TRANSPORT 2020

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- TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS -

(for the Dane County/Greater Madison Metropolitan Area)

 

Minutes

 

OVERSIGHT ADVISORY COMMITTEE (OAC) - MEETING #8

 

Wednesday, November 1, 2000

6:00 pm

City/County Building, Room 201

210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard

Madison, WI

 

 

--          ROLL CALL

 

Members Present: Thomas Carlsen; David Cieslewicz; Robert Cook; Kristine Euclide; Ann Falconer; Ald. Ken Golden; Rob Kennedy; Ken Leonard; Supv. Scott McDonell; George Nelson; Ald. Warren Onken; Dick Wagner.

 

Members Absent: Supv. Michael Blaska; LaMarr Billups; Darlene Horner.

 

Staff Present: Rachel Martin (UW-Madison, Transportation Services); Bob McDonald (Madison Area Metropolitan Planning Organization); John Norwell (Dane County Highway and Transportation Department); Sharon Persich (Madison Metro); David Trowbridge (City of Madison, Department of Planning and Development; Project Administrator for Transport 2020).

 

Others Present: Fred Bartol (Dane Alliance for Rail Transit); Melissa Bordewin (Parsons Brinckerhoff); Al Matano (Dane County Board of Supervisors); Ken Kinney (Parsons Brinckerhoff; Project Manager for Transport 2020).

 

 

1.            REVIEW OF AGENDA

 

Co-Chair Scott McDonell welcomed Committee members to Meeting #8 of the Oversight Advisory Committee for Transport 2020.  Project Manager Ken Kinney then provided a brief overview of the 11/1 agenda items.  Scott McDonell noted a minor change to the order of the agenda, switching agenda items 4 and 5.  Ken Kinney wished to add a brief discussion of the scope of Phase I of Transport 2020 (as appropriate, under agenda item 6).  He also said that he would be presenting some slides of different urban rail technologies, also under agenda item 6.

 

 

2.            APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM OAC MEETING #7 (SEPTEMBER 27, 2000)

 

The Minutes for Meeting #7 of the Oversight Advisory Committee were approved, as submitted on a motion by George Nelson/Rob Kennedy.

 

 

3.            OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

 

Dane County Supervisor Al Matano wished to make a few remarks to the OAC.  He said that, in the future, he would like to discuss other ways to conduct public participation for Transport 2020.  Matano thought, however, that the first Public Informational Meeting (PIM) was good, although there were some minor problems at the end.  He also pledged his support for this effort in the future.

 

 

4.            DISCUSSION OF ISSUES PERTAINING TO TRANSPORT 2020 PROJECT MANAGER KEN KINNEY

 

Scott McDonell reminded OAC members that Ken Kinney had taken a different job (with Cambridge Systematics), and that two meetings of the Transport 2020 Management Team had been held to discuss options for the future.  He said that Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) had suggested bringing in a new project manager.  He then asked David Trowbridge to summarize the draft memo that had been prepared, which outlines the OAC’s concerns and recommendations for a future course of action.

 

Trowbridge summarized the contents of the memo, noting that PB is recommending that the new project manager be Ms. Stephanie Eiler.  The memo indicates that the OAC will work to transition Ms. Eiler into Transport 2020, but under a number of conditions – including the completion of a formal interview, an evaluation period (that could last several months), and the continued presence of Mr. Kinney during this transition period.  Trowbridge also noted that all costs attributable to this transition would be borne by the consultant team, and furthermore that the OAC reserves the right to terminate the contract if the transition does not work out satisfactorily.

 

Ken Golden noted that Mark Miller (PB’s Wisconsin Area Manager) had been asked to provide the Management Team with several options for moving forward, including the continuance of Ken Kinney in the project manager position (albeit working for Cambridge).  Golden said that PB was not willing to do this, and that is seemed to be the consensus of the Management Team that we should not pursue an arrangement that PB was not comfortable with.  As such, Golden said that the discussion shifted to the proposed replacement project manager, Ms. Eiler, and how the OAC would facilitate the transition.  He said that references and a complete resume were requested of PB, and would now like to communicate to them the concerns, as outlined in the draft memo.  Golden noted the importance of the project manager and that person’s place in the public eye.  He recalled a University Master Plan process that was tainted, in part due to the fact that a consultant made a major faux pas at a public meeting (by stating that an issues was not important).  Golden said that Kinney has demonstrated a good understanding of our community and hopes that the transition period will assure us that Ms. Eiler will also be acceptable in that regard.

 

Golden also said that a time limit on the transition was discussed and the Management Team was reluctant to do that, noting that when we feel the transition is complete (or not good) we will know it.  He said that the memo is intended to communicate these concerns.  Rob Kennedy asked if PB was aware of the guts of the memo and in general agreement with our approach at this time.  McDonell said that they were.  Kennedy moved to approve the memo and send it to PB (seconded by Kristine Euclide).  Euclide said that the memo was very well done, and noted that, in addition to the transition costs being borne by the consultant, she wished to include language indicating that the project schedule/timeline remain in order.  Kinney said that no changes are planned for the project schedule due to the transition.

 

Euclide also raised a concern about Ms. Eiler, noting that although she has 20 years of experience, she has been with PB only 1 year.  Euclide wondered if she would be able to effectively command the resources of PB, given her lack of time with that firm.  McDonell pointed out that Ms. Eiler had proposed for the 1997 Commuter Rail Study, and that she seemed to have a strong presence in that setting.  In fact, she was a very strong finalist in that process.  Golden added that the agency staffs would also pick up on any problems in the area of Ms. Eiler’s ability to command resources.  McDonell wished to thank Kinney for his fine work to-date, and hoped to retain his input on Transport 2020, albeit in a different capacity.

 

Ann Falconer said that, in taking a quick look at Ms. Eiler’s resume, she did not seem to have much experience in the direct integration of land use with transportation, which is an important element of Transport 2020.  Falconer said that these considerations should be included in her formal interview.  David Trowbridge said that the same questions used in the consultant team interviews (in February) would likely be used for Ms. Eiler’s interview, since they are all still important elements of the study.

 

The motion to approve the memo and send it to Parsons Brinckerhoff carried unanimously.

 

 

5.            REVIEW OF TRANSPORT 2020 PUBLIC INFORMATIONAL MEETING #1

 

Ken Kinney said that he was impressed with the number of questions at the meeting.  He also said that the depth of some of the questions showed a good understanding (by some of the public) of the complex issues being discussed.  Kinney also added that he didn’t feel any particular theme develop, but that this is not surprising, given the early point in the study.

 

Golden said that he felt it encouraging to have a broader cross-section of the public in attendance, compared to past meetings on this subject.  He also heard some of the same arguments heard in the past, but that he hoped future public discussions in Transport 2020 would foster some new thinking.  He was also pleased with the number of people that came.  Kinney added that he was pleased with the number of organizations and neighborhood groups that had asked for future presentations on the subject, which Kinney felt gave a boost to the entire public participation process.

 

Dick Wagner said that one of the goals discussed was the need to address congestion challenges.  He said that the portrayal of the problem (to the public) could be done in better ways.  He noted that the public has a sense that problems are increasing but that they do not digest the supporting data as much as OAC members do (for example).  Wagner said that commuting data, showing large origins and destinations, would be helpful in understanding how major traffic movements are changing.  He also said that the costs of time lost to commuting is also important.  Bob McDonald (Madison Area MPO) said that data on work trips and major traffic movements exists, and could be provided.  Kinney said that the graphical presentation of this data is important, agreeing that it should be done.  He said that “value of time” element will also be an explicit part of the Transport 2020 evaluation.

 

John Norwell wished to point out that the Transport 2020 web site has had over 400 hits to-date, and that this is a good place to keep putting updated data about the study – particularly the graphical information being discussed this evening.  Rob Kennedy said that, in the future, the media should be asked to include the location of the web site in every article they do on the subject.  Kennedy also said that, while the October 30th PIM was encouraging, there needs to be a mechanism for dealing with contentious issues and potentially disruptive persons at future public meetings.  Wagner said that utilizing a separate meeting moderator and presenter might be something to explore.  Golden said that there should be some information brought to (and kept in hand at) every public meeting, because we know people will bring some issues up and challenge various data/assumptions.

 

Kinney said that, in terms of next steps in the public participation process, the next few months of Transport 2020 would be spent on heavy duty technical modeling, forecasting and cost evaluation.  He said that this is also a good time to conduct various stakeholder and neighborhood meetings, and these are now being planned.

 

 

6.            INITIAL ALTERNATIVES TO BE EVALUATED IN PHASE I OF TRANSPORT 2020

 

Ken Kinney wished to present some slides to show OAC members different types of urban rail (and high-capacity bus) systems from throughout the country.  He said that this slide show will give a good idea of what the various systems might look like here.

 

Kinney then presented the slides, discussing some of the differences among the technologies – generally light rail, commuter rail, and exclusive busways.  Cities profiled in the slide presentation included Boston, Cleveland, San Diego, Portland, Dallas, Milwaukee, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa.

 

Some of the key points made in Kinney’s presentation include the following:

 

-          Bicycle paths and transit service can be included in the same corridors, assuming that sufficient right-of-way (ROW) exists;

-          The design/physical location of a light rail system is very important, particularly within existing streets; 1940’s-era streetcars were not popular (in later periods) in part because they impeded traffic and created some safety concerns;

-          Light rail within the street system is encouraged to be built on streets with relatively little traffic, as opposed to major arterials - but still located near major arterials, activity centers and traffic movements;

-          Light rail vehicles/systems can be designed to blend in very well in built-up urban areas, and not be highly intrusive;

-          In San Diego, the light rail system serves the convention market very well, in part because rail passes are provided as part of visitor packages; amenities (such as newsstands, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.) are also important at major transit/modal transfer centers;

-          Impacts of rail systems on traffic at grade crossing are generally rather minimal, due to the fact that the gates are down for only about 25-30 seconds – which is similar to the duration of a traffic signal;

-          Light rail track is the same gauge as track used by freight railroads, so co-usage and a mix of street/railroad ROW systems using the same vehicle is an option;

-          If light rail vehicles are used on rail corridor track, freight services must take place at different time periods – such as at night – due to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) safety regulations; this is a rather common situation, and examples of such arrangements were given for service in St. Louis, San Diego and Cleveland;

-          Property values are not necessarily negatively affected by rail service, as is often stated at public meetings; on example is the fact that commercial activity often increases after light rail lines are constructed, which increase property values in those areas; however, the disruption during construction can be substantial;

-          Security is a very important concern for transit systems; perceptions of an unsafe system are one of the largest detriments to attracting riders; there need not be police everywhere to provide a sense of security – there are good ways to design safety into a system;

-          High-capacity bus systems should utilize highly attractive, comfortable coaches; rest rooms are one amenity that can attract a certain market of rider to upscale buses; and,

-          Pittsburgh has an extensive busway system that was converted from an abandoned rail line; the benefit to the rider (as opposed to using rail) is that they do not have to transfer – the bus can travel directly on city streets for the remainder of the express trip.

 

Ken Golden recalled a recent trip to Portland, noting that they are implementing a streetcar/trolley system that operates within the street, but is potentially cheaper and lighter than the traditional light rail system.  He said that this system serves as a central city circulator, but also serves longer commuter trips.  Golden also said that property owners along the line were assessed a cost, which showed an assumed value  being attributed to those properties.  Kinney said that, generally in other communities, the first rail line that is constructed encounters opposition.  In the future, he added, extensions are highly sought after.  He said that assessing for the costs are generally not done for the first line, because of the significant opposition.  In terms of the smaller-scale trolley, Kinney said that this type of system holds some promise for smaller cities like Madison.  He said that costs are much less, due to the fact that utility relocations are not necessarily needed – as they generally are with traditional light rail in built-up urban areas.  Golden said that Portland felt there to be less business disruption during trolley construction, almost akin to a street reconditioning.  Kinney said that this will be evaluated in Transport 2020.

 

Tom Carlsen asked about the difference between trolleys and buses.  Kinney said that – although some of the facts are debated by planners – certain travel markets are said to be somewhat reluctant to ride a city bus, whereas a trolley is more attractive.  Kinney also said that redevelopment opportunities seem to be stronger around rail-based transit facilities.

 

Kinney then wished to discuss slightly revising the scope of the study, primarily to conserve study resources.  In a nutshell, Kinney wished to do two model runs (of initial land use, highway, and transit alternatives) within Phase I of Transport 2020, noting that it may be helpful in screening out certain alternatives.  In this way, the costly Phase II analysis would not need to be conducted on a very wide range of alternatives.  The OAC said that this was acceptable.

 

Kinney also recommended a second change to the scope of the study - moving some of the land use impact analysis into Phase I.  He said that an evaluation of this issue will likely impact the decision of which alternatives move forward.  Sam Seskin (PB Team) would be brought in during Phase I to help with this important effort.  Kinney said that the impact of transit systems on redevelopment and property values will be analyzed in Phase I of Transport 2020.  The OAC agreed that this was acceptable.

 

Kinney said that the third change to the scope, as suggested by OAC member Rob Kennedy, was to accelerate the financial/governance discussions.  He said that issues regarding how to pay for and operate the eventual system is a potentially contentious one.  He said that the scheduling of an early financial/governance workshop would help initiate discussion of these issues and potential strategies.  The OAC agreed that this would be acceptable.

 

Kristine Euclide said that public officials are continually being asked a number of questions, and that good, consistent answers should be developed and made readily available.  Kinney said that frequently asked questions (FAQs) - and answers - are now being developed by the PB Team.

 

Rob Kennedy said that the Finance & Governance Workshop is a good idea, and that a subcommittee of the OAC should be charged with dealing with these issues.  He said that, in Milwaukee, the issue is being talked about now and strategies on how to plug into the upcoming budget session are now being developed.  Kinney said that a financial leader from the PB Team will be brought into the process, to help lead the discussion at the workshop – which we will schedule later in tonight’s meeting.

 

Kinney noted that the TAC would be meeting on November 15th, and that their primary task was to recommend an initial set alternatives to get started on.  The OAC will then review and approve this at their next meeting, toward the end of November.  Kinney then briefly showed an overhead that described some of the “packages” of initial alternatives to be modeled.  The packages of initial rail, bus, land use and highway alternatives (to potentially be modeled in Phase I of Transport 2020) might include the following:

 

(1a) Rail Transit: Sun Prairie, Middleton, McFarland, Airport (existing R-O-W); Current Trends Land Use; No Build Highway

 

(1b) Rail Transit: Sun Prairie, Middleton, McFarland, Airport (existing R-O-W); Existing Plans Land Use; No Build Highway

 

(1c) Rail Transit: Sun Prairie, Middleton, McFarland, Airport (existing R-O-W); Vision 2020 Land Use; No Build Highway

 

(2) Rail Transit: Sun Prairie, Middleton, McFarland, Airport (existing R-O-W); Existing Plans Land Use; Build Highway

 

(3) Rail Transit: Sun Prairie, Middleton, McFarland, Airport (existing R-O-W with street running on Wilson/Doty); Existing Plans Land Use; No Build Highway

 

(4) Rail Transit (street running): East Towne, Washington Avenue, University Avenue, West Towne; Existing Plans Land Use; No Build Highway

 

(5) Bus Rapid Transit (route, schedule as in 1b); Existing Plans Land Use; No Build Highway

 

 

 

 

Completion of “Consumer Reports” Exercise (continuation of 9-27-00 OAC meeting)

Ken Kinney then noted that only a couple of OAC members had completed the homework assignment – to complete the consumer reports exercise and that he would like to go through that this evening.  He reminded OAC members that the downtown area had been completed, but that the remaining rail options needed to be reviewed.

 

Kinney reviewed the consumer reports exercise, noting that the primary purpose of the exercise is to evaluate various segments of rail options/alignments (both street running and within current rail corridor), utilizing a number of criteria.  The exercise started with streets and corridors in the downtown area.  He said that this exercise is not highly technical in nature, but is intended to isolate fatal flaws or options that do not merit further serious consideration – based on either technical or political factors. He added that this type of evaluation is also helpful in seeing the relative merits of various alignments to one another (and within various criteria), and to see the types of trade-offs that are inherent with systems of this nature.  Kinney noted that professional judgment and experience is more than sufficient for this type of evaluation.

 

Kinney reminded OAC members that “consumer reports” refers to the circles often used in this type of analysis.  For example, if the circles are colored in to a greater degree, the more “positive” the impact (for the respective criteria).  Kinney said that the circles should be filled in to indicate the various levels of desirability – either positive or negative.  He said that circles could be empty (highly negative) or colored in ¼, ½, ¾ or full (highly positive).  For example, for “cost” criteria, a full circle would indicate a relatively inexpensive option.  Or, for “traffic impact” criteria, an empty circle would indicate a high degree of traffic disruption (such as might occur if an entire traffic lane would be removed from operation).

 

Kinney explained that the following criteria are to be used in the evaluation.  A brief description follows after each criteria, describing what types of issues should be considered for each.

 

- Close to Markets/Ridership: How close is the rail track to the origin or destination markets?  How long of a walk is required to access the land use?  Employment markets are the key destination considered here, but residential markets are also considered (to a lesser degree).

 

- Path Ease/Cost: How expensive would it be to make the required capital improvements to implement the rail transit service?  How much difficulty would be encountered in obtaining the right-of-way for the system (such as existing businesses, residential buildings, parks, sidewalks, etc.)?  This criterion basically assesses how much physical room there could be for such a system.

 

- Traffic Impact: What impact would the various transit systems have on traffic operations – considering both existing and future traffic levels?  What would traffic congestion and flow conditions be after implementation of such a transit system?  This criterion assumes that worsening traffic congestion is negative.

 

- Land Use Impact: How would the existence of the various rail transit systems impact redevelopment in areas adjacent to the system?  What impact would those systems have in acting as a “catalyst” to redevelopment?

 

- Neighborhood Disruption/Impact: What impact would the transit system have on existing residential neighborhoods and commercial activity centers – in terms of noise, vibration and other potential negative impacts?  A transit system physically located further away from neighborhoods and activity centers would likely score higher under this criterion.

 

- Visibility: How visible is the potential transit system?  This criteria assumes that the public generally feels safer and more confident about getting onto a transit system that appears to be closer to the major activity centers and highly visible, as opposed to a transit system that is relatively isolated.  In this way, a transit system that runs directly within the primary street system will be much higher with this criterion.  However, visibility of the “entrance” of the system can provide an improved level of visibility.

 

Kinney then described the various routes/alignments to be considered.  Noting that the downtown area had been completed at the 9-27-00 OAC meeting, he said that potential rail options would need to be considered in the following areas (some options within the street right-of-way and some within the existing rail corridor):

 

University Area

(a) Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR) Corridor (within rail corridor)

 

(b) University Avenue/Johnson Street (within street right-of-way)

 

(c) Regent Street (within street right-of-way)

 

Middleton

(a) Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR) Corridor (within rail corridor)

 

(b) University Avenue (within street right-of-way)

 

Southwest

(a) Mineral Point Road/Whitney Way (within street right-of-way)

 

(b) Monroe Street/Odana Road (within street right-of-way)

 

Southeast

(a) Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR) Corridor (within rail corridor)

 

Northeast

(a) East Washington Avenue (within street right-of-way)

 

(b) Canadian Pacific Railroad (CP) Corridor (Blair Street-STH 30; within rail corridor)

 

(c) CP Railroad Corridor (STH 30-Sun Prairie; within rail corridor)

 

North/Airport

(a) CP Railroad Corridor (within rail corridor)

 

 

The Oversight Advisory Committee then completed the exercise (Note: A graphical portrayal of the results of this exercise will be provided upon request).  Kinney thanked the OAC for their thoughts and said that their input would be used to modify the initial range of alternatives to be modeled in Phase I of Transport 2020.

 

Kinney said that the TAC will review the modified range of initial alternatives at their November 15th meeting.  After that, he said that the alternatives will be reviewed and hopefully approved by the OAC at their next meeting – which is tentatively scheduled for November 30th.

 

 

7.         ITEMS BY OAC CO-CHAIRS AND COMMITTEE MEMBERS

 

David Trowbridge mentioned that a letter had been included in the OAC handout this evening, from Mark Vivian, Mayor of Fitchburg.  He said that Fitchburg would like to have rail service considered to their city.  Trowbridge said that members of the consultant team have arranged to meet with a number of Fitchburg planners and officials to discuss this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.            FUTURE MEETINGS

 

The Committee was reminded of the following meetings that have been scheduled:

 

- Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting: Wednesday, November 15th, 10:00 am, Room 260 Madison Municipal Building;

 

- Transport 2020 Financial Workshop: Thursday, November 30th, 3:00 pm, Room 260 Madison Municipal Building; and,

 

- Oversight Advisory Committee (OAC) Meeting #9: Thursday, November 30th, 4:45 pm, Room 201 City/County Building (Council Chambers) – Note: Location changed from 260 MMB to 201 CCB.

 

 

9.            ADJOURNMENT

 

The Committee adjourned its meeting at 8:15 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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