Author Topic: Commuter Rail's Return?  (Read 6860 times)

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1436
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Commuter Rail's Return?
« on: April 14, 2021, 02:39:32 PM »
Didn't see a separate thread for this, so I thought I'd make one.

JTA Considering Commuter Rail Between Jacksonville And St. Johns County

https://news.wjct.org/post/jta-considering-commuter-rail-between-jacksonville-and-st-johns-county

Quote
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is considering building a commuter rail between St. Johns and Duval Counties.

During a St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce event last week, Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) CEO Nat Ford said he was in talks with St. Augustine leaders and others about creating a commuter rail, as was reported in The St. Augustine Record.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1436
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2021, 02:55:33 PM »
For context, here is the study from 2009 on commuter rail.

One thing that confuses me upfront is that JTA received $877k last year to plan TOD at four stations along what seems to be the Southeast Corridor. Where did that money go?

Quote
Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) in Florida will receive $877,068 in funding to plan for TOD at four stations in the initial phase of the proposed 38.4-mile First Coast commuter rail project in Northeast Florida.

Also, apparently six years ago, there was supposed to be another study on commuter rail. What happened to that?

Quote
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is studying the viability of a commuter rail system on the Southeast corridor, between Downtown and St. Augustine.

The study, which will be completed this time next year, looks at potential ridership, the cost to build and operate the systems and where the stations would be. The study being conducted by Parsons Brinckerhoff costs $525,000
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32817
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2021, 03:00:25 PM »
There's nothing in the gas tax list about commuter rail. There is some money for a PD&E Study to relocate the passenger rail station back downtown. It would be good to see additional money set aside to actually move the passenger rail station back downtown. In other words, let's do more than create 35% design plans.

As for commuter rail, we've been here before. I'm a rail fan but I don't think it makes sense to pursue on the FEC before addressing any potential intercity partnering opportunities with Brightline (same for Amtrak with the CSX A line). You piggyback off improvements made by intercity rail, not move on things before. That's how you get a 13.5 mile commuter rail line less than 1/2 the cost for Miami-Dade taxpayers than what Jax taxpayers are being asked to pay to convert the Skyway into the U2C:

Quote
It will cost an estimated $345 million to build the necessary rail infrastructure, stations, park-and-ride facilities, maintenance depots and trains, according to a Feb. 18 memo from Aileen Bouclé, director of the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization.

Once built, operations and maintenance are expected to cost $16 million a year.

Miami-Dade will ask for half the construction cost from the Federal Transit Administration’s capital investment grant program.

Quote
The plan, Ms. Bouclé wrote, also includes an expectation that the Florida Department of Transportation will contribute a quarter of the project cost. Miami-Dade intends to cover the remainder using funds generated by a local half-percent sales tax known as the half-penny, which county voters approved in 2002 to improve and expand transportation.

Half-penny funds will also cover the cost of the three-acre Aventura station, setting the county’s estimated contribution toward the project’s total construction at $162.25 million.

Quote
Plans shown to investors included five stations between MiamiCentral and Aventura stations, including Wynwood, Design District, El Portal, North Miami and FIU Biscayne Bay Campus.

https://www.miamitodaynews.com/2021/03/23/after-345-million-buildout-brightline-to-run-new-intercity-rail/?fbclid=IwAR3BPmaRRvzc6CB7XYeZ087EioaNjPXmo_atEAQjKlersg2adyg84frIPZY




« Last Edit: April 14, 2021, 03:03:42 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

bl8jaxnative

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 906
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2021, 01:15:03 PM »

I'm not following that last claim.

a) [iirc] Skyway is proposed to cost $400million

b) Miami is spending ~$400M + perpetual operating costs

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32817
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2021, 01:37:05 PM »
Miami-Dade is seeking funding assistance from FDOT and the FTA. Their local share of the $345 million project is $162.25 million. Jax taxpayers are being asked to fund 100% of the $379 million Skyway conversion project with the gas tax. Why not attempt to secure FDOT and FTA funding assistance?
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Lostwave

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 134
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2021, 08:58:24 AM »
I would bet that FDOT doesn't want to pay for clown cars.  If it was light rail or a monorail or something, they would.  But golf carts, no.

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1436
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2021, 01:23:02 PM »
Miami-Dade is seeking funding assistance from FDOT and the FTA. Their local share of the $345 million project is $162.25 million. Jax taxpayers are being asked to fund 100% of the $379 million Skyway conversion project with the gas tax. Why not attempt to secure FDOT and FTA funding assistance?

Sounds like you got your answer to that:

Quote
The expectation is that the later phases of the U2C will proceed as a Public-Private Partnership (P3), which will require a dedicated funding source. The LOGT provides that dedicated funding source, unlike discretionary grants that must be applied for each year and are not guaranteed.

I would bet that FDOT doesn't want to pay for clown cars.  If it was light rail or a monorail or something, they would.  But golf carts, no.

It's a cold day in hell when the FDOT is being more responsible about public transportation than you.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

bl8jaxnative

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 906
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2021, 04:03:02 PM »
Miami-Dade is seeking funding assistance from FDOT and the FTA. Their local share of the $345 million project is $162.25 million. Jax taxpayers are being asked to fund 100% of the $379 million Skyway conversion project with the gas tax. Why not attempt to secure FDOT and FTA funding assistance?

Ah, okay.  So it's what the local govt would be looking at for cost, not total cost of project.  Thank you.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32817
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2021, 04:42:36 PM »
^Yes, just looking at the local percentage and recommending that the LOGT only cover a local percentage for this U2C thing, and not the total cost as currently being proposed by JTA.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1436
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2021, 07:15:37 AM »
Morning, folks. Surprisingly big update.

JTA's board is voting this week on approving a contract for Transit Oriented Development planning around both the First Coast Flyer's Green Line stations… and commuter rail.

I got a hold of the bid documents for it, and within that, I found something incredibly interesting.

https://gis.jtafla.com/portal/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=9813461a3590462892bcd0cc13d26161

This is apparently a largely complete plan for commuter rail along the FEC corridor. It's very different from the last plan, back in 2009. Down from thirteen stations to just four, at the JRTC, Avenues Walk, Race Track Road, and King Street in St. Augustine. This time they've decided on a specific location for a vehicle maintenance facility, in St. Johns County along the big FEC branch instead of in "proximity to the downtown terminal."

It includes an operating plan:



They've downgraded from pursuing DMUs (despite the arrival of companies like Stadler and changes to FRA standards) to seven trainsets of a locomotive + two coaches akin to SunRail. The expected capital cost is $395 million, a substantial increase from the $172 million pricetag in 2009. Expected operating costs went from $14 million to $25 million.

Here are maps of the station plans (which I notice are from 2017), featuring longer platforms at the two termini:







So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

jcjohnpaint

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1389
  • Jason John- www.jasonjohnart.com
    • Jason John Website
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2021, 08:59:16 AM »
Wow! Thanks for sharing

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32817
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2021, 09:29:32 AM »
What's the projected ridership? I imagine those trainsets would be halfway empty at 30 minute headways. If they are down to 4 stations, definitely best to see how Brightline and/or Amtrak funding plays out over the next year or so. Potential sites in two  (Jax and St. Augustine) locations would likely be included and locals could probably lobby for a third.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32817
    • Modern Cities
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2021, 10:14:45 AM »
Btw, Gatlin has different plans for the Racetrack Road site. A shopping center and apartment complex. Construction starts this summer so the rail station is DOA:



https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/gatlin-buys-former-st-johns-dog-track-plans-dollar250-million-grand-cypress%3famp
« Last Edit: July 25, 2021, 11:02:55 AM 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

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1436
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2021, 06:24:00 PM »
What's the projected ridership? I imagine those trainsets would be halfway empty at 30 minute headways. If they are down to 4 stations, definitely best to see how Brightline and/or Amtrak funding plays out over the next year or so. Potential sites in two  (Jax and St. Augustine) locations would likely be included and locals could probably lobby for a third.

It's not clear if they've gotten ridership projections yet, it looks like they might be asking the contract recipient for the TOD study to determine that as part of it. Essentially building the ridership around the stations.

The word I've gotten is that it is still planned to make this happen within the decade. My understanding is that they're trying to basically copy the Tri-Rail strategy, in which FDOT builds it as traffic mitigation for the $1 billion I-95 rebuild & widening that's expected to take over a decade. They say as much in the RFP:

Quote
The proposed project would establish a 38.4-mile commuter rail corridor on Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway rail line from Downtown Jacksonville to St. Augustine in St. Johns County. The project is proposed as a maintenance of traffic (MOT)/mitigation strategy for several major projects expected to take place on I-95 in Southern Duval County and Northern St. Johns County.

To me, the design of the stations in Downtown and St. Augustine imply that they're where intercity trains would stop, since the inline stations are sized for just a single commuter train. And the newer report mentions that

Quote
Virgin Brightline owns the passenger rail rights to the corridor, representing considerable interest in bringing passenger rail to Northeast Florida.

Re: Gatlin, the rail plan is older, but looking at both your map and the Property Appraiser, if they can extend Big Cypress Drive through where that retention pond is and build the station a little further south, I don't see why it wouldn't fit within the remainder of the parcel that multifamily complex is planned for.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

jaxjags

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 393
Re: Commuter Rail's Return?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2021, 07:23:20 PM »
Yes-FDOT has been quiet lately on I95 both N and S of 295. They have moved to I10. I like this approach. Similar to I 77 south of Charlotte. Light rail versus an expensive Interstate upgrade.