Hartford Headlines: The Downtown Stadium Wars Continue

 

Plans for the new Rock Cats stadium in Hartford. (Courtesy of the City of Hartford )

Plans for the new Rock Cats stadium in Hartford. (Courtesy of the City of Hartford )

One Team, Two Cities, and None are HappyThe New York Times

After announcing that the city had lured the New Britain Rock Cats, a Double-A Minnesota Twins affiliate, to a new home 15 miles a way in Hartford’s beleaguered North End neighborhood back in June, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has withdrawn a $60 million plan that would have financed a new stadium using public funds.

City residents, and members of the Hartford city council, have been openly critical of Mayor Segarra’s plan that would fund a redevelopment project north of I-84 that includes a new 9,000 seat stadium. Now it appears city officials will seek a private partner to finance much of that money, in what Segarra described as a “public-private partnership.”

City officials issued on July 2 a request for proposals for construction of the baseball stadium and downtown retail and residential development. The request indicates that Hartford will open bids on Aug. 1 — the deadline for developers to submit their plans — and award the contract on Aug. 18.

Complete Coverage

Officials Optimistic about CTFastrak Bus Rapid Transit Line WTIC Fox CT

Officials involved with the CTfastrak say the 9.4 mile busway from New Britain to Hartford is on track to open in March 2015.  The Department of Transportation estimates construction of the 10-station system is around 70-75 percent complete. Once the busway is rolling, DOT estimates it will eventually generate 16,000 rides daily and 4 million rides a year.

‘Streets’

  • Heaven is Here: Hartford’s First Skate Park is Officially Open – The Hartford Courant
  • Waterbury: $19.2 Million Investment Package to Continue Downtown Revitalization – The Valley Gazette

Roads/Parking

 Transit

Development

Urban Planning

  • East Hartford Adopts New 10-Year Plan Reflecting Modest Growth and Demographic Changes – The Hartford Courant

Around Connecticut

  • Malloy Approves Funding for Second Train Station in Bridgeport – Connecticut Post
  • Facing a New Master Plan, Development Interests in Stamford Square Off – Greenwich Time
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Austin Headlines: Urban Rail Plan Taking Shape (again)

Source: City of Austin.

Source: City of Austin.

Austin’s urban rail unveiled: Highland Mall to East Riverside DriveAustin American-Statesman

Ben Wear – Officials proposed a nine-mile route that would run from the emerging Austin Community College campus at Highland Mall through the University of Texas, downtown and along East Riverside Drive to Grove Boulevard. The proposal is expected to take final form this summer, where the Austin City Council will decide by August whether to put a bond proposal on the November ballot.

At the moment, there are a host of unknowns: the cost of construction; annual operating costs and what entity or entities would cover those costs; who will run the line; where the train would have its own dedicated corridor; and where stations would be located. A huge question mark is how and when the line will cross Lady Bird Lake. The final recommendation that will be put to the City Council, along with details about stations, train technology, financing and governance of the line, is expected emerge by April.

South Austin’s beleaguered Violet Crown Trail moves ahead despite setbacks – Community Impact

The proposed Violet Crown Trail is a 30-mile network of trails from Zilker Park to south of FM 967 in Hays County. So far, the trail’s first phase — 5 miles of walkways in Zilker Park — has been built. Attention is now focusing on the second phase of the trail, a 7-mile segment that will link Sunset Valley to the Veloway, a popular closed cycling and skating loop, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Construction is expected to get underway by early summer. For more information, see here.

Austin City Council Votes to Lower Occupancy Limits – KUT News

Council took the issue of so-called  “stealth dorms” to task, passing a resolution to lower the number of unrelated adults allowed to live in a single-family home from six to four. Some argue these living arrangements provide affordability for Austinites because of the rising price of Austin real estate, while others say they lead to parking and trash problems that disrupt neighborhoods and lower property values.

‘Streets’

  • Bicycle Bridge Project Begins on Mopac in South Austin – TxDOT
  • Permanent food trailer court to open at 1-acre Barton Springs Road site – The Daily Texan

Bicycling

  • Twice as many people as anticipated have used Austin B-cycle in it’s first two months – Austin Post

Transit

  • Is Capital Metro’s new MetroRapid service leaving bus riders behind? KUT News
  • Capital Metro plans to remove nearly all buses from Congress Avenue – Austin Business Journal
  • Rail or fail: Austin mayor touts urban rail in final State of the City address – Community Impact

Roads/Parking

  • Heading for the hills? West Lake has a vintage bottleneck – Austin American-Statesman
  • Transportation planners could add lanes to Highway 183 in Northwest Austin – KVUE
  • TxDOT proposes closing Woodland access to I-35 to ease congestion – Austin Post

Development projects

Green spaces/Leisure

Around Texas

  • Judge Strikes Down New Braunfels’ River ‘Can Ban’ – KUT News
  • With three new companies, Temple sees fruits of energy boom – Austin Business Journal
  • At DFW, a DART Orange Line connection to downtown Dallas mere months away – Dallas News Transportation Blog
  • TxDOT to Dallas: Elevated highway separating Deep Ellum from downtown will remain for the foreseeable future – Planetizen
  • Turning Urban Blight into Urban Amenity: Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Promenade – Metropolis

Regional Matters

Urban Rail in Austin: City’s Expanded Plan

With a possible vote on the first segment looming in November, the City of Austin has added 10 miles of track to the 16.5-mile, $1.3 billion urban rail system proposal that has long been public. The newest map released by Capital Metro imagines rail lines extending south, west and north of the urban core and Central Business District:

North of the Colorado River, the map shows two westward extensions to MoPac (at 5th St. and 35th. St.), and a extension to the Crestview MetroRail Station in North Central Austin. In South Austin, rail will run down Congress Avenue to Southpark Meadows. Additionally, a line would run east-west on West Riverside Drive past Auditorium Shores. Previous versions have been criticized for being too downtown-centric and for bypassing the vital north-south Lamar/Guadalupe corridor. Here’s what the old map (from 2009):

Proposed Urban Rail System. 2009.

Proposed Urban Rail System. 2009.

According to the new map, the city intends for rail to cross Lake Lady Bird on a new bridge near Waller Creek. Whereas the plan previously considered using the existing Congress Avenue, Austin Transportation’s Department now envisions a “statement bridge” reserved for trains, buses, bikes and pedestrians.

There are several problems with this proposed route that are beyond the scope of the post (e.g., Lamar Boulevard), and the Austin City Council has yet to release a price estimate. That should happen within the month, at which point the proposed routes will need to be examined more closely.

Moscow’s Impressive Railway Terminals (PHOTOS)

Russia’s vast network of railroads all lead to Moscow, and the city has rail terminals for long-distance passenger trains that are so vital here. Each terminal is named after the direction served; for example, passengers traveling to the Ukraine must depart from the “Kiyevsky” Terminal. Constructed between 1890-1930, they are located throughout Moscow:

Belorussky Station / Беларускі вакзал
Service to Kaliningrad, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Kazansky Station / Каза́нский вокза́
Service to Central Asia, Ryzan, Ufa, Samara and Novorosk.

Kiyevsky Rail Terminal / Кіеўскі вакзал
Service to Ukraine and southeastern Russia.

Kursky Station / Ку́рский вокза́л
Service to southern Russia, the Caucasus, Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea.

Leningradsky Station / Ленингра́дский вокза́л
Service to St. Petersburg, Finland, Estonia and northwest Russia.

Paveletsky Station / Павелецкий вокзал
Service to Vornezh, Tambov, Volgograd and Astrakhan.


Rizhsky Station / Рижский вокзал
Service to Latvia.

Savyolovsky Station / Савёловский вокза́л
Service to Kostroma, Cherepovets and Vologda.

Yaroslavlsky Station / Яросла́вский вокза́л
Service to Siberia, Russian Far East, Mongolia and China.

For Austin, Wheels in Motion for Bus Rapid Transit by 2014

It’s been a little over two years since MetroRail debuted as Austin’s urban rail. Following a trend that started in Latin America and has spread throughout the world, Austin says it is preparing to break ground on a high-capacity rapid bus. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is coming to Austin.

Thanks in large part to Department of Transportation grant that will fund 80% of the project, construction of a two-route, $47.6 million rapid-bus system known as MetroRapid will begin this fall. The FTA’s Very Small Starts program will cover some 80 percent $47.6 million total cost.

Capital Metro says MetroRapid can anticipate at least 20,000 daily boardings after the service opens. Plans include two high-capacity, rapid bus lines that would run north-south across the city for a total of 37.5 miles. The North Lamar Boulevard/South Congress Avenue line will run for a total of 21 miles from Tech Ridge Park and Ride to Southpark Meadows. The Burnet/South Lamar Boulevard will total 16 miles and will run from North Austin Medical Center to Westgate Transit Center.


Like other BRT systems, MetroRapid will feature sleek, modern buses that are more efficient and have greater passenger amenities on the bus and at the station that a standard bus. MetroRapid’s fleet will consists of 60 accordion-style buses is expected to run at intervals of 10-15 minutes from 5am to 1am – much shorter than anything Austinites are used to.

The buses would arrive by 2014, and the lines would open after completion of 70 stations that would be located every mile or so, on both sides of the street. Each of these “Enhanced Bus Stops” with a bench, system map, standard route sign and a real-time digital display of anticipated arrival times.

Austins’s far from the only city in North America looking to BRT. In Texas alone, both San Antonio and El Paso
expect to open their own BRT systems within the next 1-3 years.