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7025Re: Fwd: [UrbanMaglev] "A Streetcar Named Disaster" HoustonReview 2/4 (at-grade LRT vs. ..)

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  • Greg Steele
    Mar 9, 2004
      Thank you Karen for pointing out that the author of the story was "A
      conservative student monthly serving the Houston area." I think that
      may have something to do with Peter's reaction. I have to admit
      after reading the article I had to get up and take a short walk to
      cool off. The tone of the article has a "see, told ya it wouldn't
      work" feeling to it that reflects poorly on both Texans and Americans
      (from the US – sorry I know Canada, Mexico and the rest of two
      continents have the right to be called Americans, but that is another
      issue). It is the article not you as the poster is pushing some
      buttons.

      One thing with the article that really burned me up was the whining
      about $340 million. That is NOT a lot of money for a transportation
      improvement project, but when you use a figure like, without putting
      it in perspective it seems like a lot. I did a quick query of
      Pennsylvania's department of transportation's constructions projects
      database (I have access to this at work). Most projects for standard
      road repair are about between $10 and $20 million that is just for
      fixing pot-wholes, resurfacing, etc. And there are three projects
      this year over $340 million.

      I am sure there was a design option to put the light-rail on its own
      right-of-way, but that option would have been much more expensive and
      people like the one who wrote this article would have been the ones
      to shoot it down.

      As to a discussion of safety and light-rail sharing right-of-ways,
      Philadelphia has continuously operated trolleys on the street for
      about a hundred years now. A collision is a very usual event I can
      only recall one, about four years ago. Another good example is the
      streetcar in New Orleans. In parts in operates in the same right-of-
      way as cars (including going around Lee Circle) and then operates on
      the median of a high traffic roads where car traffic makes left turn
      across the rail (often without the aid of a signal). While living
      there for three years I cannot remember any collisions. In
      conclusion, I do think that it is something people need to learn how
      to co-exist with, not as both article seem to be saying - a design
      fault of the system. Neither the New Orleans or Philadelphia systems
      have good signage (some cases none) at crossing. You just grow up
      knowing that the streetcar can't stop quickly and regardless if you
      hit it or it hits you it is your fault.
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