Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Contra Costa’s CyberTran awarded U.S. patent for Transportation Internet

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Rendering of a CyberTran transit station. Renderings courtesy of CyberTran International, Inc.

Ultra-Light Rail Transit system vehicles travel throughout connected rail networks at low, medium and high speeds, direct to destination and at much lower capital deployment and maintenance costs

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA – CyberTran International, Inc. (CTI) offers the most innovative approach to solving the world’s traffic congestion problems. The recent patent approval for fixed guideway transportation systems, with lower cost of ownership and optimized benefits, validates what they’re calling the Transportation Internet technology. This system can be thought of as the computer-controlled technology solution to the problems of mass transit cost overruns and inefficiency.

Artist rendering of a CyberTran vehicle and station with overhead solar panels generating the power to operate the system.

CTI’s Ultra-Light Rail Transit (ULRT) is a mass transit system with the ability to build out Urban Circulator systems, Commuter Rail systems and High-Speed Rail systems and connect them to one network where small rail vehicles carrying up to thirty passengers can travel throughout the network Direct-to-Destination (nonstop). This allows ULRT to serve three separate markets, low, medium and high speeds! Until today all three markets have been served by three separate distinct technologies that can only be connected at transfer points where passengers have to disembark one system only to transfer to another to reach their destination.

Currently, CTI is closing in on funding for the purpose of demonstration and deployment. “Everybody wants to be second, nobody wants to be first,” said Dexter Vizinau, President of CTI.

Transit officials are hesitant to take a chance on a small and innovative company. The BART system started out as a demonstration project and the technology was the first of its kind. Today, CTI has approximately ten cities that are willing to be first, he explained.

In every major metropolitan region of the world, people are stuck in traffic. Today’s solutions aren’t working.

“Expanding today’s transit systems are too costly to build and maintain, yet transit officials continue to approach this as a solution, with little result,” said Neil Sinclair, CTI Board Chairman. “There’s a $78 billion backlog in transit systems maintenance in the U.S. and the only way to pay for it is to raise taxes. In the meantime, we’re all stuck in traffic with no end in sight.” That is, until today.

Overview rendering of the offline CyberTran stations.

“Our patent validates everything we’ve already proven,” Vizinau continued. “Two full-scale prototype vehicles have already been built and tested. The test vehicles have achieved speeds of up to 60 mph and have climbed a 10% grade, which means ULRT can go over the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles and also travel up the Grapevine Summit in Southern California. Bullet train systems and L.A. Metro-like systems cannot climb steep grades and therefore either have to tunnel or go around.”

By building out ULRT networks in cities at 35 mph, and then connecting them together throughout a region at 80 mph, ULRT becomes a commuter rail system like BART and Metro in Los Angeles. ULRT can handle the same throughput as BART during rush hour via the Transbay Tube. CTI can then connect regions with a high-speed line. The ULRT System design is flexible and can expand easily. Guideways and civil structures are manufactured offsite and assembled onsite allowing ULRT systems to be constructed more efficiently. CTI can construct long-distance systems in up to a quarter mile per day. The system was designed to reach speeds of up to 150 mph. (See related article)

CyberTran’s ULRT system also operates from solar power. Canopies of solar panels above the guideway can generate more than one megawatt per mile and eight times more energy than the system consumes, and supply renewable energy to surrounding communities resulting in a net gain to CTI.

Rendering of a possible CyberTran station on the second floor of an office building and campus.

Transit officials currently purchase transit systems from foreign companies. CTI plans to manufacture ULRT transit systems for a global market in Contra Costa County. “We’ve been to China five times in as many years. There are six hundred cities in China that can use this,” says Sinclair. Councilmember Rich Kinney of the City of San Pablo states, “West Contra Costa County in particular has to solve the I-80 corridor congestion issue to attract more businesses and jobs to our cities. This is our opportunity to effectively address that issue. May we not continue to kick the proverbial can down the road – it’s time to embrace the full deployment of CyberTran right here at home.”

Earlier this year the city councils of Oakley, Brentwood and Antioch each voted unanimously to join the cities of Richmond and San Pablo to support efforts by CTI to obtain the needed funding for systems in both Western and Eastern Contra Costa County. (See related article) In addition, CTI has the support of U.C. Berkeley in their efforts to bring the technology to market. (See related article)

The next steps for CTI are to obtain funding to build two showrooms and a factory. This calls for one low-speed demonstration track up to 35 mph, and one rapid speed demonstration track up to 150 mph – in curves and with left and right banking. Both demo tracks and factory construction are to be done concurrently. There were no funding programs to support transit innovation, such as ULRT, at the federal level until CTI lobbied Congress to create one. Program legislation was created and approved in 2014 under a Republican-controlled Congress and Senate. CTI was hopeful that President Obama would release the program funding but it did not happen. CTI is hopeful about the President Trump’s infrastructure package and is encouraged by their reception in Washington, D.C.

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Frazier votes ‘no’ on proposed bridge toll hikes

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) voted ‘no’ on SB 595, which would require the nine Bay Area counties to hold a special election, known as Regional Measure 3, to propose raising tolls on state-owned bridges in the Bay Area. After the vote, he issued the following statement:

“I recognize the need for funding transportation improvements, but after much thought, I believe adding another tax on commuters is not the answer. I ultimately voted NO on the bridge toll bill because $8 per crossing is just too much of a financial burden on drivers. If you commute from Solano County to San Francisco – entailing two bridge tolls that would potentially total $16 a day – that’s highway robbery.”

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Tri Delta Transit adds new circulator bus in downtown Pittsburg

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

They really do go everywhere, man!

The Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority known as the Tri Delta Transit bus system, is launching a new downtown circulator route serving the downtown Pittsburg area. New Route 381 begins service September 25, 2017 and will travel between the Pittsburg Marina, through downtown Pittsburg, to Los Medanos College. So, now like their TV ad states they really do go everywhere.

The new route will be the shortest and quickest route in the Tri Delta Transit system. From start to finish, the trip takes only 20 minutes and operates every 30 minutes. “This is a terrific route to access many downtown restaurants and shops as well as big-name stores, and shopping centers in Pittsburg,” said Director of Marketing, Mike Furnary. “Route 381 will provide service to popular destinations including Los Medanos College, Wal-Mart, Atlantic Plaza, Pittsburg Health Center, The East Contra Costa Clinic, downtown Pittsburg, Pittsburg Marina, Pittsburg High School (Railroad Ave at School St.), City Park, Pittsburg Senior Center, Pittsburg Courthouse, and Pittsburg Library.” New Route 381 operates 22 times every day, Monday thru Friday. New bus stops will be added along Railroad Avenue in downtown Pittsburg offering pick up and drop off just steps away from many downtown restaurants and shops. New bus stops will be located on Railroad at 5th Street and 8th Street.

Route 381 will eventually serve Pittsburg Center BART, currently under construction. “For those in the area who currently use another bus route to Pittsburg Bay Point BART, they might be better served by Route 381 once the new station is operational,” said Furnary.

Route 381 is being introduced along with a newly revised schedule going into effect on September 24, 2017. In addition to new Route 381, one-time change is being made to the schedule. “We’ve made one adjustment to our Clockwise Route 383 serving Oakley and Antioch,” said Furnary. “This change will allow an earlier arrival at Freedom High School in Oakley, making Route 383 Clockwise a more reliable option for Freedom students.” Times on all other routes will not change from the previous schedule. To see times Route 381 will operate and all other bus schedules and times, visit Tri Delta Transit’s Web site at www.trideltatransit.com. New printed schedules will be available on buses the week of September 18, 2017.

Tri Delta Transit was named small bus operator of the year in 2014 by the American Public Transportation Association, the national representative for public transportation in Washington DC. They provide over 3,000,000 trips each year to a population of over 250,000 residents in the 225 square miles of Eastern Contra Costa County. They operate 13 local bus routes Monday – Friday, 4 local bus routes on weekends, door-to-door bus service for senior citizens and people with disabilities, and shuttle services to community events. For additional information about Tri Delta Transit, please visit www.trideltatransit.com.

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Laser-equipped drone helps improve safety, efficiency on Hwy 4 improvement project

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Screenshot from drone video of construction work at the Highway 4 and Balfour Road interchange in Brentwood, Tues., Sept. 12, 2017. Courtesy of Alta Vista Solutions.

Emerging drone technology moves construction and engineering into the future

On Tuesday morning, September 12, 2017, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and Alta Vista Solutions showcased two emerging technologies on a construction project aimed to improve commutes on Highway 4 in Brentwood (aka the Bypass). Engineers piloted drones equipped with light detection and ranging (LiDAR) lasers–a surveying tool that uses a laser to create high-resolution geographical data.

The combination of the two emerging technologies has never been done in construction before and opens untold possibilities for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and related jobs in the future.  CCTA featured the system in action by providing a live feed of a drone flight.  The feed from this morning’s drone flight can be viewed at altavistasolutions.com/media – bar .

With assistance from engineering firm Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista), who proposed the new method, CCTA is flying the LiDAR scanners to measure the volumes of earth that need to be moved during this $74-million project to rework the Balfour Road interchange. The drones ensure that the cut-and-fill earthwork goes efficiently. With LiDAR’s pinpoint accuracy, CCTA can now make needed calculations and monitor site conditions faster, eliminating the unavoidable guesswork involved in manual surveys. Putting LiDAR on drones gathers 15 gigabytes of precise, high-quality data per month, cutting down drastically on time spent surveying. The drones also improve safety by taking workers out of live traffic.

Drone capabilities enable CCTA to track construction progress firsthand as work on Highway 4 continues.

“We are always looking for new ways to increase safety and efficiency on construction projects,” said CCTA Executive Director Randy Iwasaki. “Drones give us aerial views of the site that were hard to come by before, making it safer for surveyors to do their job and helping us manage the large volumes of dirt that are being used to improve this intersection. This technology also allows us to monitor environmentally sensitive areas without disturbing the habitat.”

“This will change engineering and surveying,” said Ed Greutert, principal engineer at Alta Vista Solutions. “Innovations like combining LiDAR and UAVs are opening doors in infrastructure and making us efficient, effective, and safe in ways we couldn’t achieve before.”

Greutert also addresses fears of job loss as automation increases. “Using technology to do the surveying work can lead people to ask if this is the next step to the robot apocalypse – are drones going to take our jobs?” he speculates. “Not quite. It’s going to change jobs. It’s going to create new jobs in technology—and in the Balfour Road case, help people get to work faster.”

CCTA has faced challenges in being the first to test these technologies together.

“This has never been done. LiDAR on a UAV hasn’t worked until now – there are huge possibilities if we can be creative enough to really tap into them,” Greutert noted.

Handling the unprecedented quantity of data generated has also posed a challenge. However, in recent months, the team has succeeded in processing the hundreds of gigabytes collected.

“There are always challenges to pioneering new technology,” Iwasaki said. “But with the benefits this technology can provide in terms of keeping workers safe and managing a complicated construction project, I believe we’ll start to see more widespread use of drones on construction sites within a few years – especially as we discover new applications that can help save time and money. Right now, CCTA is excited to be leading efforts in this new frontier.”

About the Contra Costa Transportation Authority

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is a public agency formed by Contra Costa voters in 1988 to manage the county’s transportation sales tax program and oversee countywide transportation planning efforts.  CCTA is responsible for planning, funding and delivering critical transportation infrastructure projects and programs that connect our communities, foster a strong economy, increase sustainability, and safely and efficiently get people where they need to go.  CCTA also serves as the county’s designated Congestion Management Agency, responsible for putting programs in place to keep traffic levels manageable.  More information about CCTA is available at ccta.net.

About Alta Vista Solutions

Alta Vista is a California-based engineering firm that has been recognized as the 20th fastest-growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000 and was named by Zweig Group as one of America’s Hot Firms. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the most complex infrastructure projects in the world. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Known for engineering services that include engineering, inspection, testing, unmanned aerial systems, quality management, and structural health monitoring, Alta Vista has grown and diversified and has been acknowledged in 2017 by ENR Magazine and other media outlets for using innovative solutions and technologies to deliver infrastructure projects faster, better and more cost effectively.  For more information about Alta Vista, visit altavistasolutions.com.

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BART reducing speed systemwide during heat wave until 8 p.m.

Friday, September 1st, 2017

As a precaution against potential rail movement, BART will be reducing speeds between noon and 8 p.m. on most outdoor parts of the system for the duration of this regional heat wave. Riders should anticipate travel time increases of 10 to 20 minutes.

BART is taking this unusual step in response to the extreme temperatures forecast for the Bay Area over the next several days. BART rail is heat-treated prior to installation, which allows for thermal expansion and contraction of the rail in the Bay Area’s widely varying temperatures.

However, when actual temperature variations reach extreme levels, the thermal forces exerted on the rail increase, making it possible—though unlikely—that there could be some rail movement. Train speeds are being reduced in targeted parts of the system as a precautionary measure to give Train Operators more time to react to any observed abnormal rail conditions.

BART anticipates these reduced speeds to be in effect through at least Sunday, though the final decision on the duration of these changes will be based on weather forecasts and observed track conditions on the BART system. 

As a reminder, BART crews will be rebuilding trackway in downtown Oakland during Labor Day weekend from the end of service on Friday through Monday, to make the system safer, quieter, and more reliable. No trains will run between 19th Street and Fruitvale stations or between West Oakland and Fruitvale stations and Lake Merritt station will be closed. Riders on the Warm Springs/So. Fremont, Dublin/Pleasanton, and Oakland Airport lines will be impacted.

BART crews cannot complete these critical trackway repairs during the overnight hours when we are normally closed for maintenance, which is why we require this extra time. For more information on the track closure, please visit: http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2017/news20170814

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Traffic delays expected for Marsh Creek Road slope shoulder repair Sept 5-Oct 5

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Contra Costa County Public Works Department will perform work on Marsh Creek Road from Deer Valley Road to the Clayton City limits, from September 5 through October 5, 2017. The work will occur Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to shape slopes, repair shoulders and erosion along the road edge. The work may be rescheduled based on weather conditions. Electronic message boards will alert drivers of the scheduled work. There will be traffic control through the work area and drivers can expect delays of 10-15 minutes.

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Camino Diablo Road closure from Main Street to Byron Highway in Byron

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Construction of the Byron Highway and Camino Diablo Intersection Improvement Project is underway. The project will widen roadway pavement, install a traffic signal, sidewalk and upgrade the Union Pacific Railroad crossing on Camino Diablo.  Camino Diablo, from Main Street to Byron Highway, will be closed for the construction of the upgrades to the railroad crossing effective 3:00pm August 29th until 7:00 am September 28th.

Traffic will be detoured to Holway Drive for access to Camino Diablo and Byron Highway.  Drivers can expect delays. The project is funded by Federal Highway Safety Improvement Funds, Traffic Mitigation Funds, and Local Road Funds. Project completion is expected by the end of November. For project updates, visit the Public Works website at: http://www.cccounty.us/pwdmap.

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Marsh Creek Road repair work during daytime, Mon.-Fri. from July 10-20

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

Expect delays

Contra Costa County Public Works Department will perform work on Marsh Creek Road from Deer Valley Road to the Clayton City limits from July 10 through July 20, 2017. The work will occur Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to shape slopes and shoulders along the road edge where mudslides occurred during the winter storms.

The work may be rescheduled based on weather conditions. Electronic message boards will alert drivers of the scheduled work. There will be traffic control through the work area and drivers can expect delays of 10-15 minutes.

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