2019 to be a boom year for transit projects

Several commuter, heavy rail projects to open or begin construction
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A TEXRail train passes the station at Grapevine, Texas. The first new transit system of 2019, TEXRail began full service on Jan. 10.
Lance Lassen
Denver RTD's G Line, using the same equipment shown on the A Line route serving the airport, is expected to open in 2019.
TRAINS: David Lassen

First of two parts

Following 2018’s introduction of new streetcar lines in Milwaukee, El Paso, and Oklahoma City, among other projects, 2019 will see another round of significant new projects and extensions of current systems.

This year, at least 10 rail transit lines are expected to open across North America..An additional 28 projects are currently or planned to be under construction in 2019. Of these 38 systems, 29 are in the U.S., seven in Canada, and two in Mexico.

“It is clear that cities are committed to investing in improving their public transportation options and making living without a car more feasible,” says Yonah Freemark, who studies transportation and politics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Voters in 34 states approved more than $40 billion for transportation in November’s election, according to a report issued by the Eno Center for Transportation. Of 34 measures primarily directed toward transit, all but five passed.

Today, Trains News Wire looks at commuter and heavy rail projects. A look at light rail and continuing construction will follow on Wednesday.

The first new operation to roll in 2019 is TEXRail, a 27-mile commuter line connecting downtown Fort Worth with DFW International Airport. Revenue service began Jan. 10, with hourly round trips every day and 21 hours of service daily. By spring, 30-minute frequencies will operate during peak times on weekdays. Until Jan. 31, rides are free.

The Lone Star State will also see the start of construction on DART’s Cotton Belt Corridor, a 26-mile line from DFW to Plano. In December, DART awarded a $783 million design-build contract to Archer Western Herzog. Target completion is 2022. [See “Dallas Area Rapid Transit awards contracts to build Cotton Belt commuter line,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 26, 2018.]

The Denver Regional Transportation District G Line is currently testing and will open soon, serving northwest Denver along an 11-mile route connecting Union Station with Wheat Ridge. The line will be operated with Hyundai Rotem electric MU vehicles drawing power from a 25,000-volt overhead line. This is the same equipment currently in use on Denver’s A, B, and N Lines. Service was originally scheduled to begin in 2016 but has been delayed in part by the crossing-gate issues that have also plagued the A line to the Denver airport [See “Denver RTD report says tall buildings play a part in crossing-gate issues,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 18, 2018]

LA Metro’s Purple Line continues its slow creep westward. Being built in three sections, with the first two already under construction from the existing end of service at Wilshire and Western to Century City. The third section, which will take it an additional 2.56 miles to Westwood, is due to start construction this year.

In Southern California's Inland Empire, mainline construction will begin this year on the San Bernardino-Redlands "Arrow" project, with completion targeted for 2021. Connecting the San Bernardino Transit Center, served by Metrolink and Amtrak, to downtown Redlands and the University of Redlands, the 9-mile, $312-million project will use diesel multiple unit trains between those points, with rush-hour through Metrolink service to Los Angeles Union Station.

In Northern California, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit plans to open the Larkspur Extension later this year. Construction began in July 2017, which includes three bridges, a rehabilitated tunnel, and the new Larkspur station.

BART’s Barryessa Extension to the Silicon Valley line was due to open in 2017 but has been plagued by delays. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which is responsible for construction, learned last June that 1,100 pieces of computer networking gear that had been installed were either previously used or out of specification and would need to be replaced. The VTA has now told the Federal Transit Administration that the start of passenger service would be no later than Dec. 31, 2019.

In December, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) selected Walsh Construction and Fluor as the design-build team for phase one of its ambitious Red and Purple Modernization Program. The $1.2 billion project will extend the Red Line 5.3 miles to 130th Street, with four new stations. Construction is set to begin later this year.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority began work this week on the East Side Access project that will bring Long Island Railroad trains into Grand Central Terminal by 2022. The $11.1 billion price tag makes it the MTA’s largest capital project.

Mexico will open a new interurban line, Tren Interurbano Toluca, connecting Mexico City to the fast-growing Toluca Valley and city of Toluca. The 35-mile, $2 billion rail line is expected to carry 230,000 people a day.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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