of each step of the Streetcar project.
4, August 24, 2011: Stan Meyers, Topeka
Sustainability Board, attended a recent "Modern Streetcar
Party" at Union Station in Kansas City and walked
through the ameriTram streetcar that was on display. It
is manufactured by Kinkisharoyo International LLC and
uses a proprietary propulsion system known as e-Brid Technology.
It employs both overhead catenaries and on-board lithiumion
batteries for the power source. Photos are posted on the
Kansas City Star at the following link:
Much enthuiasm and interest is now shown by numerous city
officials at City Council, Sustainability Board, and Topeka
City Transit Authority. This is a sure sign of progress
moving forward in putting streets cars in Topeka.
Step 3, July 18, 2011: John
Davis; Editor, Topeka Citizens Advisory Council member,
Karen Hiller, Councilwomen 1st Dist., Topeka City Council,
and Paul Post, member Topeka Sustainability Board, gave
a presentation before the Topeka City Transit Authority
with Janlyn-Nesbett-Tucker, CEO and GM of the TCTA presiding.
The Phase One of
the 37 mile loop River Front streetcar track alignment
was summarized. See a short
"nutshell version" at the 'Round About Bicycle web
site. John Davis added the inclusion of a pilot project--a
0.96 mile demo streetcar track for the Expo Center grounds
was presented A proposed local fundraising entity refereed
to as the "Trolley Club" was suggested. Response
was all positive and well received with further efforts
to be investigated along with the funding of the expense
of bringing a streetcar manufacturing and installation
expert from Oregon Iron Works to Topeka to access our
situation and advise us on how to best implement our streetcar
project. See the new addition of the Expo
Center details and maps and the Trolley Club link.
Step 2 April 1, 2011: John
Davis was introduced to the Sustainability Board, made
a presentation and was received well.
Present were members of the Sustainability
Board with guests. The guests were John Davis, Karen Hiller, City Councilwoman
1st Dist., and Janlyn Nesbett-Tucker, CEO--General Manager of Topeka Metropolitan
Transit Authority (TMTA). Each one of the guests were advocates of the streetcar
The presentation entailed
the proposal of an approximate $200 million dollar rail
system and how to design "scaffolding" to cause
continuous growth along the river front to support Topeka's
River Front project and to attract developers and other
investors to the alignment of the steel tracks. Hybrid
streetcars was suggested where overhead wires could be
avoided saving $4 million per track mile totaling $148
million in savings that could be applied to track mileage--and
track is what developers are attracted to--not the technology
of bring electric power to the cars.
Janlyn Nesbett-Tucker also gave a brief presentation
about streetcars and light rail in other cities, and shared a case study of
success in the revitalization of the city of Tacoma, Washington. She indicated
that TMTA would be an eager partner in exploring such a development for Topeka.
Discussion included discussion
about streetcars as well as economic development, tourism
as an industry in Topeka, and developing focal points
of interest for Topeka. The desire to "save"
the Morrell Meat Packing building on Crane Street, which
is owned by Hills Pet Food, Inc. at the present time,
and who also has no plans for the building. John Davis
expressed his vision of the city recapturing ownership
of the building and converting it into a the "River
Front Terminal" crowned glory of the Topeka skyline
and the focal point of the River Front theme.
John Davis handed out
a single-fold summary of his proposal and a second page.
Paul Post handed out some printed material about Rick
Gustafson. Paul had also previously e-mailed the members
a major survey document about streetcars and had also
sent them links to key web sites.
Paul supported John Davis's
proposal and proposed that the idea be referred to the
Sustainability Board's Transportation Committee, of which
his is a member, for further exploration. That was agreed
by consensus of the group, and one person who was not
a member of that committee indicated that he would like
to participate as well. Paul suggested that when the committee
began it's work, that it would reach out to include other
prospective partners such as Heartland Visioning and people
working on downtown redevelopment.
There should be minutes of their meeting at
some point as well. A link will be provided to the minutes when they become
This meeting was a wonderful
success--even far beyond the expectations of everybody
who were advocates of the streetcar project.
1 Feb. 21, 2011: A meeting occurred between
Karen Hiller, City Council Woman, Paul Post, Sustainability
Board Member, John Davis and Kristina Smith of The Steel
Rails Advocate, in the offices of attorney Paul Post,
about the first official step toward getting a plan developed
for adding a light rail system in Topeka according to
the Phase One plan this publication is proposing.
At this meeting, commitment
was made to invite representatives from Portland, Oregon
to Topeka to do a cost analysis and advise us on matters
such as power options, track laying, and other matters.
This will occur within weeks
A step by step column (to the right of this
column) will track the number of individual steps the City Council takes to
move us forward in getting streetcars back on the streets of Topeka. I have
taken numerous steps over the last couple of years (prior to this newspaper
which IS one of the steps), but the city's movement will be monitored in a
series of steps so our readers can track the progress.
We are also developing
another, perhaps superior, Phase One tourism alignment
which goes no farther west (for right now) than Gage Park
and Flemings Place, and includes Highland Park
(thanks Karen Hiller--good idea) and at least a northern
corner stop at Lake Shawnee. The alignment will double
back via the convention center and Washburn University.
(The Kansas Museum is a long way out there! Why? I don't
know. But about half of the track layout distance of 37
miles is taken up just trying go get to Kaw River State
Park and the Kansas Museum and backtracking along 10th
St. to the Fleming Place. Question then arises, "would
the track miles between Gage Park and the Kansas Museum
be better spent attracting development in Topeka by routing
northeast through Highland Park"? We'd gain some
riders from convention activity at the Expo Center in
a backtracking route from Lake Shawnee. Its an ugly trip
back to town and very un-River Frontish, but Highland
Park, Vinewood, and Lake Shawnee may just make up the
difference with additional develop--ment activity in the
Highland Park area to create jobs and expand our population.
The track layout theory then would be to do a figure"8"
with two intercepting loops with Quincy Station in the
middle gaining stops twice as often.
Well, "people of the government, by the
people and for the people," WHAT DO YOU THINK?
You may need to see
the proposed "Highland Park -- Vinewood" track routing section on
this web site. Just scroll to the bottom of the "neighborhood breakdowns"
in the far right column--just one map down from Map 15. Maybe it could be
improved. Just write in on the Contact Us
John Davis and Kristina Smith met with Jeff
Smith CEO, Hills Pet Foods, about the old 7-story Morrell building on the
Hills property on February 24, 2011. It was found that Hills purchased the
property about a year-and-a-half ago and Jeff Smith personally knew of no
history of the building and does not have even a clue as to the building's
destiny. Kristina Smith and John Davis are hoping that even this early stage
of track strategy, routing around this old historic building may influence
Hill's plans about the building's future. Jeff was presented a high quality
frameable photograph of the The Steel Rails Advocate's restoration version
of the building as it appears on our home page. Hopefully, the picture will
be hung on the office wall. The meeting was very pleasant.
Now we know much more about the building
than ever before, thanks to the Historical Society and the Public
Library folks. That information, along with some old newspaper articles specifically
about the then "new" 1940-built building #50, is contained in this
newspaper web site. Click on the buildings photo on the home page and follow
Well, citizens, just follow the tracks, and
keep thinking "Steel is Real". Or maybe "Steel Rails Talk and
Hot Air Walks." ??
We'll keep you posted.
John Davis, editor
TIME TABLE STUDY OF PHASE ONE ROUTING Conducted
on February 23, 2011
study was from Quincy Station counter clockwise covering Oakland first. Total
time on the long route stretching as far east as Billard Airport and as far
west as the Kansas Museum.Total Time; 2 hrs and 2 min. Total round-trip
distance is an even 37 miles. This requires a 3 hour time
frame in which to complete the route requiring three streetcars spaced one
hour apart. We added no lengthy stops--just roll by's for this first
sampling. There will be 30 to 40 minutes to kill leaving extra time at Quincy
Station for a break for the driver. A hybrid of that option would be a reasonable
break for the on-board-personnel at Quincy Station plus three 10 minute stops
enroute. These 10 minute breaks would likely be at Billard Airport, Kaw River
State Park, and Fleming Place.
Menninger hill presented a problem because
the gates were closed barring us from following the map as shown on "Route
Strategy", "Map 10--Gage Park to SW Wanamaker Road".
This was the road with no name going north and curving west to the west of
the Governors mansion. The road's name apparently is marked by a tourist sign
entitled "Kaw River State Park" just next to the road, although
this was not a street sign.
Getting from the German twin towered church
on 3rd Street and McVicar to 2nd St. to transition to 1st St. did not go as
the map 7 shows because the streets have been all blocked off there. Bing
and Google maps did not show these changes either--at least at that time.
so we had to get across Topeka Blvd. via 3rd St. and go straight in to Ward
Mead via Fairchild. After entering Ward Mead, the street earmarked for exiting,
down through "Pioneer Village" main street had a gate that was closed.
So actually laying of track would have to get rid of the gate (useless anyway
as it isn't designed to keep out humans on foot). Using this route to get
to Ward Meade would be the most economical way to route the tracks, but I'd
like to see a right-of-way created to get to target 1st street as the tram
leaves the church heading north. The tracks would enter the Ward Mead Park
from the north-east corner on it's own right-of-way.
Bottom line, we have almost an hour to include
stops, Kaw River State Park and two to three ten minute stops with "leave
no later than" times with Fleming's Place being the final "buffer
zone" on "no later than" leave times.
Soon, a preliminary time table will appear
by clicking the "Time Table" button. Of course, a refined version
will have to be done with actual streetcars on tracks.