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Everything posted by ChiefJoJo

  1. Well, to bring us back to RDU, I flew out of Terminal 2 for the first time recently, and I must say it is an impressive facility. The terminal design is already among my favorite architectural statements in the region quite a few years. The flowing arched roof has the potential to become an iconic image among US airports, perhaps similar to Denver. My only complaints are that a number of stores that appear on the directory, including Starbucks, do not exist (casualties of the economy?), and that you can't get free wi-fi. It seems it would be a nice amenity to offer the traveling public.
  2. Many in the know are saying now that the bill will not likely be heard again in Senate finance before the state budget is finalized because the state is looking at the sales tax (including taxing services) as a funding option to close their financial chasm.
  3. Some NCSU students add their thoughts on Dix. Supposedly, Governor Purdue has said she supports a Dix Park, but it will be interesting to see (given the state's financial difficulties) whether the temptation to sell off the land for short term gain will be too powerful to resist. Let's hope not, as even if some land is developed (perhaps near Lake Wheeler Rd), it should be done in a coordinated fashion. Even the 306 folks need to develop an answer to the question 'what will be done with the buildings?' other than 'we'll figure that part out later.'
  4. The City of Raleigh is looking at a redesign of Moore Square, and as a part of that process commissioned research on the history of Moore Square. The Square was named in the 1792 in honor of Alfred E. Moore (B: May 21, 1755
  5. House Bill 148, Congestion Relief/Intermodal Transport Fund (the transit bill), is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday at 1 PM (room 544).
  6. My guess is with budgets being debated, most news outlets that cover local & state govts are focusing on that. I did see NBC 17 covered the meeting. In more transit news, both Triangle Transit & CAT are putting lots of new buses in service this summer and the Indy has a story on the R-Line. Some interesting quotes: "I just bought a new car, and now it's kind of funny. I keep thinking, why did I do that?" Jason Smith, chef-proprietor of 18 Seaboard in the Seaboard Station complex off Peace Street at R-Line stop No. 3 (R3), has noticed a boost in diners. "What we've seen are people doing pub crawls. We're their first stop," he says. "We'll have large groups come in that are going to three or four different places." Customers also use the bus to link his section of town with the Center for the Performing Arts, the convention center and City Market's art galleries during First Friday events. "We have a huge amount of parking that's very accessible, and people are parking here pre-theater. They leave their car, come in and get an appetizer or entr
  7. I can vouch for... the Carolina Theater, which is a great old venue for shows and concerts, Rue Cler, a nice French bakery/restaurant around the corner on Chapel Hill St, "Toast," a nice lunch place (never been there late), and Loco Pops on Market St. Bull McCabes is a newish Irish pub on W. Main. Never been there, but when I walked by last time it was packed. Those are all 'inside the [Ramseur, Morgan, Roxboro St] loop' that are possibilities, but as we've already mentioned, most of the vibrant retail where you will find contiguous shops is at American Tobacco, Brightleaf, and 9th St.
  8. Bob Geary on the chances for the intermodal bill amidst the state budget crisis. Also, it appears there is a public meeting in Cary tonight to discuss mass transit plans in Wake County.
  9. Check this out for DTD: flash map. Even thought it's actually just a single square area, I consider the multi block area west of Duke St, the unoffical Brightleaf Area, with the area east being West Village (Liggett & Myers). Here's a google map of ninth St: map. Basically go west on Main St from DTD and turn right on Ninth St and there's a nice strip of shops right there to enjoy. Again, I would allow yourself some time to walk around and explore. That's what I like to do. There's a whole lot to like about Durham (and I didn't even mention American Tobacco), and IMO these are among the better walkable urban places to start looking. Hope that helps.
  10. Crescent Resources has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, so that leaves this project in doubt, though I suppose another developer could take it over at some point.
  11. I used to go there for a few years... it was Capital Fitness initially. In the early years (for me '04), it was really nice, not crowded, if a bit pricey (no chain=no economies of scale). Then Spa bought them out. The price came down substantially (chain), and the management was still pretty good. In retrospect, that short-lived era was probably the sweet spot. Finally, Peak bought them, and instantly customer service went downhill (plus nickel & dimeing like charging for towels ). I stayed until my contract expired because it was walking distance for me, but left as soon as I could thereafter. I'd say it's ripe for the picking.
  12. It's technically the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that almost always makes the rules in a freight railroad environment such as the North Corridor, with rare exceptions, but you are correct on the reasoning that they do not want heavy and light vehicles operating in the same environment (tracks), unless there are very extensive safety measures taken. The NJ River Line and the Austin Capital Metrorail both use essentially the same vehicle, a light DMU (GTW), built by Stadler and in both cases, they are designed to run on freight tracks with temporal (time) separation from heavy freight equipment. http://www.riverline.com/images/gallery/trains/photo_19.jpg http://allsystemsgo.capmetro.org/images/rail_photo1.jpg Unless a time sharing arrangement were made (like NJ & Austin), it's very unlikely that CATS would be allowed to operate a non-FRA compliant vehicle on the Norfolk Southern tracks.
  13. To see an example of what type of facility could be in our future, albeit probably larger, and with more modes served, take a look at the Tempe Transit Center. There's a lot to like here...
  14. The two main areas of DTD are basically American Tobacco and the Brightleaf Square area. There are a few good spots in between (Toast, Rue Cler, Locopops, and there's a newish Irish pub on W. Main), but it's mostly those two districts. I really like Brightleaf due to the varied options in such a small area: Taverna Nikos (Greek), Alivias, and Federal are great options, but I recommend allowing some time to walk around and see what you like--most of the restaurants are very good. Also Ninth Street, about a mile west of downtown is another spot with plenty of great options (plus you have to check out Regulator Bookshop, one of the few urban, independent bookstores in the region, and Elmo's Diner, a great spot for breakfast.) Enjoy!
  15. ^ Right and don't forget that Gateway will also have a SEHSR station for intercity trains from throughout the Piedmont and ultimately to DC. One day, the trains may be as frequent (between Charlotte & Raleigh) as 10 or more per day , but in the mean time, a couple of special event trains for 8 Panthers games would be an enticing proposition, as people already travel many hours for these games.
  16. Bob Geary has a story on Hillsboro Street of old and new. Regarding the new, I'm glad to hear that NC State is talking openly about redevelopment of it's properties across the street, specifically North Hall, the Brooks lot, and even the strip mall next to Sadlacks. I did not know that NCSU spent $3M to purchase "troubled" properties across the street, including the strip mall across from the Bell Tower. I have two minor quibbles with the article though. One, the YMCA does not turn it's back to the street. Appropriately for the context, they did not design store-front parking, but instead created a brick courtyard in front with a pedestrian-oriented street entrance just next to a CAT/TTA bus stop where patrons can enter. It just so happens that most people drive and enter from the back, so accommodations were made for both. Second, I think it's an excuse to say that downtown & Fayetteville St had to come first. Hillsborough St has been in decline for at least two decades and there's no reason that justifies how the city ignored it's urban streets and spaces for the better part of 3 decades. Blame it on suburban expansion? No way. Other cities experienced the same trends and found a way to keep their key urban streets viable. Also, check out 10 things you probably didn't know about Hillsborough Street.
  17. The assumption underlying monsoon's comments about Keith Parker's departure and basically anything CATS seems to be that it is a poorly run operation and that the long range transit plan is dead, and anyone in charge must be trying to get out before the ship sinks. The reality is quite the opposite. All transit agencies, from Cary Transit to the mighty NYC MTA, are struggling with revenue in this downturn, and are being forced to reevaluate their future plans. Both regionally and nationally, CATS is widely viewed as being a well run, successful transit organization, and is often held up as an example for other regions to follow. Numerous visits from delegations from Atlanta to Raleigh/Durham to Tampa and mentions in all manner of TV programs, and planning/transit publications speak to the positive reputation CATS has earned. In light of recent events, I thought some context might be valuable.
  18. Maybe he just took a better job for his personal situation, career & family. Did you ever consider that?
  19. ^ This conversation about E-W travel to/from DTR simply reinforces the need for rapid transit in the corridor west from downtown parallel to Western/Hillsborough/Wade. Those streets are constrained in most cases, so there is little ability to widen them (even if it did make sense to do so). But, guess what? The NCRR is available between both streets, and there's a plan to build LRT extending westward in that corridor to/from downtown.
  20. NCDOT Secretary Gene Conti was named chair to an influential federal rail policy board. Some are speculating that his presence will improve NC's already very good chances of receiving federal stimulus dollars for SEHSR.
  21. As far as the makeup of the project, recall that they did not have the 5 votes to proceed with multiple roundabouts and no signals, and it took this new design concept to convince Joyce Kekas to vote in support of moving ahead. Also recall that NCDOT signed off on the project, so they must have been convinced it would work on effectively for cars and pedestrians, and they usually err on the side of caution and conservatism on these issues. I suspect that lots of cars looking for a quicker trip through town will ultimately divert to Western Blvd, which is more auto-centric in function and appropriately designed for higher speed travel, and I would hope there are plans to permanently direct through traffic in that way. After the project is complete, I believe the speed limit will be 25 mph. I've been told they will wait & see how this segment does in terms of economic development before they proceed with any project west of Gardner St, where towards Cup-A-Joe the cross section will likely be three travel lanes & no parking with the middle lane being for left turns only (also including burying of power lines, and streetscaping as well). I view this project as being another positive step for Raleigh (after some of the steps made on some downtown streets), which until recently never considered a street a "place" for people and vehicles, but rather an artery for single occupant vehicles to slice through neighborhoods (or generate new ones in the exurban fringe) as fast as possible. Obviously, there had to be a lot of compromises to achieve some level of balance here on Hillsborough St, and we can argue about whether this project will produce the right mix and ultimately be viewed as a success. Beyond the details of this project, philosophically I firmly believe it's time for the balance to tip more towards building streets for people and less for cars, who have essentially had free reign on our streets for much too long.
  22. At 33 miles & $550M ($16M/mi) they have to be talking about standard commuter rail service with 30 minute or more frequencies, similar to Charlotte' North Corridor (which will have 18 daily round trips). I just don't think they could do double track for $16M/mi, but rather single track with passing sidings. This is definitely not light rail (rapid transit), and clearly the reporter doesn't know the difference (they never do).
  23. There's a discussion of the growing ATL/CLT rivarly in the AJC this morning. It is interesting how, despite a lot of Charlotteans' complaints about being treated unfairly at the NC legislature, it could be a lot worse. (Even the NYC MTA has been getting screwed by NY state over funding cuts recently FWIW.) McCrory certainly enjoys crowing about the NASCAR HOF.
  24. Everything is sort of up in the air until SEHSR and rail transit get reasonably set in stone in terms of their respective station locations. There isn't much point to establishing a center for all modes if the inter-city & intra-city rail & bus facilities are not set. I think everyone agrees on two things: (1) The MTC will be located somewhere in the Wye area, and (2) the blocks surrounding the Wye in the Warehouse District will eventually be redeveloped at higher densities such that development at a "downtown scale" is extended westward.
  25. I bet they have CATS over a barrel. Anytime you put a transit line into a RR corridor, railroads have ALL the power & extract all manner of concessions to suit their needs, and then some. I bet CATS has to pay, not only for their own grade separations, but also for the NCRR tracks as well. Remember that this is corridor is owned by NCRR and is a major strategic asset of the SEHSR and the NS mainline (who pays NCRR to operate on the tracks), so it is very heavily used, and freight and passenger rail traffic will only go up from here, especially once SEHSR is up & running possibly in the next decade. CATS wants to wait to decide what to do because they believe that even though the price tag could be $1.1B, the feds & state might still fund it (partially due to connecting with the south line), possibly leaving the local portion at 25% of $1.1B. The ability to potentially leverage state and federal funds could give the BLE more bang for the buck, whereas the North Line seems to have less local support (Huntersville?), probably does not have the ability to leverage non-local money, and will not carry as many riders as the BLE. So it's not as simple as saying the BLE costs 3x the North Line... it would be wise to consider the above as well as community/land use benefits. Monsoon is right that there will be a lot of political horsetrading...
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