Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Overlooked Link- Bus Stop Stations

Constructing innovative bus stop stations would do much to popularize the use of bus and van service yet get strangely overlooked by most of the pro transit community.


Unmanned transit platforms, floating in the outside plane, can be lonely nowhere-lands in the anxious midst of travel. Or, under the "Prettig Wachten" campaign in the Netherlands, they can become cozy havens, reclaiming the time spent waiting as leisure. For the platform at Barneveld Noord station, NL Architects designed a refuge out of glass and shipping containers, creating a strip of space on the platform that is both protected and unobtrusive. A section within the glass enclosure is reserved for a cafe — a massive upgrade from the decrepit vending machine soldier, stationed far from civilization. While the black containers and neutral glass gives the structure a simple, easily reproducible form, the silhouette of a golden hen sits on top, individuating its location to Barneveld, 'egg capital' of the Netherlands.

Project Description from NL Architects:

"ProRail, responsible for the railway network in the Netherlands, together with the so called spoorbouwmeester Koen van Velsen (‘the national supervisor for railway architecture’) started a campaign to make waiting more comfortable: Prettig Wachten."

 "Travelers experience waiting on a station as much longer then waiting within a vehicle. Surveys have indicated that waiting time is experienced as 3 times longer than it actually is. In this respect especially small and medium sized stations proof a big challenge. These smaller stations are usually unmanned, desolate, often creating a sense un-safety. What can we do to improve them?"

"The waiting areas of in total twenty stations throughout the country will be upgraded, both functionally and cosmetically: introduction of washrooms, wifi, floor heating, railway TV. Or Art!

One of the keys to the success of Prettig Wachten is to introduce human presence on these stations, to create some sort of informal supervision. An effort is made to create small multifunctional shops. In Wolvega for instance a flower shop will be opened, the florist will also be serving coffee and will even be cleaning the restrooms."

"In Barneveld Noord a bike-repair shop will be included run by people that are ‘differently able’. They will contribute to the maintenance and hopefully prevent the broken window syndrome.

In Barneveld Noord a new station will be build. Well station, perhaps more a bus-stop. But then again, quite an intriguing bus-stop…"

"It is supposed to be a temporary structure. Hence the station will be built out of shipping containers. The containers contain space, but also form space.

They will be combined into an explicit arrangement. Together they form an ambiguous but strong sign. Minimum effort, maximum output."

 "Three containers are ‘suspended’ in the air. Together they form a ‘roof’. One contains the installations, the other storage. The third will be opened at the bottom. It forms the headroom for the enclosed but fully transparent waiting area, creating a double high space."

"The fourth container is flipped to an upright position. It makes an instant tower. The tower contains a clock. And a wind vane. Since Barneveld is the egg capital of the Netherlands — the station is located on the so-called Chicken Line — not the typical rooster will be mounted, but a gilded chicken.

Project Details and Credits:
Project: Barneveld Noord Train station in the framework of Prettig Wachten, 2011, completion 2013
Initiative ‘Prettig Wachten’ and Supervision: Spoorbouwmeester Koen van Velsen / ProRail
Client: ProRail
NL Architects: Pieter Bannenberg, Walter van Dijk, Kamiel Klaasse
Project Architect: Gerbrand van Oostveen
Team: Kirsten Hüsig, Barbara Luns, Gert Jan Machiels and Gen Yamamoto with Aude Robert and Christian Asbo
Consultant: Movares
Contractor: Strukton

The tower holds a lavatory, 11.998mm high, topped by a glass roof. Royal Flush."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Planning For Hartford CT I-84 Reconstruction

One of Connecticut's most heavily used freeway segments, used by some 170,000+ vehicles daily.

I-84 in northwestern Hartford Connecticut is largely upon a viaduct, and feeds into a trenched northern east west segment that is partially lidded.

Recent planning to reconstruct this northwestern segment aims to reconstruct this freeway segment, perhaps radically reconfiguring it to have it fit better within the local landscape.

The freeway options include a more attractive viaduct, with or without a short tunnel segment, a lowered road/trench with the short tunnel segment, or a longer tunnel.

An earlier option to replace this freeway segment with a surface street-boulevard has been abandoned as not meeting the project's needs and in presenting a greater local barrier of the heavy stream of I-84 traffic.

Short Tunnel with Viaduct Segment

Viaduct and Lowered Roadway-Tunnel Options

Complicating this project is the adjacent rail corridor which crosses to the east and then back to the west of the freeway.

Lowering the railroad would be more difficult owing to the requirement to keep the gradient under 1%, and relocating it to the highway's east would  not reduce the number of its crossings with the highway.   However, relocating the railroad to be entirely west of the highway would only require relocating a short stretch of the railroad while eliminating its crossings with this freeway project segment.  Thus, the project might relocate the segment of that railroad to remain upon the highway's western side, though that would thus place the highway between the railroad and the Amtrak station, that could be accommodated with that highway segment as cut and cover.


Baseline—Enhanced Viaduct:
Highway replaced with
enhanced viaduct structure

Alternative Concept 1:
Highway replaced with enhanced
viaduct structure; improved connections across highway- includes short tunnel segment in the vicinity of the Amtrak Station

Alternative Concept 2:
Viaduct replaced by surface roadway; rail line relocated to north side of I-84; city reconnected
across highway- includes short tunnel segment in the vicinity of the Amtrak Station

Alternative Concept 3:
Viaduct replaced by tunnel, including that in the vicinity of the Amtrak Station, but extending southwards past the Aetna Center; rail
line relocated to north side of I-84; city reconnected across highway

Choose either options #3 or #4.

Reconstruct elevated portion of I-91 in tunnel or in trench that is partially lidded as tunnel, and designed to have additional segments subsequently lidded, as per Cincinnati's I-71 Fort Washington Way project.

Although the current official planning merely addresses I-84, there are voices calling for the project to include a short cut and cover tunnel spur to connect with the already constructed Whitehead Freeway, as per the previous proposal for an I-484 Colon Whitehead Connector.


I-484 Tunnel beneath Bushnell Park

Such a connector could be updated by constructing new lids atop the Whitehead trenched freeway, near Pulaski Circle to the west and to Columbus Boulevard to the east.  Lower the Whitehead roadbed to clear the historic overhead crossing so as to provide 2 lanes in each direction.  Or disassemble and reassemble that historic bridge relocated into a new location, and perhaps build the connector with 3 lanes per direction.
I-484/Colon Whitehead Connector
I-484/Colon Whitehead Connector
I-484/Colon Whitehead Connector

Likewise, the ramp connections from the west could be covered as a part of a project reconstructing the adjoining I-84 segment as a lidded- cut and cover tunnel.

Such a connection would be unobtrusive as a tunnel, and serve as a relief route from the northern Hartford CT I-84 segment.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wheel Guards For Large Vehicles

a somewhat uncharacteristically sensible set of safety equipment suggestions from Streetsblog




These are simple relatively inexpensive plastic and or rubber devices that are easily retrofit-table to existing trucks and buses.

Such devices could save many lives by preventing cyclists and pedestrians from being crushed by the vehicle's tires.

And they could even provide superior aerodynamics for such vehicles at freeway speeds, thus saving fuel.

We have already benifited from requiring the installation of such devices as metal frames on the rear of large trucks to prevent errant vehicles from sliding beneath.

Under-ride Guard


Technically called a Rear Under-run Protection System (RUPS), this is a rigid assembly hanging down from the bottom rear of the trailer, which is intended to provide some protection for passenger cars which collide with the rear of the trailer. Public awareness of this safeguard was increased in the aftermath of the accident that killed actress Jayne Mansfield on 29 June 1967, when the car she was in hit the rear of a tractor-trailer, causing fatal head trauma. After her grisly death, the NHTSA recommended requiring a rear under-ride guard, also known as a Mansfield bar, or an ICC bar,[14][15] but the trucking industry has been slow to upgrade this safety feature.[16]

The bottom rear of the trailer is near head level for an adult seated in a car, and without the under-ride guard, the only protection for such an adult's head in a rear-end collision would be the car's windshield. Because of the height mismatch between a passenger car bumper and the much-higher height of the platform of a trailer, the car's protective crush zone becomes irrelevant and air bags are ineffective in protecting the car passengers, if the under-ride guard is missing or inadequate.[16]

In addition to rear under-ride guards, truck tractor cabs may be equipped with a Front Under-run Protection System (FUPS) at the front bumper of the truck. The safest tractor-trailers are also equipped with side under-ride guards, also called Side Under-run Protection System (SUPS). These additional barriers prevent passenger cars from skidding underneath the trailer from the side, such as in an oblique or side collision, or if the trailer jackknifes across the road. In addition to safety benefits, these under-ride guards may improve fuel mileage by reducing air turbulence under the trailer at highway speeds.

Another benefit of having a sturdy under-ride guard is that it may be secured to a loading dock with a hook to prevent trailer creep, a movement of the trailer away from the dock, which opens up a dangerous gap during loading or unloading operations.[17]

Yet U.S. federal Officials at U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are delaying the implementation of safety standards requiring the deployment of plastic and or rubber guards to reduce pedestrian and cyclists deaths and injuries.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Improving NewYork's Syracuse I-81 Reconstruction Plan

So far the official planning for the reconstruction of I-81 through downtown Syracuse New York:

Sandbags below ground freeways with inadequate and wasteful designs.

Tunnels that are either needlessly deep or long thus increasing construction costs.

With downtown tunnels and open trench designs all hobbled by need to connect with existing elevated I-690 segment, thus presenting ramps that sever street intersections.

Thus leaving the sole freeway option of a rebuilt viaduct  -- without any discussion of innovative underside design.

With the sole remaining no freeway option of a mere boulevard, that's going to cost $1+ Billion anyway, effectively steering the decision process to that latter option.

These were the downtown freeway options considered:

Syracuse Lowered I-81 Option



T-1 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK East to Butternut Street $2.651 Billion

T-2 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK to Genesee Street $1.761 Billion

T3 Townsend Street Tunnel under Oakwood Avenue and Townsend Street from about MLK East to Butternut Street-- $2.643 Billion


T4 Eastern Alignment Tunnel $3.298 Billion


DH-1  Depressed Highway from Adams Street to Butternut Street- $1.751 Billion

DH-2 Depressed Highway from Adams Street to Genesee Street- $1.503 Billion
Syracuse Elevated I-81 Options

V-2  New Viaduct Fully Improved to Current Standards- $1.438 Billio

V3 New Viaduct with Substantial Design Improvements- $1.423 Billion

The difference in the downtown Almond Street Tunnel and Trench Options is the location of the northern end: either Genesse Street to south of  I-690, or Butternut Street to the north.

Because of the ramp connections to elevated I-690, the tunnel and trench options would severe a number of local streets: Erie Boulevard, Water Street, Washington Street, Fayette Street, Almond Street (to Northside), McBride Street(to Northside), and VanBuren Street.

Meanwhile, the options to eliminate the freeway for a surface boulevard were all at about $1.0 billion.

Syracuse I-81 Tunnel Options Officially Considered

Of the 4 tunnel options, 3 are cut and cover, with 2 that follow the existing I-81 right of way, yet have their roofs some 20 feet below ground, significantly deeper than simply a lidded trenched freeway.

The 4th tunnel option is moled-drilled, way to the east on a far longer and deeper route.


The official planning in 2014 concluded:

(see the "conclusions" at page 24: page 32 on the pdf indicator):

a tunnel would be prohibitively expensive

Depressed highway would create a new barrier that
would be more difficult for cars and pedestrians to cross
and create accessibility problems for people with


The least expensive tunnel - T-2 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK to Genesee Street - would cost $1.761 Billion, while the open trench and replacement viaduct options range from $1.4 to 1.75 Billion.

With excavation depth a considerable factor in the cost of cut and cover tunnel construction, why did the official planning consider cut and cover tunnels that are deeper than necessary.

What about a shallow tunnel -  aka a covered version of the proposed depressed freeway?

The open trench option meanwhile is presented with zero consideration of adding a roof.

Note the two options that are roughly similar in length:

 T-1 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK East to Butternut Street $2.651 Billion

 DH-1  Depressed Highway from Adams Street to Butternut Street- $1.751 Billion

That represents a difference of $900 million between a tunnel and an open trench.

How much less would such an option to build a tunnel, but as a covered version of the shallower excavation of DH-1?

That would reduce construction costs over a deeper excavation, yet is NOT included in the study.

Nor were any options for a depressed freeway that is designed to support the subsequent addition of a roof thus presenting the option of spreading out some of the costs over time, like Cincinnati's I-71 Fort Washington Way.

And with the downtown tunnel and trench options being dropped due to the issue of the severing of the street grid, why did the officials only consider downtown tunnel and trench proposals that did such owing to the requirement to maintain connections with the existing elevated I-690 segment?

But why maintain connections to an outdated elevated highway segment that will eventually need replacing?

If we are really serious about reconnecting downtown Syracuse, we would ultimately plan to do something regarding the eventual reconstruction of I-690, perhaps lowering that into a trench would could be covered over with parkland and new real estate development.  Imagine both freeways dropping underground to cross beneath N. Salina Street, with I-690 remaining below grade at least until N. Crouse Avenue?

Doing all of that now would likely be considered too expensive for a single project.

But why deny the opportunity to lower and tunnel the north-south I-81 segment.  And why hobble downtown Syracuse with major investments in ramp connections that sever the downtown for the existing outdated elevated downtown I-690 segment.

Instead, build a downtown I-81 Tunnel that disregards such connections and is of sufficient length to pass to the north side of I-690, that is, to Butternut Street.  Yet one that leaves space/design flexibility to add such connections later in a future project to lower that downtown portion of I-690: a latter project that could be partially funded by the sale of air rights over the newly lowered I-690 segment.

Such is the potential of a recent political initiative of a group of elected officials are challenging this study.

They are calling for a 'hybrid' option of a cut and cover tunnel beneath a new surface boulevard as the best of all worlds, via a design by Destiny USA.

This design extends the cut and cover I-81 Tunnel north of I-690 to Butternut Street, as per the official "T-1" option.

However, it does so without the ramp connections to I-690.

(Thus this design eliminating most of the street severings- leaving only that for a one block segment of East Water Street, immediately next to an Erie Boulevard that would remain continuous, while providing a new traffic circle with its intersection with Almond Street.)

And it is about 1,500 feet shorter at its southern end, extending not to MLK Boulevard, but only to East Taylor Street.

Thus it should be somewhat less expensive then the $2.6 Billion of the "T-1" option.

No word if this design has the shallow excavation of the trench options as "DH-1", or deeper as with the cut and cover options as "T-1".

If the authorities object to the lack of connections with I-690, they could deal with this in a staged manner:

- Construct a "u" turn ramp from I-81 nb to sb to the north, perhaps in the vicinity of West Court Street.  In conjunction with the already planned new flyovers from I-81 to the north and I-690 to the west, this would allow all of the movements of the I-81/I-690 interchange. 

- incorporate stub connectors for direct connections into the new tunnel, perhaps fully building the I-81 nb to I-690 eb ramp, as the easiest to construct, with it emerging just east of Almond Street with some 1,000 feet to rise to merge with I-690 before North Crouse Avenue; and build the short segment of the I-690 wb to I-81 sb underground ramp that would pass directly beneath the new I-81 tunnel, but deferring its completion and that of the others to a future project to depress the downtown segment of I-690.

Such would eliminate the need to construct lengthy ramps that would sever the downtown street grid for connecting to an elevated freeway that would one day need replacing- and preferably lowing and covering.

Building only a single underground ramp connection that splits off to the right -- northbound I-81 to eastbound I-690 - and a stub connection for an underground connection from westbound I-690 to southbound I-81 would be the minimum requirement for incorporation into the current project.

The other ramp connections would be accomplished with the "u" turn ramp in the West Court Street area, in conjunction with the elevated connections between I-81 from the north and I-690 from the west.

Use some of the money from this design economization to make the downtown I-81 Tunnel wider with at least 3 or preferably 4 lanes per direction.

And keep an eye on the design to accommodate future projects to lower I-81 to the south and the downtown segment of east-west I-690.

The I-81 Destiny USA hybrid tunnel-boulevard plan is a definite step in the right direction.