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Refined Green Line Downtown Alternatives

The Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Green Line met recently and presented the latest findings for downtown alignments. I wrote about these 4 alignments in February when details were in the preliminary state of analysis.

With some firm rails to run on, in depth study on each alignment has proceeded. The study has paused for input from a number of stakeholders upon which further revisions may occur and some alignments may be eliminated. Lets jump in and see what they found!

LRT/BRT Options

To lay the ground work for this analysis, first understand that there are 4 alignment options which could accommodate either mode. These are routes which are bound by a TECHNOLOGY choice which is to say, there are buses which are much more nimble than trains so the routes are designed to accommodate trains should that mode be chosen as the locally preferred alternative. The first 4 routes that I will introduce could go either way in terms of mode selection. I will follow this by 2 routes which could be BRT only.

Ft. Wayne Ave – Option 1

Green Line - Ft Wayne Option 1

Green Line – Ft Wayne Option 1

The first Ft. Wayne option would utilize the couplet of Pennsylvania & Delaware for N/S operation into and out of the Core Business District (CBD). While utilizing each street comes with its own benefits, there are trade-offs which hamper this option. For novice transit users, having to walk to a different station would initially be a counter-intuitive adjustment. Additional driveways would need controlled and more parking spaces would most likely be removed. However, it would be less impact to a single corridor if N/S running ways were split.

Ft Wayne Ave Option 2

Green Line - Ft Wayne Option 2

Green Line – Ft Wayne Option 2

This option may present the most practical alternative to any that will be discussed in this post. The line would utilize a single street at every turn, the least amount of automobile parking spaces would be removed, and it would represent an easy transition for new transit users. It would require fewer streets be affected and less driveways would need to be controlled. It also represents the alternative which delivers people to the dense job centers most efficiently and with fewer last-mile foot steps. Ft. Wayne Ave Option 2 would turn the short stretch of Virginia Ave between Pennsylvania and Delaware into a defacto transit center as automobile access would be removed from this area. It would also be a few steps away from the bus transit center at Delaware & Washington.

Mass Ave Option 1

Green Line - Mass Ave Option 1

Green Line – Mass Ave Option 1

Jumping away from Ft. Wayne, we see the first of two proposals for using Mass Ave. My initial reactions to Mass Ave as a rapid transit alternative were mixed. Sure, it would touch a number of perceived trip generators in the form of jobs & apartments. Mass Ave currently enjoys suitable patronage on the lower end, near the CBD and thus, a lot of automobile traffic. Employing LRT or BRT on Mass Ave would require two dedicated lanes (as shown in the section views), conversion of end in parking to parallel and a complete reconstruction of the sidewalk structure to something much more conducive to the rapid transit alternatives being presented. This first Mass Ave option would utilize most of what we know today from the 800 block all the way to the 400 block with an option to route operations through the old Coke plant. Once off Mass Ave, the line would run N/S on Delaware ending at the downtown transit center

Mass Ave Option 2

Green Line - Mass Ave Option 2

Green Line – Mass Ave Option 2

The second option utilizing Mass Ave could take the line through either the Coke Plant or along College Ave from 10th Street to get to Mass Ave. However, it would divert at New Jersey Street providing service along a lesser traveled automobile corridor. This could provide less of a rebuild of Mass Ave, however, it would also provide service the furthest distance from the concentration of jobs. So there is a major trade off to be had with this option compared to any of the other 3 alternatives being proposed.

BRT Only

Green Line - BRT Only Options

Green Line – BRT Only Options

There are also 2 alternatives on the table should the mode of choice turn out to be Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). These would take advantage of the nimble operating characteristics of the vehicles and this is born out by observing the short loops downtown. For the purposes of wrapping up this analysis, I will show the two options and leave the rest up to reader interpretation. Any of the other lines on either Ft. Wayne or Mass Ave could likely be used to reach the CBD.

Conclusions

The two major corridors presented provide many different ways to solve the question of how we provide rapid transit to the downtown transit center / CBD. Ft. Wayne seems like the most efficient with a dedicated inbound lane to avoid automobile congestion and a combined outbound travel lane with a low traffic count in the PM commute (approximately 60 cars / hour according to planners). Mass Ave is also an interesting case study in how to provide rapid transit to the CBD. Is this really the most efficient way to get there? Setting aside construction headaches for a moment, a corridor with so many street level businesses would seem like an ideal environment to provide service. Furthermore, Mass Ave seems like a hot bed for apartment development and the intuitive thinking is that serving these areas with a rapid transit line would boost values and induce further development. But is it? Something else to think about is that over 60% of trips taken on transit are for the purposes of getting to and from jobs. The bulk of jobs are located in the core of downtown and providing the least amount of delay getting there seems like a noble goal as this is a RAPID service. Certainly there are jobs along the northern portion of the route which would be served by reverse commuters as well so that should be considered. Mass Ave however, presents many opportunity for delay due in part to the higher automobile traffic activity and also the tremendous amount of construction disruption that would be required to service this corridor.

While either corridor would be acceptable, it is this author’s opinion that Ft. Wayne Option 2 provides the best alternative for quickly and efficiently providing rapid service downtown and balances the negative consequences of disruptive construction offered by all the options.

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