May 2007 Public Information Meeting Record of Public Comments

At a public information meeting held on May 3, 2007, Dane County citizens were able to view and comment on the final Transport 2020 build alternatives. Approximately 97 people signed in to the open house meeting at Monona Terrace in downtown Madison. The purpose of the public information meeting was to solicit stakeholder opinion on the final alignments and draft operating plans for Alternatives 2A and 3. One of these build alternatives, along with a baseline (bus) alternative and a no-build scenario will undergo detailed technical analysis in the process of selecting a Locally Preferred Alternative.

At the meetings, stakeholders viewed presentations on the alternatives as well on displays on the Transport 2020 study and its goals, proposed fixed guideway routes, draft operating plans, capital and operating and maintenance costs, ridership forecasts and environmental impacts. They interacted with members of the Implementation Task Force and asked questions of study staff. Following a presentation by study staff, more than 20 stakeholders verbally expressed their opinions in public comments. Finally, stakeholders recorded their ideas, concerns and comments in written form. In total, these comments will be used with technical considerations to determine which build alternative is advanced to the final phase of the Transport 2020 Alternatives Analysis. This document records all the comments and questions received. It includes:

  1. Verbal comments provided by stakeholders to all attendees following a staff presentation, [jump]
  2. Comments recorded by Transport 2020 staff from conversations with stakeholders,[jump]
  3. Comments received on the comment forms distributed at the workshops, and [jump]
  4. Comments received via email from the study website. [jump]

1. PUBLIC COMMENTS DELIVERED AT MEETING (RESPONSES FROM ITF IN ITALICS)

  1. Arnold Harris. Prefers Alt. 2A; the facts in favor it over Alt 3. It makes sense to connect the city center to some of its fastest growing suburbs. The airport connection can come later. Alt. Alt. 2A has greater ridership than Alt. 3, and capital costs that are not that much greater. The operation/maintenance (O/M) costs are not that much greater. Compared to road improvements, the overall cost is not too great. Mr. Harris is concerned that the mayor will try to stop the Common Council from funding Transport 2020. He believes the city and county must work together, as they did to build Monona Terrace.
  2. Joe Chase, mayor of Sun Prairie. Prefers Alt. 2A extended to downtown Sun Prairie. This will produce maximum ridership and development benefits. Around 1,800 people in Sun Prairie would be within walking distance of a station. Sun Prairie is creating TIDs downtown, adding housing units, improvements, increasing vitality and density. It is attracting more residents, retail outlets and other businesses in its overlay district. Their plan anticipates a station and park-and-ride (P/R) in downtown Sun Prairie, with the system terminus at Angel Park. Festivals, Sun Prairie Speedway. Commuter Rail is an Economic Development and land use development tool. Will help Sun Prairie plan for development between Reiner Rd. and downtown Sun Prairie.
  3. Bruce Wilson. Member of Madison Area Bus Advocates. The final T2020 plan must be clearly set on an intermodal foundation. There is work yet to be done in this area. We need to move in parallel fashion to get regional transit plan completed. T2020 serves some corridors well, but can't serve all destinations and residents. As an object lesson, Alt. 5 shows that getting off of rail corridors adds cost for in-street rail. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) may be the answer for some corridors. BRT to East Towne may be better fit than rail. A Regional Transportation Authority must be formed to focus on an intermodal approach to serve total transit needs of the region. Don't develop isolated rail or bus stations. Individual T2020 components can't be implemented or planned in a vacuum. We would like to see this idea acknowledged. Response: A special thanks to the Madison Area Bus Advocates for all the work they do to improve transit in Dane County.
  4. Steve Arnold, Fitchburg Common Council. Prefers Alt. 2A; Fitchburg supports T2020. Alt. 2A has more potential for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and serves more markets. Extend it to downtown Sun Prairie. Transport 2020 is complementary to the proposed trolley, but don't delay T2020. Supports routing T2020 system under Monona Terrace, which is essential to an eventual extension to Fitchburg. TOD planning is underway along rail corridor in Fitchburg. Supports a regional transit authority, supports high speed rail and KRM.
  5. Gary Werner. "I've lived in Madison all my life and I want to ride this train before I die." In Washington DC, the Metro serves commuters and people doing business throughout the day. Now we have awareness of a new benefit: climate change is looming. We must implement transit for the future. Once Alt. 2A is in place, others will be implemented as global climate change becomes more and more important an issue. He supports Alt. 2A with service to downtown Sun Prairie. It's a regional system. T2020 must be integrated with the bus system; that we, people can become transit users. Planning should focus on reducing travel times to make transit more convenient and competitive with autos. The two termini should "bracket" the beltline to create a real alternative for people entering and moving through Madison.
  6. Bob Schaefer. He's not in favor of either alternative. Focus on using rail corridors as bus transit ways. Beef up Metro with express buses, entering busway from many points along the system. What is the cost for eventual full system buildout? It could be $1 billion or more, and the community should see that figure. Future congestion should be shown with and without T2020 service. Planners should show net transit ridership gain, as well as average trip lengths. Does this serve short university based trips or long commutes? What are average layover times with Alt. 2A? Show auto travel times with and without trains in 2030. Believes that traffic impacts at intersections will be greater than what was said in the presentation. Alt. 2A costs do not include grade separation at US 51; the state will require this. Where are data on drive alone trips with and without T2020? How many cars come off the road? If we're going to do something, let's do it right. Let's grade separate the whole system, and include Sun Prairie and Fitchburg.
  7. Ted Voth, Jr. He is bus rider, and is concerned that Metro was starved, abused and neglected by its last management team. The new management may be better. Choice riders are not as much of a concern to him. Poor, captive riders have been victimized by irresponsible bus company management. Improve bus service. Restore late and weekend service. Supports rail too.
  8. Fred Bartol. Member of Dane Alliance for Rail Transit. Both options are good. We must implement this system soon: think regionally, multi-modal. Heighten support for transit. Broaden the financial and political base supporting transit. Take rail to Sun Prairie downtown. He favors of Alt. 2A if it goes to Sun Prairie. Otherwise, Alt. 3 makes logical sense. Alt. 3 may have better intermodal connectivity: the North Bus Transfer is right on rail line, along with likely spots for intercity High Speed Rail (HSR) stations. Use the existing rail corridor to connect downtown, university, hospitals and growing suburbs.
  9. Bob Paolino. Frustrated that we're still talking about a "starter" rail system. This is a baby step. Favors Alt. 3. It better builds a foundation for the future. The lower cost is somewhat attractive, and it serves city of Madison better. The forced transfer for end-to-end travel on Alt. 2A is unattractive. Too much delay will be a disincentive to choice riders. The Airport is gateway to area. Airport traffic is everyday travel, not special event travel. Alt. 3 would add service to currently underserved areas. The lower median incomes on the north side make case for economic justice. Response: Calling airport travel special event travel makes a distinction between work and nonwork trips. Airport workers are counted as work trips, not special events.
  10. Hans Noeldner, Village of Oregon. Prefers Alt. 2A. The corridor out toward Sun Prairie is more suited to redevelopment than the area on the airport alignment. The airport may 'wither' if global warming takes effect. Sun Prairie is more accessible for P/R, and taking the rail line there rewards a ring community for trying to do the right thing with their planning for downtown. Alt. 2A at Reiner has lots of wetlands and is not a good endpoint.
  11. Chad Sperry. Prefers Alt. 2A. TOD potential in Sun Prairie already underway. It's good to plan for more compact development. Each node could have an express bus traveling perpendicular to rail corridor to spur secondary TOD. Make the system intuitive – know that bus is going to the train. Metro is currently difficult for novices to navigate.
  12. Bob Schubert. Favors Alt. 2A. It would get more traffic off of East Washington St; provide rail access to East Towne; improve the Fair Oaks and Union Corners distressed areas (current businesses include massage parlors, adult stores, check cashing, etc.). It also captures more riders and has more P/R lots than Alt. 3. The airport sounds logical, but no normal airline passengers will take luggage on T2020. In addition, it's difficult to have the type of intensive development typical of TOD near airports due to height restrictions.
  13. Dave Steffenson. The region doesn't end at County Line; the commuter shed extends much further – Beaver Dam, Dodgeville, etc. You can do a lot with P/R. Favor Commuter Rail and using existing tracks. Likes Alt. 2A on the northeast end, combined with a Park St.-to Oregon extension. HSR can't come in to Madison – we'll need an intermodal station on edge of town. Global climate change will affect our projections of future growth. We are facing collapse of global economic system. This should be reflected in population and employment projections. Parts of this system will be useful; it is not a commuter rail system.
  14. James Aldrich. Favors Alt. 2A. It's better for East Siders. Gets them to west side destinations - the hospitals and shopping. The train will be a lot quicker than waiting for bus, waiting to transfer. Through service will be more convenient. Riders can go to Middleton and be back the same day. If you go by bus, you won't make it back if you leave in the afternoon. This will get Madison rolling.
  15. Debby Lynn Aldrich. Favors Alt. 2A. Not a duplication of bus service the way the trolleys are. It can share facilities with HSR. She is concerned about T2020 taking away from bus service. "We've seen terrible cuts in recent years."
  16. Dawn Perry. I have no car; live on East Side. Housing there is affordable for me and my family. I live on Fordem Ave. across from Wisconsin Southern facilities. My husband and I work on the West Side, and we take the bus to get there; it's a two-hour commute with lots of walking. The ridership projections for Alt. 3 might be too low. There are many apartments on East Side and people without access to a car. This should serve people without cars, not just choice commuters. We need it the most. Rising gas prices will force more people to give up driving. Favors Alt. 3.
  17. Mark Opitz. He was elected to Middleton City Council in 1995, and the commuter rail discussion was already underway. He's a County Supervisor now, but speaks as a Middleton resident. Commuter Rail is important to Middleton for several reasons: it supports TOD. We have several thousand jobs and 1000 hotel beds west of US 12/14. There is a strong potential for a 2-way commute on the West Side of Dane County. We should build this before we tear up University Ave. for new construction. Commuter Rail has greater regional appeal than the streetcars, although he supports Street Cars, too. Also, there is a potential benefit in whistle ban - this could help us establish quiet zones. There are benefits from both Alt. 2A and Alt. 3. Alt. 2A could attract P/R activity. Alt. 3 has HSR and airport connectivity. Commuter Rail doesn't threaten buses or streetcars; a rising tide lifts all boats. Let's get our act together and apply for New Starts funding.
  18. Roger Laurel Tesch. Lives on the northern edge of Fitchburg and is on the Common Council. Favors Alt. 2A and the establishment of an RTA. Regional coordination and funding for transportation needs across the region. Fitchburg wants to support TOD and multi-use areas. He favors an eventual North-South link. Don't delay Transport 2020.
  19. Gari Berliot. He's not opposed to rail - there may be a future for it. The numbers are too optimistic. Favors Alt. 2A. Alt. 3 should go all the way to go up to Highway 19. Also, taking Alt. 2A to downtown Sun Prairie finishes the job. Many commuters come to Madison from DeForest, Beaver Dam, etc. We have to get them off the beltline.
  20. Gerald McGovern. Many Sun Prairie residents work in Madison. The price of fuel is going up, and pollution is a concern. For the benefit of Dane County, this is a good thing. Our Sun Prairie mayor is to be complimented for trying to bring Commuter Rail to Sun Prairie. Favors Alt. 2A extended to Sun Prairie.
  21. Ron Schutz. Commuter Rail and trolleys are complementary. "My fantasy is to have this and HSR."
  22. Randy Boyd. Favors Alt. 2A. Implement this now, and Metro can work routes off this backbone. Everything can develop around these new stations.

2. VERBAL COMMENTS NOTED BY STAFF

  • Comment from Sun Prairie business owner and Transit Committee member: It should extend all the way to Sun Prairie. They have two good station locations: Angell Park and on the East Side. Need to extend to Sun Prairie because it is denser than the Reiner Road area.
  • Need to have passes that work on both trains and buses.
  • Concern about at-grade crossing safety.
  • The newsletter was well done.
  • Madison Metro is supposed to have Spanish signs, but it doesn't. Need to be sure that the train has Spanish signage.
  • When would train service begin?
  • We need to provide more wheelchair space at the meeting.
  • How much would a ticket cost?
  • Alternative 2A is better than Alternative 3 because it connects the city center with fast growing suburbs. Save the airport for later.
  • The ridership forecasts would require a ticket price of more than $3 to break even. Who's going to pay that much?
  • Concerned that students will not be well served by overall system if bus service is reduced.
  • Need to restore late-night, early morning and weekend transit service in Madison.

3. WRITTEN COMMENTS (numbers indicate multiple responses)

What particular aspects of the Transport 2020 Alternatives are of interest to you?

  • Whether I can use it
  • Whether the route will go through high density areas
  • More frequent service preferred
  • Improved transportation through the Isthmus
  • How will it be implemented?
  • When complete?
  • How much to ride?
  • Integrating bus, trolley, and rail
  • Modify bus routes to feed rail stops
  • Better bus service desired
  • Link to Watertown and Amtrak
  • Thanks for service under Monona Terrace – that route will serve eventual expansion to Fitchburg and Oregon
  • Also want to see trains on the Fitchburg/Oregon line
  • Eventually would like to see trains to other locations: Janesville, Chicago
  • Help us to be green (2)
  • Pollution reduction benefits
  • Alternatives to cars (2)
  • Reduce traffic
  • Conserve land
  • Land use impacts
  • Noise impact related to frequency of service
  • Neighborhood redevelopment and TOD opportunities (2)
  • Impacts on residential areas of increased density esp. Farley Ave/Highland area
  • This meeting did not clearly explain how frequency was determined and why it was necessary
  • Costs compared to highway projects
  • None. Waste of money
  • 2A preferred – regional rail, more areas where people live, work and shop (10)
  • Getting traffic off E. Washington Ave.
  • Rail access to East Town Area
  • improve Union Corners area
  • Overlapping service in the core (3)
  • More park-and-rides
  • Improve Fair Oaks area
  • More riders (2)
  • Extend 2A all the way to Sun Prairie (3) or to Angel Park
  • Developing north and east end access to downtown
  • Alt. 3 has less expansion possibility
  • Do not prefer Alt. 3 – no normal airplane passenger will take luggage on the train
  • Do not prefer Alt. 3 – can't build near airport due to low flying planes and FAA rules
  • Regional buses on rail corridors preferred
  • Prefer Alt 3 with airport connection (5)
  • As a matter of economic justice, the more sensible choice is the northside option because it is currently underserved by existing transit
  • Intercity high speed rail could bring funding for the branch to the airport
  • If 2A is selected, can we at least get a metro bus route to the airport? (3)
  • Terminate 2A at East Towne, saving the cost of the rest for the Sun Prairie extensions

Do you know of any specific issues that may need special attention in our evaluation?

  • Is this needed?
  • Ease of transfers between bus and rail
  • Better bus service
  • Station spacing - E. Isthmus stations seem too close together
  • Stations at Midvale and Shorewood Boulevard are too close together, plus there's nothing at Shorewood Boulevard with little space for redevelopment.
  • Bus routes should be reconfigured, including location of East Transfer Point, to take better advantage of Alternative 2A
  • Rail system needs to understand importance of punctuality
  • Linkage with parking strategic plan
  • Encourage perimeter parking at a distance from downtown area; enable "park once" behavior.
  • Park-and-ride: airport, north transfer point, "Penn station" on the east, Middleton, Hill Farms, UW hospital area.
  • Would commuter rail improve drive times from Middleton to downtown Madison? Why not just use buses?
  • Creation of an RTA to fund the rail system and expand Metro service as well as regional road projects.
  • Who would own the system?
  • Will the UW participate with student fees?
  • Ridership too optimistic
  • Consider buses and the advanced fuel technologies
  • What are the rolling stock options? Are there vehicles that can operate on rail and streets and road (without embedded rail lines)?
  • Hours - weekday and weekend
  • Fares?
  • Use rail as gas prices increase
  • Noise and aesthetics for adjacent residences – better or worse than freight trains.
  • "Upgrades" of crossings that involve tall barrier arms and lights are not popular, are considered an ugly eyesore
  • Too many grade crossings
  • Benefits of traffic reduction on University Avenue corridor
  • Ridership projection is only half of the added employee traffic projected to be generated
  • This will result in net motor traffic increase
  • How will this system mesh with existing or projected freight operations?
  • Show cost of projected build out
  • Show traffic impact
  • Show net transit ridership and transfers
  • Show projected minimum, maximum, and average length of trips
  • Show daily drive alone and shared ride for current, no build and each alternative
  • Show cost for 2A to include overpass on US 51.
  • TOD will be possible on leg to airport
  • Rally the community - Wide effort campaign with TV marketing
  • Build a tollway from Verona to Stoughton to relieve beltline traffic
  • Build the north beltline

Are there additional issues you would like to see addressed?

  • Will trains be American made?
  • What kind of trains? Weight? Noise? Pollution?
  • North-south bus connectors aren't addressed much. Little change to the bus system doesn't maximize opportunities. North-south routes on the west side connecting to Middleton station would reduce net travel times. Current bus trips can take well over an hour and a half from the far corners of the city.
  • Will dollars spent go to local construction and engineering companies?
  • Need a way to get from the south side of University Avenue to the north at Hilldale/Segoe/Shorewood Boulevard area so we can use the train without having to drive to a station
  • Pave over the freight tracks and use super-express buses with the same gated crossings. However, I understand that freight traffic may still be required.
  • Pedestrian friendly, mixed use stations and associated TOD
  • Better bus service - perhaps from more remote park-ride facilities (i.e., shuttles to stations)
  • Easy access via overpass to UWH/VA station from the Regent neighborhood
  • Use this system to reduce current traffic volumes in the University Avenue corridor, not to increase motor vehicle traffic
  • Reduce automobile parking
  • Air quality impact with and without a rail system.
  • Noise should be a factor.
  • Traffic congestion
  • Blocking streets with unloading and idling trains.
  • NEVER build a trolley
  • Do not wait for trolley study to determine the LPA
  • County needs tighter land use controls
  • Madison needs to adopt a fully multi-modal and regional strategy
  • Cost of tickets - no subsidizing - this pays its own way
  • Ridership projections seems like a very inexact science
  • I find it very hard to believe that Middleton land use ranks higher than the Hill farms area. Much higher density at Hill farms now, with more on the way. Not so for Middleton.
  • Effect of linking airport is being undersold.
  • Future extension should focus on TOD areas, such as Fitchburg's Green Tech Village and places where park-and-ride can be established.
  • I support the reorganization of Metro as an RTA
  • I support high speed rail to MKE and MSP
  • In addition to Green Tech Village, the "Southdale Neighborhood" bounded by the Beltline, US 14, and Rimrock Road) is being planned by JJR for the Town of Madison and the Alexander Co. as a TOD along the line from Monona Terrace to Oregon (Southdale will become part of Fitchburg when the Town of Madison is dissolved).
  • Hope Amtrak will come
  • We are bus dependent
  • Station impact on parking

Other Comments

  • Grade separation would be a good thing
  • If Chicago gets the 2016 Olympics, could be opportunities for Madison to host events.
  • Are concrete ties considered? Appear to be quieter.
  • Will rail cars accommodate bikes?
  • Delete a lane of University Avenue
  • Include adequate crossing guards so no train horns would be needed
  • Ridership is too low to produce any air quality benefit – rail must be expanded
  • Go directly to downtown Sun Prairie
  • Prefer 2A (5) - increase ridership potential, TOD. Alt 3 in future, as wells as Fitchburg and Oregon.
  • Implement BRT as soon as possible. Also implement street cars.
  • Use bus shuttle from airport to bus transfer point (2)
  • Proceed with rail in a way that later trolley development will support and complement rail
  • Move forward with analysis and funding application (3) - don't wait for streetcar
  • Prefer 3 (4) - more frequent service for the airport is a big plus for that option.
  • Cheaper, better service in City, shorter headways, integration into north transfer point, airport connection good for city image, serves a part of the city that is underserved, puzzled by airport travelers not considered daily travelers. Great for tourism and conference economic impact
  • The Sun Prairie line would promote sprawl, compared to the infill potential of Alternative 3.
  • consider an elevated system
  • Density of Madison conducive for light rail
  • Bus only system cannot be viable; won't have the same positive impact on urban form. Don't let the bus-only advocates kill light rail - a combination can be more successful.
  • Use fuel efficient buses
  • Don't use optimistic forecasts
  • Throw out student ridership numbers; they skew the study
  • Development on the route will be slow until the city changes its attitude toward businesses
  • Limit light pollution - apply dark sky principles to the commuter rail system
  • RTA (2) - the city and county need to cooperate
  • Alt 2A preferred - higher population densities along route
  • Oscar Meyer won't increase ridership, because the route does not pass through areas where the majority of Oscar Meyer workers live

Did you find this meeting informative?

  • Yes (23)
  • No (1) – “still too many details missing”
  • Include dates on boards to determine if information is still accurate

4. WRITTEN COMMENTS RECEIVED VIA E-MAIL

From: Sheryl & Doug Hursh
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 11:00 PM
Subject: rail into Middleton

I read in the April issue of Transport 2020 that the commuter rail will run every 40 minutes in non-peak hours. Will the service continue 24 hours/day excluding special events on Sundays? What are considered peak hours? It appears that the rail is ending in Middleton simply because the tracks are there even though the majority of new residential and commercial growth is happening out Mineral Point and Sauk Trails. Why bother going out as far as Middleton at all?

How is the crime rate expected to change in downtown Middleton with a parking garage servicing potential commuters? Why doesn't the proposal include a park and ride at the Whitney Way stop? Surely, there won't be many commuters walking in to board a train from that neighborhood either, particularly in winter. The lots are too large for a substantial population density to support an entire station. Lastly, how will the safety of the many buses that transport children every morning to Middleton schools be affected by such an active train line on Gammon/Park St?

Obviously, the quality of life and value of homes near the tracks will decrease substantially with a commuter rail running through the neighborhood at such a high frequency. How many of the proponents for this plan live along the tracks?

From: Richard C. Lathrop
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 11:10 AM
Subject: Use of rail corridors as multi-modal transportation routes including buses

I have been following with great interest the debate in the newspapers about Dane County's 2020 light rail system and Madison's streetcar system. I am definitely in favor of a better mass transit system for Madison and the surrounding area. However, I would like to propose an idea that I believe more directly meets our immediate needs in a much more affordable way, could be relatively quickly implemented, and would not preclude future more elaborate mass transit options.

First of all, I live in the older portion of the Stonefield neighborhood (6353 Briarcliff Lane) in Middleton. Almost every day I cross over the railroad tracks that form our neighborhood's northern boundary (either at Park St. or at Stonefield Rd. in Middleton). On most days I commute via my small car to campus where my office is located. During the warmer months of the year I try to ride my bike to work (almost 6 miles) and occasionally I take the bus, especially if I have a meeting downtown. However, the bus (#71) option as it is right now is not very time efficient for me. I have to walk about 0.6 mile from my home to the nearest bus stop just north of the railroad tracks on Park St. (Middleton), and then the bus takes quite a while traveling the street route with all the traffic, stop lights, and passenger stops to before it runs by the campus area down Johnson St. where I would normally get off and still have a good walk to my office. From home to office the whole walk/bus commute takes a good 50-55 min.

The thing I don't like about the 2020 light rail systems being proposed is that they all pick up passengers at the Middleton Station location and then they don't stop again until the Hill Farms/Hilldale location. The system has little benefit for people like me who would like to take mass transit, but getting to the Middleton Station would require me driving my car and then finding a place to park. To be blunt, I wouldn't use it! It is a system designed to help commuters in outlying subdivisions and communities west of Middleton. It has its value for that, but I doubt the ridership could justify its huge cost. When I look down the railroad tracks, though, I see a wide and relatively flat corridor that is very underutilized by the current freight train traffic. The right-of-way on that corridor must be at least 100 feet. In Middleton, I doubt very much if there are much more than 2 trains in a 24-hour period that use the system.

Here's the idea -- make the railroad corridor a one-way multi-modal system just during the rush hour commute period where express buses would first collect people in the neighborhoods and then use the corridor to quickly get downtown where the buses would then leave the railroad corridor and get back on the streets to let people off. For example, such a multi-modal bus could enter the railroad corridor around Park St. (Middleton) and then leave the corridor at W. Johnson St. by Union South. The one-way corridor would be used by these express buses weekdays from say 6:00-9:00 AM going into Madison and then in reverse direction from say 3:30-6:30 (and at other times if the demand was there). Looping roundtrip buses would use the streets as the buses would be running in the opposite direction of the commuter traffic. Depending on demand, express buses could pick up people at park and rides in Middleton, and then head directly downtown with the same stops planned for the light rail proposal, but with an additional stop at the Stonefield Rd. railroad crossing to pick up additional people including me! Another big advantage of using the buses is that special ticketing stations would not be needed.

There are two ways these express buses could use the railroad corridor. The easiest from a technological point of view is to pave double-tire wheel-width lanes somewhere in the railroad track corridor -- maybe on either side of each rail or offset with one wheel going down the middle of the two rails. These paved lanes would only need to be done for the rail corridor sections where the multi-modal commuter bus would run. Trains could use the tracks when the rush hour commuter buses weren't running (e.g., all night or mid-day).

In the future if it was decided to add light rail electric cars, the multi-modal system would allow it. The other option would be to have the buses designed (or retrofitted) with train track wheels to ride the tracks just like the railroad company maintenance trucks do. Some while ago I mentioned this idea to our local historian David Mollenhoff who said they actually tried that in Washington, D.C. but they didn't use it because right away they had an ice storm where the rubber tires couldn't grip the rail. (Here, buses don't have to use the track system during infrequent ice storms!) A different modification could be if there were two drive axles with a drop-down drive train track wheel for the tracks and the other drive axle being for tires. A small fleet of these special multi-modal buses could be purchased to just run the rush hour commuter express routes, while using the existing bus fleet to run all the more local routes, and other non-commuting times. If this bus design was not commercially available, maybe the UW Mechanical Engineering students could design a prototype.

The point is, buses that could both travel on the streets and the rail corridors is not that big a problem to solve! However, I am betting the paved double lanes is the easiest, although one always has to fight with the railroads for use of their track systems. Maybe national legislation is needed to gain this access. While the railroad companies took by eminent domain private lands for the national benefit back when the tracks were first laid, the societal need for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels (and reducing greenhouse gas emissions) makes converting these underutilized rail corridors to multi-modal transportation corridors a national priority. For a city the size of Madison and its environs, I believe this system would be a much more economical alternative to the light rail and street car systems currently being debated. I've mentioned this idea to a couple of dozen people (common citizens), and they think it has a lot of merit. Please consider it -- thanks!

P.S. And if we are considering making these underutilized railroad corridors multi-modal, how about considering adding a bike lane on the edge of the corridor from Park St. (Middleton) down to the Hill Farms area? That stretch of road on Old Middleton is very narrow and unsafe for bikes, as well as hilly!

From: John G. Condron
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 6:27 PM
Subject: Public comment for Alternative 2a for Transport 2020

I have been following the Transport 2020 initiative for years. I am unable to attend the public hearing this Thursday night.

Here are my official comments. I strongly support Alternative 2a (Middleton via Railroad Right of Way). There are numerous advantages with selecting alternative and which are the reasons I support this alternative. Unless I state differently, this reasons are compared with the ways things are now without commuter/passenger rail. 1). It relieves the more volume of everyday commuter traffic to and from Madison to the suburbs than Alternative 3. 2). This connects Sun Prairie to Madison and Sun Prairie is the fastest growing community in Wisconsin. 3). I would travel this train route. 4). Unlike the streetcar proposal, this project would be 80 % federally funded. 4). This would reduce the effects of global warming significantly in the Madison area. 5). This would reduce the need for foreign oil (oil wars like the one that we are in right now). 6). This would reduce the volume of air pollutants so that we would have a cleaner environment. 7). This would reduce the wear and tear on the major roads into and out of Madison drastically and so would save money on road repairs. (Look what we are spending on upgrading East Washington Avenue. 8). This would provide commuters and other passengers an alternative to driving their own car. If gasoline keeps increasing, it may put this region into a recession or depression and commuter/passenger rail would minimize this. 9). This would use existing railroad tracks, 10). We have studied this in detail for several years, 11) the price of gasoline is currently about $ 2.80 a gallon. Although the price of gasoline may decrease slightly, the overall trend has been increasing at an ever faster rate the last couple years, and 12). Alternative 2a utilizes the double track rather than the single track like Alternative 2 so therefore is more efficient than Alternative 2., and 13). Alternative 2a would use standard rail cars OR self-propelled rail cars (SPRC) which offers more flexibility than Alternative 2. Please respond to this letter that you have received my comments and that they will be entered into the documentation. Thank you.

From: Lorraine Gardner, Town of Dunn Plan Commission
Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2007 1:07 PM
Subject: Commuter Train

Let's get going on the commuter train project. I've been going to meetings about it for years. Either alternative is fine, although it would seem the airport alternative would contribute to a more complete transportation package. I will have to look at where the tracks are in order to decide whether people could really use the train to go to East Towne. I will get in touch with you again after I review the details.

Sorry I couldn't attend the public presentation May 3rd; there was a county board meeting the same night which affected our township, though it turned out we were a very late agenda item and I could have gone to the Transport 2020 presentation also.

From: Ross Lange
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 10:56 AM
Subject:

Please put commuter rail in Madison! I have lived in one of the most car dependant cities for the last 5 years. I plan on moving back to Madison after grad school and I think the commuter rail plan connecting the suburbs of Middleton and Sun Prairie is an excellent idea. It will be a great asset for Madison to have.

From: Bob Schaefer
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 12:48 PM
Subject: May 3 comments

Here is an expansion and addition to my comments on the May 3rd 2007 Public Meeting of Transport 2020 ITF:

  • It is misleading to introduce the growing future congestion as a factor to consider and then go on to explain the preferred alternatives because the public makes an automatic connection that the alternatives will reduce the congestion. No data was presented that supported reduced congestion, in fact the data shows that commuter rail crossing some intersections as many as 12 times per hour during peak travel will significantly increase congestion over no-build.
  • It is also misleading to disclose only the projected Phase 1 costs without also disclosing the potential number of phases and a projected total system cost using the same criteria that is used for Phase 1. Disclosing this information helps people see that there is a planned development rather than a “lets build this part and then see where it goes” unplanned development. Failure to disclose that information to the public could cause some people to question the committee’s confidence in the plan as well as wonder if the committee is afraid that “sticker shock” will generate less support for the project. When the general public knows all the facts and still supports it then the project is unquestionably good for the community
  • Regional governance and finance is essential for the development and operation of any regional public transportation system. The past history of Dane County communities surrounding and bordering with Madison has not generally demonstrated a willingness to financially partner with Madison in the past to support public transportation even though residents of those communities used park & ride lots and public transit in their commute. Starting up with the Expanded Regional Bus alternative would give reason to develop those partnerships and prove the concept of a regional public transit system in Dane County. The Alternatives Analyses segment of this study showed this alternative to have comparable ridership to the other alternatives at far less cost and create less congestion to the other transportation modes. In time as Madison and Dane County grows, higher density and development could support an attractive elevated system that, considering Madison’s climate, could tie in with elevated, enclosed walkways in the downtown area.
  • Land Use and Density, as well as Economic Growth have become the main stay rationale for introducing rail transportation. Most of the new Isthmus and Central City developments are already being built with higher densities and improved land use. Their purchase price or lease costs are also indicative of economic growth. The argument that rail is an indicator to developers that public transportation will not be removed is irrational because if a fast efficient bus system served that area and was heavily used it would not be removed. It has also been acknowledged that commuter rail could potentially spread more sprawl to outlying areas.

The following is a "To Do List" concerning the project data:

  • Make public the Traffic Impact Analyses and explain any significant deviations from the Alternatives Analyses data. I heard the statement that Whitney Way and University Ave experienced a 6 sec delay over no-build, but the Alternatives Analyses data shows a 50 sec increased delay over no-build.
  • Ridership numbers keep going up due to various adjustments. In order to reflect the true impact, the net daily transit ridership, the daily train and bus boardings, and the daily transfer rate needs to be shown. This data needs to be compared to the Expanded Regional Bus System used as the Baseline since in effect the regional bus system is used as a feeder for the trains. Table 7-3 of the Alternatives Analyses can be used as a pattern.
  • Showing the daily number of minimum, average, and maximum length train trips would also demonstrate the major use of the train, short hop on campus or downtown, medium commute, or cross town trip.
  • Since Alternative 2A does not have trains which make the entire East/West trip, the transfer point and anticipated layover information needs to be provided.
  • A cost per rider would also give perspective on the comparative slides.
  • When showing the trip travel time by mode comparisons it is important to show the comparative auto trip time in two modes, no-build and with the compared alternative in place. Since the train increases congestion, the auto trip is artificially inflated by the solution.
  • The Drive Alone and Shared Ride trips need to be shown as in Table 7-2 of the Alternatives Analyses to demonstrate the effect of the system on reducing auto travel. The length of trips can also be factored in to show any reduction in miles traveled.
  • Alternative 2A needs to have the cost of the HWY 51 overpass as shown in the Stoughton Road Alternative C plan

From: Peter Rafferty
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 12:27 PM
Subject: Fwd: APA blurb on FTA mishandling new/small starts

In case you missed it, below is a peek into current congressional pressure for new/small starts... better news for rail transit in Madison some day...

-------- Original Message --------

May 17, 2007

House Subcommittee Criticizes FTA Implementation of New Starts and Small Starts

On May 10, the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held an oversight hearing on the implementation of the New Starts and Small Starts programs. Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) noted that the Federal Transit Administration "is not currently incorporating all of the congressionally mandated project justification criteria into either the New Starts or Small Starts evaluation process. Rather, FTA gives undue weight to a singular criterion - cost effectiveness - effectively trumping all the others." A number of transit agencies testified about the effect this focus has had on their projects, specifically streetcars. The subcommittee chair also criticized the administration's process for implementing SAFETEA-LU.

From: Don Pingel
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:11 PM
Subject: Address removal

It is very sad to see this process drag out year after year after year. The money spent on continuous studies is astounding. The people of Madison seem more interested in bike paths on railroad rights-of-way than trains running on railroad rights-of-way.

Please remove my name and address from your mailing list.