View Full Version : Norman's Rail Future



venture
07-18-2013, 08:44 AM
We've been touching on this a bit in the high density and Lindsey St threads, but figured we need to break it out. As of right now the only proposed rail future for Norman is a commuter rail connection to Downtown OKC to go along with the existing single Amtrak trip. So I got to thinking about what it *could* look like if Norman wanted to look at a reason street car/light rail system. Obviously this is something we would be years away from, but with the reconstruction of our main highway crossing and the upcoming changes to Lindsey, it might not be a bad idea to plan. I would look at this as a replacement to most CART services in the city and also be a needed service to fully support commuter rail to the city. Size of the cars to use and such would be up for debate and I wouldn't expect a need for anything that great - except during events (OU games, festivals, etc).

Prelim map I drew up...

https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=216654750154515572193.0004e1bfeda002c8bcc7 7&msa=0&ll=35.216874,-97.448215&spn=0.12131,0.222988

http://www.weatherspotlight.com/screencap/jul13/normanlightrail.png

I hit most of the major business areas and locations with higher numbers of apartments. I largely left out the more suburban areas since there probably won't be enough density to justify it in that area.

Just a rough sketch to start some discussion.

jedicurt
07-18-2013, 09:18 AM
Very nice map. the only real change i would make right off the top of my head is on your blue line. at Rock Creek, instead of continuing up 24th to Techumseh and over to the hospital, i would cross 35 on Rock Creek, run it over to 36th, and take that up to Techumseh, then back to the east to the hospital. I think that allows you to have a stop just across the bridge to the east of 35 on Rock Creek (an optional stop, but seeing as that would service me quite well, i have proposed it), another at the corner of 36th and Rock Creek, to service the Senior Center, appartments and the walmart neighborhood market there. A stop somewhere between Rock Creek and Techumseh on 36th for all of the housing right there, and then a stop at the Hospital. I just think that would help to generate more riders by running it by those residential areas and still get it to the hospital.

kevinpate
07-18-2013, 09:32 AM
nm. I misread.

venture
07-18-2013, 09:54 AM
Very nice map. the only real change i would make right off the top of my head is on your blue line. at Rock Creek, instead of continuing up 24th to Techumseh and over to the hospital, i would cross 35 on Rock Creek, run it over to 36th, and take that up to Techumseh, then back to the east to the hospital. I think that allows you to have a stop just across the bridge to the east of 35 on Rock Creek (an optional stop, but seeing as that would service me quite well, i have proposed it), another at the corner of 36th and Rock Creek, to service the Senior Center, appartments and the walmart neighborhood market there. A stop somewhere between Rock Creek and Techumseh on 36th for all of the housing right there, and then a stop at the Hospital. I just think that would help to generate more riders by running it by those residential areas and still get it to the hospital.

Good call. I also added a new (Gold) line from the Healthplex down 36th and over on Main to the OU transit station on Boyd. The first idea just isolated NW Norman too much from being able to get to the mall area and Lindsey Street in a reasonable fashion. Of course this is mostly for fun. :)

http://www.weatherspotlight.com/screencap/jul13/normanlightrail-1.png

venture
07-18-2013, 09:56 AM
Norman Transcript's Editorial today...

Commuter rail studied Opinion The Norman Transcript (http://normantranscript.com/opinion/x2040128379/Commuter-rail-studied)


July 18, 2013Commuter rail studied
The Norman Transcript


NORMAN — A light rail or commuter rail system connecting central Oklahoma suburbs to downtown Oklahoma City has been top of mind for our city officials for many years. Norman has always been at the table seeking such a plan.

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments is studying the issue with its Regional Transit Dialogue Steering Committee. They’ve been holding meetings throughout the metro area to receive input on what such a system would look like.

It’s an 18-month study, but the issue has been on the table for years. The $1.25 million “Commuter Rail Corridor Analysis” is being conducted by URS Corporation for ACOG.

A commuter rail won’t happen without participation from cities, the state and the federal government. The cost is estimated to be between $2 billion and $3 billion for a separate light rail line and between $200 million to $300 million for a commuter line that uses existing rails.

Some boosters have speculated that a regional tax authority with dedicated revenues could be formed. Voters would have to say yes before any decisions are made.

Without the federal government as a player, the issue is about as doable as making the Canadian River navigable. A Norman link could take commuters to downtown Oklahoma City or the Capitol and Health Sciences Center. Students, faculty and staff who choose to live outside of Norman could ride the rail to Norman, just as commuters did decades ago on the old Interurban line.

Only one comment so far...


Evan Stair Top CommenterHere early in the 21st Century Oklahoma has a choice. The state and regions within the state can continue building and maintaining roads at a cost of about $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year (that is ODOT's budget) or understand that people's driving habits and travel needs are changing. Vehicle miles traveled are decreasing. Emerging hand held cyber devices are becoming a safety issue. Energy and other personal transportation costs are growing.

Developing commuter rail will be no more expensive than continuing status quo "highways only" construction. The chaos that is adding just one lane in each direction along I-35 will cost approximately $100 million. This cost is increasing due to typical and aggravating ODOT oversights.

Throwing big dollar figures at the public is a nice way to steer a conversation away from reasonable and necessary infrastructure development. Oklahoma needs to pull itself out of the 20th Century and start working on its future, not ruminating on its past.

venture
07-18-2013, 10:21 AM
So want to start putting in some specifics and get an idea of cost for this crazy system I came up with. If we go with a modern system like Portlands, we are looking at around $12 million per mile. If we look at Little Rock, we are down to $7 million per mile. So as far as specs for the lines...

Blue Line - 2.73 mi
Orange Line - 4.07 mi
Red Line / OU Loop - 5.59 mi
Green Line - 8.16 mi
Light Blue Line - 6.9 mi
Gold Line - 6.59 mi

Now there is going to be overlapping in the system, so that helps with reducing some costs there. However, I think some areas we'll want a double track especially on Main Street and if we want to a do trains going each direction and not just making a loop.

So total we are looking at 34.04 miles of track which brings the estimate to $408.5 million. If we do a similar train as Portland, we are looking at about $4 million per Skoda car (below). I think these will probably be too big for Norman on most of the circuits (OU Loop may be the exception and others during peak times). So using a smaller car can bring costs down. Federal matching funds usually are around 50% from what I've seen for these types of projects. So let's say if we do just 10 trains at first...total we are looking at is going to be around $450 million or $225 million that would need to be raised locally at the city and state level.


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4a/Portland_streetcar.jpg/800px-Portland_streetcar.jpg

CaptDave
07-18-2013, 10:28 AM
Something like this will be critical to making commuter rail successful in the OKC Metro. The "last mile" is often what makes using mass transit impractical for many people. OKC is moving ahead with the MAPS3 Streetcar project and it would be great to see Norman and Edmond do something similar to serve their downtown core and universities as a minimum. Extending the systems to outlying areas of town only makes it better.

kevinpate
07-18-2013, 10:38 AM
I get the RC change for the blue line, but if the office park and city park go into that presently empty zone on 24th N of rock creek, won't that area be a valid service area as well?

venture
07-18-2013, 10:43 AM
I get the RC change for the blue line, but if the office park and city park go into that presently empty zone on 24th N of rock creek, won't that area be a valid service area as well?

Well since I added the Gold Line in, I guess the (light) Blue Line could go back north of Rock Creek since the area across 35 would be served already. Well...except for that housing right there across the interstate. Maybe an option would be to create a loop from the Healthplex down Tecumseh across 35 and back south on 24th.

venture
07-18-2013, 10:49 AM
Something like this will be critical to making commuter rail successful in the OKC Metro. The "last mile" is often what makes using mass transit impractical for many people. OKC is moving ahead with the MAPS3 Streetcar project and it would be great to see Norman and Edmond do something similar to serve their downtown core and universities as a minimum. Extending the systems to outlying areas of town only makes it better.

Exactly. I see my idea as the fully realized product whereas something like this would obviously be rolled out in phases.

From a user cost perspective if the cost would be around $9 round trip for from Norman to work in SW OKC, I would dump the car in a heartbeat. In my example I could hope the Orange Line in Norman to the Boyd St station, get on our Commuter rail line up to Downtown (my example in the OKC thread) and connect to the train that goes by my work. Would travel time be longer? Probably. However, if I don't have to worry about traffic and the trains can be Wi-Fi equipped...I'm a happy camper.

jmpokc1957
07-18-2013, 11:13 AM
Portland has a great light rail system( MAX ) without a doubt, but the overall effect on the commute is questionable. If you're talking about the core downtown area then yes, commuting is practical. The problem is however, most of the jobs are spread out over the suburban area. It won't work for me as the nearest MAX stop is about a mile and a half away. OK in the summer but less favorable with 10 months of rain! I would suspect the OKC area suffers from the same suburban sprawl.

I do use the MAX to go downtown for restaurants, art museum, etc., but's it's more recreation oriented. I just don't like parking in downtown.

The MAX construction was expensive, but I suspect the $12 million/mile was probably due to boring a long tunnel a few hundred feet under the West Hills. OKC/Norman will not have that problem to deal with.

In terms of ridership cost, it has been increasing. A one day pass is $5 and a two hour pass is $2.50 at the current prices. That does include an extensive bus system as well as light rail and the Portland street car.

I like it but for me it's not a valid commuting option for work.


May get up to the 90's in the next few days. Heat wave in Portland!

Just the facts
07-18-2013, 11:23 AM
I think this would be a good first phase for Norman. It would require Main St to be converted to 2-way and would run counter-clockwise around the OU campus (so the stops are on the residential sides of the street).

http://i1178.photobucket.com/albums/x378/KerryinJax/NormanPhase1_zps4257a0ce.jpg (http://s1178.photobucket.com/user/KerryinJax/media/NormanPhase1_zps4257a0ce.jpg.html)

venture
07-18-2013, 11:35 AM
I think this would be a good first phase for Norman. It would require Main St to be converted to 2-way and would run counter-clockwise around the OU campus (so the stops are on the residential sides of the street).

Yeah that's not a bad one. My alignment is really based on the assumption that the commuter rail transit station is not going to be downtown. We've heard a claim that it will be on Brooks St, but Boyd makes more sense.

Geographer
07-18-2013, 11:37 AM
That line would be nice for traveling between the campus corner and main street pubs ;)

Geographer
07-19-2013, 07:35 AM
Since this is a light rail discussion, I thought I would share this downtown street view in San Diego (one of my favorite cities and downtown areas).

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=norman,+ok&ll=32.715777,-117.153576&spn=0.001084,0.001635&hnear=Norman,+Cleveland,+Oklahoma&gl=us&t=h&z=20&layer=c&cbll=32.715777,-117.153832&panoid=bnI9Ag7q8OQVMxwOJL39RQ&cbp=12,327.14,,0,-1.54