Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Streetcar Named Charlottesville

The Buzz

A couple years ago, the buzz on the street was electric, well sort of. It was about that time that folks down at city hall were bantering about the idea of bringing streetcars back to Charlottesville. Back? Oh yes, there was a time, from 1897 until 1935, when they roamed our streets.

It Works Other Places

I like the idea of streetcars; Munich Germany has a great system that’s closely interconnected with the surface road infrastructure. They have separate traffic signals for the streetcars that are also timed with the auto signals. But I digress.

New Ideas
In 2008 the city took an in-depth look at putting in a street car line from the Transit Center on Water Street, down Main St. and University Ave., to Emmet St. and Barracks Road. That’s a pretty cool first step.

However, the thought of finding room for a streetcar on the corner scares me. Add to mix electric lines strung over the road to power the trains and things start to get ugly. We also have a lot more traffic than they did in 1935. Keep in mind that was the year when they had enough of streetcars and moved on to busses. No, I am not a proponent of buses, though they have their purpose. And I’m not going to get into a history lesson of Standard Oil and GM conspiring to destroy our country’s street car infrastructure. I’m thinking subway.

The Charlottesville Subway System

Ok, it’s a lofty goal, but come on, every major city has one. And it puts all those messy trains underground, out of sight and out of mind. What’s not to love? As a first step and a public service, I have already done the hard part. I created a map of the Charlottesville Subway System. With that out of the way we can get onto the more mundane task of actually creating the infrastructure. I will leave that to the professionals.

In the meantime, I think the idea has to get out to the desk of the common man, where he can ponder the possibilities while drinking coffee. That’s when I got this nifty idea of making Charlottesville Subway System coffee mugs. I actually did a prototype run. And you know, there may be more interest in the mugs than the subway itself. If I can just get a decent run cost on a quantity buy, they would make great Christmas presents… Stay tuned…

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Top 10 Charlottesville Shortcuts - Part 1

While this blog is dedicated to the future of transportation, today, I’m providing immediate relief to your transportation woes by presenting my pick for the 10 best shortcuts in Charlottesville. Remember, every time you take a shortcut, you are doing your part to reduce our carbon footprint.

Note: Because of all the pictures, split this into two post…here we go:

#10: East Downtown Bypass

From: Monticello Ave.

To: Harris St.

Via: Carlton Rd. and Mead Ave.

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: Great way to miss downtown, and a back way to Belmont.

#9: South Downtown Bypass

From: Monticello Ave.

To: West Main St.

Via: Roosevelt Brown Blvd., Cherry Ave., and Elliot Ave.

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: It’s Quick way to UVA Hospital; Elliot has a rollercoaster hill.

#8: South West Bypass

From: 5th Street Extended

To: Jefferson Park Ave.

Via: Harris Rd and Jefferson Park Ave.

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: A Favorite escape from Carl Smith Center

#7: Back Way to the Airport

From: Hydraulic/Rio Rd

To: CHO Airport

Via: Earlysville Rd. and Dickerson Rd.

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: Best way to the airport – all the taxis use it

#6: North West Passage

From: Commonwealth Ave.

To: Berkmar Drive

Via: Dominion Dr., Shoppers World Court

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: Northbound, it bypasses 4 lights and a U turn on Rt. 29

Top 10 Charlottesville Shortcuts - Part 2

#5: Preston Sticks Light Bypass

From: Preston Ave.

To: Grady Ave.

Via: 10th Street NW

Bidirectional: No – Westbound Only

Why use it: This light cycle borders on the ridiculous. Shoot past it and make the next left.

#4: Emmet/Barracks Bypass

From: Emmet St.

Via: Morton Dr., Meadowbrook Rd.

To: Barracks Rd.

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: Gets around traffic jams at the light. Heading south on 29, it’s the best way to get to Arch’s Yogurt.

#3: Rugby Rd.

From: Preston Ave.

To: Hydraulic Rd.

Via: Rugby Rd.

Bidirectional: Sort of. Best for heading to Hydraulic.

Why use it: It’s a secret route that pops out unexpectedly

#2: Continental Divide Cut Through

From: Preston Ave.

To: West Main St.

Via: 8th Street NW

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: Impress your friends be sure to look for the troll in the railroad tunnel

#1: North East Bypass

From: 29N

To: 250 Bypass

Via: Rio Rd, Park St.

Bidirectional: Yes

Why use it: Everybody else does. On second thought, stick to the main roads.