Monday, February 25, 2008

Bills, Codes, and Engineering...News Update

The Colorado legislature looks like it will pass an eminent domain bill that will leave the ability to take property for parking lots but will not allow any other development on the land. The Rocky Mountain News has an editorial on the matter.

Dallas is looking to update its zoning code. This would enable more transit oriented development and better street design. In addition, the development at Las Colinas which will have 3 light rail stops on the new Orange Line, is really taking off.

The state of North Carolina is looking to create a fund for transit projects around the state that would provide a quarter of the capital cost for new high capacity projects. Also included are improvement funds for intercity rail and bus improvements.

Michigan Tech is going to open a new rail engineering school. This includes both freight and passenger rail. It's amazing but we've lost a lot of knowledge about how to engineer these systems over the years. Apparently we've also lost welding prowess. In an article in Der Spiegel engineers at Siemens describe their first foray into building light rail vehicles in the United States. They had to fly in 50 engineers from Munich with the skills needed:

Hauck knows what he's talking about. He runs German engineering giant Siemens' streetcar manufacturing plant in Sacramento. But when the German company showed up in the California capital more than two years ago with its plans to build trams there, it found little evidence of craft or even skill. Hauck couldn't find a single welder with the right skills for the job anywhere in the region.

Making meter-long welds across thin sheet metal without the car "bending like a banana," says Hauck, takes talent and sensitivity. More important, it takes good training. To provide that training, Siemens flew 50 welders from its Munich locomotive plant to California, where they spent six months retraining local welders. Now the Sacramento plant is up and running.

Hopefully this is a sign of growth in the industry.

No comments: