Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just Passing Through

I was looking at my HSR network again and started wondering about having the NYC-Montreal line pass through Burlington. Here is a quick analysis of the area. I'll have more about it later.

Update: My mapping has succumbed to feature creep.

I've developed four "alignments" for where a HSR line might be run near Burlington. From west to east they are:

  1. Downtown Alignment - Of course, my first instinct was to put the line through downtown. It turned out to be the worst choice by far. It would cut the city off completely from it's small but developing waterfront, there would be no room for parking, it would create a lot of traffic through the city, it would have to share track with the local shortline freight railroad, and there would be no room for run-through tracks. The only upside is that downtown (which is up the hill from the station) would be within easy walking distance.
  2. UVM Alignment - Running the line near I-89 might be the best choice. The station would have good highway access, it would create little additional traffic through residential neighborhoods, it would be within walking distance of UVM, and it would be closest to the major hotels clustered along Williston Road. The downside is that it would be the most disruptive to existing buildings, and it would displace UVM's working farm. It might also be too close to Fletcher Allen, disrupting patients with noise and vibration, and it would not be within easy walking distance of downtown.
  3. Airport Alignment - Running the line near the Burlington International Airport would be the least disruptive to the existing built environment. Passengers would be close to currently operating rental car agencies, but not much else.
  4. Suburban Alignment - Locating the line and station out in the 'burbs (such as they are in Vermont) would put tourists a few miles closer to the ski resorts, but at the same time draw development well away from downtown. There would be plenty of room for parking.

Of those 4 alignments, my choices, in order, are: 2, 3, 4, 1. I wish that the downtown alignment could work, but it wouldn't. It would be so damaging that I'd rather see the line on the other side of the lake.

Just for kicks, I extended the downtown and suburban alignments to the Canadian border and all the way to Schenectady. The placement of each is strictly guesswork; I did it mostly to get a sense of what kind of disruption a line would bring to the Vermont countryside. I also populated the map with lots of other tidbits that only a railfan would find interesting. I'll probably move a lot of these to a separate map at some point.

Update: I've cleaned up the Burlington map. See the post above for railfan stuff. I've also made a high level map of the Federal High-Speed Rail Corridors for reference.

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