Author Topic: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?  (Read 34862 times)

bl8jaxnative

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2021, 12:43:12 PM »

To understand what Amtrak's likely play is, look at what's going on with Mobile - New Orleans.   A 3rd party along with Amtrak has some money to make some improvements needed to start passenger service to Mobile.   Amtrak will pay for all of it at first.   IIRC year 4 has to be 100% paid for by the states, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

To date I haven't heard or seen anything serious coming of Tallahassee indicating they're ready to throw a few hundred million a year at adding passenger service in Florida.   Until there's something serious going there, Jacksonville does not have anything to get ready for.

thelakelander

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2021, 01:35:50 PM »
^Returning the train station back to downtown has been discussed by these entities at least since 1993. 28 years later and there's still no resolution. The obstacle in the past three decades has been money. The gas tax will stimulate nearly one billion in local revenue that Jax does not have today. It is a very viable solution to the core obstacle. After all, isn't that the entire point of the gas tax? Generating additional revenue for transportation infrastructure projects and to stimulate economic growth and job creation as a result?

Here's some old stories from the TU's archives:

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Proposal to move Amtrak station pushed

Newspaper August 7, 1999 | Florida Times-Union, The (Jacksonville, FL)
Author: From staff | Page: B-8 | Section: Metro | Column: City Notes

The old idea of bringing the Amtrak station downtown to the Prime Osborn Convention Center got a push this week from City Councilwoman Elaine Brown.

Brown used a meeting of the Transportation, Environment and Energy Committee to show fellow council members about ongoing work to develop a plan for putting the train station and the Greyhound station at the convention center.

The project would cost an estimated $40 million. The state Department of Transportation is working on a proposal for the Federal Transit Administration in hopes of getting federal funding for 50 to 80 percent of the cost.

The presentation was solely informational, but it showed how council newcomers like Brown are using their seats to spotlight projects they worked on prior to winning election.

In 1993, former mayor Ed Austin asked Brown to serve on a citizen committee to look at moving the Amtrak station, now located off 20th Street in northwest Jacksonville, to downtown.

Councilwoman Gwen Yates was enthusiastic, saying other cities have used transportation centers as a spur to revitalize surrounding neighborhoods.

The plan calls for keeping the Prime Osborn building as a convention center. The Amtrak station and the Greyhound station, which is currently in a downtown building, would be situated in a way that they would not interfere with convention business, said Lorenzo Alexander, the state's public transportation manager for the Northeast Florida district.

He said the state hopes to get federal approval by early next year for the location design. Then the state could put together an application for federal funding support if the project has support from Mayor John Delaney and the City Council, he said.


Quote
The goal: united transit The obstacle: cash Although the players are starting to ante up, there still are several hurdles to securing the $146 million needed for the project - specifically, how Amtrak will be able to supply the more than $40 million needed to move its tracks.

Newspaper September 18, 2006 | Florida Times-Union, The (Jacksonville, FL)
Author: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS | Page: FB-12
773 Words | Readability: Lexile: 1440, grade level(s): >12
Read News Document
ReadSpeaker webReader: Read News Document

Focus
The state government and a range of city and national entities are busily trying to scrape up the $146 million needed for the Jacksonville Transportation Center, a project that has been in the works for more than five years.

The project, led by the Florida Department of Transportation, would bring together a variety of ground transportation systems as well as officials who help keep traffic flowing, such as the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The entire complex, which wouldn't be completed for about a decade, is expected to cost about $146 million, although a third of the money is budgeted to move railroad tracks to bring Amtrak into the complex. That part of the project might be put on hold, said DOT project manager Craig Teal, pending an infusion of cash into Amtrak's anemic budget.

The rest of the funding is being pieced together from a variety of sources: The Department of Transportation has $13 million committed to general construction and another $8 million for the Traffic Management Center, the facility that will allow officials to do things such as monitor accidents and administer highway information signs.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority has received $1 million in federal funds earmarked for the project and is kicking in $5 million of its own money, and the city has pledged about $5 million - money designated for rejuvenation of the LaVilla area - that will be used for improvements of the roads around the center and of the Skyway.

The project, sitting between Park and West Bay streets and Interstate 95, has received support from the Jacksonville City Council, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The idea behind the center is to bring the various pieces of the transportation system together, allowing sharing of resources and making it easier for travelers to switch between the different systems.

"The big thing with multi-modal is you need to make it efficient to get from one mode to another, otherwise why not take your car everywhere?" Teal said.

His vision: Residents of downtown taking the Skyway to the center, from there they can transit to an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus, or even take a JTA bus to the airport for the next leg of their journey. To accomplish that vision is expected to take years, however.

The final public hearing on the project is scheduled for November, after which the DOT will officially begin designing the structure. The state money pledged for the project is scheduled to be dispersed in the fiscal year that begins in July 2009; that money will be used for the Traffic Management Center, which sits on the top of the structure, though, so the state hopes to have more of the money in hand by then, paying - at least - for the parking garage.

To get the rest of the $114 million needed, the state has been in talks with the federal government, which could pay varying percentages of different projects. At one point, Teal said, it looked like the Federal Highway Administration would kick in half of the cost of the parking structure, although no firm commitment has ever been made. Greyhound is investigating federal grant possibilities, and Amtrak is also looking for an infusion of federal funds, Teal said.

If the project doesn't get federal funding, it will still move ahead, although the timetable will probably get longer as the work is done in phases. "We're looking at different scenarios," Teal said.

One bright light on the horizon: On Friday, the department found out the Federal Transportation Administration was interested in meeting with the team to discuss funding possibilities.

Whatever happens on the federal side of the ledger, the state has committed enough funding to get things off the ground toward the end of 2009, with construction taking two to five years or longer.

"Something will be starting then," Teal said. "We'd like to build the parking garage and transportation offices and TMC all in one go. That's how multi-modal should work. But if we get a whole bunch of funding if we wait two years, it might make sense to hold some of the modules back."

"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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2021, 02:17:14 PM »
Speaking of money, TIGER/BUILD has just been rebranded as RAISE, and grants are now available to apply for. Max of $25 million.

Also, that article is the first time I've seen a price tag for Amtrak. I'm hoping that $40 million includes all of this:



In which case maybe with a cheaper plan such as this:



we could pull most or close to all of the funding from a grant like that. But then I guess the other problem is that there's no one to actually apply for it right now. Or if there is, they might be looking to get something else.
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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2021, 02:31:59 PM »
^All that will need to be updated. Some of those old numbers could have included components of the JRTC and the $35 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements project ($17 million paid via a federal match granted in 2019). Material prices and labor are higher than they were a decade or two ago as well:

https://media.news4jax.com/document_dev/2019/06/07/Jacksonville%20CRISI%20FINAL_1559947793261_21952599_ver1.0.pdf
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bl8jaxnative

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2021, 01:17:48 PM »
After all, isn't that the entire point of the gas tax? Generating additional revenue for transportation infrastructure projects and to stimulate economic growth and job creation as a result?

Desolate unused buildings do not generate jobs.

See St. Pauls SPUD for the dangers in these sort of projects.  Virutally empty.  Sole long term tennant, a greek resteraunt, went bellyup after decaddes of operation.  Quarter billion spent.  Total flop.



thelakelander

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2021, 01:38:39 PM »
Transportation projects don't get built on their own. Someone has to get hired to provide the labor and produce the material.
"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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2021, 10:38:29 AM »
Transportation projects don't get built on their own. Someone has to get hired to provide the labor and produce the material.

Arguing for malinvest is never wise.

thelakelander

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"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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2021, 06:33:03 PM »
Amtrak has published some more details about the planned Florida Network in this report. Florida starts on Page 64.

Quote
Florida Network
Jacksonville – Orlando – Tampa – Miami
Amtrak envisions intercity passenger rail corridors throughout Florida; the vision includes:
  • 2 round trips between Jacksonville – Orlando – Tampa
  • 3 round trips between Tampa – Miami
  • 2 round trips between Orlando – Miami
  • Augmented by Amtrak’s Silver Service
This new corridor connects rapidly growing Southeast business, population, and tourist centers while increasing travel options through the communities along these heavily traveled corridors.

There's also a chart with estimated travel times:

Quote
Route     Endpoint Mileage     Endpoint Trip Time     Key Trip Time
Jacksonville - Orlando - Tampa2404:281:32 (Tampa - Orlando)
Orlando - Miami2674:364:36 (Orlando - Miami)
Tampa - Miami2584:344:34 (Tampa - Miami)

One thing that stands out is that these routes would apparently be comparatively cheap to start and operate (compared to any of the proposed routes in places like Georgia) but have enormous ridership potential compared to those routes. Obviously these trains would be slower than Brightline since they stop more often and are likely only traveling at up to 79mph vs 110-125mph.

To look back for a moment, and for context, there's the 2006 Passenger Rail Vision Plan. The Inland Route is the equivalent of the Amtrak plan. With upgrades, the portion between Auburndale and West Palm Beach is capable of 110mph operation, which could reduce travel times between Orlando/Tampa and Miami by up to an hour compared to the Amtrak plan. It also proposed upgrading the portion between Jacksonville and DeLand to 110mph operation. This plan proposed many more round trips than the Amtrak plan does, but also would cost probably close to $2 billion to do so.
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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2021, 09:53:39 PM »
So we'd basically go from one round trip per day to three. I'd love to see more but beggars can't be choosy. It would be interesting to see the times. Depending on the times, it could make sense to lobby for moving Amtrak back downtown and also opening up a satellite station in the Orange Park/Fleming Island area. In that fashion, Amtrak could become a commuting option between downtown and Clay County, which would bring TOD potential along with it. Any capacity improvements along the corridor could also make commuter rail along that line more feasible.
"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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2021, 12:33:01 AM »
Isn't it from two round trips to four, between the Silver Meteor and Silver Star?

But yeah, the Passenger Vision Plan proposed 3 round trips a day between Jacksonville and Orlando at first, going up to 5 round trips after upgrading speeds to 110mph. This doesn't quite get there, but I could see that being in order to try and get the service off the ground so that people get used to it before trying to hand it off to the state to serve as a partner like with the Cascades or the Midwest services.

We're probably far from having times, but that's definitely an interesting idea. It's also unclear what, if any, infrastructure improvements would need to be made for the line as proposed. The entire plan apparently would cost $75 billion over 15 years, but it doesn't say exactly how much of that would be in Florida.
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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2021, 07:46:02 AM »
I'd have to go back and check but I could have sworn the Silver Meteor and Silver Star don't operate on the same day anymore.
"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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2021, 11:58:03 PM »
^ That was because of funding limitations during the pandemic. Daily service resumes June 7th.

https://media.amtrak.com/2021/03/with-increased-demand-and-congressional-funding-amtrak-restores-12-long-distance-routes-to-daily-service/

Now, the curious thing is what the added competition of Brightline could be whenever they get around to expanding this way. The design of the Cocoa Curve makes a Jacksonville-Orlando or Jax-Tampa service rather impractical, meaning that most Brightline services will likely go directly from North Florida to South Florida. (That is, unless they go and build a new section of track that then goes along SR 407 to connect to the track along SR 528.) If Amtrak can actually get the state & CSX to work on speeding up the area north of Orlando, they present a real opportunity for more competitive travel times in the future.
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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2021, 11:42:23 AM »
If Brightline were extended to Jax, track improvements would be made likely be made where the new Beach Line corridor meets the existing FEC corridor near SR 528 and US 1. If Amtrak gets funding for additional service, that will likely happen and come online years before a Brightline service would. The fare would also be dramatically different, likely attracting a different demographic than Brightline. The corridors would also serve different communities between the major cities, possibly making them more complementary than competitive.
"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

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Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2021, 09:31:27 AM »
But yeah, the Passenger Vision Plan proposed 3 round trips a day between Jacksonville and Orlando at first, going up to 5 round trips after upgrading speeds to 110mph. This doesn't quite get there, but I could see that being in order to try and get the service off the ground so that people get used to it before trying to hand it off to the state to serve as a partner like with the Cascades or the Midwest services.


The states have to fund it.   Except that Amtrak gets to do a punt and pray and pay for the service for 3 years.

Amtrak's like a drunk teenager with bottle of viagra right now.  They've had a ton of cash in their pockets now thanks to congress.  So they can afford to do all sorts of things.

But only for 3 years.  After that the states have to pay.

That's fine for Amtrak since it's a corp, those state subsidies show up on it's balnace sheet as income.


I haven't seen anything for rumors that there's a group in the Florida that's willing to take action - not just lip service - to push for state funding for any of Amtrak's Florida dreams.     Until then, I wouldn't make too much of the plans.   

 I mean, it's fun to dream and imagine and do those what ifs.  But I wouldn't be placing bets in Vegas on anything other than Brightline being bankrupt w/in the decade.