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Sunday Poll: Can Missouri Afford A Hyperloop Between St. Louis & Kansas City?

October 21, 2018 Featured, Missouri, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Can Missouri Afford A Hyperloop Between St. Louis & Kansas City?
Please vote below

Today’s poll involves a rather technical new idea, so it makes sense to look at what it is first:

A Hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and/or freight transportation, first used to describe an open-source vactrain design released by a joint team from Tesla and SpaceX.[1] Drawing heavily from Robert Goddard’s vactrain, a hyperloop is a sealed tube or system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at high speed while being very efficient.

Elon Musk’s version of the concept, first publicly mentioned in 2012,[2] incorporates reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on air bearings driven by linear induction motors and axial compressors.[3]

The Hyperloop Alpha concept was first published in August 2013, proposing and examining a route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly following the Interstate 5 corridor. The paper conceived of a hyperloop system that would propel passengers along the 350-mile (560 km) route at a speed of 760 mph (1,200 km/h), allowing for a travel time of 35 minutes, which is considerably faster than current rail or air travel times. Preliminary cost estimates for this LA–SF suggested route were included in the white paper—US$6 billion for a passenger-only version, and US$7.5 billion for a somewhat larger-diameter version transporting passengers and vehicles[1]—although transportation analysts had doubts that the system could be constructed on that budget; some analysts claimed that the Hyperloop would be several billion dollars overbudget, taking into consideration construction, development, and operation costs.[4][5][6]

The Hyperloop concept has been explicitly “open-sourced” by Musk and SpaceX, and others have been encouraged to take the ideas and further develop them.

To that end, a few companies have been formed, and several interdisciplinary student-led teams are working to advance the technology.[7] SpaceX built an approximately 1-mile-long (1.6 km) subscale track for its pod design competition at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California.[8]

Some experts are skeptical, saying that the proposals ignore the expenses and risks of developing the technology and that the idea is “completely impractical”.[9] Claims have also been made that the Hyperloop is too susceptible to disruption from a power outage or terror attacks to be considered safe.[9] (Wikipedia)

Last week Missouri received lots of national press because one group is saying a Hyperloop between St. Louis and Kansas City, with a midway stop in Columbia, is feasible:

Virgin Hyperloop One has announced the results of a feasibility study on a planned route connecting Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis. The study, which has yet to be published in full, purports that the route between the three cities is commercially viable. Researchers at Black & Veatch examined the engineering, viability and economic challenges of a proposed line running parallel to I-70.

The release doesn’t go into specifics, but Hyperloop One must feel justified in saying that the route is worth the effort. It claims that the number of people traveling between the three cities would increase by 80 percent, from 16,000 to 51,000. In addition, the local economy is said to be $410 million better off, thanks to reduced journey times, with an extra $91 million coming in savings from a less congested I-70.

Virgin Hyperloop One has doubled down on its claim that journey times between Kansas City and St. Louis could be cut to under half an hour. The release suggests that the trip would now last 28 minutes, with the time to Columbia — roughly equidistant between the two — being cut to 15 minutes. (Engaget)

From the press release:

The news follows on an historic congressional testimony of September 2018 by Virgin Hyperloop One before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the necessity of a new regulatory framework for hyperloop systems.

Two other states are currently studying hyperloop through in-depth feasibility studies—Ohio and Colorado. In addition, Ohio is also participating in the first U.S. Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) of a hyperloop system and Texas has announced its intent to start the process.

Kansas City KS engineering firm Black & Veatch had no Hyperloop study press release on their site.

Here’s more specifics on the user experience:

Travelers would go to what’s called a portal, which will likely be first in transit hubs of major cities before spreading outward to smaller ones. There, they will enter a large tube and board a pod inside of it with 15 to 30 others. The tubes can be built on elevated pylons, underground, through the ocean or at ground-level, and the pod will be roughly the size of a subway car; the tube would be the diameter of a subway tunnel. The door will close behind them, along with the entrance to the tunnel.

The air from the tube will be pulled out so the environment is as close to a vacuum as possible. Airline pilots soar at 30,000 feet in part because it allows them to conserve fuel with low air resistance, and the hyperloop can do that inside the tube. Instead of moving on wheels like a train, the hyperloop will levitate magnetically, allowing it to avoid more resistance. The pod will be accelerated by using electric power and piloted by a computer, zooming forth like a gigantic, passenger-bearing air hockey puck. As it accelerates, floating in the near-airless tube, the pod will be able to coast long distances without losing momentum — like a bike downhill — and the computer will generate bursts of power as needed to maintain extremely high speed. (CNBC)

See articles from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star. Total project cost would be $7.5 billion to $10 billion — from private & public sources. A round-trip ticket would be about the same as gas, about $60.

Sounds great, right? Many say, “not so fast.”

If the Hyperloop’s purpose is to address large-scale urban mobility, then there are many other options already deserving of public funding and attention—ones that do not require a hard rebooting of the entire urban world to be realized. We could increase funding for Amtrak. We could make our existing subways run on time, safely. We could fix our bridges. If boredom is already setting in, recall the fate of the Concorde. We once lived in a world that boasted a supersonic airliner, capable of whisking passengers from New York to London in three and a half hours—but this was a very qualified use of the word “we.” Who exactly could book a ticket on the Concorde was determined entirely by wealth, and, as such, that now lost transatlantic wormhole never felt particularly futuristic. Certainly, it failed to revolutionize international transportation for the masses. Today, it’s as if this feat of aeronautical engineering never existed. (The New Yorker)

More criticism from MIT’s Technology Review. Hopefully that’s enough background, here’s today’s poll:

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight.

My husband and I are in Kansas City for the weekend. We usually take Amtrak, but we drove this time because we needed a car to visit a museum that’s inaccessible to public transit. Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts on the St. Louis to Kansas City drive, train ride, and proposed Hyperloop.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 20 of 2018-2019 Session

October 19, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 20 of 2018-2019 Session
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 20th meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

Today’s agenda includes ten (10) new bills, including a few on candidates & elections:

  • B.B.#138 – Roddy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4328 Swan
  • B.B.#139 – Arnowitz – An ordinance relating to the employees of theOffice of the Recorder of Deeds’ salaries in cases of voluntaryDemotion or position reallocation, repealing Section 6(b)(2) And Section 6(c)(1) of Ordinance 70336, effective August 14, 2016, pertaining to the same and enacting in lieu thereof new Sections 6(b)(2) and 6(c)(2) pertaining to the same; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#140 – Spencer – An ordinance amending Section 1 of Ordinance 62571, pertaining to exemptions from the graduated Business license tax, codified as Section 8.07.020 of the Revised Code of the City of St Louis, by adding a new Subsection 5, to Section 1 of Ordinance No. 62571, creating An exemption from the graduated business license for the Local farmers selling their agricultural products and products Produced therefrom directly to consumers solely at farmers’ Markets; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#141 – Green – An ordinance pertaining to commercial semi-trailer Trucks, also known as a semis, or tractor-trailers; prohibiting Such traffic along Utah Street from the west boundary of Grand To the east boundary of Morgan Ford Road, exempting from Said prohibition emergency vehicles, including privately owned tow trucks when providing emergency service to non- commercial vehicles, vehicles making deliveries to nearby Addresses, and vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight of less than 26,000 pounds; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#142 – Vaccaro – An ordinance amending Section 4, of Ordinance 49623 approved November 9th, 1959, codified as Section 4.18.050 of the City Code of Ordinances, pertaining to theFiremen’s Retirement System to allow the retirement system,with the approval of the board of trustees, to enter into cooperative agreements to transfer creditable service between the retirement system and any other retirement plan established by the state of Missouri or any political subdivision or instrumentality of the state when a member who has been employed in a position covered by one plan is employed in a position covered by another, in accordance with section 105.691 Revised Statues of the state of Missouri and the policies and procedures established by the board of trustees.
    B.B.#143 – Navarro – An ordinance repealing paragraph (C) of Section Two of Ordinance 63777, approved on June 4, 1996, as amended by Ordinance 64546, approved on December 18, 1998, and by Ordinance 68200, approved on June 4, 2008 and in lieu thereof a new paragraph is enacted extending the period of time during which the Cathedral Square Special Business District shall be permitted to collect the tax within the boundaries of the district therein established; and containing effectiveness and emergency clauses.
  • B.B.#144 – Coatar – An ordinance amending Section 2, of Ordinance No. 58267, approved March 19, 1981 and codified as Section 2.08.060 of the Revised Code of Ordinances of the City, pertaining to candidate payments to the political party upon whose ticket he or she proposes to run as a candidate and seeks nomination, one percent of the annual salary of the office for which he or she is a candidate, to permit a candidate to submit said payments to the Board of Election Commissioners at the time the candidate files his or her declaration of candidacy; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#145 – Coatar – An ordinance revising Section 2.08.120, of the City Revised Code of Ordinances, pertaining to the Board of Election Commissioners preparing sample official ballots, so as to provide for the placement of candidates on said ballots in the order in which they are to appear on the official ballot rather than alphabetically as is currently provided; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#146 – Coatar – An ordinance repealing the first paragraph of Section 2, of Ordinance No. 66193, approved March 10, 2004, codified as Section 2.08.330 of the City Revised Code of Ordinances, pertaining to the nominating process for a nonpartisan candidate, and in lieu thereof inserting a new first paragraph in Section 2, changing said process so that nonpartisan candidates may be nominated by a petition signed by registered voters, rather than a certificate signed by registered electors; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#147 – Coatar – An ordinance revising Section 1, (B)(1), of Ordinance
    No. 59982, approved July 31st, 1986, codified as Section 2.08.400(B)(1), of the City Revised Code of Ordinances, pertaining to the last date on which a candidate may withdraw from a primary election from forty (40) days prior to the date of the primary election to fifty (50) days prior to the date of the primary election; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#148 – Navarro – An ordinance repealing paragraph (f) of Section Two of Ordinance 62622, approved on May 29, 1992, as amended
    by Ordinance 63840, approved on July 19, 1996, as amended by
    Ordinance 64935, approved on May 17, 2000, as amended by Ordinance 68202, approved December 8, 2008 and in lieu thereof a new paragraph is enacted extending the period of time during which the Central West End North Special Business District shall be permitted to collect the tax within the boundaries of the district therein established; and containing effectiveness and emergency clauses.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

October 17, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Homeless Comments Off on Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

As a resident of the City of St. Louis for 28+ years I’ve interacted with homeless persons on many occasions, mostly in the last 11 years (as of next month) I’ve lived downtown. I’ve talked to many, bought beverages/food for some, and two have been to my loft for a shower and meal.

The city’s Board of Adjustment ruled NLEC is a nuisance, and two court rulings since have confirmed the city acted properly.

I’m no social worker, but this is a subject that has held my interest for a very long time. There are five main causes of homelessness:

When Housing is Out of Reach More than at any other time, there is a lack of housing that low income people can afford. Without housing options, people face eviction, instability and homelessness. Income and Housing Affordability Low income households often do not earn enough to pay for food, clothing, transportation and a place they can call home. Connecting Homelessness and Health Health and homelessness are inextricably linked. Health problems can cause a person’s homelessness as well as be exacerbated by the experience. Housing is key to addressing the health needs of people experiencing homelessness. Escaping Violence Many survivors of domestic violence become homeless when leaving an abusive relationship. Impact of Racial Disparities Most minority groups in the United States experience homelessness at higher rates than Whites, and therefore make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population.

For years shelters required people to not be under the influence of alcohol or other substances to receive any services. Faith-based shelters often also required participation in their worship activities. This meant many would be turned away or they wouldn’t even bother going. It’s nearly impossible for those with mental health issues or addictions to address those without a safe place to sleep at night.

Aware of how service providers cobbled together a system that unintentionally victimized the people it aimed to help, Sam Tsemberis, PhD, in the 1990s developed a model known as Housing First. Its goal is to quickly provide safe, affordable, permanent housing quickly to people who are experiencing homelessness, particularly, although not solely, those with chronic homelessness and co-occurring conditions such as mental illness or substance use disorders. Housing First programs require few or no preconditions, such as participation in mental health or substance use disorder treatment, from the people they serve. In addition to permanent housing, Housing First programs provide a wide range of wraparound services that are readily available to participants and offered assertively, but not required. Studies show that that when people experiencing homelessness are given safe, stable, affordable housing, they are better able to address other problems and needs in their lives, such as substance use disorders and mental illness. As a result, homelessness, frequent use of hospital emergency departments, and psychiatric hospitalizations are reduced. (Social Work Today)

Of course, Housing First doesn’t work for everyone, but expecting those with substance abuse problems to suddenly stop while living on the streets is unrealistic.  Sorry, prayer won’t change their behavior on the streets.

Larry Rice doesn’t want the homeless housed so they can get treatment and their lives in order. He counts on people donating to help the cause. That’s his business model. From what I gather, he personally lives modestly — good. So do many of the people sending him money.

Last year Rice sold his TV station, channel 24, for a tidy sum:

According to filings with the Federal Communication Commission, TV-49 Inc. will pay $3.75 million to buy the independent station from Rice’s nonprofit New Life Evangelistic Center Inc. The station has broadcast secular programming, liberally interspersed with Rice’s religious sermons and calls to social activism, since it first hit the airwaves on Sept. 12, 1982. The sale does not include Rice’s property at 1411 Locust Street in downtown St. Louis — a building that had been used as a homeless shelter for years until it was closed in April by St. Louis city officials. (Post-Dispatch)

KNLC’s is now part of Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting, channel 24.1 is the new MeTV affiliate.  Their 24.2 does still broadcast Rice’s religious programming.

Here are the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Larry Rice should be allowed to reopen 1411 Locust as a day shelter for the homeless.

  • Strongly agree: 6 [14.63%]
  • Agree: 2 [4.88%]
  • Somewhat agree: 3 [7.32%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.88%]
  • Disagree: 8 [19.51%]
  • Strongly disagree: 20 [48.78%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Back to the two previously homeless individuals that have been in my loft. The first, ‘FC’, ceased being homeless 10 years ago today. That’s the day I let him begin staying in my previous residence — a corner storefront building in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. This arrangement helped both of us — a safe place for him and someone there to keep the property safe from vandals/thieves. FC lived there for a couple of years — the new owners allowed him to stay a while after I sold it.  He’s since gotten married, he and his wife bought a home together a few years ago.

FC is older than I am, but the other, DT, is roughly half my age. In 2016 I helped him get out of St. Louis so he could return to his family in Washington state. Both made some bad decisions in life, both were addicted to narcotics.

Remember, many homeless receive VA or disability income, work, etc. There are people on the streets that look homeless, their “job” is to take advantage of those who are homeless. It’s important to keep the homeless separated from those who prey on them. That includes the religious.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sidewalk Cleaning Is Important, Yet Not All Do It

October 15, 2018 Downtown, Featured Comments Off on Sidewalk Cleaning Is Important, Yet Not All Do It

For nearly fourteen years now I’ve posted about many topics, often minor & obscure in nature. The little things, however, can also be important. First impressions can be lasting.

Our convention center entrance on Washington Ave is at 8th Street.

Often conventioneers stay across the street in the Marriott St. Louis Grand hotel. They power wash their sidewalk along Washington Ave weekly. I know because I see them doing it on my way to the YMCA. Also, I asked the last worker I saw how often it’s done.

Looking West from 8th, you can see the sidewalk is wet from just being cleaned
Equipment used to power wash the sidewalk.

It always looks great, they do a wonderful job! I can’t say the same about the other side of 8th.

Immediately East of 8th the sidewalk is always dirty, even after a hard rain.
Close to the building you see bird waste that has been there for at least months.
Around the corner, along 8th, it’s worse.

This is part of the entire block controlled by US Bank. Visitors to our convention center likely see this filth. While the Marriott to the West of 8th does an excellent job, US Bank fails at keeping their sidewalks presentable.

More examples.

The Ely Walker lofts, 1520 Washington, frequently power washes their sidewalk
The sidewalk in front of Roberts Galerie, 1224 Washington, is always nasty.

Maybe US Bank and others rely solely on the Downtown Clean Team:

Downtown STL Inc. has established a Clean Team in an effort to contribute to the beautification of the Community Improvement District (CID), through an aggressive sidewalk and street level cleaning program.

Clean Team members, dressed in purple and khaki, walk the streets of Downtown, St. Louis, to make sure we maintain a clean and inviting appearance to all visitors.

Some of the duties the Clean Team may encounter are: debris clean up on streets and sidewalks; graffiti and handbill removal from first floor buildings; power washing sidewalks; clean up after special events (Parades, Sporting Events, Festivals, etc.); and also cleaning and maintaining the Old Post Office Plaza and Downtown Bike Station. (Downtown Clean Team)

They also do a great job, I see them frequently. Maybe building managers/owners need to request power washing if they don’t want to do it themselves like others do? I’ll contact them myself to see if they can help out where they’re so desperately needed.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?

October 14, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Homeless, NLEC, Religion, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?
Please vote below

Last month a 2nd court ruled against Larry Rice and his downtown homeless shelter:

The Missouri Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that found the city of St. Louis acted properly when it shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless mission in April of 2017.

The center’s director, the Reverend Larry Rice says, it’s hard to re-open when he can’t get petition signatures from neighbors in the locked loft next door.

“What’s really made this difficult is the people they want us to get signatures from are the people that put in the petition in order to stop us from doing the shelter,” Rice said, “At the same time, we’re willing to do our individual appeal to each person that lives in the loft next door at 15th and Locust, the management of those lofts refused to give us access.”

Rice says he may seek a court order granting him access to the building to talk to knock on doors of residents.

Also, he plans to appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court and argue that his homeless shelter is a “local church” and has a Consitutional right to stay open to serve its congregation–the homeless. (KMOX)

Today’s non-scientific poll is about Larry Rice and his former shelter.

Today’s poll closes at 8pm tonight. The usual number of votes is around 28-32 so if there’s an effort to influence the outcome it’ll be very obvious. My thoughts on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson

 

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