Author Topic: The S-Line Urban Greenway  (Read 8802 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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The S-Line Urban Greenway
« on: November 13, 2007, 04:00:00 AM »
The S-Line Urban Greenway



Despite its potential to serve as a vital link in a rail transit system for Jacksonville, the city is agressively moving forward with converting this abandoned rail corridor into a recreational trail.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/634

nikormatt

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2007, 10:28:40 AM »
I have been a huge supporter of the Rails to Trails Greenways since it's inception. I also firmly believe Jacksonville needs to open it's BRT crack addicted eyes and see how much more a rail system would be of value to not only this city, but also to the North Florida region.

The planning and funding of Rails to Trails (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/index.htm) was done in the early to mid 1990's as part of the Florida 2000 plan and is a State and Federal project. The end result of the project being that one could bike from say, Jacksonville to Orlando or west to Tallahassee.

Now, I think how much nicer it would to load my bike on a train to Orlando or Tallahassee.



thelakelander

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2007, 10:50:37 AM »
There are also Rails "With" Trails (RWTs) Greenways.  If we plan our future right, we can have both.

www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrails/rwt/

www.bicyclinginfo.org/rt/rails_w_trails.cfm

Quote
As the demand for trails increases, planners and user groups are increasingly looking at the possibility of putting trails into corridors alongside active rail lines. Many railroad corridors are more than 100 feet wide and have just one or two active lines still in operation; other corridors are bounded by open space and appear to be good candidates for trail development. Many rail lines have low levels of service, perhaps just one or two trains per day.

Placing trails alongside active rail lines, however, is not going to be an option in most situations as there isn't enough space to safely separate frequent high speed trains from trail users; and there are real fears about trespassing and other safety and operational issues that must be addressed.

Despite these concerns, there are already more than 50 such rails with trails projects in operation and the Federal Railroad Administration (www.dot.gov/affairs/fra2699.htm) is studying the operation and safety of these facilities so that they can provide more guidance on how, and if, this kind of shared use can be managed safely (www.altaplanning.com).

Issues and Concerns

Trespassing - Although the numbers have been falling in recent years, more than 500 people every year are killed by trains while they are trespassing in railroad corridors. Railroad companies and the Federal Railroad Administration are actively discouraging and preventing trespassing on railroad property and fear that the development of trails alongside active rail lines will either encourage trespassing or diminish the impact of their efforts to keep people away from moving trains.

Safety - In addition to the danger of being hit by a moving train, safety advocates are also concerned about the potential impact of placing trail users close enough to trains that they might be hit by debris kicked up by a high-speed train, or knocked over by the wind blast of a passing vehicle.

Crossing Active Tracks - The development of rails-with-trails will also increase the number of trail crossings of active rail lines as trail users get to and from their destinations. The railroad industry is alread concerned about the number of uncontrolled at-grade railroad crossings and is unlikely to encourage more of them as part of a trail project. The installation of gates and barriers is unlikely to be cost effective on all but the very busiest of trails.

Railroad Concerns - Railroad companies have other real concerns about the impact of trails on the operation of their business. For example, traffic patterns on the railroad network can change quite suddenly, meaning that once quiet lines can almost overnight become major corridors carrying frequent heavy freight trains - and thus making them much less suitable for shared use with a trail.

Trains may kick up debris as they go, and items may fall off a loaded train. The railroads do not want the perceived additional liability concerns associated with having trail users close enough to an active train line that they might be hit by debris.

Railroads are also keen to avoid any misunderstanding among trail users that their maintenance roads alongside active rail lines are open for bicycling and walking. In many cases, maintenance corridors may have a similar soft surface to rural trails.

Train crews have to deal with the horror of their train hitting and killing people on the tracks, unable to do anything to stop the fatal collision. Some crew members never recover from the trauma. Railroad companies want to prevent this from happening at all costs and may see a rail-with-trail proposal as increasing the possibility of a fatal crash with a trail user.

Solutions
 
The existence of more than 50 rails-with-trails projects indicates that these concerns can be overcome with careful planning, design, and management. Among the strategies curently being pursued are:


Locating the trail as far away from the active rail line as possible, either within the existing railroad right-of-way or on land bordering the rail line.

Separating the trail from the rail line with fencing or other effective barriers.

Maintaining or creating a height differential so that the trail is higher than the rail line.

Designing the trail to minimize contact with the rail line (e.g. screening the rail line with trees and shrubs).

Posting clear warnings and education materials to prevent trespassing.

Clearly marking the trail to heighten the distinctions between trails and railroad maintenance corridors.

Grade separating trail and rail line intersections.

Btw, this link contains great design solutions, but unfortunately, if the S-Line becomes part of a local rail system in the future, the entire thing being built today will have to be ripped up, regraded and relocated because its being built in the center of the 60' former rail ROW.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Captain Zissou

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2007, 11:09:18 AM »
The city just doesn't seem to realize the far reaching effects a commuter rail system could have.  By extending the rail to St. Augustine, Fernandina, Green Cove Springs, and the beach, the city will not only cut the cost per mile dramatically, but they will boost the overall quality of life tremendously.  St. Augustine is growing very steadily, and Green Cove has some projects in the pipeline that make the Shipyards look small (Reynolds Park).  I don't even have to mention the beach and the areas along JTB, they speak for themselves.  With a line down Roosevelt, Philips, and a spur along JTB, the city could raise Jacksonville's status exponentially.       

9a is my backyard

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2007, 11:47:53 AM »
Is there anyway to get the design/plan of the path changed or is it too late? 

Looks like it might be time for some good ole' protesting and sign holding...

thelakelander

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2007, 11:51:30 AM »
We tried for about a year.  Funding was already in place so they moved forward anyway.  So if rail ever comes down the S-Line again, we just wasted about $1 million dollars.  Its too bad, because if the trail was designed to be 12' to the left or right of where it is being built, then adding rail later would not have to result in completely tearing the sidewalk out to shift over to its proper place.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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Parks Department Builds LRT!!!
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2007, 02:21:08 PM »
Don't fret, looks to me like the highway boys cheering our illustrious Parks Department onward, were able to snag that million dollars to build our LRT line! Oops JTA? WTF?

Yes Lakelander, it's called SLAB TRACK! Look at the photo and look UNDER each of these rail lines.


Of course this is different right? Slab track is around 440 Kn, but LRV's only weigh in at about 70,000 pounds. So do the math, is it possible to use a sidewalk for a railroad. In my professional opinion, in this case yes. If we look at light weight cars, add perhaps another 3 or 4 inchs of asphalt or concrete, then 2' of ballast, with concrete ties and 75 pound to 90 pound rail.

The benefits of slab track are in the following:

Weeds and dirt are the enemy of railroads everywhere. Have you ever (if not try this) watched a train rolling past a crossing? Watch those trucks (wheels) as they pass any given point. You will note the track is flexing under the load, moving up and down as the weight passes over it. Stiff track can = big trouble, just as track that flexes too much can do the same. Why? Well stiff track does NOT flex as rail cars "Hunt" from side to side in a rocking motion. It can be like hitting a brick wall on your bicycle if the vehicle is too light and the track is too stiff. PING! BOUNCE! ouch! Now in the other direction, if there is too much flexing, the track "PUMPS" the ground just like sitting near the surf and patting sand. Soon the sand under your hand (or under our track) will suffer liquification. That means it becomes mush, much like quicksand. Soil and weeds encourage the sinking and beating up of the track.

Enter the slab track idea. Lay your best track with a SIDEWALK under the ballast and you can't pump sand! I'm still out of action with the "Mother of all Colds," but if one of you can access the drawings and post the data on the walks, loads, compression etc...We could get a fix on how much work they did for us.

So does this mean I'm not in tight with our Parks Department? Does this mean you Parks boys Aren't my friends? Awe shucks, if you weren't my friends, I just don't think I could bear it...JTA, I think you fumbled the ball on the 15 and expected what??? Hee Hee!


Ocklawaha
Hello Victoria, I just couldn't resist the temptation! Smile!
« Last Edit: November 13, 2007, 02:24:46 PM by Ocklawaha »

thelakelander

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2007, 02:40:47 PM »
Rails vs sand and weeds?  I was down in Winter Haven a few weeks back.  Here are a few images of the old Atlantic Coast mainline (the abandoned corridor starts a block north of this) in SW Winter Haven.  I used to run up and down these tracks to loss weight when I wrestled in high school.  The few industries remaining on this "spur" are now served by FCRR.



"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2007, 03:08:34 PM »
I really love those shots Lake, I'd like to print out a photo of them if you've saved them. REASON? Well, like Football, automobiles or computer games, when you have a passion, it isn't likely to be a shotgun approach.
You'll love the Jags, or the Avanti automobile or Apple Mac's or whatever. Ditto for railroaders. Our mainline in Colombia looked like this when I arrived. The highway guys had taken charge and NOBODY was ever going to use the "ANTIQUE RAILROAD SYSTEM" ever again...hee hee.

Surprise! A crazy Florida hippie, a misguided former Avanca Pilot, another doctor of (railroad) civil engineering, and a family member in the presidents chair...POOF! RAILROAD REVIVAL X 2,000 MILES!


So my passion as a historian is "LOST CAUSES"... The Ocklawaha Valley Railroad (seen here at Silver Springs, at the same spot where you board the glass bottom boats today) of 1908-1923 from Palatka to Ocala is a prime example and perhaps my favorite of all.

YES! Sand, dirt and weeds are very bad. Sadly, much of the forerunners of CSX let their track go to hell...Don't worry, we'll pay at the pump! Meanwhile back in Jacksonville, are we going to pioneer "SIDEWALK TRACK?" Sure!


Ocklawaha

big ben

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2007, 03:10:23 PM »
bah, trees are good for railways.  especially down the center.  it makes sure the hooligans aren't parading their trains around all night and tearing up the rails.

thelakelander

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2007, 03:39:35 PM »
Quote
I really love those shots Lake, I'd like to print out a photo of them if you've saved them.

Over the several years, I've saved a ton.  I'll email you a few.  Here's another I just stumbled across from a trip to New Orleans back in 2003.

South Carrollton Avenue, near the trolley barn.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2007, 03:41:38 PM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Nawdry

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2007, 11:48:54 PM »
.
Just a brief comment on the conversion of the S-Line to a hike & bike trail ...

BAD NEWS. The "Rails to Trails" program is for the most part a disaster for transit.  Cyclists and other trail users become the Nimbys from Hell and ferociously oppose reconverting the trail back to rail transit use. The current controversy in the Maryland suburbs of DC over the Purple Line is a case in point.

A far, far better concept is Rails WITH Trails (as Lakelander has noted). However, it is crucial to implement this either AFTER installation of rail transit, or in conjunction with it - otherwise it becomes another Rails to Trails brier patch.

Siure looks like JTA is accelerating this conversion of the S-Line to forestall (forever?) any possibility of the demon rail going into this corridor...

LH

Ocklawaha

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2007, 12:36:46 AM »
Hey Nawdry, looks like JTA is mostly off the hook on the "S" as far as the trail goes. I don't expect we'll get much if ANY flak over converting it back to rail. Reason? The nut cases that planned this must have gotten a bunch of "free cash" from a City betterment plan called (The Better Jacksonville Plan). Anyway this thing runs behind a hospital and alongside a freeway housing squeeze that is known as "The Bloody Block". ANYONE and I mean ANYONE that goes for a bike ride over their is either buying, selling or DEAD.

With the track laid over the walk we get instant slab track...well at least cheap "fabric" (thin concrete or asphalt) as a weed block. The "S" is a small part of the big picture on the over-all Northside lines. Northside is 50% of the entire ridership of JTA but less then 1/4 of the City Mass. Parts of it are blighted, some ghetto and some restoration, mixed with nice islands of beautiful homes. Really hard to put a face on it without you looking at the birds eye view. Maybe we could color-code the neighborhoods to show industrial, warehouse, housing, medical, retail etc... In 5 odd miles, this line touches it all... As they once said, "Through The Heart Of The South."


Ocklawaha

Nawdry

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2007, 07:41:32 AM »
.
Well, I'm glad to hear from those of you with the eyeballs actually on the scene. And sorry for falsely accusing the JTA (although, to judge from my experience, they probably signed off on this).

I was reacting to two things. First, this quote from the JTA's most recent newsletter (article "Why BRT is the Better Choice for Jacksonville"):

>>
Meanwhile, the City of Jacksonville currently plans to use the S-Line for its rails-to-trails program, giving area walkers, runners and cyclists new recreation space.
<<

Then there was this caption to a photo posted on 13 November ("The S-Line Urban Greenway"):

>>
Despite its potential to serve as a vital link in a rail transit system for Jacksonville, the city is agressively moving forward with converting this abandoned rail corridor into a recreational trail.
<<

Mainly I wanted to get some caveats over Rails to Trails on the table. And yes, trails are easier, physically, to convert back to railways - but politically it's almost like climbing a waterfall.

I should also say here, however, that I'm a trail hiker and cyclist and strongly support the Rails WITH Trails approach. This program is under way (somewhat slowly) here in Austin in connection with the Capital MetroRail project.

LH

Ocklawaha

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Re: The S-Line Urban Greenway
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2007, 09:44:12 AM »
Glad to help get you up to speed on the "S". The route is VERY diverse, but trail material? HA! I think the knee jerk reaction of shock here in town, white-black-Latin-WHATEVER... was... who in their right mind would jog or walk on THAT trail. We even suggested some names for the trail like "38 Special Alley," or "Magnum Jog". I'd rather roll my family in paste and dollar bills, and jog nude through the streets of Colombia, at least I'd get a running chance!

Ocklawaha