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Marybeth Luczak, Editor-in-Chief

Work is underway to extend SunRail commuter rail service from Central Florida 12.2 miles north. (Solar track)

STV provides engineering design services for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) SunRail Extension Project. Additionally, Amtrak continues to work on improving station accessibility; Brightline, Florida’s private-sector passenger railroad, will sell up to $1 billion in tax-free debt to cover its Orlando expansion; The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is working on an equitable transit-focused development plan for the 95th Street Corridor; The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) is studying three light rail options for the 4.5-mile C-line extension; and Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) extended its contract with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 757.

STV August 11 signed a contract to support the 12.2 mile SunRail North Phase 2 project in Central Florida. Herzog Contracting Corp. is the prime contractor for the $34 million commuter rail design-build project that will extend the system north from DeBary Station to DeLand Amtrak Station in Volusia County.

STV’s engineering design service scope of work includes four miles of double track; communications and electrical engineering at SunRail’s new DeLand station; and the total rehabilitation of the Beresford Lake Park pedestrian tunnel.

“This project will reduce traffic congestion for travelers and strengthen a connection between residential areas in Volusia County and the Orlando employment center,” said Robert Burnett, STV’s Senior Director of Special Projects.

SunRail currently operates over 49 miles with 16 stations across Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties. The commuter rail launched in May 2014 with a 32-mile, 12-station line, and service began on its 17-mile, four-station southern extension in July 2018.

(Rendered courtesy of Redvertex)

AmtrakThe station accessibility improvement project ended in Effingham, Illinois, while another began at New York Penn Station.

The New York Penn Station project will add an elevator to the 7th Avenue and 32nd Street entrance to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and help serve passengers with rolling luggage, strollers and other heavy objects. Work is also underway to widen that entrance and replace the stairs and two existing escalators with three transit-friendly escalators, according to Amtrak.

The entrance’s redesign, “America’s Railroad” reported, “is only possible through a public-private partnership with Vornado Realty Trust, which is building the new lighted canopy over the entrance and integrating it to a renovated office at 7th Avenue Plaza and Penn 2. expansion of the building above. Work is expected to take place over the next 18 months.

Amtrak said it has invested more than $300 million in capital improvements at New York Penn Station over the past five years, in addition to its investment in Moynihan Train Hall. This includes the “Art at Amtrak” public art program; a new paid waiting area for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak riders; new wayfinding and signage throughout the facility; better accessibility; and improvements in the state of repair.

“The work on 7th Avenue and the 32nd Street entrance reflects Amtrak’s commitment to accessibility for all, customer experience and continuous improvement at the station,” said Vice President of Amtrak stations, facilities, properties and accessibility, Dr. David Handera.

(Photograph courtesy of Effingham County Chamber, via Facebook)

On August 9, Amtrak and the city of Effingham, Illinois commemorated the completion of a $2.5 million station improvement project. The project began in 2019 with interior accessibility improvements and ended last month with a new 700-by-12-foot ADA-compliant deck, according to Effingham Daily News. The station, which opened in 1924 by Illinois Central (north-south) and Pennsylvania Railroad (east-west), also features new LED lighting and ADA-compliant tracks. Amtrak City of New Orleans, Ilini and Sloughi trains serve the station.

According to Amtrak, it has invested more than $489 million in accessibility upgrades nationwide since 2011.

In related developments, Amtrak held groundbreaking ceremonies late last month at Dodge City and Hutchinson, Kansas, stations celebrating the completion of upgrades totaling nearly $7 million.

Bloomberg on August 8 reported that Fortress Investment Group, backed by Light line will sell up to $1 billion in tax-free debt to fund its $2.7 billion 170-mile extension north of Orlando (see map above), which is expected to open in early next year.

“The company needs the proceeds from the bond to fund the project through next year, when it hopes to earn revenue from sharing its line with governments in the region,” according to Bloomberg. The board of Florida Development Finance Corp., the city agency that provides private entities with access to low-cost debt financing, in a split vote on Monday [Aug. 8] paved the way for Brightline to issue the bonds. The company plans to issue $785 million in short-term debt but may sell $1 billion, said Brent Wilder, managing director of PFM Financial Advisors LLC, ahead of the vote.

“We have made tremendous progress, achieving over 80% completion on Brightline’s Orlando extension,” Brightline spokesman Ben Porritt told Bloomberg in an emailed statement. “We appreciate the support of the FDFC Board of Directors as we complete funding, as originally planned, for the remaining elements of the project.”

According to Bloomberg, Brightline “had already sold $3.2 billion of tax-exempt debt for the project. A bond maturing in 2049 traded on August 5 at an average yield of 7.88%. …”

call to action received an $800,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning. On August 10, the transit agency announced that it had received approval to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to transfer grant funds to be used for the creation of a 95th Street Corridor. Equitable Transit Oriented Development Plan (ETOD). DPD provides the local counterpart of $200,000 for the FTA grant.

The 95th Street corridor is a two-mile stretch between Halsted in the west and Cottage Grove in the east. CTA said a community supported ETOD plan will be developed “to take full advantage of the following major existing and future transit investments: CTA 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line Terminal Improvements, CTA Red Line Extension (RLE) from 95th/Dan Ryan to 130th, CTA/Pace South Halsted Bus Corridor Improvement Project, Pace Pulse 95th Street Line and Metra Electric District 95th Street/Chicago State University Station Rehabilitation.”

“We are grateful for this grant from the FTA as it allows us, together with the city, to move forward with a plan to help improve a community and provide equitable resources for all,” said the CTA chair. , Dorval R. Carter Jr.. “The ETOD Plan will help revitalize a neighborhood and guide redevelopment to provide positive opportunities near one of our busiest transit hubs.”

In related developments, CTA will celebrate its 75th anniversary on October 1.

There are three light rail route options for LACMTALine C (green) extension project proposed by , between the existing Redondo Beach station and the Torrance Transit Center under construction (see map, left). The project would span 4.5 miles and provide two new stations. This would not only provide an alternative to congestion along the busy I-405 corridor, but also more transit alternatives by connecting to existing Subway A (blue) lines and future K (Crenshaw/LAX) lines ).

The three route options for the line C extension project are:

Subway rail right-of-way alignment, elevated/street level option, which begins at the existing Redondo Beach station and follows the existing rail right-of-way in an elevated configuration or above street level before dropping to ground level south of 162nd Street. Two stations are offered at the Redondo Beach Transit Center and the Torrance Transit Center.

Subway Railway Right of Way (ROW) Alignment, Trench / Below Grade Option, which would begin to transition from the elevated structure of the existing Redondo Beach station to an open trench or below street level to cross under seven streets between Inglewood Avenue and 170th Street. The trench option would pass at street level to cross Artesia Boulevard, Grant Avenue, then cross 182nd Street in a trench and back up to ground level to cross Hawthorne Boulevard. Two stations are offered at the Redondo Beach Transit Center and the Torrance Transit Center.

Alignment of Hawthorne Boulevard, elevated, which would begin at the existing Redondo Beach station and leave the subway right-of-way to parallel I-405 between Inglewood Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard. Around 162nd Street, it would turn onto Hawthorne Boulevard and continue south before joining the railroad right-of-way near 190th Street. Two stations are offered at South Bay Galleria and Torrance Transit Center.

According to LACMTA, it is estimated that the Line C extension will attract between 4,700 and 5,400 daily riders and will have between 11,500 and 15,600 daily project trips.

LACMTA will hold four community open house meetings later this month to discuss options.

The TriMet On August 10, the board of directors approved a two-year contract extension between TriMet and ATU 757. The union Labor and salary agreement which was to expire on November 30, 2022, will now run until November 2024.

While nearly all aspects of the contract remain the same, the extension includes annual salary increases of 7.5% starting Dec. 1, 2022 and 4% starting Dec. 1, 2023, according to the transit agency. .

TriMet personnel represented by ATU 757 voted to ratify the contract in late July.

“Our unionized employees work incredibly hard to keep our transit service, people across the region moving, and our customers informed and safe,” said Sam Desue Jr., TriMet’s general manager. “They deserve compensation that reflects their vital role, not only at TriMet, but in our community. I’m excited to see this contract extension and salary increases moving forward.

Key words: Amtrak, Breaking News, Brightline, Chicago Transit Authority, CTA, Fortress Investment Group, LACMTA, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, SunRail, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, TriMet

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