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Endangered RR Corridors Ex-Urban Encroachments Dennis Kearns Legislative Counsel Austin, Texas.

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Presentation on theme: "Endangered RR Corridors Ex-Urban Encroachments Dennis Kearns Legislative Counsel Austin, Texas."— Presentation transcript:

1 Endangered RR Corridors Ex-Urban Encroachments Dennis Kearns Legislative Counsel Austin, Texas

2 1 RR Corridor Traits Single Track Mainline Meets at Sidings: Overtake or Pass Opposite Distance between sidings, length of sidings Grade crossing(s) at sidings Dispatcher’s use of siding to organize “meets” Double Track Mainline Passing Train Speeds/Visibility

3 2 Adjacent Property ROW ownership ususally 25’, 50’, 100’ Width limited for maintenance, liability, tax, cost reasons RR inability to control “neighboring uses” Unincorporated areas: no zoning or land use control Historical vs. recent uses for both RRs and “neighbors” (i.e. RR expansion for new terminal, “First in time, first in right”

4 3 Train’s Footprint Idling Locomotive’s Vibrations Blocked at grade crossing restricting community ingress/egress Locomotive Emissions: Exhaust, Air Brake Reservoir Crew Change; Crew Refreshment Break Break Train shortcomings

5 4 Community Expectations Subdivision Developer’s Representations Purchaser’s Due Diligence RR Role in “Disclosure” Reasonable Accommodation by RRs Community Awareness &/or Education on RR operations Placement of EMS/Fire/Police, Schools in relation to access across RR

6 5 Growing Conflict Urban Land Institute: Half of Population live in Urban Centers Megalopolis Trends: Lincoln Land Institute Commuting Trends: Alan Pisarski Freight-Rail Bottom Line Report: AASHTO General Infrastructure Funding Crisis

7 6 Social Equity - Megapolitans

8 7 Factors Driving Railroad Growth

9 8 Public Policy Land’s Highest and Best Use Community Livability Global Marketplace Logistics Modal Shifts & Economic Drivers Environmental Justice

10 9 Examples of Freight Rail PPP Public Benefits Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Funded by the freight railroads, Metra, Federal Government, Illinois, and the City of Chicago. SAFETEA-LU funding - $100 million Public benefits: $1.1 Billion related to air quality improvements $595 Million related to motorists, rail passengers, and safety CREATE Brighton Park Reduction in highway needs and construction costs will yield more than $10 Billion in savings for the nation over 20 years Note “gentrification” redevelopment occurring in the background...

11 10 Social Equity As the use of freight rail has surged in recent years, issues of land encroachment are becoming problematic. Examples of this are: 1. Increases in train frequency near established residential areas 2. The “gentrification” of urban industrial areas 3. New development close to rail lines and facilities

12 11 Wrong Side of the Tracks? Environmental Justice begins where? Land near tracks (and other industrial uses/toxic sites) is inexpensive and generally habited by those lower on socioeconomic strata. Yet…inner core urban gentrification resulting in development @ RRs “it’s neither possible nor desirable in a free society to have all groups living equally close to everything--be it libraries or landfills…even the old Soviet Politburo would have a hard time pulling that one off. The mere fact of disparate impact is not evidence of intentional discrimination in the placement of industrial facilities – it’s just economics.” Michael Steinberg, D.C. lawyer for chemical industry quoted in 9/2/07 NY Times article: Not in Whose Backyard.

13 12 A Neighbor’s Frustration Hello, my name is **** and I am a resident in Royal Lake Estates in Richmond Texas. Our neighborhood is situated right next to railroad tracks that bear your name. I have never lived near railroad tracks and have a few concerns I was wanting to address. First, our neighborhood has only one entrance/exit which is very often clogged with traffic due to trains. I have had several experiences with sitting at the railroad crossing for more than ten minutes and one experience where we sat for 26 minutes. In that particular instance, there were two trains which both stopped right in front of our one entrance/exit and they just sat there. Sometimes I see the trains split up and things like that, but these two seemed to just be stopped. My concern with this is that I have 3 small children and what if I were on my way to rush one of them to the emergency room? How would I get through two stopped trains? I never even physically saw someone, so i couldn't even explain to the conductor that I would need to get through. As a concerned citizen and parent is there anything you can tell me that would help me if that situation ever were to arise? Secondly, even if there is no emergency, is there anything protecting us from getting stuck at railroad crossings indefinitely? I mean it seems that we just sit there until the trains finish whatever they need to do. Is there a time limit to which in a normal non emergency situation the trains must adhere to? I am fully aware that railroad crossings are just a part of the transportation community and in no way am I saying I never want to get stuck at a crossing, but sitting for 26 minutes just seems wrong and unfair to those of us with destinations and timeframes to meet. And in many instances if the trains were at least moving and we could see that the crossing would soon be clear, that would be nice. It is the times that the trains come to complete stops and we just sit, not knowing how long it will take for them to move and finally 26 minutes later, they slowly make their way on. It is fair to say I am very frustrated and concerned and just would like to know as a citizen what recourse I have in these situations. Thank you for your time.


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