Light Rail Gains New Momentum

by Corinne S. Bernstein, Asst. News Ed.; Civil Engineering—ASCE, New York, N.Y.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1984, Vol. 54, Issue 11, Pg. 40-43

Document Type: Feature article

Errata: (See full record)


Light rail, which evolved from the old trolley lines, is staging a comeback in U.S. cities. Light rail is a fixed guideway, operator controlled system, offering an alternative to heavy rail and buses. Civil, mechanical, and electrical work on light rail is fairly standard. Modern light rail generally operates on reserved, but not necessarily grade separated, rights of way. Operating light rail separately from traffic on private or reserved rights of way reduces the need to build costly structures, permits faster and more frequent service, and reduces urban congestion. Three case studies examine light rail transit. The San Diego Trolley opened in 1981, and transports an average of 16,000 riders a day. Extensions are planned for the line, which currently runs from San Diego to San Ysidro near the Mexican border. The Banfield line to open in 1986 is expected to bring an increasing number of shoppers and workers into the Portland, Ore. area. The Banfield project also entails the renovation and widening of 4.3 miles (6.9 km) of the Banfield Freeway. A major portion of the funding for the two projects comes from the withdrawal of two proposed interstate freeway segments. Santa Clara County, Calif. and its principal city San Jose hope to shape land development with the construction of a 20 mile (32 km) light rail line. The new line is part of a $600 million package tht includes a new highway and an adjacent bicycle path.

Subject Headings: Highways and roads | Light rail transit | Rail transportation | Traffic signals | Traffic congestion | Urban areas | Case studies | Project management | California | United States

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