Tuesday, January 23, 2007

All right Senior Thesis: Game On

I touched on this topic at the beginning of the New Year, but here are some thoughts that have materialized in the past few days with my Senior Thesis Writing Seminar:

Possible Topics:
From Blog Photos

Too often I have used European examples of High Speed Rail; Not this time, the above image is of the Nozomi Series 500 Shinkansen in Japan from Bullet Trains. According to sources on Wikipedia, The Nozomi can reach speeds of 320km or 200 MPH, but is currently only operating at a maximum of 300 km or 186 MPH.

1) The Need for High Speed Rail (HSR) in the Midwest.
The idea came to me while I was on Study Abroad participating in the Scandinavia Urban Studies Term (SUST) through HECUA last semester. It was very easy and reasonably priced to get on a long-haul train and go from Oslo-to-Bergen in roughly 6 hours. At the end of my term, I attended a conference on the development of High Speed Rail (HSR) corridors in Norway that included High Speed proposals with service from Oslo-to-Trondheim and Oslo-to-Bergen.
This got me curious as to why the United States did not have a High Speed Rail network and what was being done in the field. Over break I began reading a few sources, particularly High Speed Rail Policy for the 21st Century by Anthony Pearl and read over the 2004 Executive Report of the Midwest Regional Rail System
My paper would be similar to these sources of looking at European HSR applications and then determining policy solutions, amounts of financing and sources of financing, as well as feasibility for applications in the Midwest to connect to HSR networks pre-existing predominantly in the Northeast corridors (Acela, formerly the Metroliner).
From Blog Photos
Another picture of the Nozomi 500 Series Shinkensen

2) I-494 Transitway Study
This topic would directly relate to my internship at the State Capitol with Rep. Ann Lenczewski and is a topic that is directly related to the Twin Cities MSA and the South Metro. This would be a preliminary model study of transit options for the I-494 Corridor including: BRT, LRT, and possibly PRT. This study would then be used to inform Rep. Ann Lenczewski to propose legislation for funding of a true study conducted by the Metropolitan Council.
Through my internship I will have contact with major stakeholders involved in the study. However, since there has been no formal study of transit along I-494, it may be difficult to find sources directly related to this topic.

And yet another question, which of these topics would you choose, and which one in your opinion would help Minnesota and the Midwest the most?
Whichever way it goes it should be a fun semester and a interesting senior thesis. Wish me luck.

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