Car infrastructure or new Colorado Hyperloop?

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Questions of whether we should build a Colorado Hyperloop shouldn’t be a zero sum game.

If you don’t know what zero sum means in game theory, look at this video by President Clinton.

So lets imagine a future different from the past. Cars will forever be around. Rail will always be around. Hyperloop will be new, but it will show our interdependence on the other forms of transportation. A hyperloop will reveal that we are interdependent to each other as well.

Colorado relates to this important higher level of thinking because CDOT will be embarking on some major infrastructure projects that will affect people. The 9News report below shows that interdependence of other transportation links are important, but more so are the people and lives that these projects change.

The reason why we must avoid the racist highways/transit projects that divided our cities for years goes back to what Clinton was saying in the above video. We have to believe in interdependence and we have to believe that we will be better off when we work together. Below is the report related article from the 9News article:

DENVER – Mayor Michael Hancock joined a group of other Denver city council members and other regional officials to express support for the $1.8 billion dollar project to improve I-70 east of I-25.

The Colorado Department of Transportation hopes to begin work on the project in 2016. Mayor Hancock sent a letter to CDOT asking the agency to study ways to minimize the negative impact of the project on people who live in the neighborhoods that will be directly affected by it.

“My number one priority is to ensure this project supports the Elyria, Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods,” Hancock said at a news conference Friday. “I am concerned that the impacts of this project could be born disproportionately by the surrounding minority and low income communities.”

CDOT calls its plan the “Partial Cover Lowered Alternative” because it will put a section of I-70 underground and establish parks and landscaping on top of it.

When I-70 was originally built through the area 50 years ago it created economic hardships for residents of the neighborhoods due to property values and other negative impacts of an interstate highway, which was a common issue for the U.S. interstate system when it was built.

Mayor Hancock believes the new project is an opportunity to “…really elevate the people in this area who really have been victims of environmental injustice from over 50 years…” He called the improvements to I-70 “a chance to redevelop these neighborhoods, improve their quality of life and create job opportunities and create access to healthier living opportunities including fresh food in the neighborhoods as well as a way to improve their standard and quality of life in these areas.”

We need a higher level of feeling and thinking. The Colorado Hyperloop would enable people to go along the whole front range, fast, unfettered and at very low cost for the masses. This would relate to another Elon Musk possible project:

This post was provoked by a NYTimes, Mark Bittman op-ed section below:

So we should not be asking, “How will we feed the world?,” but “How can we help end poverty?” Claiming that increasing yield would feed the poor is like saying that producing more cars or private jets would guarantee that everyone had one.

First Steps to a Colorado Hyperloop Will Be Via Buses

It’s good to see progress! From the ashes of a old bus program along I-70 called FREX, a new FREX will emerge with WiFi and Toilets! Thank you CDOT! The Denver Post describes the setting:

Buses with passengers from Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Glenwood Springs — and points in between — will be among those scheduled to eventually roll into the newly revamped Denver Union Station transit hub.

The commuter bus service over the state’s most-traveled corridors will be provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation and should start early next year at a cost of $10 million.

CDOT says its bus system, which will be run by a private contractor, is a needed first step in providing a statewide transit system.

“It really pulls Colorado together unlike anything before,” CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said.

The CDOT system will be the second coming of the Front Range Express — or FREX — bus system, which daily shuttled Colorado Springs commuters to Denver.

FREX was discontinued in August 2012 because of budget woes in Colorado Springs, which funded the service.

CDOT’s 13 new buses will accommodate 50 passengers with reclining seats, fold-down tray tables, Wi-Fi and 110-volt electrical outlets, and bike racks. Most important, they will include restrooms.

Read more: CDOT buses will find a home at Union Station – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25697256/cdot-buses-will-find-home-at-union-station#ixzz32AF4ny00

Also, the Colorado Springs Gazette has an editorial that has more information:

The Front Range Express, which shuttled passengers between Colorado Springs and Denver on luxurious buses, may be back by late 2014.

“This is imminent. It’s not pie in the sky. We are down to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s,” said Les Gruen, the Colorado Transportation Commission’s Colorado Springs representative.

Craig Blewitt, director of Mountain Metropolitan Transit, wrote in an email he’s hopeful the service will operate as early as October 2014.

“The commuter bus service will have three segments: Colorado Springs to Denver, Fort Collins to Denver, and an I-70 segment connecting mountain resort towns to Denver,” Blewitt wrote. “The Colo Springs to Denver segment restores FREX. The other two segments are totally new.”

The bus service would be funded by FASTER, a bipartisan transportation funding law enacted by the Legislature and former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter in 2009. It increased transportation revenue with a $2 daily car-rental fee and a new weight-based vehicle registration system.

The proposed buses will be larger than the previous FREX buses, which were not small, and will contain restrooms.

The CDOT proposal for restoration of service, which must be approved by the Transportation Commission, came after CDOT hired a consultant to study demand.

The old FREX service was of extraordinary value to professionals who commuted between Denver and the Springs. The average household income of regular FREX riders was $72,000.

Even though Denver and other communities benefited from the service, it was disproportionately subsidized by Colorado Springs. Although City Council tried to keep the service functioning, Mayor Steve Bach refused to sign a contract because he wanted the money for better bus service within the city limits. Politically, it made no sense to subsidize high-wage professionals at the expense of more than 4,000 Social Security recipients and low-income residents who needed more bus service in town.

Still, the loss of FREX probably made Colorado Springs a less appealing residential and business location among those who want easy and affordable transportation to and from Denver. It just makes good sense to link the state’s two largest cities with routine bus service.

Like most cities, Colorado Springs wants more jobs for young, highly educated professionals. Regular shuttles to and from Denver – a city that can attract professionals from the likes of Chicago, New York and San Francisco – make Colorado Springs a more attractive option. One can live and work in the Springs, enjoying majestic views and seemingly endless outdoor recreational opportunities, and get cosmopolitan amenities by merely boarding a bus for a short ride up I-25.

For Springs-Denver work commuters, the bus provides an hour each way to work on laptopd or tablets – something they cannot do while driving cars.

Extending the service to Fort Collins only stands to make it more useful to people all along the proposed route.

The old FREX was a fantastic service with a nonsustainable and unfair means of financial support that burdened Colorado Springs. What CDOT proposes – a state-funded service along a corridor of millions of Colorado residents – makes good sense. By all means, use FASTER proceeds to restore Front Range bus service as soon as possible.
Read more at http://gazette.com/state-may-bring-back-frex/article/1507774#3hA8ufu4hEm8JjV2.99

Even  the Westside Pioneer had an article:

A FREX by any other name?
A weekday commuter route between Colorado Springs and Denver, which ended for financial reasons a year and a half ago, will return late this year or in early 2015, based on a January vote of the Colorado Transportation Commission.
But unlike FREX (short for Front Range Express), the new, as yet-unnamed service will need no subsidy from the City of Colorado Springs. It will be funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) from an annual allocation of operating funds from the Statewide FASTER Transit Pool, according to Michael Timlin, CDOT bus operations specialist.
Individual fares will also be charged (amounts to be determined).
Frex had been costing the city about $1 million a year until Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach overrode City Council on the issue in the summer of 2012, saying the money should be used instead on fixed-bus routes. A few hundred people a day rode the Frex buses.
In an e-mail Feb. 3, responding to a set of questions submitted by the Westside Pioneer, Timlin described the CDOT plan, as follows:
“On Jan. 16, 2014, the Transportation Commission approved the funding [to operate an] express bus service. CDOT will become a ‘transit agency’ and will contract with a private provider to operate the service, much like Mountain Metro Transit does.
“There are actually three corridors that are the focus of the new bus service, Colorado Springs- Denver, Fort Collins-Denver, and Glenwood Springs-Denver.
“While we are targeting operations start-up [from] late 2014 to early 2015, much is still in development in the way of station stops, schedules, etc. I can tell you that the service will concentrate on park-and-ride lots and service will terminate/originate at Denver Union Station, with at least two pick-up/drop-off stops in Colorado Springs with one in Monument.
“Fare structure, while still a work in progress, is expected to be commensurate with the FREX service.
“The vehicles are anticipated to be 45-foot intercity- type motorcoaches with air-ride suspension, wheelchair lift, lavatory, 50-seat configuration for extra leg room, WiFi, reclining seats fitted with fold- down tray tables, cup holders, foot rests and a 110-volt dual-power outlet for each dual seat unit.
“CDOT is not making a $10.9 million investment for a ‘test’ program. Unlike FREX, the CDOT service has an annual allocation of operating funds from the Statewide FASTER Transit Pool . However, in the unlikely event performance goals are consistently unmet like ridership growth, farebox recovery, on time performance, revenue, and expenses, the Transportation Commission has the option to make changes like eliminating service in one or more routes, or terminate the service entirely.
“Sometime this Spring, after we have selected a ‘brand’ we will begin public out-reach and communications and gather public input on service levels, fares, etc.”

http://westsidepioneer.com/Articles/020314/Frex.html

Any State funded transit solution that offers citizens cheap and reliable rapid transit along the front range is good for the future Colorado Hyperloop! As one commenter to the Gazette Editorial says “HALLELUJAH! So glad that our state government has more sense than the city. Next up: commuter rail from Pueblo to Fort Collins.” Indeed!

I-25 Federal Upgrades vs Federal Experiment for Colorado Hyperloop

I-25 map in the United States

 

If I-25 is so busy, why isn’t there other transportation systems in place to relieve the volume?

The Colorado politician that now seek Federal funding for upgrades for I-25 once said that the Federal Department of Transportation isn’t needed.  Should we have confidence in our politicians to think a Colorado Hyperloop a priority?

The latest news on the situation, by Erin Udell of the Coloradoan, notes that communities along Northern I-25 section don’t even want the “upgrades.”

“Those communities worked tirelessly to make I-25 a priority and successfully got additional lane capacity, which they planned for, raised money for, worked hard for,” said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway. “Now, you have CDOT coming in saying, ‘Well, we need to add lane capacity up to Highway 14, and we’re going to toll it.’ ”

“That’s where the disagreement comes in. We’re saying it’s unfair,” Conway said. “These communities … they deferred projects, they prioritized I-25 and were reaping the benefits of years of planning when CDOT came in and said they want to take existing free lanes that have been bought and paid for by taxpayers, and they want to toll them.”

CDOT does not have the funds,  so the communities along I-25 are planning independently.

The communities involved in the coalition — Windsor, Mead, Berthoud and Johnstown — all line the north I-25 corridor and, according to Conway, must give CDOT their approval before it can move forward with any possible changes. Other communities that line the corridor include Erie, Fort Collins, Loveland, Dacono and Frederick.

“There isn’t a north-south split. It’s quite the contrary,” Conway said. “Fort Collins and Loveland have been very open-minded about discussing how we can deal with this issue.”

“I think, with the collaborative effort that’s been shown, we can come up with some creative solutions – some that are destined for success.”

The Colorado Hyperloop could possibly be a creative solution for the entire state!

The fight’in Greeley Tribune ends this post with their article: Gardner will try to secure federal funding for Interstate 25 improvements

He said he agrees with concerns raised by the North I-25 Coalition at a meeting this week and pledged to initiate discussions in Washington, D.C., regarding including I-25 in the transportation bill.

“At a time when the I-25 corridor has seen its traffic population grow by more than 425 percent over the past 20 years, it is now more important than ever to ensure that northern Colorado has the infrastructure to support our evolving economy,” Gardner said in a news release. “Local officials have estimated that the outdated interstate system has cost the area $56 million, proof that it is far past time to address this issue.”

Says the man who wanted to disband the Department of Transportation.

Will the cost in upgrading I-25 be more than the cost in building a experimental Colorado Hyperloop that follows the same route?

Perhaps we all could look into the future and see a need for a I-25 mirroring Colorado Hyperloop.

Financing and PR Woes for CDOT

The biggest factors that the Colorado Hyperloop will have to deal with is public relations and financing. Nothing can happen without support of both interests.

So it is interesting to see what happened this week  with CDOT in on two of the busiest roads, I-70 and US 36. It goes from bad to worse for CDOT.

First, CDOT blames nightmare I-70 traffic on Colo. drivers on 9News. Bad weather, insane amounts of cars driving eastward and crazy confusing plans for avoiding the next bottleneck  created hours of waiting.

Second, CDOT: Better road could have been taken on U.S. 36 contract on The Denver Post.

Third, Lawmakers to grill CDOT on US 36 plan on 9News.

Fourth, Surprising CDOT, Lawmakers Push Back Over U.S. 36 Public-Private Partnership on KNUC.

Fifth,  Harsh words for CDOT at public meeting on 50-year U.S. 36 contract on the Daily Camera.

Sixth, well maybe there will be new push for building the Hyperloop? haha, woe unto me…