Author Topic: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....  (Read 36012 times)

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #150 on: July 06, 2022, 07:46:02 PM »
I guess we all can hope Phase 1 fails miserably and we can all move on.

I’m worried they’ll try to be tearing up monorail beams already by whenever Phase 1 is supposed to open, and we’ll be put in the awful position of having to either commit to the conversion or just demolish it and pay the feds back.

I still think, politically, that we could get out of paying the Feds a penalty.  I believe JTA uses that as a red herring to avoid having to admit the Skyway is done for.  It was an experiment predicted boondoggle (just like U2C will be) and failed despite unrelenting support by JTA so why would the Feds be vengeful.  It's foolish to keep spending money on it just to avoid the "penalty."  Further, what JTA is proposing spending wasting big money on now is far greater than any penalty.  If the "penalty" is truly enforced, it would be cheaper to pay it than go forward with the almost sure-to-fail U2C.  The lack of a business-like approach to this project is mind blowing.

They can simply do nothing and not owe anyone anything.  The U2C has nothing to do with the Skyway, other than JTA trying to force it on the system.

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Either convert it to our version of NYC's Highline or tear it down and move on.  Enough already.

No to the High Line in Jax. That's a bigger waste of money than the U2C. Focus on the Emerald Trail, which still needs millions to implement.

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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #151 on: July 06, 2022, 10:11:44 PM »
I guess we all can hope Phase 1 fails miserably and we can all move on.

I’m worried they’ll try to be tearing up monorail beams already by whenever Phase 1 is supposed to open, and we’ll be put in the awful position of having to either commit to the conversion or just demolish it and pay the feds back.

I still think, politically, that we could get out of paying the Feds a penalty.  I believe JTA uses that as a red herring to avoid having to admit the Skyway is done for.  It was an experiment predicted boondoggle (just like U2C will be) and failed despite unrelenting support by JTA so why would the Feds be vengeful.  It's foolish to keep spending money on it just to avoid the "penalty."  Further, what JTA is proposing spending wasting big money on now is far greater than any penalty.  If the "penalty" is truly enforced, it would be cheaper to pay it than go forward with the almost sure-to-fail U2C.  The lack of a business-like approach to this project is mind blowing.

They can simply do nothing and not owe anyone anything.  The U2C has nothing to do with the Skyway, other than JTA trying to force it on the system.

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Either convert it to our version of NYC's Highline or tear it down and move on.  Enough already.

No to the High Line in Jax. That's a bigger waste of money than the U2C. Focus on the Emerald Trail, which still needs millions to implement.

If they "do nothing" they still have to maintain the structure and surroundings to some degree and to secure it to keep it free of vandalism or other threats.  Additionally, a nonfunctioning structure is, in my mind, a monument to the failure of the Skyway and downtown and a blight on downtown (as if it needed another such addition).

The connection, to me, between U2C and the Skyway is that, aside from the U2C project itself likely to be joining the Skyway as another JTA boondoggle, they want to spend a major (the bulk?) of U2C funding on repurposing the Skyway track and infrastructure, adding insult to injury.  They can "do" U2C without the Skyway but they aren't.  Why "is JTA trying to force it on the system?" Only one reason, to me, to spare hitting JTA's institutional pride by admitting the Skyway is a bust.

I have no issue tearing down the Skyway but, if JTA insists on keeping the infrastructure, and pure abandonment is not an acceptable outcome, then the "cheapest" way out is to make it a "Highline."  We don't need to take funds from the Emerald Trail, just carve out a fraction of the funds already dedicated for converting the Skyway track to accommodate U2C.  Everyone walks away happy except maybe JTA and its leaching U2C contractors :).
« Last Edit: July 06, 2022, 10:25:46 PM by jaxlongtimer »

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #152 on: July 06, 2022, 11:58:19 PM »
From my view, maintaining the Skyway infrastructure and running the thing as a transit system is no different from maintaining our streets, sidewalks and public infrastructure network. Tearing the infrastructure down due to us not knowing how to run transit or create real TOD could be just as wasteful as some of the U2C options discussed. Based off the success and failure of similar systems in various peer cities, I believe we'll get use out of that infrastructure through operating it as a transit spine (i.e. eliminate all competing bus routes and stops....and run it on the weekends) and coordinated land use policy (i.e. high density TOD) around its stations and transit feeder routes. These are things we still fail to do locally. No kind of transit will work in this town without coordinated land use policy.


I have no issue tearing down the Skyway but, if JTA insists on keeping the infrastructure, and pure abandonment is not an acceptable outcome, then the "cheapest" way out is to make it a "Highline."  We don't need to take funds from the Emerald Trail, just carve out a fraction of the funds already dedicated for converting the Skyway track to accommodate U2C.  Everyone walks away happy except maybe JTA and its leaching U2C contractors :).

My concern with the "Highline" thing is that it is anything but a cheap option with the Skyway infrastructure. The former rail operations of the Highline and the Skyway are dramatically different, making the concepts more of an apples and oranges comparison. Unlike, the Highline, which was an old freight railroad that went through multilevel warehouses and buildings, the Skyway is a narrow APM structure designed to support significantly less live and dead load. That would have to be beefed up similarly to what is being shown on some of these U2C documents (making the infrastructure an elevated road). After those hundreds of millions are spent, we still would not have the Highline (trail width, ability to support similar weight or the connected surrounding built density). We'd more likely have a sidewalk where people would boil like eggs being completely exposed in our humid climate.

Regarding the Emerald Trail, it still needs a good +$100 million or so to complete. That's money that still needs to be found and secured. If someone finds extra cash for a "Highline" concept, I'd argue the more bang for our buck would be using those "Highline" funds to complete the unfunded portions of the Emerald Trail, as opposed to attempting to do something that would have to siphon pedestrian traffic off downtown's already seldom used streets to be remotely successful.


A few Highline pictures below - We can't do this with the Skyway's infrastructure without a major retrofit and widening.









« Last Edit: July 07, 2022, 12:04:32 AM by thelakelander »
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #153 on: July 07, 2022, 12:11:00 AM »
I think it's been argued plenty of times before that the Skyway is much more a symbol of failure in leadership to think about how to make downtown a usable place for people to live, work, & play while utilizing the train, so I won't go too far into that. If I recall correctly, the core problem with the Highline suggestion is that it would likely trigger the FTA payback requirements anyway. The Skyway is meant to be a transit line, not a trail. They're not likely to count whatever bicycles end up there as qualifying vehicles to avoid the payback. The infrastructure has to be used to run a transportation service, not just exist.

I think the most concerning thing about all this is seeing that they decided to cancel the overhaul of the existing trains and just skip to trying to bid out the PD&E for the conversion ASAP. Bids are already due next week. Hence my worry that they'll try and start tearing out beams before the road paint has dried on Bay Street and force total commitment, regardless of whether the damn thing works. Makes my head spin trying to understand the decision-making process here.
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #154 on: July 07, 2022, 12:22:38 AM »
From my view, maintaining the Skyway infrastructure and running the thing as a transit system is no different from maintaining our streets, sidewalks and public infrastructure network. Tearing the infrastructure down due to us not knowing how to run transit or create real TOD could be just as wasteful as some of the U2C options discussed. Based off the success and failure of similar systems in various peer cities, I believe we'll get use out of that infrastructure through operating it as a transit spine (i.e. eliminate all competing bus routes and stops....and run it on the weekends) and coordinated land use policy (i.e. high density TOD) around its stations and transit feeder routes. These are things we still fail to do locally. No kind of transit will work in this town without coordinated land use policy.

If I read your posts correctly, you are not advocating for the U2C to run on the Skyway tracks but, rather, you are suggesting the Skyway can continue to be operated in something approximating its current form.  My understanding is this is not feasible due to lack of support of the current technology or other technology that can "cheaply" operate on the roughly current infrastructure.  If I am correct, your options are reduced to U2C, Highline type use or demolition (I can't see the option of a simple abandonment in place making anyone happy).

As I noted, if the Highline isn't feasible, U2C isn't feasible and continuing to run the Skyway isn't feasible, then, 3 strikes and tear it down :).

Help me out here to clarify your position or what technology you think would use the current infrastructure to feasibly allow it to serve as a "transit spine."

I think it's been argued plenty of times before that the Skyway is much more a symbol of failure in leadership to think about how to make downtown a usable place for people to live, work, & play while utilizing the train, so I won't go too far into that. If I recall correctly, the core problem with the Highline suggestion is that it would likely trigger the FTA payback requirements anyway. The Skyway is meant to be a transit line, not a trail. They're not likely to count whatever bicycles end up there as qualifying vehicles to avoid the payback. The infrastructure has to be used to run a transportation service, not just exist.

Marcus, see my previously posted comment reposted below about the Federal "penalty."  I think that should be a non-issue whether it actually gets enforced or not given the costs of avoiding it.

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I still think, politically, that we could get out of paying the Feds a penalty.  I believe JTA uses that as a red herring to avoid having to admit the Skyway is done for.  It was an experiment predicted boondoggle (just like U2C will be) and failed despite unrelenting support by JTA so why would the Feds be vengeful.  It's foolish to keep spending money on it just to avoid the "penalty."  Further, what JTA is proposing spending wasting big money on now is far greater than any penalty.  If the "penalty" is truly enforced, it would be cheaper to pay it than go forward with the almost sure-to-fail U2C.  The lack of a business-like approach to this project is mind blowing.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #155 on: July 07, 2022, 09:35:42 AM »
If I read your posts correctly, you are not advocating for the U2C to run on the Skyway tracks but, rather, you are suggesting the Skyway can continue to be operated in something approximating its current form.

Correct. I'm suggesting an overhaul of the existing system makes the most logic and is more feasible than both conversion to the U2C or an elevated sidewalk.

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My understanding is this is not feasible due to lack of support of the current technology or other technology that can "cheaply" operate on the roughly current infrastructure.

This is incorrect. Think of this from an automobile perspective. A road was constructed during the 1980s. You purchased a Pontiac Grand Am to drive on it. 40 years have passed, the road is full of potholes and your rusted out Grand Am is on its last legs. You need a new Grand Am but the manufacturer does not make the vehicle any more. The road needs to be fixed, but the pavement crack rating is requiring a full milling and resurfacing, as opposed to the duct tape maintenance measures used the past few decades. Thus an overhaul (resurfacing) of the road (infrastructure) is needed, along with new vehicles/technology (they don't make Grand Ams anymore).

This is what I'm suggesting. Fix up your aging infrastructure and buy new vehicles, even if they require going to Toyota or Nissan, instead of General Motors.

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If I am correct, your options are reduced to U2C, Highline type use or demolition (I can't see the option of a simple abandonment in place making anyone happy).

From my view, an overhaul is an option that should not be eliminated. APMs are still around and aren't going anywhere. It's also significantly cheaper than the U2C as proposed or conversion into an elevated sidewalk (remember, you can't even ride bikes on the Highline).

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As I noted, if the Highline isn't feasible, U2C isn't feasible and continuing to run the Skyway isn't feasible, then, 3 strikes and tear it down :).

I don't believe the Highline is feasible from a cost or use perspective. I also don't believe spending a half billion to put lower capacity AVs on the elevated Skyway infrastructure makes financial sense and it certainly won't increase ridership. However, I do believe updating the Skyway as an APM, with heavy focus on supportive land use strategies around its stations, is an option that should be explored more intimately.

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Help me out here to clarify your position or what technology you think would use the current infrastructure to feasibly allow it to serve as a "transit spine."

My position: Overhaul/update the system + with logical expansion where necessary.

Technology: APM technology, which is what the current infrastructure is designed to support. Raising the infrastructure seems like a non-starter with me. Once you start getting into that, you may be better demolishing the thing and investing in a starter LRT or modern streetcar line.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2022, 09:37:18 AM by thelakelander »
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jaxoNOLE

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #156 on: July 07, 2022, 11:04:33 AM »

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Help me out here to clarify your position or what technology you think would use the current infrastructure to feasibly allow it to serve as a "transit spine."

My position: Overhaul/update the system + with logical expansion where necessary.

Technology: APM technology, which is what the current infrastructure is designed to support. Raising the infrastructure seems like a non-starter with me. Once you start getting into that, you may be better demolishing the thing and investing in a starter LRT or modern streetcar line.

I believe that the survey respondents I previously cited expected something along these lines. I think the survey was important because, whether it was representative or not, it was used as JTA's mandate of public support to retain and expand the Skyway. Then, by the time they got to the specifics of route expansion, AVs were already selected as the technology of choice.

During the LOGT public meetings, there was plenty of debate around the tax itself, but any public comment on the U2C was almost unanimous against. JTA must have known any standalone funding request for the Skyway would be tanked by public opposition--it was almost enough to bring down the LOGT. The total cost of this thing should be enough to be a mayoral campaign issue. Beaches residents might not care about what happens to the Skyway, but they should care about what happens to $240M of committed earmarks + whatever the future ask is going to be in their taxpayer money. Now that the LOGT is law, we don't have to argue about the tax and the Skyway at the same time.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #157 on: July 07, 2022, 01:07:41 PM »
I believe that the survey respondents I previously cited expected something along these lines. I think the survey was important because, whether it was representative or not, it was used as JTA's mandate of public support to retain and expand the Skyway. Then, by the time they got to the specifics of route expansion, AVs were already selected as the technology of choice.

During the LOGT public meetings, there was plenty of debate around the tax itself, but any public comment on the U2C was almost unanimous against. JTA must have known any standalone funding request for the Skyway would be tanked by public opposition--it was almost enough to bring down the LOGT.

JTA was already U2C or bust years before the LOGT public discussion went on. Back in 2015, advocates of potential Skyway modernization and extension weren't being forced with this particular U2C concept. That's largely grown internally at JTA. Btw, 2015 was seven years ago and this thing still isn't about to be operational anytime soon. Just keep that in mind, the next time someone states that they can have commuter rail operational in 3 years....





https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-nov-survey-determining-the-skyways-future

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The total cost of this thing should be enough to be a mayoral campaign issue. Beaches residents might not care about what happens to the Skyway, but they should care about what happens to $240M of committed earmarks + whatever the future ask is going to be in their taxpayer money. Now that the LOGT is law, we don't have to argue about the tax and the Skyway at the same time.

Like the initial BRT plan from the early 2000s, I expect the U2C costs to dramatically raise. It will easily clear +$500 million, if nothing changes.



« Last Edit: July 07, 2022, 01:11:16 PM by thelakelander »
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thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #158 on: July 07, 2022, 02:18:19 PM »
I think it's been argued plenty of times before that the Skyway is much more a symbol of failure in leadership to think about how to make downtown a usable place for people to live, work, & play while utilizing the train, so I won't go too far into that. If I recall correctly, the core problem with the Highline suggestion is that it would likely trigger the FTA payback requirements anyway. The Skyway is meant to be a transit line, not a trail. They're not likely to count whatever bicycles end up there as qualifying vehicles to avoid the payback. The infrastructure has to be used to run a transportation service, not just exist.

From my perspective, the core problem with the High Line suggestion is that the High Line is a former elevated New York Central Railroad spur. In other words, its equivalent to a FEC, NS or CSX railroad line:





Which do we believe can support the weight of having a functional public park built on top of it?

This (High Line comparable)?



or this (Skyway infrastructure that can't even support the weight of a modern streetcar)?



To make the Skyway anything close to the High Line, you're going to have to beef up and expand the existing elevated infrastructure to be able to support the load of that new use. That's likely millions to make what is essentially an elevated sidewalk (can't ride bikes on the High Line).

Also, unlike NYC, we struggle to fill our downtown streets with enough foot traffic to support the mix of uses, retail, restaurants, etc. that everyone wants to see. So another angle to any High Line alternative is the consideration of the cost and impact on downtown vibrancy itself (i.e. if we had $300 million to spend in DT, is an elevated sidewalk the best use of those funds?).

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I think the most concerning thing about all this is seeing that they decided to cancel the overhaul of the existing trains and just skip to trying to bid out the PD&E for the conversion ASAP. Bids are already due next week. Hence my worry that they'll try and start tearing out beams before the road paint has dried on Bay Street and force total commitment, regardless of whether the damn thing works. Makes my head spin trying to understand the decision-making process here.

They definitely give off the impression of U2C or bust when it comes to this. That's a very dangerous and risky position to put taxpayers in, considering the desired product doesn't exist.
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #159 on: July 07, 2022, 06:36:28 PM »
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From my perspective, the core problem with the High Line suggestion is that the High Line is a former elevated New York Central Railroad spur. In other words, its equivalent to a FEC, NS or CSX railroad line:

Point of information:  The Highline track ultimately was owned by CSX which donated it to the City of New York.  (CSX had actually been served with a NYC letter of condemnation demanding its demolition before a spirited individual saw the potential in an alternative use.  So, CSX saved by not tearing it down after all :) ).

I find it a bit humorous that a Jacksonville company made the Highline possible while the useless Skyway operates outside the windows of that same company's HQ's.

[Emphasis added]
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Believe it or not, the High Line was once destined for demolition. Luckily, the community rallied together to repurpose it instead, creating the park you see today, for everyone to enjoy. It has since become a global inspiration for cities to transform unused industrial zones into dynamic public spaces....

....The High Line’s public prospects waxed and waned through the decades. In 1991, the five blocks of the structure from Bank to Gansevoort streets were demolished when a warehouse was converted into an apartment building. In 1999, the High Line owner CSX Transportation opened to proposals for the structure’s reuse.

In the decades of disuse, many people were calling the High Line an ugly eyesore (Mayor Giuliani signed a demolition order, one of his last acts in office). But few of these critics saw what had secretly taken over the structure: a thriving garden of wild plants. Inspired by the beauty of this hidden landscape, Joshua David and Robert Hammond founded Friends of the High Line, a non-profit conservancy, to advocate for its preservation and reuse as a public space. Friends of the High Line remains the sole group responsible for maintenance and operation of the High Line (and is funded by supporters just like you).

To provoke dialogue about the High Line, in a time when its transformation into a park was not yet ensured, Friends of the High Line hosted an “ideas competition,” receiving 720 ideas from over 36 countries for ways the park might be used (including ideas that were neither realistic nor practical, like a rollercoaster, or a mile-long lap pool). At the time, few people had heard of the High Line; the competition helped drive both awareness and excitement....

....Four years after CSX Transportation donated ownership of the structure to the City of New York, and three years after first breaking ground (in April 2006), the first section of the High Line opened to the public from Gansevoort to 20th streets. High Line Art was founded in 2009, and continues every year to commission and produce artworks on and around the High Line.

https://www.thehighline.org/history/

Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #160 on: August 11, 2022, 04:36:23 PM »
Does the PD&E request include figuring out how to get the AVs from street level to the (even more) elevated track level?

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #161 on: August 11, 2022, 06:26:58 PM »
Does the PD&E request include figuring out how to get the AVs from street level to the (even more) elevated track level?

Yes.

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Ramp Design and System Integration: The ramp design should solve the requirement to connect Bay Street to the existing elevated guideway. The design should allow autonomous vehicles to travel from grade to above grade for continuous service operation to and from the superstructure and Bay Street utilizing a ramp or mechanical apparatus.
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Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #162 on: August 11, 2022, 06:53:23 PM »
Does the PD&E request include figuring out how to get the AVs from street level to the (even more) elevated track level?

Yes.

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Ramp Design and System Integration: The ramp design should solve the requirement to connect Bay Street to the existing elevated guideway. The design should allow autonomous vehicles to travel from grade to above grade for continuous service operation to and from the superstructure and Bay Street utilizing a ramp or mechanical apparatus.

That part of the report should be interesting.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #163 on: August 11, 2022, 07:18:56 PM »
Where exactly will the ramp be installed? Are they proposing to close Hogan Street or block street frontage at the former Sear's site? How does it integrate or accommodate the Emerald Trail? So many questions!
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Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #164 on: August 11, 2022, 07:42:48 PM »
Where exactly will the ramp be installed? Are they proposing to close Hogan Street or block street frontage at the former Sear's site? How does it integrate or accommodate the Emerald Trail? So many questions!

I envision an escalator-like structure (well, two, one up, one down) with each 'step' able to hold one of the AVs. It could be steeper than a ramp, since the AVs would remain "flat" on the step.