Downtown: Red Car RFP

Monday, December 06, 2004, at 05:05PM

By Eric Richardson

CRA/LA (Community Redevelopment Agency) just posted the RFP (Request for Proposals) for their downtown Red Car study. Basically, this is will be a $100,000 study to "provide recommended development approaches for the resurrection of downtown red car trolley services." The RFP going out means that the study is about eight months away from completion, figuring two months to choose a proposal and then six months or so for the study. The tasks listed in the RFP look good and comprehensive. They ask a lot of the same questions I've been wondering about recently (curbside vs. median, traffic impacts, etc).

The interesting parts of the RFP don't come until page 19. Feel free to skip up to that point (unless you're someone actually considering putting in a proposal to do the study, I guess). On page 20 the tasks start, and as I said they seem very comprehensive. Quick vocabulary for you, since I had to look it up: kinematic envelope.

The next thing you'll want to look at is the 7 page conceptual design doc done by Korve Engineering in 2001. That's Exhibit C in the RFP doc list.

Perhaps most interesting to me right now is the question of what lane you run the trolley in. The Korve docs call for curbside running, but the problem there is that you lose any possibility of curbside parking on that side of the street. The other mentioned alternative is center median running, but that's problematic as well (left-turn backups as well as the problem of needing a safe passenger space out there). What I would see is a solution that put the trolley only on one-way streets (to give us a few more lanes to work with). I would then let the right lane be all-hour parking (1 hour during the day, but not a 4-6pm no stopping zone, etc). I would make the second lane a peak-hour bus lane and run the trolley tracks there. When it came time for a station, I would just cut the tracks into that right lane and board curbside. Obvious problem is that people would need to learn to be good parallel parkers or they'll slow up the bus/trolley traffic, but you could just make the parking spots big to cut down on the pressure there. But that's just me talking; I haven't done my homework yet to see what other true street-running systems have done lately.

Interesting stuff. It'll be fun to watch this study develop, and to see if hard numbers can do something to counter the built-in resistance from people who think a trolley will make far worse downtown's already bad traffic (or whether the numbers instead validate these fears).