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Old 07-14-2008, 09:15 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
1,961 posts, read 6,175,525 times
Reputation: 983

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In spite of these current times, the though of more light rail options seems appealing to me and to expand beyond the footprint of Amtrak and the urban light rail systems of the likes of Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, and Denver. My idea is of an integrated rail system (high speed trains-100 mph) to increase the access to the people and to make it a convenient alternative to air travel. Many of these would follow the interstates and principal highways. Here are a few ideas in the South Dakota region.

An east to west rail route from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Sioux Falls, stopping in Mitchell, Chamberlain, Rapid City and eventually leading to Denver.

Another idea is a rail route from Winnepeg, MB to Fargo, then following I-29 to Kansas City and eventually down to either New Orleans or Texas. Definite stops would include Watertown, Brookings, Sioux Falls, Vermillion, and Sioux City, IA. Possible ones would be Sisseton, Beresford, and Summit.

One would go from Minneapolis to Denver and major stops include Mankato, Worthington, Sioux Falls, and Yankton. It would eventually the share Amtrak route in western Nebraska and veer southwest towards Denver with stops in North Platte, Sterling, and Fort Morgan.

There are a few others, but would like others to come up with ideas of good light rail routes. In theory, it would be nice. I understand there are money challenges and logistics challenges.

An idea that I have is to have the rental car company(ies) rent space near the train stations to make it handy for liesure and business travellers along with concessions.

Personally, I would like more light rail. Another option for travel. Do not have to put miles on the car and more scenic than flying. Possibly more efficient if the concept catches on.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:32 PM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
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Very good thoughts Chris. I believe that soon more Americans will consider rail for long distance travel. High fuel prices and high airfares may be the ruin of today's travel methods. We can all take Europe as a great example. When I visited France a few years back, I took the TGV from Paris to Nice. We got there in 3/4 the time of a plane and it cost half as much!
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:39 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
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For a state like South Dakota, for example, there would be two or three cross routes initially for trains to travel through and stop in cities over 10,000 or in key points such as Chamberlain, US-12 by Summit and I-29, or US 83 in Murdo or Vivian Junction near I-90. If it proves successful, then it could be expanded to cover more areas. The rental car places would work the best in larger communities such as Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Omaha (definitely), and Denver (definitely).
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:56 PM
 
Location: So. Dak.
13,495 posts, read 34,065,470 times
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Wow, you're having a "good thinking" day. I'd love to see light rail here, but don't know if they'll consider it with our small population. I really don't like driving and it's starting to get expensive to travel. Air travel is looking astronomical and I thought it cost enough before. If things continue the way they are, our vacations will be something like a drive out to the Hills or over to Sx. Falls. Have you read anything recently about them considering something like that for us?

Danny, that is cool. I didn't know you've been out of the country.
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Old 07-15-2008, 04:27 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
733 posts, read 4,195,581 times
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There are already "heavy rail" lines going to most places you've mentioned. Using a Budd car - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budd_Rail_Diesel_Car - or some similar conveyance would seem to make good sense. The concept of "interurban rail" was around years ago and then fell off the map courtesy of the growing car culture.

Keep thinking - NEW ideas and OLD BUT GOOD ideas are the ONLY way we're going to get out of the energy and lack of mass transit mess we are in.

Last edited by windtimber; 07-15-2008 at 04:31 PM.. Reason: Fixed the URL to the Budd car entry at wikipedia and correcting a couple typos.
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Old 07-15-2008, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 36,451,684 times
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There are problems with light rail now days.

Years ago, when the railroad was put in, they demanded and took property. But the people didn't mind because the railroad brought products and industry into the area. If the railroad didn't go through your town, you were doomed to fail and many towns did.

With Light rail now, are people going to give up land without a fight?

If Greyhound was running full busses across the state and having to add busses, then it would make sense. But they've actually cut back on busses and the ones that do run, have 4 or 5 people on it. They've cut back on routes also. There are a lot of towns that Greyhound doesn't serve anymore.

I do agree with you that it is needed, badly. But I wonder how much of a fight they're going to have getting it to happen?

They already have land. All they'd have to do is run the tracks right down the median of the interstate. Then they would have to buy land. They could make it raised tracks with stops in the major cities. But alas, that won't happen. It makes sense so they'll never do it. haha
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Old 07-15-2008, 04:48 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
733 posts, read 4,195,581 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElkHunter View Post
...With Light rail now, are people going to give up land without a fight?...They already have land. All they'd have to do is run the tracks right down the median of the interstate. Then they would have to buy land. They could make it raised tracks with stops in the major cities. But alas, that won't happen. It makes sense so they'll never do it. haha
Take a look at the entry about interurbans from the turn of the 20th Century - Interurban - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - particularly the entry under "North America." Your comments reflect on of the OLD GOOD ideas - "To minimize cost of construction, an interurban typically ran along public right-of-way, either next to a public highway in rural areas, or within city streets in urban areas. It was somewhat less common for interurbans to have lengthy stretches of private right-of-way."

SD used to own miles and miles of rail right-of-way purchased during an early Janklow administration. The better located portions were, you'll recall, sold to BNSF by the Rounds administration. Maybe we got rid of that too soon? Good thinking, eh?
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:43 PM
 
Location: S.F.
509 posts, read 1,212,858 times
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Those are pretty interesting....It would be interesting to see a rail line somewhat similar to what Minneapolis/Minnesota is doing between Bloomington and Downtown Minneapolis and soon St. Paul, Duluth and St. Cloud......

Minneapolis Hiawatha Light Rail: Success Story

But you also have to realize the cost involved with this project as well.....This website has some figures for the NorthStar Line (Big Lake to Minneapolis...)
Facts and Figures : Northstar Commuter Rail (broken link)

It will save alot of time and environmental concerns but it also costs loads of money...I think that the 15 stations, 11 miles from downtown Minneapolis to St Paul over Washington Avenue (a big well traveled street) is near $1 billion dollars, if you figure its about 400 miles width wise and you figure about what stations every 5-10 miles? or so, thats about 80 different stations plus.....i'd guess the final cost is at least $20 billion or so more than likely a lot higher....Any ideas on funding? Especially with the projected transportation shortfall in the state and the economy as a whole......

good ideas though!
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Old 07-15-2008, 08:03 PM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
3,940 posts, read 13,339,392 times
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The light rail has been a huge success for Denver. It's much cheaper to take the light rail from Highlands Ranch and Littleton to Denver than it is to drive along congested I-25. I was in Denver last summer and I got stuck in a traffic jam going between Highlands Ranch and Denver. The light rail zipped by and made me realize how efficient it was!

TheRide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:16 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
1,961 posts, read 6,175,525 times
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As for funding, we as society need to get creative. If there is a will, there is a way. The transit system should focus on making travel convenient, affordable, and practical. An idea would be having the trains ride in the median of the interstate. There would need to be barrier walls between the passing lane shoulder and the train tracks on each side of the interstate. Another one would be to have the train run parallel to the interstate and have stops in major stopping points such as Mitchell, Chamberlain, Wall, Rapid, etc.

Some challenges would be cost (of course), drainage, right of way (if the rail runs parallel to the interstate on the side), and drainage (if it runs on the median). A little creativity with lessons from the past can guide us in building a better light rail system. Heck, why not build the best light rail system in the world and spark innovation and an economic renaissance.
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