Opening and Construction Starts Planned for 2011

» Streetcar lines dominate the nation’s new transit construction landscape, but this year only light and commuter rail lines will open for service.

Lest one think that investment in transit is a coasts-only phenomenon in the United States, the sheer quantity of spending planned for new public transportation projects across the country in 2011 indicates otherwise.

In almost every major city or metropolitan area in both the U.S. and Canada, major new rail or bus links are being readied for service. Over the course of the next year, five new light rail lines or extensions will open for operations, as will two new commuter rail corridors. Perhaps more significantly, there are a dozen projects that will enter the construction process — including many streetcar projects — in addition to the dozens already underway. In sum, these represent a continent-wide public sector commitment to the extension of transit offerings.

All of the corridors opening for service, entering the construction phase, or already under construction in 2011 are listed below.

To note: Many of these lines may not get off the ground as expected. A year ago, Cincinnati, Detroit, and other cities seemed on the verge of beginning construction on their respective rail transit lines — but they have yet to get started on them. In addition, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this information is updated throughout the year in The Transport Politic’s Under Construction and Planned sections.

New Service Planned for 2011


» Eugene/Springfield Gateway EmX Extension bus rapid transit will open on the 9th from downtown Springfield to Gateway Mall and Sacred Heart. The 7.8-mile project cost a total of $41.3 million.


» Norfolk Tide light rail line, the first of its kind in Virginia, will bring service along a 7.4-mile route that will encompass 11 stations and attract between 6,000 and 12,000 riders per day. The project cost a total of $338 million.


» Denton County A-Train will open 21 miles of diesel commuter rail between Denton and North Carrollton, where there will be a connection with Dallas DART Green Line light rail. Construction costs totaled $191 million. This project was originally supposed to be completed in December 2010.

Mid-Year (No date yet specified)

» Los Angeles Expo Line Phase 1A light rail opens between downtown L.A. and Culver City, though the final station on the line will not be completed until 2012. The first, 8.5 mile phase cost $899 million and will share tracks with the Blue Line downtown. A further extension from Culver City to Santa Monica is planned and funded. This project was originally supposed to be completed in December 2010.

» Sacramento Riverfront District Green Line Extension opens, extending light rail an additional mile into a major development zone north of the state capital’s downtown. The line is the first section of a larger program to bring rail transit to Natomas Airport.


» Salt Lake City West Valley and Mid-Jordan TRAX light rail will open on the 7th. The West Valley line will run 5.1 miles southwest from 2100 South Central Pointe to West Valley City Center. The $250-290 million project is expected to attract 10,500 riders per day by 2030. The Mid-Jordan line will run 10.6 miles from 6400 South to Daybreak and is expected to attract 19,000 riders per day.


» Rhode Island Wickford Junction Commuter Rail Extension will open between T.F. Green Airport near Providence and Wickford, where a large transit village is planned. Boston MBTA commuter rail service will offer service.

New Construction Starts


» Downtown Streetcar (2.6-mile streetcar) from Centennial Olympic Park to Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site, via downtown. $289 million project (including a second phase not yet funded) will open for service in 2013.


» Downtown Streetcar (4.9 mile loop streetcar) from the Banks to University Plaza, via downtown and Over the Rhine. $128 million project is expected to open in 2012, and is estimated to attract 6,400 daily riders.


» Woodward Avenue Corridor (9.3-mile light rail) from Hart Plaza to Eight Mile. $500 million project could be completed by 2016. Being built in cooperation with privately funded M1 group.


» Hartford-New Britain Busway (9.4-mile BRT) from Hartford to New Britain. $579 million project will open for operations in 2013.


» Honolulu Rail Project (20-mile metro rail) from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. $5.5 billion project will open in stages between 2012 and 2018.

Los Angeles

» Crenshaw Corridor (8.5-mile light rail) from Exposition Boulevard (Expo Line) to LAX (Green Line), via Inglewood. $1.4 billion project will open in 2016 and serve between 15,200 and 21,300 riders a day.

New Orleans

» Loyola Avenue Corridor (1.5-mile streetcar) from Howard Avenue and Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street. $45 million project will open in 2012.


» Sunrail Phase 1 (31-mile commuter rail) from DeBary to Orlando. $615 million project will open by 2013. 30 miles of additional extensions, north to DeLand and south Poinciana, expected to be completed by 2015, will produce 7,400 daily trips by 2030.


» Portland-Milwaukie Corridor (7.3-mile light rail) from Portland State University to Milwaukie and Oak Grove. $1.5 billion project will open in 2015 and is expected to attract 22,000 and 26,000 daily trips.

Salt Lake City

» Sugar House Streetcar (2-mile streetcar) from Central Pointe to McClelland. Project will open in 2013 and is expected to attract 4,000 daily riders by 2030.

San Francisco Bay Area

» Sonoma-Marin Train (SMART) (70 mile diesel commuter rail) from Cloverdale to Larkspur, via San Rafael and Novato. $590 million project will open in 2014 and is expected to attract 5,300 daily riders.


» First Hill Streetcar (2.2-mile streetcar) from First Hill to the International District, connecting areas on Capitol Hill. $140 million project will open for service in 2013.


» Tucson Modern Streetcar (3.9-mile streetcar) from Arizona Health Sciences Center to downtown, via University of Arizona. $197 million project will open in 2013.


» Evergreen Line (6.8 mile metro rail) from Lougheed Town Centre to Douglas College, via Port Moody. C$1.4 billion project will extend existing Millennium line in 2015 and is expected to attract 70,000 daily riders by 2021.

Already Under Construction, Opening After 2011

Opening in 2012

Opening in 2013

Opening in 2014

Opening in 2015

Opening in 2016

Opening in 2017

48 replies on “Opening and Construction Starts Planned for 2011”

Some of these commuter rails have pretty bad funding to daily passenger ratios – something like hundreds of millions to carry thousands of daily passengers. At 100.000$ per daily passenger, one could ask whether this is really an effective way to spend money.

And North American commuter rail systems are not really set up to form networks, just corridors. So there are basically no network effects and little increase in mobility, just shuttling people from suburban parking lots to some downtown train station during rush hours.

Many freeway projects are similarily “unproductive” if you divide the total cost by the number of daily trips. And as you note, the network is appropriate; but building an entire network from scratch is seldom practical.

Many of the projects listed are extensions to already built-out networks, rather than isolated corridors.

Actually I am saying that commuter rail doesn’t form networks. When a subway or light rail gets extended by a couple of stations, there can be all sorts of network effects, because it adds all sorts of trips from and to those stations. And since transit users use these forms as a network, the ridership for the whole network can increase possibly beyond the initial predictions.

For commuter rail, adding stations only adds trips from these station to the downtown drop-off. Basically nobody changes from one to another commuter rail line, and nobody travels to work at these new stations or any other station on the same line (except the downtown station). In effect, those couple of thousand predicted riders will be it, and there will basically be no extra increase in ridership because of an overall improvement of the network.

Additionally, there’s a tendency that most passengers on commuter rail get there with park and ride facilities – so commuter rail does generally not even help to create better bus systems in their suburban towns, either. And thus they do little to help with car dependence; and overall are a mode of transport that makes suburbs more competitive, rather than the cities they serve. They are an extension of car culture from the suburb into the city, rather than an extension of transit culture from the city out.

And they are pretty expensive.

One thing that the commuter rail projects can do is improve the intercity passenger rail system. A case in point is the Sounder Commuter rail extension in Tacoma. The improvements that the transit agency is putting into the system will be leveraged by WSDOT’s Point Defiance Bypass project which will eventually trim Amtrak’s schedule time between Seattle and Portland by six minutes.

Another example is MBTA’s Providence airport extension, allowing a rail connection between the airport and the NEC.

Providence’s TF Green Airport Station will serve more than just suburbanites commuting to Downtown Providence or Boston. The station will bring passengers from all points along the MBTA Providence/Stoughton line to the airport. The immediate area near the airport station is already developed with office, education, and industrial uses and will likely become a destination in itself.

The Providence/Stoughton line has four major destination stops on its route: South Station, Back Bay, Route 128, and Providence. TF Green will likely become the fifth. New York Penn Station is not the only destination for suburban commuters on the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor line, which has similar multiple-destinations stops: Penn Station, Newark, Metro Park, New Brunswick, and Trenton. The same is true for Metro North with destinations: Grand Central, Greenwich, Stamford, and New Haven.

Commuter rail may not function the same as multiple-line city subway, light-rail, or streetcar systems as an interconnected network where passengers transfer between lines, but in many cases on commuter rail lines reverse commuting occurs between several stations along the same route making it a different kind of network.

20 years ago it would be accurate to say that the majority of commuters using Stamford Station were commuting to New York. Today there are nearly as many commuters traveling from Manhattan to Stamford as those commuting from Stamford to the city. A single commuter rail line can function as a network by itself.

It costs over $1 Million per mile of highway.
When the first Interstate highway was built it obviously did
not network to other highspeed highways yet.
It is definitely true that at first these systems will be isolated. But you have to start somewhere!
My own feeling is that wherever possible the best thing is to make use of rails which already exist.
The US has 233,000 miles of rails most of which are doing
nothing. That would be the best way to start but it may not make the most $$$$ for contractors.
Eventually you get a more mature system like New Jersey Transit – which provides 330 Million trips for only $300 Million operating costs. I think that is very cost-effective!
Here in New Jersey more densely populated than China, we
have enormous opportunities to network and reduce car usage. More than 50% of New Jersey lives within a mile or so of a train station.
BUT the trains are not run off-peak and weekends, there
are no connecting shuttles or alternate means for the last mile, you risk your life to get to stations any way except driving.
New Jersey should be the leading US State for transit as
we have already become the second for solar installations.
But our current Governor Christie is spending $7 Billion on expanding our highways while axing our transit, and
insanely enough, spending more than the operating budget of our whole transit system, $471 Million, on “road decongestion” by expanding roads and interchanges instead of running transit to get cars off those roads!

Correction to your Dulles Metrorail (i.e. the Silver Line) entry: Phase 1 (thru Tysons to Wiehle Ave) is expected to begin service in late 2013. The full line, out to Dulles Airport and into Loudon County, is planned for 2016.

It fall into a gray area but the Charlotte streetcar starter project should begin construction this year (per requirements of the urban circulator grant) and open in 2014.

Note: approximately 1/2 mile of double track rail was installed last year by the city during a street reconstruction project (the hardware was purchased by a developer seeking approval for a megaproject on Elizabeth ave — the project has since fallen into the void). This activity occurred before the streetcar project was funded or scheduled.

You are correct to hesitate on the Charlotte streetcar (mea culpa):

the most recent city document I can find says “construction as early as 2011” and (somewhat cryptically) “awaiting FTA go ahead”

I am puzzled about the absence of construction scheduling. Local funding as been committed, the federal grant was accepted and the urban circulator grant award required that construction begins within 18 months of award (which was early July 20100)

As Froggie indicated, the first phase of the DC Metro Silver Line is expected to open in 2013/2014. That will bring Metro to 5 new stations in northern Virginia – 4 in Tysons Corner and 1 in Reston at Wiehle Ave.

The official line is still 2013, but the 7000 series railcars necessary for full service won’t be on site until early 2014. That could mean a delay in the start of service or the start of merely “token” service.

Phase II is slated to open in 2016. That will extend the line to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County.

In San Juan, they will open a new busway / dynamic toll lane along the highway PR-22. They advertised it as a BRT lane, but then combined it with HOT lanes.

And construction on the light rail system is supposed to begin this year.

God damn, SMART in Marin doesnt seem terribly cost-effective, I hope the county is paying more than the state…

Well thats good, because this typifies the sort people talked about in the (as true as ever) Onion article entitled “Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others”

The SMART line is traveling on a well-used corridor, paralleling US-101. The Golden Gate Bridge district runs dozens of commuter buses between Sonoma and Marin counties and San Francisco.

What would make SMART attractive is the ferry connection. Most riders are already going to San Francisco’s Financial District, and much of the time lost by the buses is due to the street running.

Actually, the studies show most of the riders will travel in Sonoma County – from north of Santa Rosa to Santa Rosa, I believe.

Wow! Santa Rosa is the last largest city north of San Francisco in the state, but it really isn’t that much of a job magnet.

Those towns north of Santa Rosa are mainly viticultural regions, yet there are some who commute across the bridge.

Does the study show how many Golden Gate bus trips it would displace? It seems like the train and the ferry could do the job of a few hundred buses more efficiently.

Honolulu: Can’t believe it is not running through Waikiki. Waikiki is perfectly set up for a streetcar/light rail line: densely populated, wonderful pedestrian streetlife, and lots of tourists that need efficiently access the airport. As a recent tourist, I definitely would have used it.

One addition should be racks for surfboards. Don’t laugh. The baggage section of the check-in screen for Hawaiian Airlines has a box to check “Surfboard” with an icon to match. Gotta love Hawaii.

The PR brochure for the Honolulu Rail Transit system shows planned extensions to Waikiki and Univ of Hawaii on the western end and an extension on the eastern end. Of course, planned extensions can be delayed for decades after the initial route has been completed.

For those with an interest, here are Public Transportation and Tour System photos for a couple of metro areas discussed in this forum, including streetcars, light rail, commuter rail and heavy rail:

Los Angeles –

This one has a larger photo collection

SF Bay Area –

I’d like to add that the Crenshaw corridor light rail line in LA County is set to break ground this year thanks to a $546 million loan from the FTA. And that the Gold Line Foothill extension is under way presently.

Thanks for keeping track of all of these projects, Yonah.


I was hoping 2011 would be the year projects in Mexico get added to this great website’s north america focus. With BRT, light rail, metro, commuter rail and streetcars under construction….there are certainly projects of note.

Oh, you are also missing the extension of the MBTA Fitchburg line. Construction is to begin in April, or whenever the weather allows. It is a one station extension to Wachusett, to be opened in 2012. Groundbreaking was in 2010, but it was just a photo op.

I believe the Maine Downeaster Amtrak extension will also begin construction in 2011.

Toronto has elected a right wing mayor, so don’t expect any light rail projects to be built there for the next four years. On the other hand, several commuter trains are planned in the near future: an airport rail link and extensions to downtown Barrie, Kitchener, Niagara Falls and Bowmanville. The airport rail link should start construction very soon (construction is already underway on sections of the rail line that runs to the airport, but not the airport spur itself).

Just FYI,

Under “Opening in 2011” and under “August” for Salt Lake City you spelled “attract” the second time as “attrack.” Doesn’t bother me, but just in case you wanted to correct!

Thanks for the great post!

Some other Bay Area information…
– San Francisco MUNI Central Subway – ETA 2018, already under construction.
– Oakland Airport Connector seems to be unlikely to happen since it lost funding.

Central Subway – While ground has been broken, it was for the utility line shifting. Local funding has NOT been nailed down and if it isn’t the Federal funding will be withdrawn. The deadline for the funding is sometime in the next couple of months.

Yonah, the Sacramento Green Line, also known as the Downtown-Natomas-Airport (DNA) line, is planning to go to Sacramento International Airport, not Natomas Airport. Natomas is the name of the District between Downtown and the Airport, not the name of the Airport itself.

In San Bernardino, California, sbX, a $192 million 16-mile B.R.T. begins construction in a few months.

Note the embarrassing absence of Chicago in this article.

We desperately need transit expansion, both expanding the network, as well as increasing frequency on some routes. The modest red line extension isn’t enough.

There are plans in 2011 to start construction of transportation projects. Perhaps more significantly, there are a dozen projects that will enter the construction process, in addition to the dozens already underway. The planned transit extension can be delayed for decades, which won’t help the job situation. I don’t care how we recover from the economic recession I just know we have to. I am behind anything that leads to more Construction projects in Hawaii. Especially with how tight the economy is right now, I think everyone in this industry could use a boost. I found an amazing resource recently in Dodge Projects. They actually have a lot of valuable information, particularly their detailed job listings, which they have actually sorted by type and state,which lets you quickly find the jobs that are right for you. They are really worth checking out.

Keep up great work! We need more good mass transit. Los Angeles has a great system, especially their light rail, subway, and BRT (busway) programs. I’ve traveled to many nations, Moscow, Paris, Berlin, London, Rome, etc. Los Angeles has a smaller system than average for a huge city and metro area, but LA also has the best of the best, clean, safe, secure, and modern trams and subways. Los Angeles has a system that compares favorably or is superior to anywhere I’ve ever seen.

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