Among advanced industrial nations, Canada is the worst in passenger rail. At least in the U.S. we already have faster trains and are building a new high speed train in California.

(h/t Michael Hoffman)

15 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Canada’s High Speed Rail Study”

    1. On a related note with the ULI meetings in Seattle this week, if you’re interested in land-use issues in Anchorage, Grand Rapids and San Jose, I’m moderating a group discussion with Mayors Berkowitz, Bliss and Liccardo as part of the Rose Center for Public Leadership’s Mayors Forum at the Grand Hyatt downtown, Tuesday 5:30-7:45 p.m. It’s free and open to the public.

      Register here:

  1. World’s first solar road opens in France

    The world’s first solar highway has been opened in France, in the not-very-sunny village of Tourouvre au Perche in Normandy. The roadway is just one kilometre (0.6mi) long, but that still works out at 2,800 square metres of photovoltaic cells—enough, hopefully, to power the village’s street lights.

    I don’t see this working out. Filling potholes suddenly becomes ridiculously expensive for one. But one argument for the roads (besides pretending roads are green) is that it provides a support structure thereby reducing cost. There’s no shortage of flat underutilized space; like the roofs of buildings. But, what about all the area between rails? Theoretically nothing rides on it and you’ve got a built in bus bar on each side.

    1. To me solar roads has always sounded like something you sell to the gullible. More people drive than take rail. You need to cater to your audience.

      But all jokes aside, rail solar sounds like a decent idea if we start running low on rooftops.

    2. “There will now be a two-year test period, to see if Wattway can withstand the rigour of being pounded by thousands of cars and trucks per day, and whether it can actually provide a useful amount of electricity.”

      I am personally very skeptical of both points. I don’t see how solar material would take wear of heavy car/truck traffic any better than concrete, but it’s a lot more expensive to replace.

      1. I agree. From a practical standpoint, this seems about as viable as the hydrogen highway. As a research project it’s a bit of a “moon shot” in that they may develop stronger, less expensive and more resilient to spot failure solar panels. But honestly, I see it more as a stupid government subside that hinders honest market development. Interesting that it comes from France who’s nuclear program is the only viable alternative to buying gas and oil from Russia.

  2. 1.Too bad this morning’s topic video missed this:

    2. Thanks for the word on the conference, Poncho. Really would like to find out where last three years’ real estate events in Seattle register on the world’s Richter Scale. Sadistic to say it, but would be a comfort to find out everyplace else is worse.

    3. But Bernie, I think we need some comparative figures about solar pavement. Like with how much money our country has spent in any one of the military operations to keep the fuel flowing to the wheels that will smash our solar panels.

    But promising short-term measure.Cars are starting to have solar panels on the roof. If it’s scientifically possible to transmit electricity via microwaves, the bigger the SUV, the more clean power to the gird. Even better for mobile homes and semi’s.

    And best of all, since all our freeways are effectively metal-roofed for increasing hours per week, solar film for roads might get less beating on the upper side of traffic. Unless motorist, or driverless computer, really doesn’t know their blind spots.


    1. When new car shopping I asked about the solar panel mounted on the Prius. Salesman said all it did was power a fan to keep the car cool when parked in the hot sun. There’s no way a car can produce enough solar power to be self propelled so the easiest thing to do with any excess is just dump it back into the battery; especially since solar cells already produce DC power and power conversion is very inefficient. Freeway medians offer up a lot of otherwise useless space. But it doesn’t have the built in structure to support the panels which they claim is a major cost savings (dunno?). Flat panels aren’t nearly as efficient as those angled to optimize the angle of the sun. But it seems some sort of prism optics could be built in if laying flat on an existing structure is cost effective. A big advantage then is that you could walk on the space which could be combined with a green roof (i.e. grow plants).
      Green rooftops help clean up Beijing’s air

      1. Bernie, I think a lot of people get the Prius with the solar panels because it’s the only way you can get the sun-roof and leather seats. Which if true points an even better way to encourage going solar.

        Offer a sun roof and leather seats for every home, office, and industrial facility that also adopts solar power for other uses. But for our region’s freeways, we’ve got another way to save money to be environmentally spent elsewhere.

        Now that the days of over-fifteen-mile-an-hour motoring are past history, we get with Joe Diamond as to his basic working requirements for paving and structure. In return, we can let him paint all the existing HOV lane markers blue.

        And environmental truth known only to owner of anything paved: wild grass and weeds use pavement to shelter their seeds and seedlings ’til the new generation smashes it to gravel on its way to being a whole tree.

        Works with freeways too. All you have to do is defer some of the budget busting maintenance you liberals are always demanding, to make America less great.

        Green roofs ought to be mandatory- making adjustments for local climate. Though, seriously, can an architect weigh in with information on structure needed to support the dirt and water?


  3. I’m planning on being in Seattle tomorrow to observe how transit handles May Day. Any info or guesses about when conditions are likely to be the most demanding?


  4. So yesterday, I needed to get between the SR 520 corridor and Madison Park. It was circuitous, hilly, and somewhat exasperating because I could actually see Madison Park from the 520 bridge.

    * Standard Improvement Idea: Build a ped/bike path along the shoreline between McGilvra St in Madison Park and the existing Foster Island trail. I don’t think you’d even need to disturb the Broadmoor golf course at all.

    * Wild and Crazy Improvement Idea: Build a pier out from somewhere along the shoreline – maybe Edgewater and 42nd – under the 520 bridge, to connect to a new Madison Park freeway station. There might be a few problems with boats, but I think we could adjust things so they could get under the bridge.

    1. Build a pier out from somewhere along the shoreline – maybe Edgewate

      That idea was actually “floated” by the Cascade Bicycle Club. Boats aren’t the issue, it’s the people in Madison Park and their pitchforks. Hell will freeze over and melt again before that ever gets a serious hearing from anyone in Seattle who ever wants to get re-elected.

      1. How recent was that? We were hearing back in the Madison BRT debate that things might’ve changed since the last time Madison Park rejected trolley wire. On the other hand, a pier would probably be more of a visual imposition.

        On the other hand, I think a shoreside path to Foster Island would be a lot more possible?

    2. It wasn’t just Cascade. There was a multi-year effort (with Madison Park folks participating). The challenge was that either you needed to get up and out over the water (with pretty decent grade to get up to the new bridge deck, issues with Coast Guard on boat traffic, etc.) or you had to find a route that wouldn’t impact Broadmoor and deal with all the wetlands. I’m not about to say it’s impossible, and I agree Madison Park has changed, but it would still require a pretty major effort to get something like that built.

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