On I-35, a Freight-Only Monorail Could Soon Take Root

Categories: Transportation

FreightShuttle.jpg
Freight Shuttle International

The drive south down Interstate 35 isn't a particularly pleasant one, but there soon there may be something to distract you, namely a 243-mile elevated rail line dedicated to shipping freight.

The Texas Department of Transportation is close to reaching a deal to lease highway right-of-way to Freight Shuttle International, a private company that hopes to build the $2.5 billion rail line within six years.

"We think it's happening at just the right time in our country," Stephen Roop, an assistant director at Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute and co-founder of Freigh Shuttle International, told the Star-Telegram. "It can operate in the airspace of a highway median."

The concept is simple, basically a two-way electric-powered monorail that carries cargo containers at a max speed of 60 miles per hour to terminals where they are loaded onto trucks. The result is an efficient method of shipping freight that proponents say cuts costs by 25 percent, reduced emissions, and fewer humongous trucks hurtling down the highway.

There are drawbacks, as was noted during a presentation Friday to the North Central Texas Council of Governments. For one, such a system by definition doesn't carry passengers. There are worries as well that 60 miles per hour might be too slow and that bottlenecks could slow things down. Also, it stops in Waxahachie, though Freight Shuttle hopes to eventually expand the system to DFW and on another couple thousand miles of highway in the state.


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33 comments
lalaknight
lalaknight

What about the truck driver's that will lose their jobs?

big_oj
big_oj

I much rather see a DART, GO, DCTA or The T train above the highway than a freight rail.

chad
chad

Sounds pretty freaking awesome to me but if there isn't a person driving those monorails then expect the teamsters to do everything they can to stand in the way.

 

RTGolden
RTGolden

So let me get this straight,  a six car monorail is going to service the freight needs of one of the top 3 US land trade portals on either land border.  Hundreds of trucks per day per bridge cross at Laredo's two truck bridges and the bridge at Eagle Pass.  Then you've got the two train bridges at Laredo and EP.  Freight sequencing is such that nothing sits anywhere for more than 24 hours.  So, it's obvious that one little monorail isn't going to really dent truck traffic on I-35 in Texas.

Then, we're going to stop the freight in Waxahachie?  90% of the freight hubs in N. Texas are in DFW.  That's your trucking terminals, rail (Alliance and UP-Dallas) and air hubs.  Under this plan, you'll have to create yet another terminal hub in waxahachie, just to handle the freight coming off of these monorails.  Why not drive it the extra miles to the Union Pacific yard in south Dallas?  There's already infrastructure in place to handle the truck traffic and warehousing needs, DPS and DHS already have offices nearby, and freight brokers, forwarders, hauling companies and drivers already have established routes and turn times from this facility.

This doesn't seem all that well thought out.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

shouldnt the real question be, if we can put a freight tansit line in the existing RoW to tranport goods, why cant we do that to transfer humans? The would also reduce the amount of traffic on our interstatre highways between houston and dallas?

Anon
Anon

A fully loaded truck does the same amount of damage as about ten thousand cars. This relieves traffic congestion, extends the life of the highways, and improves the flow of both imported and exported goods throughout the economy. TTI thinks they have an innovative way to build this within existing RoW, reducing or eliminating most of the cost of this kind of infrastructure project. Just one question: Can this be done in a shorter amount of time? The New Canal is opening soon!

goober
goober

So you're saying this thing runs on only one rail? What's going to keep it from tipping over?

ElWhite
ElWhite

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEZjzsnPhnw

 

Well, sir, there's nothing on earth Like a genuine, bona fide Electrified, six-car monorail

What'd I say?

Monorail

What's it called?

Monorail

That's right!

Monorail Monorail Monorail Monorail

I hear those things are awfully loud

It glides as softly as a cloud

Is there a chance the track could bend?

Not on your life, my Hindu friend

What about us brain-dead slobs?

You'll be given cushy jobs

Were you sent here by the Devil?

No, good sir,

I'm on the level

The ring came off my pudding can

Take my pen knife, my good man

I swear it's Springfield's only choice

Throw up your hands and raise your voice

Monorail What's it called?

Monorail

Once again

Monorail

But Main Street's still all cracked and broken

Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken

Monorail! Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

 

Mono, d'oh!

ColinZ
ColinZ

Cool, but I don't get it.  How is this better than shipping by traditional rail?

Anon
Anon

@RTGolden The Aggies at TTI do pretty solid work. I have seen this presentation at a different venue, and have been hearing of it going on a year now. It could run 24/7/365. At sixty miles an hour that's minutes to load and unload, and those plans are pretty well figured out too. They have an innovative notion about how to build this contraption that just might work.

chad
chad

 @RTGolden you better call the planners! I mean, what if they haven't thought of these things when putting doing their research. ...man if only they read Unfair Park then they would surely know the issues they're facing!

kduble
kduble

Florida was preparing to do this for passengers last year. Gov. Rick Scott and the Tea Party shut it down, though.

EricNicholson4
EricNicholson4 moderator

 @oakclifftownie From what I read the proposal is for this to be totally private. I have a call in to Roop and another Freight Shuttle guy but haven't heard back

 

kduble
kduble

Agreed. It's worth a try.

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @Anon Do you have any sources to cite that back up your 1 truck = 10,000 cars statistic?

kduble
kduble

He calls himself goober. What did you expect?

B1ng
B1ng

 @goober it's like that island with all the extra soldiers on it. i can't believe that thing actually tipped over.

kduble
kduble

Every major U.S. airport has one, including DFW. I also rode the ones in Disneyworld. Their right-of-way requirements are minimal. I hear their drawback is they aren't as fast as LRT. The ones in Disneyworld seemed plenty fast, though.

kduble
kduble

I don't know that it is better than traditional rail. I understand the case for it, though. Additional capacity without right-of-way acquisition.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ColinZ Its electric and not gas, and therefore not polluting as much

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @chad It's called a discussion, hero.  When you're ready to stop blowing spitbubbles at the bug-zapper, maybe you can join in.

Anon
Anon

@RTGolden That link didn't work out too well. Google truck highway damage. It is a pretty solidly researched field.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @ScottsMerkin  @ColinZ That's right ... electricity comes out of the wall plug and we all know that there is no pollution there ... and besides the generating plants can produce all the electricity at night with out pollution because there is no demand ...

kduble
kduble

Electricity will always be cleaner than powering individual vehicles. Electric power is as glean as input for the grid, and the grid gets cleaner every year.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @ScottsMerkin  @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Depends on the numbers.

 

Seriously, it's just not that simple.  For natural gas electric production, it tends to be cleaner.  Nuclear production is definitely cleaner.  Coal isn't.  Also, add in that electricity is fungible on the grid, and you have to consider it to be an average of all the production on the grid at the time, which will be a mix of all three.

 

It's like Scott Adams said, "green" is for people who are bad at math.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul the difference is that sure it take polluting plants to make electricty but it takes polluting plants to make gas as well, so what is better, fuel that pollutes the planet being made and then burned or electricty that pollutes while being made but not consumed...mkay thanks

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