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ChiefJoJo

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Everything posted by ChiefJoJo

  1. Nevermind the thousands of homes & businesses that surely would have been destroyed as a result. Freeways have never been part of the solution to neighborhood building, and more often a significant part of the problem (see the 277 freeway cap idea). Lots of cities have converted freeways into boulevards quite successfully, and more are being planned.
  2. The Intermodal Bill passed a 2nd reading in the NC House today and will be heard again tomorrow. If it passes, it will move to the NC Senate, where chances are good that it will pass. Tangential this topic, or what is really underlying it, is the really the push for more walkable urban places in the Triangle. And of course rapid rail transit, good land use and infrastructure planning provide the stimulus for creating more walkable urban places. Ever wonder why we need more of these? Well, the market for walkable urban places is underserved, as compared to suburbia, which we especially have an awful lot of here. Ever wonder why the market is shifting? Part of the reason is the shift away from the typical suburban demographic--a family with kids--as shown in the graph below. You might think of the curve as a proxy for the demand of drivable suburban places we have today, with a clear downward trend away from the nuclear family. As more people defer and otherwise shoose not to have kids, more will opt out of the SF home and choose an urban lifestyle, perhaps built around living without a car. As a matter of policy, with the myriad of problems we face today, from the real estate bubble (sprawl), to climate change, to resource overuse, we should do whatever we can to encourage more communities of the walkable urban form.
  3. Initial Hillsborough Street Project Community Meeting Set For Tuesday, April 28 Business operators, residents, students and any and all interested persons are invited to attend the first community meeting to provide information and answer questions about Phase I of the Hillsborough Street Project. The meeting will be held from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Hillsborough Street Partnership offices at 2100-200 Hillsborough St. (1 Maiden Lane). The meeting will have an informal floating format that will allow for interested persons to drop by anytime within the 3 1/2-hour period. The City has a $9.92 million contract with Hamlett and Associates, Inc. for the Hillsborough Street Project Phase I, which extends from Gardner Street to Oberlin Road. The Hillsborough Street Project is set to break ground on May 20. The project will convert Hillsborough Street to a two-lane, median-divided facility with on-street parking on both sides, a seven-foot wide raised median, sidewalk bulb-outs at the intersections and mid-block location and several pedestrian signals. The project replaces the Hillsborough Street and Pullen Road traffic signal with a dual-lane roundabout. The project will replace the existing concrete and brick sidewalks. The project also includes the replacement of both water and sewer utilities throughout the length of the project as well as LED street and pedestrian lighting. After years of neglect, we are less than a month away from ground breaking. BTW, the project came in well under the estimate of $12.5M, so we are getting a nice bargain as well.
  4. I think you hit the nail on the head and that is based primarily on uncertainty of the highway, not whether light rail or BRT is chosen in the corridor. As much as people want to believe that LRT is the solution to this problem, the inner neighborhoods (Chantilly) abutting Independence indicate that success or failure is not dependent on transit technology, but rather how successfully & quickly these neighborhoods can orient themselves to the adjacent neighborhoods to make commerce viable again. I also think that when you actually look at the portion of land available for redevelopment that would remain after an expressway project, I think it begins to inform the conversation towards choosing BRT. I just don't think there is enough land available for TOD to justify the extra cost of going to LRT. The only caveat to this would be examining potential for savings in terms of sharing the existing LRV maintenance facility or the potential influence that a climate bill would have on such a technology decision--i.e., something that would favor electrification over a fueled, rubber tire line.
  5. BTW, the elephant in the room is climate change & a proposed cap & trade bill that would essentially place a new tax on carbon emissions. If this passes Congress, this will have an impact on air travel as well. Short term, it may be onerous for the industry (depending on the carbon levels imposed by year), but long term I see it as a benefit, forcing more private sector investment in improved aircraft design, renewable fuels and engine technology, just to name a few. Just another piece of the overall puzzle to consider here.
  6. It looks like the feds are more keen on streetcars now that the Obama Administration is in charge. FTA under Bush had favored BRT, and even HOT lanes for the Small Starts program over streetcars... but this is a strong sign things are changing again, as this quote from USDOT Secretary LaHood reveals:
  7. I don't think anyone has argued flying will cease and the airport will shut down. It's more likely the travel market for short air trips (~150-600 miles) may falter with increasing oil prices, and the thus the argument for the need for a 3rd runway at this point is dubious at best... which was the entire reason for the last few pages of this topic. I think growth in the Triangle will help stabilize flight traffic and stimulate RDU as a travel market (Paris/CDG & perhaps LAX, for example) but in the long term, we will likely not see a need for a 3rd runway and another major airfield expansion. Rather than foolishly place all our eggs in the air travel basket, it would be wise for the US to focus on developing alternatives for the 150-600 mile travel market, as President Obama is proposing with the HSR plan.
  8. There was an interesting article on SE Raleigh, particularly the Thompson-Hunter (I thought it was Martin-Haywood?) neighborhood, which is just east of downtown along Hargett and Martin St. Lots of talk about the most dangerous block in the city along Haywood St, gangs, how to revitalize the neighborhood while preserving it's past and, of course, gentrification.
  9. Given that Bush & the GOP-controlled Congress was close to completely gutting Amtrak altogether, we are essentially restarting the HSR conversation at the federal level. Realize that save the NE corridor, the states have done most of the heavy lifting in advancing the HSR agenda (CA, IL, MI, NC, etc), so don't think for a minute that having the POTUS & VP (who used to commute on Amtrak) standing at a podium praising the benefits of HSR isn't significant, not to mention the $8B in stimulus & $5B in budgeted funds. In the context of the potential dismantling of Amtrak that Bush (& IIRC McCain) wanted, this is a great step in the right direction.
  10. I think transitman's overall point is that it's probably best not to place your economic eggs in the cheap oil basket, and it appears that GSO may be doing that. We certainly saw the potential for reduced passenger air travel last year, and air cargo is no different. If oil is back at $140, where does that leave the air travel market long term? All of these grand expansion ideas may not be needed, as we have begun to see with the abandonment of portions of Terminal 1. I suppose it's good to have plans in your back pocket, but if demand for terminal space is contracting & we are no where close to reaching capacity now, what evidence is there that RDU will ever need a 3rd main runway?
  11. Here's a good bit of info from streetsblog on the benefits of road diets. Road diets are anathema to traditional traffic engineering principles because they tend to reduce roadway capacity. However, in practice, road diets can cause vehicle speeds to readjust to a more optimal speed, increasing the throughput of vehicles per lane. For this reason, road diets sometimes reduce congestion, and generally always increase safety for all users of the roadway. Studies in Seattle found that road diets decreased the rate of crashes by 6%. It will be interesting to see what occurs on Hillsborough St. I think it will be a catalyst for some urban redevelopment because of the more attractive streetscape and increased on-street parking supply. Vehicle speeds will decrease, peds will cross more safely, some cars will divert to the more suburban Western Blvd, and the roadway will be a much more attractive environment for bikes while moving cars more safely and efficiently.
  12. No. I took it directly from the Whitehouse webpage dated April 16, 2009 (link noted above). Regardless of previous iterations of HSR, this is President Obama's HSR Blueprint.
  13. The President announced his vision for a national HSR network & SEHSR is well-positioned to receive funds. More detailed info from the FRA here.
  14. In more intermodal bill news, RTP is now willing to chip in to take some of the burden off the sales tax. Luebke's committee will consider doubling the RTP district's taxing authority -- raising it to 20 cents per $100 property value, from the current 10-cent ceiling. The additional 10-cent tax, worth an estimated $3 million a year, could be used to underwrite transit service within RTP, to RTP and between RTP and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The bill will be heard in the House Finance Committee in 10 minutes.
  15. More news on the transit bill. The Intermodal Bill will be heard by the finance committee this Wednesday. FYI.
  16. Note here the age of many of these buildings where new businesses are opening or announced: Sitti, Foundation, Boylan Bridge, Remedy, Busy Bee. All old buildings (probably all pre-1950s w/possible exception of BBB) with cheap up-fits and rents, relative to the $140M RBC tower. I'm not poo-pooing RBC, but it's instructive to note these little details of which businesses are thriving in this economy and which are not, and where they are located.
  17. You're right. If they are able to pull it off, the may be able to run electrified trains at a max speed just over 200mph, but CA is very much an outlier here in the US, and that is what I was trying to convey. Everyone wants to talk about HSR, but a vast nationwide network of TGV-like trains is not in our future, and people need to know the distinction.
  18. So Meeker hoodwinked the four other council members who supported financing & building the convention center, Fayetteville St, etc so several years later his son could then remodel an old storefront on Wilmington St? Hmm maybe you're right. Maybe he is a distant relative of Hatem too. Yeah, it's a vast conspiracy! Downtown benefits a lot of people, not the least of which is the rest of the city, which is partially subsidized by the tax base generated from a strong downtown. You are barking up the wrong tree.
  19. The Busy Bee on Wilmington St is now open & Hatem is opening an Italian place ("Gravy")in the old Riveria space. I'm really excited to see Riviera replaced and hopefully more activity extended down the 200 block of Wilmington St.
  20. Despite the $5B in Obama's budget & $8B in the stimulus for HSR, we won't see the type of 200+ mph trains in Europe possibly ever, unless there's a TITANIC shift in railroad corridor regulation (towards passenger movement & away from freight) and transportation funding towards HSR & rail transit (& away from roads) in this country. We simply don't have the $hundreds of billions (esp. in light of the trillions in debt we are accumulating now) to build the track necessary to run those speeds. I would guess that the most likely scenario is development of systems like the SEHSR, where comparatively modest infrastructure investments will produce substantial gains in intercity travel market share. It might not be the TGV, but if we can get a decent foothold in the CLT to DC corridor, that would be a fantastic start.
  21. BTW, Phoenix Valley Metro is not an EMU, but an LRT system. EMU's cannot run on the street. FYI.
  22. I never really liked that place. To me it never offered anything unique in the marketplace and I'm not surprised they aren't making it. During good times, we saw lots of businesses succeed, but during this recession we are seeing the contenders separating from the pretenders.
  23. What about Elmwood? It dates to 1812 I think.
  24. Finally, folks are waking up that the Gaston Parkway is going to be a colossal waste of taxpayer money. If built, it would probably be the biggest boondoggle in NC history.
  25. Now, if we can begin to direct that growth in a sustainable pattern--something we have NOT historically done well here in the triangle--then I am all for squawking about how we are doing. Otherwise, I see most of these numbers as just adding to more of our regional problems... worsening water quality, auto-centric sprawl (future slums), traffic congestion, poor air quality, terrible bike & pedestrian accommodations, lack of affordable housing, neglected mass transit... So excuse me if I don't jump up & down for more of that.
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