How much would rail transit cost in Rochester?
A typical light rail line would probably cost about $15 million per mile, and a commuter rail line could cost as low as $1 million per mile.
That sounds expensive to me. How can that cost be justified?
Light rail would most likely be less expensive to build than the cost of increasing road capacity. Adding a new lane to I-490 in the city would cost about $50 million per mile and would have an extremely destructive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods (and as a result it is not likely to happen). The widening of I-490 between routes 441 and 31F, just completed, cost $19 million per mile. Also, the cost of constructing a new parking garage in downtown Rochester is over $10,000 per car, and that is roughly the cost per passenger of a new light rail line.
Weren't there plans for new rail lines in Rochester before?
Yes. In the late sixties and early seventies, there was a plan for rail line from Charlotte to Riverton. Initially the line was planned as a heavy rail line, but later this was changed to light rail line called "RACE", Rochester Area Commuter Express. This plan was considered too ambitious and the plans were eventually shelved.
The plans were taken off the shelf in the late seventies for a study that was concluded in 1982. The feasibility study for this "North-South Corridor" from West Ridge Road to Henrietta said that the line was feasible. However, the skeptics outnumbered the supporters, and the plans were once again shelved.
Two new studies are today underway, and the Rochester Rail Transit Committee is actively engaged in seeing that the plans from these two studies are not shelved as the last two have been.