Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alameda Dumps SunCal Project That Promised Personal Rapid Transit

San Francisco Chronicle July 21, 2010 report:

Alameda scrapped its contract with a developer early today to bring thousands of homes and offices to the former Navy base, sending the sprawling project back to the drawing board 14 years after the military left.

The City Council voted 4-0, with one abstention, to sever its four-year relationship with SunCal Cos. of Irvine (Orange County), which had planned to build 4,800 homes, a 60-acre sports complex, offices, parks, schools and a ferry terminal at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, which covers one-third of the island city.

Money quote:

"No matter what kind of Disneyland magic transit they talk about, I don't see how they're going to get all that traffic through two lanes of the (Posey) Tube," Johnson said. "I don't want people to come up to me in the grocery store and say, 'You're the person who ruined Alameda.' "

Suncal pitched its development with PRT to the Alameda City Council on September 10, 2008:

Traffic jams and empty storefronts were two of the main concerns of the City Council and the community at Wednesday's special meeting focused primarily on developer SunCal's latest concept for the former Navy base.

SunCal's 6,200-plus residential unit proposal included self-described "visionary" features: a possible "solar farm" to generate energy and heat; a Bus Rapid Transit system to encourage public transit use and ease traffic; and a Jetson-like Personal Rapid Transit system, which would shuttle people in small computerized electrical vehicles on an elevated roadway to transit hubs.

When pressed by Councilmember Doug DeHaan, the SunCal consultant conceded that the overhead roadway with the computerized vehicles may not be viable, but should it work out, it would be extended throughout the island. Developers in years past had extolled the virtues of a ski-lift-like gondola that would transport people back and forth across the estuary, and another proposal called for a BART system to do the same task underwater. Neither idea made it past the dream stage.

Here's Suncal's presentation at the Alameda City Council September 10, 2008:

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This latest setback for the pod people is just one more I'll add to the list of recent pod flops and fiascos:

Taxi 2000 lobbyist and Bachmann pal Ed Cain also lobbied for the phony U.S. Navy Veterans Association charity.

ULTra PRT Heathrow Debut Postponed a Fourth Time.

No $25 million earmark for PRT pork project in Winona, Minnesota.

The Swedish/Korean PRT prototype malfunctioned recently in front of the media.

The Masdar PRT (actually computer-guided golf carts that follow magnets imbedded in the roadway) has been scaled way back, This setback got a mention in the NY Times and confirmed in this Bloomberg article.

The much-hyped PRT project in Daventry ended in fiasco.

The so-called Morgantown PRT (it's a mundane people-mover) was the subject of a student newspaper editorial after a malfunction created a "fireball" and filled a vehicle with smoke. The cost of fixing the Morgantown boondoggle is $93 million.

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