Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.
Wuppertal Monorail Rebuilt for 21st Century
Wuppertal’s unique suspended monorail, which has been carrying residents of the German industrial city over its streets and its river since 1900, has gotten a total rebuild and new, roomier cars that will carry the line into the 21st century, Deutsche Welle reports.
The renovation project cost 634 million euros ($656.8 million U.S.) and took two decades to complete, partly because of the complex nature of the job and partly because work took place in stages with the line still operating.
The first five of the new cars made their debut on the line on Dec. 18. While the cars have the same exterior dimensions as those currently in service, they have more room on the inside and fully padded seats. The cars will also complete the 20-stop journey faster than current equipment. By 2018, all 31 new cars will have entered service on the line, with the current cars being sold to rail buffs.
Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife, Empress Augusta Victoria, took the first ride on the “floating tram” in October 1900. A car similar to the one the royal couple rode has also been refurbished and will be available for special trips.
Miami Beach LRT Project Put On Hold
The city commissioners in Miami Beach voted Dec. 14 to temporarily suspend the fast-tracked project to build a light-rail system serving South Beach and the Lincoln Road shopping district.
The Miami Herald reports that they voted to suspend the project until the Miami-Dade County Commissioners make a final decision on building a light-rail line that would connect downtown Miami with Miami Beach via a causeway across Biscayne Bay. The commissioners also voted to require voter approval for a final project contract.The move came amid growing public opposition to the project. Residents who testified at recent public hearings either opposed the system outright or said they would only support it if a link to downtown Miami were also built. Critics also pushed for a city charter amendment to require voter approval for any project that would lay rails in Miami Beach streets, a demand the commissioners accepted.
The vote will delay contract negotiations for the $244 million project for at least several months and could scuttle it completely if voters reject it or the Miami-Dade commissioners vote to build a different sort of transit link across the bay.
Commissioner Michael Grieco, who has come out against the project and may be a candidate for mayor of Miami Beach, predicted local voters would not embrace light rail at the polls.
Second Avenue Subway Finally Opens Jan. 1
The first three stations on the subway New Yorkers have waited nearly a century for will open for revenue service on Jan. 1, 2017.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the opening date in a Metropolitan Transportation Authority news release. The ceremonial first train will travel down the line the day before (Dec. 31), and the first revenue train, an uptown-bound Q train, will depart 57th Street station on the Seventh Avenue subway at noon on Jan. 3.
Service on the Second Avenue line will operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the rest of its first week of operation, with 24-hour service beginning Jan. 9. Trains will operate every six minutes during peak hours.
The first phase of the subway has three stations, at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets. A second phase, for which city officials are seeking federal funds before President Barack Obama leaves office, will take the line to a northern terminus at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue, with intermediate stations at 106th and 116th streets.
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast noted in the statement that the line, first proposed in 1929, “will significantly reduce crowding on the Lexington Avenue line, which currently serves more riders than the Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Boston systems combined.”
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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.