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Musk spells out plans for Hyperloop

 

 

by: David Fierro


Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX this week revealed details of his Hyperloop transportation system: a solar-powered, city-to-city elevated transit system that could whisk passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Musk's futuristic mode of transport challenges California's massive investment in high speed rail, which he calls too slow, expensive and impractical.

Musk revealed details of the Hyperloop in a blog this week. In Musk's vision, the Hyperloop would transport people via aluminum pods enclosed inside of steel tubes. He describes the design as looking like a shotgun with the tubes running side by side for most of the journey and closing the loop at either end. These tubes would be mounted on columns 50 to 100 yards apart, and the pods inside would travel up to 800 miles per hour. Some of this Musk has hinted at before; he now adds that pods could ferry cars as well as people. "You just drive on, and the pod departs," said Musk.

Musk started focusing on public transportation after he grew disenchanted with the plans for California's high-speed rail system. Construction on the highly political, $70 billion project is meant to begin in earnest this year, with plans to link cities from San Diego to Sacramento by 2029. "You have to look at what they say it will cost vs. the actual final costs, and I think it's safe to say you're talking about a $100 billion-plus train," Musk says.

Musk figures the Hyperloop could be built for $6 billion with people-only pods, or $10 billion for the larger pods capable of holding people and cars. All together, his alternative would be four times as fast as California's proposed train, at one-tenth the cost. Tickets, Musk says, would be "much cheaper" than a plane ride.

The Hyperloop was designed to link cities less than 1,000 miles apart that have high amounts of traffic between them, Musk says. Under 1,000 miles, the Hyperloop could have a nice edge over planes, which need a lot of time to take off and land. "It makes sense for things like L.A. to San Francisco, New York to D.C., New York to Boston," Musk says. "Over 1,000 miles, the tube cost starts to become prohibitive, and you don't want tubes every which way. You don't want to live in Tube Land."

 


David Fierro, Editor & Publisher
davidf@utahtransportationreport.com

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Drowsy drivers test their senses

By Tania Mashburn, UDOT SALT LAKE—It's 4 a.m.—While most Utahns are still fast asleep, four people, each with very different lives, all have one thing in common; they're struggling to stay awake.

Nate Davis is a businessman and father of four. Kylie Lalumia is a brand new mom. Lindsey Tait is 17 years old and has a busy social life. Ben Winslow is a reporter for Fox13 News. In each of their cases, it wouldn't be unheard of to go with very little sleep.

Fast forward ten hours. This group has now been up for 30 hours or more; and they're going to get behind the wheel. Sound dangerous? It is. That's the point.

On August 7, UDOT and the Department of Public Safety held a media event to demonstrate the effects of drowsy driving. Nate, Kylie, Lindsey and Ben were invited to test their skills on DPS's driving range. Each had to navigate through a field of cones as they tried to back up, change lanes, make sharp turns, and parallel park.

How well did each driver do? Let's just say it's a good thing the obstacles were cones and not kids.

"Oh my gosh," said Kylie as she ran over another cone.

"It's a lot tougher to concentrate," Nate said as he spun the steering wheel. "Interpreting what's coming next is what's getting me."

Ben, who has a high-paced job where he jumps from story to story and is constantly tweeting, admitted the lack of sleep definitely slowed him down. He said, "It was difficult to just think. My cognitive skills were delayed…everything was just delayed because I was so tired."

"I didn't realize how many cones I had knocked down until you go back and look," said a surprised Lindsey. "If I was on the road, I don't know how many cars I would have hit. People are out there. It's crazy to think about."

What's really crazy to think about is that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. In fact, being awake for 20 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at a much higher risk for a crash. A drowsy driver often displays the same symptoms as a drunk driver; blurred vision, slow reaction time, and weaving in and out of lanes.

So far this year, at least eight fatalities in Utah have been attributed to drowsy driving and there may be more. The problem is these types of crashes are difficult to identify because the driver is often alone and there are no blood tests that show fatigue. While UDOT and UHP work hard to make our roads as safe as possible through engineering and enforcement, the driver is ultimately responsible for their own safety and those around them.

"Driving is difficult," said UHP Sgt. Matt Smith. "It takes a lot of focus and mental ability, and unfortunately when people are so tired, it goes right along the lines of impaired drivers."

Nearly everyone is guilty of driving drowsy, but most people don't realize how dangerous they actually are. Here's something to think about. You are at risk of getting in a crash if:

  • You are driving longer than 2 hours without a break
  • You are driving alone
  • You are driving at night
  • You got 6 hours of sleep or less the night before
  • You're working or going to school more than 60 hours a week
  • You've been drinking or taking medication

The best thing you can do to make sure you're not putting yourself and others at risk is planning ahead and getting enough sleep, especially if you'll be doing a lot of driving the following day.

If you do find yourself nodding off, having difficulty focusing, blinking excessively, yawning repeatedly, and especially drifting out of your lane, tailgating or hitting rumble strips; it's your responsibility to get off the road. Turning up the radio or rolling down your window is not going to cut it. Those things don't work. You need to pull over and switch drivers, take a short nap, get out of the car and stretch or walk around or even find a safe place to sleep for the night.

Nate, Kylie, Lindsey and Ben all said their drowsy driving experiment was eye opening for them and we're hoping it will open the eyes of other drivers and maybe save lives.

For more information about the dangers of driving drowsy, go to sleepsmartdrivesmart.com or zerofatalities.com




UTA uses teamwork, cooperation to finish FrontLines 2015 ahead of schedule

SALT LAKE—With the pending debut of the Draper TRAX Line, the Utah Transit Authority is less than a month away from completing the FrontLines 2015 program, more than two years ahead of schedule and $300 million under budget.

The FrontLines project has more than doubled UTA's rail system, opening four new TRAX lines and extending FrontRunner another 45 miles from Salt Lake City to Provo.  The project was initially scheduled for completion in 2015, but will conclude this month when the Draper Line opens.

The FrontLines 2015 project has been one of the most aggressive rail expansion programs in the country. Adding 70 miles of new rail in less than seven years was always an ambitious goal, but when the Great Recession hit, it seemed almost impossible. UTA's budget relies primarily on local-option sales taxes, and when the economy slowed, sales tax revenues dwindled.  Faced with serious budget challenges, UTA looked for creative solutions to deliver on our promise to complete these projects on time.

With each line, UTA employed many tactics to complete construction ahead of schedule. Some of the most significant examples of UTA's creativity for accelerating a project can be found in the construction of the Airport TRAX Line. Three innovative solutions were used to complete the project ahead of schedule. This early completion helped save taxpayer dollars, reduced construction impacts to businesses and residents along North Temple, shortened road construction delays and allowed for earlier public transit access to the Airport.

Right-of-way acquisition:  Construction delays cost money in the end, and acquiring needed rights-of-way is a significant effort on any major project. On the Airport TRAX line, North Temple needed to be widened in places before the TRAX line could be added. The project contractor offered UTA and Salt Lake City a financial incentive if the property needed to widen the road could be acquired by a set date. This deadline was met, allowing UTA to save money and construction to proceed without delay.

North Temple bridge construction: UTA, Salt Lake City and the project contractor partnered together in an alliancing agreement designed to help complete the project faster while decreasing construction costs and project risk. This innovative approach motivated the entire team to work proactively together to deliver a product that the city and community was proud of, and to complete it as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. Working together to decrease expenses ultimately reduced the cost of the new North Temple bridge by $11 million dollars. The new bridge also opened more than six months early to automobile and pedestrian traffic, benefiting the residents and businesses on the line.

Project cash flow:  Keeping project construction crews working efficiently saves time and money. 

Unfortunately, when construction on the Airport line started advancing faster than our budgeted schedule, UTA was facing the prospect of requiring the contractor to slow work on the line.  In response, the contractor agreed to a payment schedule, deferring six percent of their invoices.  UTA would still have to pay the full amount owed, but this allowed construction of the Airport line to continue without delays.

Despite the worst economic downturn in generations, UTA is proud to have completed FrontLines 2015 projects ahead of schedule and under budget.

See more at: http://www.letsrideuta.com/2013/08/01/uta-uses-teamwork-to-finish-frontlines/#sthash.agoG9nrO.dpuf




INRIX teams with real estate firm for drive time home searches

SEATTLE—INRIX and Windermere Real Estate announced another real estate industry first: search for homes by INRIX Drive Time™, an innovative feature on Windermere.com that allows buyers to search for properties based on the drive time between work and home.

The new search option provides consumers with an easy, visual means to find all homes for sale within a specific drive time between prospective properties and their work address, given typical rush hour driving conditions.

"As the economy picks up, more people are hitting the road to go back to work," said Kevin Foreman, general manager, GeoAnalytics, INRIX, Inc. "With traffic only getting worse, an acceptable drive time to work is moving up the list of "must-haves" for a new home."

Buyers can search for homes by drive time in Utah and nine other states where Windermere has offices: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Buyers simply enter the maximum amount of time they're willing to spend driving between work and home, their work address, and preferred arrival time. The new search feature then automatically generates the drive time in 15-minute increments for each home.  It can also be used to calculate drive times to and from other frequented destinations that may play a role in the home search process, such as schools.

"We believe Windermere's new 'Search by INRIX Drive Time' is going to revolutionize how buyers search for homes online—especially in high-traffic, metropolitan areas," said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. "We already know that commuting is a critical factor for 73 percent of buyers, and now they can filter their search results based upon drive time criteria, just as they do for price, number of bedrooms, and other important attributes."

In March, Windermere launched phase one of INRIX Drive Time by attaching a drive time calculator to every home for sale on Windermere.com. Since March, it has been used by consumers more than 50,000 times. "The new drive time search capability on Windermere.com is a natural evolution for the INRIX Drive Time feature," said Foreman.

"Not only does INRIX's technology help people make the right decision on their new home, it does that in an intuitive and customized way.  For the first time, accurate drive time information sourced from actual drivers can be used as initial search criteria by consumers and agents—significantly enhancing the home search process on Windermere.com."



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