Thinking a bit about alignments for Phillipsburg-Allentown rail service (which is so, sorely needed). The route choice is surprisingly complex.
Phillipsburg-Easton is pretty easy -- you just follow the former CNJ ROW across the Delaware and Lehigh, and you get a stop just south of the downtowns in both Easton and Phillipsburg. Not perfect (you'd optimally run through the activity density), but workable.
From there on out things are a bit less pretty. You can continue following the CNJ, but that means you'll be under a cliff from the denser residential areas of Easton. Elevators and all would help, but I suspect that 10 min bus service would be much more effective in these nhbds
Bethlehem is also a bit annoying. The highest job densities (albeit ones drowning in parking) now lie south of the river in the casino on the redeveloped steel mill site, which lies along a (very active) freight line.
The CNJ puts us on the north side of the river, which is the wrong side for a river alignment, and the wrong location for a north side alignment. The CNJ is also a trail at the moment.
It is likely possible to get 2 semi-exclusive passenger tracks in on the south side, but certainly not without paying large sums to NS for the privilege.
Allentown is also hard. If you stick to the north side, you'll end up in Allentown Yard If you navigate Bethlehem on the south side, you'll be well positioned to bypass that yard but you'll end up along the Jordan Creek maybe 1/3 of a mile west of downtown Allentown
I think all of this points towards the advisability of a tram-train for the region? There would be some real issues to resolve with transit priority and street width in these older CBDs...
...but insofar as it'd allow you to use high-quality rail ROWs btwn towns and streets which touch jobs/people in towns, it seems the smart move.
(BRT, if done right, could also perhaps work, though you'd likely not be able to recycle the rail ROW)
This feels more broadly illustrative of the sometimes-present issues with recycling rail ROW in places whose topography is similar to the Lehigh Valley.
Lots of times, RRs will end up along rivers cut off from population by cliffs, or by now-dormant industry that grew along the tracks
Those barriers are by no means insurmountable, but especially given how poorly integrated land use and station access planning are with the design of transit corridors, it's not uncommon to end up with beautiful but empty cliffside stops.

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More from @A320Lga

19 Dec
One little thing to be excited about going into 2021 at NYCT: it looks like the hegemony of diesel work locomotives is finally coming to an end.
In the NYC subway, we overwhelmingly use diesels to power work trains, as the third rail is switched off in work zones. The negative implications on passenger -- to say nothing of work train crew -- respiratory health should be self evident.…
Though other systems (for example, London) have used battery locos for over a century, NYCT has historically resisted this, and has bought overwhelmingly diesel equipment until very recently.
Read 5 tweets
18 Dec
Always loved how clearly strong the PA influence is in Phillipsburg NJ's architecture/planning. The town has the mid-block alleys and gabled rowhouses that are so quintessentially E PA.
so many really interesting alleys in phillipsburg. this particular one a little bit of a 19th century 'disorganized wires' vibes.
Attached vs detached, but Trenton notably also has this sort of thing going on.
Read 4 tweets
17 Nov
I really don't think there's any bit of railroad anywhere in the US that screams "electrify me" more than Metra's Suburban Branch of the Rock Island District.
With twelve stops in seven miles through relatively dense neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side, the line has the stop spacing of a subway, but is run with agonizingly slow-accelerating diesel equipment -- which also contributes to air pollution in surrounding communities
The line also faces little interference from freight traffic and is owned by Metra; this is one of (surprisingly many) places in the Chicago region where you could pretty easily make real regional rail-style improvements without running into freight railroad opposition
Read 6 tweets
17 Nov
One little bit of tri-state rail obscura about by which I am fascinated is the Hospital Branch in Poughkeepsie.
After the bridge burned in '74 and the Maybrook Line to the east was abandoned in '80, customers up the hill in Poughkeepsie were only accessible by this funny little route, which involved a switchback and some steep grades
The line made it all the way through Conrail, but (sources conflict) either CSX or the town of Poughkeepsie was reluctant to continue its operation. Last train ran sometime btwn 1999 and 2001, and after an abortive attempt to make it into a short line tracks were lifted in 2005.
Read 5 tweets
14 Nov
You may be thinking: 9 minutes to go from 3rd Avenue to E180!? That's great! It's not. @NYCTSubway seems to have used express runtimes with local stops interpolated in for 5 service on White Plains Road this weekend. Not the end of the world, but it sure won't help lateness! Image
It also looks like we've got some 30 second scheduled headways on Lex this weekend. Again, not the end of the world, but not great either! Image
Also, @NYCTSubway, I'm not sure what the backend changes that would be required to do this are, but would it be possible to look into making sure that every trip in the supplemented GTFS has a shape_id associated with it?
Read 6 tweets
16 Oct
The LGA EIS has been torn to shreds already, but I just want to hone in on the reasons they chose for rejecting Alt 8B (N to LGA over 31 St and 19 Av) for one sec. They'
The formal reason for rejecting this alt is that it has the potential to disrupt infra during its construction. Specifically, the report writers are concerned about impacts to NEC service, and to sewer infrastruction.
The former line of reasoning has me perplexed. This is the detail they give on the potential impacts to the NEC, but folks, no new-build section of this route crosses the NEC! The NEC crosses the N just south of Ditmars; the new stretch of track would begin beyond it.
Read 6 tweets

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