HDR - Houston MetroRail
Population projections indicate Harris County (Houston) will increase by 2 million new residents over the next 20 years and the eight-county metropolitan area will grow by 3 million. In 2001, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) embarked on a long-range planning process to enhance system connectivity and improve mobility in METRO’s service area. METRO hired HDR|S.R. Beard & Associates as the general planning consultant for METRO Solutions — a $2 billion plan to address the region’s transit needs for the next 25 years. HDR|S.R. Beard recently received an additional two-year contract to provide GPC services during implementation of the transit improvements.
The role of GPC during the planning process included overseeing work progress, coordinating meetings, conducting several of the corridor studies and guiding METRO Solutions’ program development and planning analysis. HDR|S.R. Beard also provided leadership and technical skills at all levels of plan development and was accessible to deal with a variety of issues or conflicts that arose throughout the course of conducting corridor studies.
Knowledge of the federal process was essential to managing the study program. Key study variables were thoroughly analyzed and documented, and travel demand forecasting was performed for all of the corridor studies. This facilitated a consistent approach to running the model, analyzing the network and establishing the baseline for individual corridors and the regional system.
HDR|S.R. Beard effectively incorporated key regional concerns through alternatives analysis, environmental analysis, conceptual engineering and an extensive public involvement program. Public outreach served as an integral component by establishing an open process for informing, educating and involving individuals; neighborhood, business and civic organizations; affected agencies; and local jurisdictions. After the kickoff meeting, 78 public meetings were held to present METRO Solutions to locations throughout the service area and hundreds of stakeholder meetings informed chambers of commerce, civic and homeowner groups and other interested parties of major project milestones. The public involvement process successfully provided an overall global view of the METRO Solutions Transit System Plan.
All of these efforts led to a transit plan that responded to both METRO’s and the metropolitan region’s transit needs and service objectives. METRO’s board of directors adopted the METRO Solutions Transit Plan on July 31, 2003. Voters in the Houston metropolitan area elected to support the plan Nov. 4, 2003, with 52% of votes favoring METRO Solutions.
HNTB Corp. - Kansas City, Mo., BRT MAX
In an effort to improve the quality of transit service in the Kansas City, Mo., area, the first-ever bus rapid transit (BRT) service, the Metro Area Express (MAX), was introduced in July 2005. The single route connects major employment areas within Kansas City, including the River Market, downtown, Crown Center, midtown and the Plaza. It provides fast, frequent and convenient service and features the latest technology in the transit industry. The benefits include nine-minute headways during morning and evening peak periods, real-time information, limited stops that connect to major east-west routes and new graphically coordinated stations.
A key feature of service is its distinctive stations designed in line with the existing Metro bus system, yet clearly identifying the new service. All MAX stations have integrated common colors, well-lit and easily identifiable information markers and specially designed passenger shelters. All stations are clearly marked and named, featuring easy-to-understand route maps and real-time transit information. Using global positioning system (GPS) technology, riders have instant and constantly updated access to the exact arrival time of MAX.
HNTB designed a signature station for each of the 50 station locations. The design included three basic elements: a shelter, a marker and a sidewalk improvement. The marker was the identifying element for each station. The design intent was to establish a warm, friendly transit experience, while creating a sleek image for the area’s transportation authority.
Each site was modified to integrate the station into its environment. Modifications included landscape design in and around the station. HNTB confirmed the station locations, evaluated site context, designed the brand, designed the signature station, designed the station at each specific location and provided construction bidding and observation services.
HNTB had to determine how to create a distinctive, user-friendly transit station for a new bus service. Station designs were limited to existing rights-of-way. This meant HNTB had to design an attractive, community focal point that not only provided MAX information, but also fit within various neighborhoods.
To date, the project has been a success. Over the first eight months, ridership rose more than 30% on the route, and MAX now connects more than 4,000 people to destinations between the River Market and the Plaza. This new system is also designed to connect visitors to the convention center complex and the major convention hotels in Kansas City.
Parsons Brinckerhoff - Phoenix Valley Metro Rail
Valley Metro Rail (METRO), and its partners, the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale, Ariz., are building the largest at-grade, in-street light rail system in the U.S. As of the end of May 2006, construction was approximately 30% complete and on target for revenue service in 2008.
The METRO system will extend 20 miles from Phoenix to Mesa, passing through Tempe and connecting to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The line will include 27 stations, all designed to maximize shade to offset the high summer temperatures in America’s southwest desert. Conveniences will include five transit centers for connections to buses and eight park-and-ride lots.
METRO includes several unique features, according to Patrick Fuller, project manager for Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), the project’s general engineering consultant.
Perhaps the most visible feature will be a new 1,531-foot-long steel truss bridge with concrete deck over the Tempe Town Lake. The bridge, which is designed to blend in with two existing nearby historic bridges, will feature a fiberoptic lighting system with unique visual effects.
Designing METRO to keep waiting passengers cool in the hot desert climate was a major challenge. Stations include shade canopies and louvered panels for shade, plus seating, drinking fountains, artwork and landscaping.
To keep METRO cars moving despite traffic, PB helped Valley Metro Rail develop a unique signal strategy. “Often, the key to making transit viable for commuters is an intersection management system that ensures that transit travel time is competitive with vehicular travel time,” explained Fuller. “METRO will have predictive priority — a technique in which transit vehicles will be given the green light at some 150 signalized intersections. The signal system detects a train coming from up to a half-mile away and uses a complex time-speed algorithm to adjust signals to assure a green light when it reaches the intersection.”
Residents of the region have thoroughly embraced the idea of mass transit. In November 2004, voters approved a referendum to add another 30 miles to METRO, as well as freeway, street and bus service improvements.
Transystems - Chicago Downtown Air-Rail Terminal
Dedicated express rail systems between cities and airports are being developed around the world. These can be found in many international airports, including those in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo. These dedicated systems use traveler-friendly trains, often handle checked baggage from downtown right to the plane and operate from an in-city terminal with traveler amenities to support air passengers’ needs. Chicago was the first to recognize the potential in bringing this advanced form of transit service to the U.S.
TranSystems, known for its multimodal capabilities, was originally selected by the city of Chicago to complete an alternatives analysis of potential express rail service from the downtown area to O’Hare International Airport. The report examined and developed opportunities for both rail transit and commuter rail solutions and then benchmarked them against other airport express services worldwide.
Upon completion of that report, TranSystems was again selected to begin a feasibility study of improvements needed for express rail transit access to O’Hare on the existing CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) Blue Line. That project developed schematic plans, cost estimates, operating plans, financing plans and details for a downtown airline terminal. Included in the work were passing tracks, expressway modification plans, historic rapid transit station modification plans, right-of-way property acquisition plans and innovative financing efforts.
Planning for a similar service to Midway Airport was later authorized. The plan included the following: designing new rail access to the terminal building; FAA clearance for the planned track route; designing rapid transit passing tracks in coordination with planned freight railroad improvements; and evaluating the operating cost, capital cost and fleet requirements. The addition of dedicated transit service to Midway on the same route as O’Hare would then allow direct service to two airports from one downtown terminal — a unique concept available nowhere else.
TranSystems then completed concept planning and schematic design for a new downtown airline terminal that would be the key station for the airport rail express service. This new terminal will contain traveler services, taxi stands, restaurants and airline ticketing positions. The complex project involves subway interfaces with the existing rail transit service; integration of the station with a mixed-use retail, commercial, hotel and residential development; and development of financing plans. The terminal will also serve as a connection between two existing subway routes, allowing for much greater service flexibility for the CTA.
URS Corp. - Mission Valley (San Diego) LRT Extension
The Mission Valley East LRT Extension of the San Diego Trolley Blue Line runs from the Mission San Diego Station and connects with the Orange Line at the Grossmont Center Station in La Mesa.
Since 1992, URS has been involved in studying, planning and designing various aspects of this corridor, including preliminary corridor and alignment studies, station location evaluations and preliminary engineering analyses. URS was a key member of the consultant team in completing the environmental impact report and environmental impact statement for the project. URS held specific responsibilities for transit ridership assessment, traffic impact analysis revenue analysis and operation/maintenance evaluations.
Following preliminary engineeringA studies, URS was selected to lead the final design engineering components for the San Diego State University (SDSU) tunnel and underground station segment. URS led a technical team of tunnel, geotechnical and structural engineers and architects to design the 360-foot “signature” light rail station, which serves as the primary gateway to the SDSU campus. It provides a much-needed transportation alternative for more than 30,000 SDSU students and faculty who currently commute to the campus, as well as the surrounding community.
Unique to this project is the design of more than a half-mile of underground tunnel, located approximately 50 feet below the surface. The 36-foot diameter tunnel design and construction included the innovative New Austrian Tunnel Method, as well as two cut and cover boxes.
The design required a number of specialized studies to ensure minimal impacts to the campus both during and after construction. URS worked with a design advisory committee composed of representatives from SDSU and the surrounding community to ensure campus compatibility and design integration.
The engineers estimate for construction of the project was $86 million. The low bid was $82 million. Construction began in the summer of 2001 and was completed at the end of 2004. Other major consultants involved on the project as part of the URS team were ZGF Architects, INCA Engineers, Hatch-Mott McDonald and WJ Yang Associates. Local consultants were Lintvedt-McColl Associates, Randall Lamb Associates and Estrada Land Planning.
Booz Allen Hamilton - Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority smart-card enabled fare collection system
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is celebrating the “Year of the Bus,” as well as 30 years of Metrorail service. Booz Allen Hamilton is helping WMATA provide a safe, efficient and effective Metrobus and Metrorail system through the implementation of several key programs.
Since 1998, Booz Allen has worked with WMATA and its partners to simplify fares and provide solutions offering seamless service across the Washington, D.C., region. The firm has supported the design, development and implementation of the nation’s first fully-integrated, smart card-enabled bus and rail fare collection system. This system is the cornerstone of a regional transit smartcard program — the largest operating implementation in North America.
With support from Booz Allen, WMATA is modernizing its bus fleet through the procurement of 250 compressed natural gas, 50 hybrid-electric and 117 advanced technology diesel buses, while improving regional air quality and reducing energy dependency through advanced and environmental technology.
WMATA has transformed the use of enterprise information systems through the Information Technology Renewal Program. Booz Allen served as WMATA’s system integrator to replace legacy systems with a world-class integrated system supporting human resources, payroll, maintenance and scheduling functions.
Booz Allen is also helping to improve WMATA’s rail fleet by purchasing, renovating and designing its new and existing vehicles.
DMJM+Harris - Long Island (N.Y.) Rail Road East Side Access Grand Central Terminal Connection
DMJM Harris engineer and architect teams design transit stations ranging in scale from the Permanent PATH Terminal at the former World Trade Center site in New York City to neighborhood bus stops. The company works to integrate transit facilities into the community fabric by leveraging its expertise in transportation planning, concept design, traffic management, urban planning, architecture and site planning.
One example of this expertise is New York City’s Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) East Side Access (ESA) Grand Central Connection project, which will bring the LIRR into Grand Central Terminal for the first time in history.
The $6.3 billion project is the culmination of more than 30 years of planning and will feature a new eight-track, four-platform LIRR terminal; new tracks; a new concourse; and new escalators, street entrances and passenger connection to Grand Central Terminal. To create this new terminal — the first major new rail terminal in Manhattan in 100 years — the ESA project also requires more than 7 miles of challenging urban tunneling (done by Parsons Brinkerhoff), as well as rock engineering and track work in Queens and Manhattan.
“The ESA project is a critical improvement in New York’s regional transportation system in that it provides Long Island residents with an alternative choice to reaching a key employment area around Grand Central,” says DMJM Harris’ Kenneth W. Griffin, the company’s principal architect for the design of rail transit stations and intermodal transit centers.
Gannett Fleming Inc. - Delaware Transit Corp.'s Mid-County Operations/Administration Facility
Gannett Fleming Inc. provided research, preliminary and final design services, and construction inspection and management for the Delaware Transit Corporation’s Mid-County Operations and Administration Facility in New Castle County, Del.
Various sites were considered and evaluated for the proposed facility. Once a specific site was selected, Gannett Fleming, an international planning, design and construction management firm, provided a master plan for the overall site, which involved a three-phased buildout for the bus maintenance facility. Three existing buildings on the site were demolished to provide sufficient space for the phased buildout plan. Other existing buildings were made available for parts storage.
The facility includes a bus wash, chassis wash/maintenance bay and a fueling facility that provides a fare-drop location. A secure area was newly paved to enhance parking and traffic circulation for 40 paratransit vehicles and 21 fixed-route vehicles. Provisions were made for parking expansion on the 20-acre site to accommodate 24 additional paratransit vehicles, 31 additional fixed-route buses and approximately 75 additional employee/visitor vehicles. Construction of the facility began in 2003 and the facility opened in May 2005.
Gannett Fleming was also responsible for National Environmental Policy Act documentation, including coordination with Delaware Department of Transportation environmental staff, the Delaware State Office of Historic Preservation and the FTA.
Washington Group International Inc. - Hudson Bergen (N.J.) Light Rail Transit Project
In partnership with New Jersey Transit, Washington Group International leads 21st Century Rail Corp. in performing the first design-build-operate-maintain (DBOM) transit project in the U.S. Now in its 10th year of the original 15-year DBOM contract, Washington Group has been responsible for the engineering and design, procurement, construction of civil and rail systems, systems integration and start-up and commissioning. The contract includes operation and maintenance of the system and facilities to which Washington Group recently received a five-year contract extension.
Due to Washington Group’s expertise in the construction and operation of similar projects, they were able to contribute engineering solutions in the design phase that saved valuable budget dollars as well as days on the schedule. Today, trains arrive and depart on a nearly 100% on-time schedule, leading to a steady growth in ridership.
Since the first 7.5 miles of the light rail system went into revenue service in April 2000, the 20.2-mile network now runs through six municipalities and serves more than 30,000 commuters on a typical workday. In February 2006, the Union City’s Bergenline Avenue Station and the Tonnelle Avenue Station, with a 740-space park-and-ride facility in North Bergen, officially opened, and final construction is anticipated to be completed in fall 2006.
The highly urbanized project offers connections to bus, commuter rail, rapid transit, ferry, subway and park-and-ride facilities to give commuters crossing the Hudson River to Manhattan several options.