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17 CHAPTER 2 The History of Multimodal Corridors As the interstate highway system nears completion, de- of previous multimodal corridor efforts. To take full advantage mand for transportation services is increasingly outstripping of both these methods, it is important to understand the history supply. The costs of new construction in already-built corri- of multimodal corridors. dors have been prohibitive. Ripping out established neigh- borhoods to build a new transportation facility has become increasingly objectionable over the years for numerous rea- The Historical Evolution sons, including environmental, aesthetic, social equity, and of Multimodal Corridors economic disruptions.1 Meanwhile, congestion continues The complexity of multimodal corridors makes it diffi- to grow and the environmental consequences of automobile cult to realize the goals that originally inspired their plan- travel have steadily eroded public support for new freeway ning, design, and implementation. Several early examples of construction. multimodal corridors combined transit and highways. Per- The motivation for developing multimodal corridors haps the first is New York City's Brooklyn Bridge--a structure originally arose from a simple need: to assemble land for a built across the East River in the late nineteenth century-- transit (or freeway) right-of-way at a reasonable cost.1 More and the Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensbourough recently, multimodal corridors have been seen as offering Bridges built in the early twentieth century. In the 1930s, qualities beyond low-cost construction, with performance rail transit was incorporated into the Delaware River Bridge benefits over and above those possible from stand-alone between Philadelphia and Camden, and into the San Francisco- freeway or transit facilities. The history of how multimodal Oakland Bay Bridges. The Shaker Heights "rapid" (in the corridors have evolved provides insights into the changing Cleveland, Ohio, suburbs) was built in the wide median of perspectives on transit, freeways, and multimodal corridors. Shaker Boulevard in the early 1920s. On or around 1941 a Multimodal corridors can serve another function: providing an section of the San Fernando Valley interurban line of the integrated, multimodal system where each mode complements Pacific Electric Railway was relocated into the Hollywood the other, yielding a total corridor level of service greater than Freeway median near Mulholland Drive in Cahuenga Pass the sum of its parts. in Los Angeles.1 Although the history of multimodal corridors offers many One common theme motivating all of these early examples techniques and tools that can help achieve cost savings and was the desire for construction cost savings. This original avoid land acquisition headaches, building an integrated, purpose--to reduce land acquisition and construction costs-- complementary multimodal system within a travel corridor may have seemed like a sensible, straightforward idea, but has remained an elusive goal. The new paradigm we discuss challenges arose almost immediately that made it difficult to offers tools and techniques for achieving these elusive ends, realize these cost-reduction benefits. but it does not throw away the lessons and insights of the old Successfully retrofitting transit facilities into an existing paradigm--the new paradigm builds on the methods and ideas freeway corridor was one of the first and most intractable challenges encountered because of the potential for dislocating businesses and disrupting economic activities. This challenge 1 Krambles, G. "Expressway Rapid Transit," A paper prepared for the 1971 was evident in the first era of multimodal corridor planning, ASCE-ASME National Transportation Engineering Meeting, Seattle, July 26, 1971. the Street Railway Era (see Figure 2-1).
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18 Source: Public domain, United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division. Figure 2-1. Traffic and commerce disruptions from street railway lines in Washington, DC. Source: Historic photo courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco 18901950: The Street Railway Era Public Library. From the earliest days of modern cities, as the industrial Figure 2-2. Streetcar-caused congestion on revolution was transforming and increasing the size of cities San Francisco's Market Street circa 1947. at a rapid pace, transportation planners and engineers gravi- tated toward combining transit and road facilities into street reliability, removing their operations from the congestion railways--the earliest version of a modern, multimodal cor- delays and conflicts of automobile traffic. Although this ridor facility. By combining fixed-rail transit and urban surface solution might have seemed ideal to transit advocates, the streets into a single facility, social, economic, and political growth of automobile use and the demands placed on the urban disruptions were minimized and a more efficient use of the street networks proved insatiable, and streetcar rights-of-way existing street right-of-way and its neighboring land uses were increasingly turned over to automobile traffic. resulted.1 After World War II, metropolitan areas in the United States But street railway systems had their drawbacks, the most expanded rapidly, sprawling outward with freeway- and serious of which were the conflicts between streetcars and other automobile-led development, and access to and from these new modes sharing a mixed-flow right-of-way. Before the intro- suburbs to the traditional urban core areas--the neighbor- duction of the automobile, transit vehicles could dominate hoods that had been developed in a transit-oriented fashion-- this environment, setting the pace of flow and demanding remained difficult and expensive. Wherever possible, under- priority through a combination of the bulk and speed of their utilized transit and freight rail rights-of-way were converted vehicles along with a liberal use of bell-clanging. As the auto- into multimodal facilities, carrying both modes, or converted mobile gained in popularity, streetcars began to take second completely to freeways. Los Angeles's famed Pacific Electric priority in mixed-flow traffic and increasingly had to wait for Railway interurban rapid rail system was torn up and largely automobile traffic congestion to clear or caused congestion replaced with freeways. Many other cities followed suit. In themselves (see Figure 2-2). Chicago, however, a hint of things to come could be seen: As the automobile became the preferred mode of urban travel efforts to make transit and freeways co-exist and thrive in the in U.S. cities, streetcar lines were increasingly abandoned, same rights-of-way, were beginning. their tracks torn up, and their rights-of-way turned over completely to the automobile. Some cities, such as Boston and New Orleans, avoided this problem by giving streetcars 19551965: The Chicago Era their own, exclusive rights-of-way in the center median of large streets--which we might call semi-grade separated. This Ironically, the first truly multimodal corridor--Chicago's solution gave streetcars an advantage in terms of speed and Eisenhower Expressway/Blue Line facility--was built not as a
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19 means to add more transit capacity but to add more freeway capacity. The planned freeway needed roughly 550 feet of right-of-way width, extending the full length of the city from east (at the central business district) to the developing suburbs in the west. Running along this alignment was the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railway, occupying its own 75-foot-wide right-of-way. Instead of wholesale removal of the transit line as had been done in Los Angeles, Chicago acquired additional land around the existing right-of-way and rebuilt the transit line in the median of the new freeway facility. Once completed in 1960, cost studies found that it was substantially less expensive to build rail in a multimodal corridor than the freeway facility--the division of costs was estimated at roughly 80 percent of total costs to freeway and Source: Photo courtesy of Van den Bossche Peter. 20 percent to rail. Passenger-loading surveys showed that the number of patrons served during peak hours exceeded those Figure 2-3. Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway/Red Line. of the freeway.1 It quickly became clear that the Eisenhower/Blue Line offered commute passenger (see Figure 2-3). Station spacing is a a new model for providing grade-separated transit service primary determinant of rail transit speeds--the fewer the into the heart of an established urban area using existing or number of stations, the faster the train can travel to its CBD proposed freeway rights-of-way. Although this corridor was destination. Similarly (though with less certainty) freeway built as a multimodal facility essentially by adding a freeway interchanges play a role in determining automobile speeds to an existing transit line, its success in operational terms was because vehicles entering and exiting the freeway cause dis- sufficient proof of concept to encourage other areas to consider ruptions in traffic flows that can cause congestion and reduced their own combined freeway and transit line facilities. speeds. Thus, the fewer the number of interchanges, the higher Chicago quickly followed this success with the Eisenhower the average freeway travel speeds. corridor in the Kennedy (opening in 1961) and Dan Ryan A simple comparison of the median spacings between inter- Expressway (opening in 1962) corridors. Although federal changes and stations along each of Chicago's three multi- monies for constructing freeways were readily available from modal corridors suggests planners took a different approach the Federal Aid Freeway Act of 1956, the federal government with the Dan Ryan Expressway/Red Line. Although the median had no such financing program for transit capital projects. As station spacings are roughly equal to the median interchange a result, the rail components of these corridors were not built spacings for the Kennedy and Eisenhower corridors, the when the expressways opened, and the Chicago Transit Agency median station spacings are almost double the median inter- temporarily ran buses in the mixed-flow lanes of the Dan Ryan change spacings in the Dan Ryan corridor. This suggests that and Kennedy facilities until rail construction funds could be the Dan Ryan's planners wanted to give the rail line a com- found. In 1964, Congress passed legislation offering funding petitive travel time advantage over its adjacent freeway. In this assistance for transit capital and construction costs. In 1966, respect, the Dan Ryan line represented a shift in multimodal Chicago's mayor, Richard J. Daley, put a bond initiative before corridor design towards a model more similar to a commuter the voters to fund the construction costs for the Kennedy and rail line--offering less access to neighborhoods along the Dan Ryan rail lines. It passed by a 2-to-1 margin, and con- spine of its corridor and emphasizing speed for long-distance struction began on both projects after approval of the grant commuters. This approach was enthusiastically adopted by assistance from the federal government. The rail component the next wave of multimodal corridors designed for the BART of the Dan Ryan Expressway/Red Line was opened and oper- system in the San Francisco Bay Area. ational in 1969 and in the Kennedy corridor 4 months later.1 The design of Chicago's first three multimodal corridors was similar in many respects. However, while the case can be 19651980: The Park-and-Ride Access Era made that the transit facilities in the Eisenhower/Blue Line and Kennedy Expressway/Blue Line corridors were built to Taking cues from the successes in Chicago, the San Francisco compete directly with their adjacent freeways for the same region designed its heavy/rapid rail system to take advantage travel market, the Dan Ryan/Red Line corridor was built to give of available freeway rights-of-way wherever possible. Unlike the rail line a competitive advantage in terms of travel speed Chicago's expressways, which were often planned and built in for one segment of the corridor travel market--the long-haul tandem with their rapid rail components, San Francisco's Bay
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20 Area Rapid Transit (BART) system was planned, designed, with high automobile traffic volumes from the freeway making and built as an afterthought to the freeway network. BART's the street environment decidedly unfriendly for pedestrians planners knew their system would often be at a competitive and bicycles. disadvantage vis-ŕ-vis the freeway system in terms of travel Public perception of transit as an old and slow technology times, speed, the surrounding land configurations, and public was addressed as well. BART intentionally designed its trains perception. with a sleek, futuristic appearance,2 even at the expense of BART's planners decided to try to give the system's trains operational convenience and performance. A noticeable a fighting chance against the freeways wherever possible. By example of this public perception-driven design emphasis is planning multimodal corridors--where the new trains would the sloped front of the train design. BART's engineers inten- run in the medians or directly adjacent to a freeway--BART tionally designed the front and end cars to project a futuristic planners designed the system to function more like a high- image; this over protests from within BART itself that the capacity commuter rail train than a heavy rail system. Station design was impractical from an operations standpoint since spacings that are much wider than in Chicago's Dan Ryan it would not allow front and end cars to be placed between cars corridor are the most obvious result of this decision, giving in a connected train, as other heavy rail systems can. BART trains on the Concord Line (now known as the Pittsburg/ The BART system focused on luring freeway drivers out of Bay Point Line) corridor very high average speeds. Similarly, their cars and on to trains, by making transit attractive in terms large, commuter-rail-style park-and-ride lots surround most of comparative travel times to downtown San Francisco and suburban stations on the BART system (see Figure 2-4). BART's Oakland, by offering ease of transfer between freeways and suburban stations often were placed directly adjacent to freeway BART, and through a futuristic design aesthetic. Although interchange ramps, minimizing the difficulties of intermodal this automobile-access priority for suburban stations is transfers from freeway to BART by drivers. sensible from the perspective of planners trying to address Park-and-ride access station designs also encouraged and the competitive advantage of nearby freeways, it also limited perpetuated the automobile-orientation of their surrounding the long-term influence of the system on corridor land use corridor land uses. Long station spacings mean fewer stations development patterns. within the corridor, which reduced the opportunities for BART was one of the first post-World War II heavy rail sys- BART to influence surrounding land uses and the travel pat- tem built in the United States and became a model for systems terns of corridor residents. Park-and-ride lots surrounding to come. BART's design priorities were adopted by planners stations took up valuable land for car access that could have in other cities for their multimodal corridors. The Washington been used for transit-oriented developments. Placing BART Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Metro- stations close to freeway interchange ramps cemented the politan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority (MARTA) systems automobile-orientation of the areas surrounding stations, designed similar lines in freeway corridors with large station spacings and park-and-ride-oriented station access designs. 1980Today: The Low(er)-Cost Era Although there were cost savings to be had by sharing rail and freeway rights-of-way, most multimodal corridors planned and built since Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway/Blue Line were expensive heavy rail systems. In Chicago, the pre-existing heavy rail system made this mode the obvious choice. In San Fran- cisco, BART planners hoped to halt and even reverse the ever- growing dominance of the automobile and its freeway system as the preferred mode of regional travel and the driving force behind suburban sprawl. Heavy rail's high passenger capacities, fast operating speeds, and image made it the transit mode of choice for large and prosperous cities. But costs of $100 million per mile or more for heavy rail construction caused many cities Source: GoogleEarth. 2Webber, M., The BART Experience--What Have We Learned?, October 1976, Figure 2-4. BART's Lafayette Station in the median of No. 26, Institute of Urban and Regional Development and the Institute of State Route 24. Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley.