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Train Blocking at Yahara

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Train Blocking at Yahara

Postby Potatoes » Thu May 17, 2007 8:39 am

Anybody else out there in one of the 3,287 vehicles (or 87 bikes) stopped by the train near the Yahara River at rush hour this morning?

Happens all the time, but this was the worst one I've ever experienced. It was from 7:42 to 8:05 - 23 minutes of blocking the two major arteries into town (Johnson and Washington).

Anybody already working on this?
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Postby Henry Vilas » Thu May 17, 2007 8:57 am

A blockage of 23 minutes? I thought there is a city ordinance with a time limit during rush hour. If so, a fine in is order. But Bill Gardner of Wisconsin and Southern Railroad would probably retaliate and tell his engineers to lay on the horn a little longer in the middle of the night.
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Postby Bwis53 » Thu May 17, 2007 9:18 am

That explains the thick traffic up East Washington, all the way to the Square, 8:00-8:30 and they we're stopping for pedestrians 'cause they were late!
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Postby gargantua » Thu May 17, 2007 9:28 am

Henry Vilas wrote:A blockage of 23 minutes? I thought there is a city ordinance with a time limit during rush hour. If so, a fine in is order. But Bill Gardner of Wisconsin and Southern Railroad would probably retaliate and tell his engineers to lay on the horn a little longer in the middle of the night.


Does Isthmus have an annual award for biggest asshole? If so, I nominate Bill Gardner.
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Postby Potatoes » Thu May 17, 2007 9:30 am

It affects both directions, but I know the queuing up Pennsylvania and Washington was really bad for inbound commuters.

What is the ordinance? And speaking of a fine, take a look at the economic cost:
- Traffic flow on Johnson and Washington at the Yahara is around 8,400 veh/hr at that time.
- Over 23 minutes, that's over 3,220 vehicles affected.
- Average value of time (per USDOT) is roughly $13/hr ($0.217/min).
- 3,220 veh X 23 min X $0.217 = $16,000

And that's just the basic delay cost. We can add in the extra time to travel through the queue, the cost of cut-through traffic in neighborhoods, were there any crashes caused?, extra wasted fuel from idling vehicles, extra emissions (NOx, SOx, CO, particulate, etc.), the extra cost from people being late to work, meetings, daycare, etc.

How about a $30,000 fine? And we can all go honk our horns outside Gardner's home at night.

And that's just one train on one day. This is huge, in my opinion.
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Postby spanky » Thu May 17, 2007 9:36 am

It sucked. I got nailed at Broom and John Nolen, then again at John Nolen and Olin. How many times does this train need to cross John Nolen Drive???
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Postby jjoyce » Thu May 17, 2007 10:11 am

Add to that volume the number of people who are using alternate routes to avoid Beltline construction.

Couldn't have been a better ad for bike to work week though, huh?
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Postby Stomach » Thu May 17, 2007 10:32 am

jjoyce wrote:Add to that volume the number of people who are using alternate routes to avoid Beltline construction.

Couldn't have been a better ad for bike to work week though, huh?


I get your point but bikes and even pedestrians get stuck behind the trains.
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Postby tomr » Thu May 17, 2007 10:45 am

The issue this morning was that vandals hit a number of the rail cars in the Johnson St yard that had been prepared for that run. When the locomotive pulled out, the cars disengaged, therefore losing the pressure for their airbrakes, locking them down. The crew had to go back and reconnect the cars, and repressure the brakes. It was reported to MPD.
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Postby white_rabbit » Thu May 17, 2007 11:04 am

Is beenthere aware of this vandalism?
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Postby Potatoes » Thu May 17, 2007 11:11 am

Here's the current Madison Ordinance on this issue:

10.24 OBSTRUCTION OF CROSSINGS BY TRAINS.

(1) It shall be unlawful to stop and leave standing any railroad train, locomotive or car upon or across any street crossing in the City of Madison longer than five (5) minutes.

(2) It shall be unlawful to operate or permit to be operated any railway train, locomotive or car upon or across any street crossing to the obstruction of public travel thereon for a longer period of time than five (5) minutes.

...

(5) The five (5) minute limitation as contained in subsection (1) shall be reduced to three (3) minutes if the violation occurs between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., between 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. and between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. (Am. by Ord. 12,044, 3-2-98)

(6) Any conductor, engineer or brakeman on any engine or train so stopping, operating on, or discharging passengers on any crossing or crosswalk in violation of this section shall be subject to a forfeiture of not less than ten dollars ($10) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100), and the corporation owning or operating any such train, engine or car shall be subject to a forfeiture of not less than twenty dollars ($20) nor more than two hundred dollars ($200) for each violation of subsection (1) or in case of a violation coming under subsection (5), not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation. (Am. by Ord. 12,044, 3-2-98)

...
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Postby Potatoes » Thu May 17, 2007 11:15 am

tomr wrote:The issue this morning was that vandals hit a number of the rail cars...


Okay, if a crime was committed this time, what about every other time these blockages occur during rush hours.

This is at least a weekly problem, on average. Blockage times usually aren't 23 minutes, but they're certainly longer than 5 or 3 minutes, which should bring a fine per the Madison Ordinance.

What a pittance of fine, though, if the annual economic impact to travelers - including bikes - is more than $500,000 once the costs are summed.

Are they even ever fined?
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Postby Dulouz » Thu May 17, 2007 12:26 pm

Potatoes wrote:
tomr wrote:The issue this morning was that vandals hit a number of the rail cars...


Okay, if a crime was committed this time, what about every other time these blockages occur during rush hours.

This is at least a weekly problem, on average. Blockage times usually aren't 23 minutes, but they're certainly longer than 5 or 3 minutes, which should bring a fine per the Madison Ordinance.

What a pittance of fine, though, if the annual economic impact to travelers - including bikes - is more than $500,000 once the costs are summed.

Are they even ever fined?


The economic impact is overstated. Presumably, since it is a "weekly problem", regular commuters should be aware of it and adjust their commute to get to work on time (or the whatever meetings). No economic impact for them. As for the rest, $13/hour for what? reading the paper at a coffee shop?
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Postby Potatoes » Thu May 17, 2007 12:37 pm

On average a weekly problem, but the days and times are unpredictable hence not possible to adjust commutes. One could leave 20 minutes early every day just in case, but that also comes at a cost - lost opportunities to do other things. When you hear on the radio that some report came out citing $XX billion lost due to congestion, economists arrive at that number by applying values to wasted time, fuel, greater emissions, additional crashes, and so on. The $13/hour figure that was cited is a typical valuation of our driving population's time. While many value their time less than that, others are several times that and would be willing to pay for congestion relief (which is why congestion pricing / variable tolls are increasingly popular around the country and world). Commercial vehicles operating on the clock and carrying time-sensitive freight are costing even greater economic dollars when delayed by a train that is blocking a major arterial at rush hour. The economic impact numbers kicked around here are intentionally conservatively understated.
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Postby tomr » Thu May 17, 2007 12:45 pm

If someone wants to crunch some numbers, calculate the cost of delays created by an additional 400 semitrailers on the road for every train that rolls through - roughly the comparable amount of freight from an average train.
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