Capital Area Multi Modal Gateway



  • I think I may have mentioned a short commuter line linking downtown Lansing and the East Lansing Amtrak station, half jokingly, but nothing linking the three city centers nodes, for which there is no rail lines connecting. I say half jokingly because the placement of the region's rail station is only good for intercity rail; it wouldn't ever really make sense as a commuter line unless for some reason the area around it became a major business hub, which is not what anyone is planning on. I also raised it because the new station has in mind potentially having service on the CSX line on the south side of the property. There is currently a study studying a Coast-to-Coast study, which would connect Detroit and Grand Rapids via Lansing.

    Reo Town to Old Town via downtown (Washington) would have to be new construction light rail/streetcar. That's never been seriously proposed mostly because there really hasn't been enough activity to justify what would be some small ridership numbers. I think that's something well off into the future unless the private sector in this town has some money to blow and would pitch the idea.
  • What rail is that use to exist at the old depot in reotown or where claras is in the sparrow district?
    Ah! Good point, I forgot about that line.
  • edited December 2014
    Yes, just to orient you, the CN railway (specifically the Flint Subdivision section of the line) is the east-west line that along with the two rivers and the freeways is another divider between the northside and southside of the city and metro. The CSX railway (specifically the Plymouth Subdivision of the line) is the northwest-southeast line that cuts through the city. It cuts into the city at the airport traveling southeast, before it heads due south once it hits the Larch/Cedar viaduct and eventually comes to make up the eastern boundary of downtown proper, then branches back southeast south of Michigan Avenue and continues that way until it hits Metro Detroit.

    The station's location sits where these two lines meet, so you could technically serve down with intercity and commuter service if there was the demand and the plan to do so. It's why original site plans showed a proposed platform along the CSX railway south of the station.
  • Getting a Detroit/Grand Rapids line running through Lansing would be great for the area, I didn't know it was being seriously considered.

    As the area grows more transportation options will become viable, but among the last of them will be heavy commuter rail. Even using existing infrastructure I don't see it being very likely for this area, we're just too small.
  • Yep, the "Coast to Coast" inter-city service would run between Holland on the lake and Detroit on the existing CSX railway. I think the feasibility study actually got the funds it needed, this year.

    Yeah, heavy commuter rail doesn't make really sense at the moment neither from a ridership point nor a geographical point. While the existing railways run along the edge or near central Lansing, their configuration once they go outside the city seems to miss the kind of population centers you'd need to make them practical. The CN line on the east side of the urban areas is seperated from downtown East Lansing by the MSU campus and from there never really hits anywhere in Okemos you'd want to put a commuter station. I mean, I guess you could have a giant park-and-ride beneath the Grand River Avenue bridge, but it'd still feel out of the way. The line west of Lansing takes a 45 degree turn to the southwest near the Waverly/496 intersection way away from the populated portion of Delta Township.

    The CSX line, however, I could see a viable commuter station on where it crosses Okemos Road through a rather populated part of Meridian Township/Okemos. It's could actually be an expres service with only two stops: Okemos and downtown Lansing. If demand really warranted, they could have an intermediate stop at the train station, since it'd stop about halfway between downtown and south Okemos and a stop at the airport.

    The Jackson & Lansing Railroad line, which runs concurrent with the CSX line from North Lansing until it hits Michigan Avenue and then runs off through south-southeast Lansing, could conceivably offer some kind of commuter service in the future, but doesn't really hit Holt where it would need to once it gets out of Lansing to be successful at the moment. Holt would have to grow more to the east to make this viable unless they make it a park-and-ride station.

    But, honestly, in my lifetime, I think it'd be far more appropriate to concentrate on street rail, and even in that case there is probably only two viable lines: something running on Cedar between Holt (maybe Mason) and downtown, and something running between Okemos and Delta Township via downtown along Saginaw/Michigan/Grand River. That said, I think Lansing can right now support something higher than conventional bus service, which is exactly why the BRT is moving forward.
  • Yeah light rail would be great, and BRT will allow for a relatively painless upgrade from what I understand. I hope that BRT/light rail isn't limited to just the two corridors you mentioned, though that does seem likely. Mass transit like light rail and BRT can really spur growth and do wonders for the "place making" they always talk about. At the very least, I'd like to see shorter routes running down Washington at least to Mt Hope, west from Cedar down Grand River then up to the Airport, routes on various downtown streets and an MLK route going from N Grand River to at least Edgewood. I think all those should be feasible over time, I know at the current pace it'd take 50 years for that type of system to be built, but things change.

    On the note of heavy rail, when I think commuter rail I think of distances of like Lansing to Charlotte, Jackson, Mason, Grand Ledge and Webberville at a minimum. I do think that at some point in the not to distant future Amtrak may step in to offer a commuter type service. I could imagine them adding another service alongside the Blue Water and potential Detroit/Grand Rapids routes with smaller more frequent trains stopping in all the small towns along the way with a few stops in the city/suburbs. I'm pretty sure they provide service like that in a lot of big cities, especially throughout the northeast.
  • Distances like Charlotte and Jackson and such is more along the lines of regional rail, which is a type of service in between commuter and inter-city, distance and time-wise. Commuter is for closer in urbanized nodes with service heavily to morning and late-afternoon hours for workday commuters. If anyone's interested in commuter rail, though, I'd say about the best example of a low-ridership service using existing lines in the Capital MetroRail down in Austin. Austin is a considerably larger city, but that ridership is pathetic. I'd say a commuter line in Lansing could do at least that much dairly ridership.

    Anyway, this is a really interesting discussion. I've really gotten more interested in transit in the last few years. I think Lansing's BRT is going to be a much more useful and more highly ridden line than the Silver Line in Grand Rapids. I really think with the university, here, and the thousands of state workers, downtown, that this could end up being one of the heaviest ridden corridors in the state outside of Woodward Avenue corridor in Detroit, of course.
  • I agree with Michigan/GR BRT is going to be a major trans line, Huge for development and blending downtown and campus together really nicely.
  • The constructors of the transit center, Laux Construction, have some photos on their facebook page from March 4th:





  • From March 20th showing the inter-city bus canopy:



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