital construction cost). The remainder of the project’s funding is anticipated to be through federal grants. Ongoing operations are to be covered by fares and local City appropriations. The CFD seeks to equitably charge landowners based on property value benefit and distance from the proposed streetcar alignment. Property owners directl y on the line are assessed 60 cents per square foot; those one to two blocks away are assessed 42 cents; and those three or more blocks away are assessed 21 cents per square foot. As an example, a 10,000-square-foot parcel will be taxed $4,490 if it is directly on the line; $3,640 if it is one to two blocks from line; and $1,730 if located three blocks away. Condominium units will be charged their unit’s proportional share of underlying land or $100 or less per year with the median rate for a 1,000 square foot property of $60 per year. The CFD will be in place for up to 40 years.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 8-3: Los Angeles Streetcar Community Facilities District Boundaries

Source: Los Angeles Streetcar Inc.

Kansas City Streetcar As noted in Chapter 5, the Kansas City Streetcar system is currently in the planning stage. The total project cost for the 2.2 route-mile (or 4.4 track-mile) system is estimated at approximately $100 million ($23 million/track mile). The project is slated for a 2015 opening. In 2012, property owners in the new Kansas City downtown transit district recently approved local assessments to help build the proposed streetcar system. The downtown Transportation Development District (TDD) is shown in Figure 8-4 and covers much of the downtown area, with the river and major highways servi ng as key boundaries The project’s capital construction cost is anticipated to come from $15 million in federal grants combined with $83 million in bonds or a TIFIA loan to be repaid by annual city contributions as well as two funding sources from the Transportation Development District: I

$3.5 million in annual sales taxes (from a 1% sales tax increase approved by District property owners).

I

$3.5 million in annual property assessments in the District.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Key factors related to the District’s assessment of 4,000 downtown properties – which is in place for 25 years - include: I Residential properties are assessed at 70 cents per $1,000 assessed value (or $133 for each $100,000 of market value). I Commercial properties are assessed at 48 cents per $1,000 assessed value (or $1,536 for each $1,000,000 of market value). I A unique feature is that city-owned property is taxed at $1.04 for each $100 of assessed value (which brings in approximately $810,000 annually). I A supplemental special assessment is made on surface pay parking lots within the District. Figure 8-4: Kansas City Downtown Transportation Development District Boundaries

Source: Ka nsas Ci ty Tra nsportation Development District

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Portland Streetcar As noted in Chapter 5, Portland developed the first modern streetcar system in the US, with its first segment opening in 2001, with five additional extensions built since then. Figure 8-5 illustrates the various funding sources that comprise the $251 million capital cost for the Portland streetcar system thus far. Figure 8-5: Sources of Funding for Portland Streetcar Capital Cost ($251 Million Total)

Source: Infrastructure Ma nagement Group, Portland Streetcar Inc.

The figure shows that the system’s funding came from a variety of sources; grants, parking monies, and value capture are the core to Portland’s funding success. Local improvement district (LID) assessments, parking revenues, and tax increment (TIF) proceeds are major non-grant sources. The value capture sources (LID and TIF) comprise more than 20% of the sources for the system. The system’s final segment across the Willamette River (known as the Central Loop Line), completed in 2012, effectively doubl ed the length of the system. This segment benefited from a FTA New Starts grant, and LID funding in this segment comprised the lowest percentage of total cost of all of the segments. Figure 8-6 shows the sources of funding for that $148 million segment.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Figure 8-6: Sources of Funding for Portland Streetcar Central Loop Line ($148 Million Total)

Source: Infrastructure Ma nagement Group, Portland Streetcar Inc.

However, for earlier segments, value capture (in this case, LID and TIF funding) played an important funding role. Most segments had value capture sources of 30% or more, and LID and TIF portions varied by project. Figure 8-7 illustrates the splits between LID and TIF financing for the four Portland Streetcar segments. Figure 8-7: Value Capture Totals (Percentage of Construction Cost) for Portland Streetcar Segments

Source: Infrastructure Ma nagement Group, Portland Streetcar Inc.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

On the operations funding side, the operations budget is funded by a variety of regional, city, project-specific, and federal funds. The regional transit agency (TriMet) and the City of Portland are the primary sources of operating funds. Figure 8-8 shows the sources of funds for annual streetcar operations in Portland. Figure 8-8: Sources of Funds for Annual Portland Streetcar Operations

Source: Infrastructure Ma nagement Group, Portland Streetcar Inc.

Conclusions A few key conclusions can be drawn about the potential for funding sources for a streetcar project in Five Points: I

Streetcar projects need a combination of federal/state grants and local (including private) sources.

I

To enhance grant competitiveness and to anticipate non-federal grant options, streetcar projects are increasingly focusing on various forms of value capture, including local development districts and tax increment finance.

I

Sales taxes and city support also serve as valuable sources of funds, although these monies are scarcel.

I

The TIFIA program could serve as a useful financing mechanism for a streetcar project as long as steady and reliable repayment revenues (such as sales taxes or assessments) are identified.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

EXAMPLE FUNDING AND FINANCING SCENARIOS FOR A FIVE POINTS STREETCAR PROJECT There are a variety of potential funding and financing scenarios for the implementation of a streetcar system in Five Points. These scenarios start with a few key assumptions: I

As noted in Chapter 4, recent streetcar capital construction costs range from a low of $20 million per route mile for a project proposed for Augusta, GA, to $100 million per route mile for the Anaheim streetcar project. Averaging all 22 recent Modern Streetcar project capital costs results in a typical conceptual capital unit cost of $44 million per two-way route mile. This means that the Five th th Points streetcar system from 20 /Broadway to 38 /Blake, a distance of approximately two miles, would have a typical conceptual capital cost of approximately $88 million.

I

RTD has programmed funds in its FasTracks program of $65.4 million (in 2010 th th dollars) for the Central Corridor Extensi on from 30 /Downing to 38 /Blake. Assuming a roughly 5% annual cost escalation, that amount would be approximately $72 million in 2012 dollars (though that amount will need to be re-examined by RTD).

I

RTD also has estimated that total removal of existing light rail infrastructure on Welton Street would cost approximately $60 million. Using those assumptions, four funding scenarios have been developed for a Five th Points streetcar started line implementation project from 38 /Blake to th

20 /Welton, focused around two types of construction assumptions with differing levels of federal funding: I

Group 1 consists of scenarios that assume that only half of the existing light rail infrastructure on Welton Street is removed and the other half is re-used for streetcar purposes.

I

Group 2 consists of scenarios that assume that all of the existing light rail infrastructure on Welton Street is removed to make way for streetcar implementation.

Note that these scenarios deal only with the portions of the system from th th 38 /Blake to 20 /Welton; additional funding and financing would be needed if additional capital construction is needed to implement a downtown segment that does not utilize the existing downtown light rail track loop. Table 8-3 lists the assumptions for the four total example scenarios spread out across the two groups.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 8-2: Example Funding and Financing Scenarios for Five Points Streetcar Starter System Group 1 Scenarios/Funding Assumptions

Group 2 Scenarios/Funding Assumptions

Half of Existing Light Rail

All of Existing Light Rail Infrastructure

Infrastructure Re-used for Streetcar

Removed for Streetcar

$30 million infrastructure removal cost

$60 million infrastructure removal cost

$88 million streetcar construction cost

$88 million streetcar construction cost

Total cost: $118 million

Total cost: $148 million

With those assumptions in mind, Tables 8-3a through 8-3d (and accompanying pie charts) show a typical range of funding options that could theoretically and reasonably be used for capital costs for a streetcar starter system in Five Points. Note: these are conceptual estimates and assumptions only and should not be construed as engineering-level cost estimates or funding/financing plans; more detailed cost estimates – and funding and financing options – should be explored in future phases of the project.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 8-3a: Hypothetical Funding and Financing Options for Scenario 1A Assumption: Half of existing light rail infrastructure re-used for streetcar, maximum federal funding Funding Source

Conceptual Total

Conceptual Percentage of Total

RTD FasTracks

$72 million

61%

Federal

$46 million

39%

NA

NA

$118 million

100%

Alternative funding and financing TOTAL

Table 8-3b: Hypothetical Funding and Financing Options for Scenario 1B Assumption: Half of existing light rail infrastructure re-used for streetcar, 25% federal funding Funding Source

Conceptual Total

Conceptual Percentage of Total

RTD FasTracks

$72 million

61%

Federal

$29.5 million

25%

Alternative funding and financing

$16.5 million

14%

TOTAL

$118 million

100%

Source for both: Infrastructure Management Group, Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Table 8-3c: Hypothetical Funding and Financing Options for Scenario 2A Assumption: All of existing light rail infrastructure removed for streetcar, 50% federal funding Funding Source

Conceptual Total

Conceptual Percentage of Total

RTD FasTracks

$72 million

48.6%

Federal

$74 million

50%

$2 million

1.4%

$148 million

100%

Alternative funding and financing TOTAL

Table 8-3d: Hypothetical Funding and Financing Options for Scenario 2B Assumption: All of existing light rail infrastructure removed for streetcar, 25% federal funding Funding Source

Conceptual Total

Conceptual Percentage of Total

RTD FasTracks

$72 million

48.6%

Federal

$37 million

25%

Alternative funding and financing

$39 million

26.3%

TOTAL

$148 million

100%

Source for both: Infrastructure Management Group, Project Study Team

The tables result in the following conclusions: I

Scenario 1A shows that the RTD FasTracks allocation of $72 million pays for almost two-thirds of the cost of a streetcar plan that re-uses roughly half of the existing light rail infrastructure; in this case, the maximum federal contribution to the $118 million project is $46 million or 39% of the total, well under the usual maximum federal share for projects of this type (50%). No additional alternative funding and financing sources are needed for this scenario.

I

Scenario 1B lowers the federal contribution to 25% to improve its chances for federal funding, leaving only $16.5 million in alternative funding and financing for the remainder (after accounting for the $72 million RTD contribution).

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

Scenario 2A results in near-complete funding for the expanded project (assuming that all RTD light rail infrastructure is replaced) between the RTD contribution of $72 million and a 50% federal share of $74 million. This scenario results in the need for a minimum amount of alternative funding and financing ($2 million), most if not all of which could likely be accounted for in project savings through value engineering.

I

Scenario 2B results in the largest need for alternative funding and financing mechanisms, but those mechanisms still account for only $39 million (or 26 % of the total) after the RTD contribution and a 25% federal contribution are taken into account.

Conclusions Overall, this exercise shows that funding for a streetcar starter project in Five Points seems to be within the realm of fiscal possibility, with only one scenario requiring a substantial amount of alternative funding and financing assistance. This analysis points out the need for the Five Points community to continue to work closely with RTD and the City and County of Denver to find creative ways to implement a streetcar project in the neighborhood. Again, these scenarios are for a starter th

th

system that connects 38 /Blake with 20 /Welton; additional funding and financing options will need to be explored if additional capital construction is needed for a streetcar circulator in downtown. ORGANIZATIONAL/ADMINISTRATIVE OPTIONS There are a number of options for any community to consider regarding the management and operations of a streetcar system. Historically, the local regional transit agency would be the obvious choice for operating any new transit service. While this may be a general preference, the arrangements and level of involvement vary considerably among cities that have implemented streetcar service. Overall, there are three basic options for streetcar system operation and administration that have been used or considered in the US: I

Local transit agency

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Local municipality

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Non-profit independent organization

Each of these options is described in more detail in the sections below. Lead agency roles and responsibilities Regardless of the organizational and administrative structure selected, the lead agency or entity would traditionally assume most if not all administrative functions such as oversight of the system’s operations, planning, financing and funding, and performance monitoring and reporting. Initial responsibilities of the lead agency during implementation could include:

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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Working on securing state and federal grants

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Development of other funding and financing mechanisms

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Issuing and managing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for streetcar system design and construction

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Procurement of vehicles

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Establishment of a system fare policy and development of fare media and marketing

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Establishment of a policy or oversight board

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Preparation of an operations and maintenance plan (including a fleet management plan). Two options are generally available for day-to-day operations 

In-house operations (usually by a transit agency), which would require the development of an internal organizational structure, along with a human resource structure for the hiring and training of staff.

Contracted operations with a private transit operations firm, which would require developing and issuing an RFP, evaluation of proposals, and negotiating and ultimately executing a contract with the selected vendor.

Once a streetcar system is in operations, major continuing administrative responsibilities of the lead agency usually include: I

Contract management oversight (if operations are contracted out).

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Staff support for the agency’s policy and oversight board.

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Planning for future extensions .

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System schedule development.

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Ongoing analysis and evaluation of system performance.

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Capital improvement programming and grant applications .

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Annual federal and state reporting requirements.

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Marketing and advertising.

Lead Agency Options Local Transit Agency Local transit agencies traditionally provide the bulk of transit services in a metropolitan area, as is the case with the Denver area’s Regional Transportation District (RTD). The major advantage of having RTD serve as the lead agency is that it is the regional agency that clearly has extensive experience designing,

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

implementing and administering transit projects. The agency also understands how new high-capacity transit investments such as streetcars could best integrate into the underlying bus and rai l network. While RTD’s experience makes it an obvious candidate for being the lead operating agency, it may be less interested in the role due to its ongoing commitment to implementation of the regional FasTracks program. A key issue is whether RTD could balance the needs of new streetcar service with the demands of managing a regional agency. It should be noted that RTD could manage and operate any new service under contract or under the direction of a different lead agency. RTD may have a greater interest in operating streetcars, and less interest in championing the implementation, managing the construction (though it would necessarily provide input), and/or managing and financing a streetcar line. For example, the City of Seattle contracts with King County Metro Transit to operate the South Lake Union streetcar line. King County Metro pays for 75% of the system’s operating costs, and the City pays the remaining 25% to Metro for operation of the streetcar. New City Department The City and County of Denver could elect to create a new department – or devoted exclusively to streetcar construction and operations. The major advantage of this of approach is that a new City public transportation or streetcar department would have a single focus and would be able to devote 100 percent of its time for this purpose. The major disadvantage of this model is that it would require the City to set up a transit operating entity that is functioning in parallel with an existing regional transit provider (in this case, RTD), with the potential for duplication of staffing and activities. It also would require the City to work closely with RTD for pass-through federal grants and funding, as RTD is the region’s designated recipient for federal transit funds. None of the modern streetcar systems in operation in the US today are operated exclusively through a City department (as noted above, the City of Seattle contracts with its local transit provider for streetcar operations). The City of Austin’s Urban Rail project may be the first streetcar system in the country to be administered and operated by a City department, though that decision has not yet been made. Non-Profit Organization Another option is to create a “purpose built” non-profit organization whose basic purpose is to manage the streetcar’s implementation and operations. For example, as noted earlier, the non-profit Portland Streetcar, Inc., is responsible for managing the Portland streetcar system and for contracting for service with the regional transit operator (in this case, Tri -Met). The non-profit includes representatives from the local improvement district that helps fund the streetcar, in addition to members from the City Council and the Tri -Met board of directors. This approach has proven to be very flexible and gives the public the feeling that the streetcar is somehow “different” from other transit services. A disadvantage of this approach (as with the

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

new city department described above) is that the non-profit entity cannot apply directly for federal funds and is dependent on Tri -Met to apply for and advocate for those funds as the region’s designated recipient. In the Portland example, the City owns the streetcar line, but Portland Streetcar, Inc., a 501(c)3 single-purpose non-profit agency, is an umbrella agency that was formed with the sole purpose of operating the streetcar system and administering its contracts. Rather than employ its own staff, Portland Streetcar Inc. contracts with Tri-Met and the City of Portland to operate, maintain, a nd administer the service and its infrastructure. Similar organizations have been formed on behalf of the Los Angeles and Kansas City streetcar systems. Conclusions As noted in this section, a number of administrative and operation options are being used nationwide for streetcar implementation. The Five Points community should continue to study these examples to find the best administrative alternative for future streetcar implementation.

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9 Blueprint for the Future


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

1 9

BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE INTRODUCTION This chapter provides a summary of the key issues explored in this project and attempts to establish a framework for a path forward for the Five Points Community and the Denver area to consider as they continue to examine the potential of a streetcar project on Welton Street. This chapter explores several key areas: I

Key issues to explore, most of which need further review and study in future phases;

I

A suggested implementation plan for a streetcar project in the Welton Street corridor; and

I

An overview of next steps for the local community to consider as it continues to move forward with the project.

KEY FINDINGS/ISSUES TO CONSIDER IN THE NEXT PHASE OF STUDY This document examined several key groups of issues that were documented by the project’s Agency Working Group that should be considered in more detail in future phases by the Five Points Community, RTD, and the City and County of Denver. Vehicle Issues As noted in Chapter 4, the choice of a vehicle for a streetcar system is one of the most important decisions a streetcar spons or can make, as the vehicles constitute the public image of the system. There are increasingly more vehicle options for US streetcar system to consider, ranging from the Czech-style cars used in Portland and Seattle to new European-style ‘tramway’ vehicle designs that are modular in design with significant passenger capacity. Several issues surround the choice of a vehicle for potential streetcar service in Five Points, including: I

Passenger capacity, related to vehicle length, vehicle width, and interior layout and ratio of seating to standing space

I

Partial low-floor or 100 percent low-floor design

I

Station/stop design, including accommodating longer vehicle lengths to serve the longer tramway-type vehicles now in consideration around the US. Issues related to passenger stops include: 

Location at the near side or far side of an intersection

Mid-block locations

Center loading vs. side-loading (curbside) boarding areas 9-1


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

I

Platform height and ADA accessibility

The range of passenger amenities provided at a stop

Systems issues, including: 

Overhead catenary (and the location of power poles) vs. alternative power sources (such as battery power or underground power sources

Electrical substations throughout the route

Signaling and communications

Fare collection techniques, ranging from on-board fare collection to offvehicle ticketing

Maintenance and storage facility requirements, including: 

Land acquisition needed for a facility

Urban design considerations including the option of integrating a facility into a neighborhood as an urban amenity (such as a museum or educational facility)

Agency Working Group Assumptions on Vehicles Based on the discussions and conclusions of the Agency Working Group, the following initial assumptions have been made related to streetcar vehicles in Five Points: I

Modern low-floor streetcar vehicle with sufficient length to carry anticipated ridership (100% low-floor preferable)

I

Maximum ADA accessibility

I

Curb-side loading for maximum urban design integration and promotion of the walkable environment

I

Overhead electric power with well -designed and integrated electrical substations and off-vehicle ticketing to promote efficient passenger loading and unloading

I

A maintenance and storage facility that is minimally intrusive and that is, if possible, a community asset and urban amenity

Alignment Issues As noted in Chapter 6, a number of key issues surround local decisions on the exact alignment of the system, including: I

9-2

Could a streetcar option use part of all of the existing RTD tracks/infrastructure on Welton? If so, what are the cost implications? What are the traffic and


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

urban design implications? How much of the infrastructure is usable and how much would need to be discarded? I

What are the advantages or disadvantages of splitting the alignment to two oneth

th

way segments on Champa at Park Avenue, 24 , or 25 before entering downtown from Five Points? What are the cost and operational implications? What are the development and urban design implications to Five Points in general and Welton Street in particular? I

What are the issues associated with downtown circulation of a streetcar alignment? Is there any possibility of using the existing downtown light rail loop for streetcar operations, or does existing and future light rail operations completely eliminate that option? If interlining is possible, how would the differing station requirements for the two technologies be handled? If interlining is not possible, is a multi -block loop to avoid existing LRT feasible th

operationally? Would it be feasible to use part of the 16 Street Mall for the southern part of the loop? What would be a large streetcar loop’s impact on overall downtown circulation? Are there additional potential routes for a downtown streetcar loop other than those already considered by RTD? I

What are right-of-way and traffic issues associated with using Broadway and Lincoln to connect a streetcar system to Civic Center Station? How would a streetcar operation interact with Civic Center?

Agency Working Group Assumptions on Alignments Based on the analysis of this project and the discussion held with the Agency Working Group, a number of preliminary observations and conclusions can be made regarding alignments for a streetcar system in Five Points: I

Split alignments entering downtown provide both advantages and disadvantages related to economic development potential, construction and operations complexity, and pedestrian friendliness. Future, more detailed analysis should examine all of these issues more closely, especially those related to economic development potential, and in particular the impacts of a split alignment beyond one block should be examined in great detail to ensure that all of its opportunities and challenges are considered thoroughly before the community considers an investment of that type. Where possible, split alignments should be avoided; if split alignments are used, they should be for a relatively short segment of the corridor.

I

The use of the Broadway/Lincoln corridor to connect with Civic Center provides a number of challenges and opportunities for a streetcar alignment, not the least of which are the existing auto and transit congestion around Civic Center Station. However, a streetcar alignment interacting with the station could provide significant regional connectivity benefits and could provide a good urban circulator-type transit improvement to the corridor. 9-3


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I

Regarding downtown circulation, the limitations of the use of the existing LRT downtown loop for a streetcar ‘overlay’ complicate the issues related to using streetcar as a downtown circulator. In addition, the three-block separation for one-way pairs as examined by RTD could be difficult for riders to navigate, and th the use of the 16 Street Mall for the southern terminus could present significant operational difficulties for both the streetcars system and Mall Shuttle buses. It is important to note that RTD is not advocating for this particular alignment; it was only one of many examined as part of the agency’s post-EE activities in advance of its upcoming feasibility study. That study should closely examine the issues associated with this particular proposal in addition to studying additional downtown circulator options and destinations (including Denver Union Station and other major activity centers).

I

Overall, the Agency Working Group’s preference for the streetcar alignment was for a route that provides maximum and convenient connectivity opportunities between and among the National Western Stock Show complex, the East Rail line, the Five Points neighborhood, downtown Denver (including its major activity centers such as the convention center and performing arts center ) th

downtown transit connections (the 16 Street Mall Shuttle, the new Downtown Circulator, and Denver Union Station). Street Layout Issues As noted in Chapter 7, a number of key is sues were raised regarding the placement of streetcar tracks in the Welton Street corridor, including: I

Could a streetcar option use part of all of the existing RTD tracks/infrastructure on Welton? If so, what are the cost implications? What are the traffic and urban design implications? How much of the infrastructure is usable and how much would need to be discarded? What are the impacts of existing utilities in Welton Street on streetcar track placement?

I

What are the impacts of streetcar track placement on auto traffic flow and turning movements on Welton Street?

I

What are the implications of track placement on pedestrian access to passenger boarding stations and related safety issues?

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What are the impacts of alternative track placement scenarios on urba n design considerations, including sidewalk widths and parallel pedestrian movements?

Agency Working Group Assumptions on Street Layouts The Agency Working Group examined a variety of potential street-running options, including using all or part of the exi sting LRT infrastructure in Welton, a centerrunning option, and a side running. The Agency Working Group expressed a preference for the side-running option for a number of reasons, including:

9-4


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

I The ability to provide parking on both sides of Welton I The ability to provide two lanes of auto traffic with a center turn/passing lane I The potential to provide wider sidewalks on Welton Street, further enhancing urban design possibilities and improving the overall pedestrian environment I The integration of streetcar-related amenities – including passenger stops and related wayfinding – into the urban design of the sidewalks The Working Group discussed the issue of potential phased implementation to minimize disruption to local businesses and other Welton Street activity during streetcar construction and recognized the potential to utilize some portion of the exiting LRT infrastructure in the short run as streetcar service is implemented over time. An example phasing plan is included later in this chapter . Implementation Issues In exploring key issues related to implementation of streetcars in Five Points, the project team and the Agency Working Group identified several key issues that will need to be reviewed during future phases and beyond: I

The exact alignments and phasing of the project. The Five Points community will need to work closely with RTD, the City and County of Denver, and local stakeholders to examine all potential routing possibilities into downtown and the best method for implementing the system over time

I

Funding and financing of construction may be the largest challenge facing the local community. Recent experience in FTA-sanctioned environmental and design studies in other systems around the country can provide valuable insight into the requirements of New Starts and Small Starts projects, especially in light of the new MAP-21 regulatory environment. Competition for federal funds is and will continue to be fierce. Future efforts should explore the potential for federal funding and alternative funding mechanisms that potentially can be implemented in lieu of or in addition to federal funds.

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Integration with the existing and planned transit network. RTD has already made significant investments in buses and light rail. The streetcar s ystem should complement those investments while providing local mobility improvements on their own.

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Urban design and integration into neighborhoods. The design of the project should focus on implementing an urban design integration approach – using worldwide examples to show how the streetcar system can fit smoothly and comfortably into the context of the surrounding neighborhoods with a focus on a “complete streets” design.

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Potential traffic impacts and integration into roadways are always important neighborhood issues of 9-5


Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

concern. Future efforts should analyze the best ways to integrate streetcar infrastructure into the existing streetscape with traffic. I

Stakeholder consensus. It is critical at all stages of the project to develop a public/community involvement program that is pro-active, transparent, comprehensive, and user-friendly. That effort should ultimately inform stakeholders and build excitement for the project and result in the identification of local champions.

I

Redevelopment and revitalization potential and new economic benefits will be key considerations in keeping this project moving. Future efforts should explore the potential for infill development, revitalization, affordable housing, and urban realm integration along the propos ed alignment both as an input to the process to choosing the best configuration, and as a means to help finance the transit improvements.

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Potential construction, traffic and noise impacts on the local neighborhood will be factors. Future efforts shoul d include a thorough yet concise education process to help the local community understand the true issues related to streetcar construction and operations, balanced with potential long-term benefits to the area.

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Engineering issues and costs. One of the first tasks of any future effort should be to develop detailed conceptual capital and operating unit cost estimates using information from other systems that are accurate and up-to-date given recent trends in the construction industry and in streetcar impl ementation.

As noted in Chapters 5 and 8, a variety of options could be utilized by the local community in planning, constructing, funding and operating a streetcar system in Five Points. Those options are summarized below. Funding and Financing Options Key points noted in Chapter 8 regarding funding and financing of streetcar systems resulted in these key findings that should be explored in more detail in future studies: I

Streetcar projects – including this one - need a combination of federal/state grants and local sources.

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To enhance grant competitiveness and to anticipate non-federal grant options, streetcar projects are increasingly focusing on various forms of value capture. Sales taxes and city support also serve as valuable sources of funds, although these monies are also scarce.

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The TIFIA program could serve as a useful financing mechanism for a streetcar project in Five Points as long as steady and reliable repayment revenues (such as sales taxes or assessments) are identified.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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Overall, this analysis showed that funding for a streetcar project in Five Points seems to be within the realm of fiscal possibility, with only one scenario requiring a substantial amount of alternative funding or financing assistance. This analysis points out the need for the Five Points community to continue to work closely with RTD and the City and County of Denver to find creative ways to implement a streetcar project in the neighborhood.

Organizational/Administrative Options There are a number of options for the Five Points community to consider regarding the management and operations of a streetcar system. Historically, the local regional transit agency would be the obvious choice for operating any new transit service. While this may be a general preference, the arrangements and level of involvement vary considerably among cities that have implemented streetcar service. Overall, there are three basic options for streetcar system operation and administration that have been used or considered in the US: I

Local transit agency

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Local municipality

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Non-profit independent organization

The Five Points community should continue to study these examples to find the best mix of project justifications – and funding and administrative alternatives - for future streetcar implementation. While the Agency Working Group did not take an official position on an organizational structure, a likely scenario would be the establishment of a non-profit organization to serve as the management umbrella group for a streetcar project, similar to those established for the Portland, Los Angeles, and Kansas City projects.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

EXAMPLE PHASING PLAN FOR WELTON STREET CONVERSION TO STREETCAR SERVICE A number of issues related to streetcar implementation in Welton Street have been examined in this project, including: I

The potential conversion of Welton Street from one-way to two-way operations;

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The potential for re-use of existing RTD light rail infrastructure; and

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The impact of streetcar implementation on the corridor’s urban design and pedestrian access, including changes to travel lanes, parking, and sidewalk widths.

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The impact of streetcar construction on local businesses

Given those considerations, the project study team has developed an example scenario for phased streetcar implementation that attempts to mitigate disruption, allows a smooth transition from one-way to two-way operations in Welton Street, and provides a gradual change in the overall street profile. Initial Implementation Concept: Replace Light Rail Vehicles with Streetcars An initial implementation phase for this project – in advance of any significant capital construction – could include simply replacing the existing light rail vehicles with streetcar vehicles. The existing RTD light rail infrastructure could be totally reused as an interim measure to introduce streetcars to the neighborhood, with minimal reconstruction required (primarily the removal of the high block platforms at stations and reconstruction of curbs at existing platforms to allow low-floor boarding on streetcar vehicles). This concept would allow RTD to simultaneously construc t the segment from th

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30 /Downing to the East Rail Line at 38 /Blake as a streetcar project, without interfering with interim streetcar operations on the segment south of th

30 /Downing. Phase I: West Side of Welton The first phase of construction implementation in this example consists of installing the new southbound streetcar track in Welton while maintaining one lane of northbound auto traffic and the existing light rail (or streetcar) service on the east side of Welton. This construction would also include widening the sidewalk on the west side of Welton from its current width to its ultimate width of 15’6” while installing a parking lane for future southbound auto traffic. As noted, initiation of construction would allow either continuation of light rai l service in the corridor or initiation of streetcar service in the existing light rail tracks pending removal of infrastructure no longer needed such as the high blocks at stations. Figures 9-1a and 9-1b show the extent of this first phase of construction.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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Figure 9-1a: Phase I Streetcar Construction from 20 to 24

Figure 9-1b: Phase I Streetcar Construction from 25 to 30

Source for both: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Phase II: Reconstruct Center of Welton The second phase of implementation consists of reconstruction (if needed) of the new two-way center turn lane in the center of Welton adjacent to the existing light rail (or streetcar) tracks while maintaining one lane of interim northbound auto traffic and the existing light rail or streetcar service on the east side of Welton. As noted in Phase I, streetcar service could be initiated in the corridor using the existing LRT infrastructure while the other portions of Welton are undergoing reconstruction. Figures 9-2a and 9-2b show the extent of this phase of construction. th

Figure 9-2a: Phase II Streetcar Construction from 20 to 24

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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Figure 9-2b: Phase II Streetcar Construction from 25 to 30

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Source for both: Project Study Team

Phase III: East Side of Welton The final phase of implementation in this example consists of removing the existing RTD light rail infrastructure and installing a new parking lane and the new northbound streetcar track in the east side of Welton. This woul d allow conversion of Welton to two-way auto traffic during construction and also would allow initiation of bi-directional streetcar service in the shared southbound lane. This construction would also include widening the sidewalk on the east side of Wel ton. Figures 9-3a and 9-3b show the extent of this final phase of construction. Phase IV: Connection to Downtown Potentially concurrently or sequentially with construction of the Five Points streetcar segment, the local community should continue its evalua tion of further connections into downtown Denver, including the examination of the potential to use the downtown light rail loop or another alignment to serve downtown activity centers and complete the streetcar network.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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Figure 9-3a: Phase III Streetcar Construction from 20 to 24

Figure 9-3b: Phase III Streetcar Construction from 25 to 30

Source for both: Project Study Team

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

NEXT STEPS This project identified the key issues surrounding the potential for constructing and operating a streetcar system in the Five Points neighborhood that could require many years to achieve. There are some key things that the local community needs to know before a final decision can be made on whether it is financially feasible to implement a streetcar system and, if so, where and when it would be best to start construction. The following example “next steps” have been identified to help move this process forward. I

Develop a detailed funding plan: The most promising funding sources should be selected and evaluated further and a detailed capital and operating funding plan should be developed. This analysis is critical to determining if the local community has the financial tools to move forward with streetcar implementation and, if so, when it would make the most financial sense to start construction. An early decision should be made whether or not to pursue federal funding. This is an important decision because: (1) the process is dictated by federal procurement rules and the timeline for implementation may be elongated by several years; (2) federal restrictions may also increase costs; and (3) a streetcar should not compete with other regional transit projects for federal funding.

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Gauge developer/property owner support and economic development potential: Since the capture of future value may be one of the tools needed to implement a streetcar system in Five Points, there are two things that will need to occur for a corridor to be well -positioned as a good candidate for early construction: (1) there must be developer/property owner support for the use of these revenue tools and the implementation of streetcar in the corridor ; and (2) there must be support for higher intensity development in the corridor. Additional work is needed to assess the relative support for streetcar implementation, development density, and value capture revenue tools along the candidate streetcar corridors. While the long-term streetcar system proposed for Five Points will eventually be an integral component of the primary transit network, support from local developers and a line that supports economic development can tip the scales toward successful implementation of streetcar.

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Determine who will own and operate the service: There are several options for implementing and operating streetcar service. The local community needs to identify its “champion” who will be focused on delivering this important project. The local community also needs to work closely with RTD, the City and County of Denver, DRCOG, and other partner agencies to determine the best way to proceed on the implementation of streetcar service in the area.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

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Identify a site for a maintenance and storage facility: An important element in deciding when and where to start building the streetcar network is availability of a site for a maintenance and storage facility. A detailed study that identifies specific sites and estimates costs should be conducted.

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Develop design guidelines for streetcar construction: All or a portion of the Welton and Downing corridors may be slated for - or be candidates for - major streetscape and reconstruction over the next few years. To help make streetcars more cost-effective, street reconstruction projects should incorporate streetcar design guidelines prior to laying track (such as station bulbouts, utility relocation, and other factors). Even if streetcar service is not implemented in the entire corridor right away, these changes may reduce the costs for future implementation of a streetcar system.

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Continue to gauge political and community support: It is important to ensure that elected officials and the general public are supportive of an investment in streetcars. Political and community support is necessary at the local level, but it is also important to get support from state and federal elected officials who may be required to pass legislation to support funding the streetcar.

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Develop a detailed implementation plan. Once a funding plan and an organizational structure are developed, an implementation program should be developed that includes the following key elements: 

Environmental analysis. All major public projects require some level of environmental analysis of the impacts associated with implementation and construction. If federal funding is pursued for a streetcar project, an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Categorical Exclusion typically are prepared that meets guidelines established by NEPA and FTA. New regulations associated with MAP-21 have streamlined the process, but environmental analysis must still be conducted in a manner that satisfies FTA and NEPA requirements. Environmental analysis typically requires a 10% level of design to allow sufficient documentation of environmental impacts and mitigation measures.

Preliminary and final engineering. Preliminary engineering typically involves a 30% level of design and includes a more detailed operating plan and development of operating and capital costs associated with the system. Depending on the owner/operator arrangement, this typically requires the selection of an engineering consultant to develop more refined costs. Following the preliminary engineering and environmental phase, an RFP should be released soliciting a firm to develop a final design for the initial line. Alternatively, if a ‘design-build’ approach is used, preliminary and final design are encompassed in one contract and are integrated with the construction process.

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Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan

Procure and prepare vehicles. Depending on the type of vehicles selected, adequate time should be allowed for vehicle procurement. This process should be initiated at about the same time as construction.

Develop a public information campaign during construction. During construction of the streetcar infrastructure, the corridor along the line will be disturbed at certain times. It is important to keep the public (especially business owners and residents along the corridor) informed of current and future work throughout the construction phase. This process should be coordinated with the mitigation plan included in the construction plan.

Solicit bids for operations. Similar to the bid for construction, this step will solicit an entity to operate and maintain the vehicles.

Develop marketing materials and initiate advertising campaign. As with any major public investment, it is important to provide information about the new service. A targeted advertising campaign should be launched well in advance of the opening of the streetcar line and distributed through various media outlets.

Testing and training. A designated period of time - often several months should be reserved for testing of the streetcar infrastructure and vehicles prior to the first day of service. Operations and administrative staff training should also occur at this phase of the project.

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Final implementation details. This includes development of fare media, signage at all streetcar stations, and final preparation for first day of service.

Opening day: The community vision is fulfilled, and streetcar operations begin.

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Profile for Five Points Business District

Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan Final Report  

Five Points Business District Streetcar Coordination Plan Final Report  

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