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thetrick

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Posts posted by thetrick

  1. ^I don't blame the freight RR's given the FRA's dranconian restrictions on concurrent running of freight / passenger ops on the same trackage.  Not even tram-trains in Austin nor New Jersey can run at the same time as freight, which is restricted to night ops

     

    FRA only restricts "light" passenger rail vehicles from running concurrently with freight. Amtrak runs with freight all the time. The Red Line was always designed to use heavy weight passenger vehicles (like Amtrak). The real problem is capacity and that CATS seemed to totally disregard Norfolk Southerns ownership of the tracks and what their future needs might be. Currently NS runs two trains daily up the O line it would get very expensive to build enough track to accommodate concurrent operations with out delays to the passenger service, which would obviously be unacceptable to passengers. What it's going to boil down to is that the Red Line needs to be double tracked at least up to Gerdau Ameristeel if not all the way to Hunterville, and who is going to pay for that?

     

    I am a big passenger rail supporter, and support most of CATS plans, but they screwed up the Red Line not covering all the bases and making some unfounded arrogant assumptions about what they could do with other peoples property.

     

    If the Red Line project was farther along and had strong support and a funding plan I doubt the grade crossing separation could have been killed so easily.

     

    TH

  2. Got to check out the Aquarium at a contractors preview.

     

    It was really nice, I was very impressed with the quality of the exhibits. I don't know if I would go very often at those prices, but the season pass might not be bad if you have kids. They will defiantly catch out-of-towners that are here for races and other events and are looking for something to do at any cost. 

     

    TH

  3. There is no technical reason you can't run a light rail train on a street car line. Run express light rail trains that bypass the slower street cars. Run these express trains from the outer most station skipping the inner stations. These light rail express trains could diverge back on to the blue line downtown. 

     

    Or more to the point, why cant we have both a street car and light rail. 

     

    TH

  4. I'm can't help but be unconcerned about the impact this aquarium might have on an larger aquarium that is not planed for, paid for or even though of in any realistic sense by anyone that can make it happen.

     

    I can take my kids to this one.

     

    TH

    • Like 2
  5. The announcement is official. The CSX/NS grade separation is not going to happen, at least not now. The money is going to be reallocated to:

    $61.0m: Apparently cover cost overages in other projects, presumably to prevent VEing out certain elements.

    $27.2m: complete the Charlotte maintenance facility

    $15.0m: complete Raleigh Union Station

    $4.8m: refurbish enough passenger equipment to apparently move to push-pull operation, and enable the 5th Piedmont frequency

    $9.6m: Program management and oversight

     

    It is unfortunate that we don't see any money going towards Charlotte Gateway Station. A positive takeaway from this is that it seems that Secretary Tata (and therefore, presumably Gov. McCrory) seems fairly well committed to passenger rail.

     

    This is better than I expected these days.

     

    I'm glad they are going to a push-pull operation, should simplify track work and operations. Frankly the grade separation had a pretty damn high cost for what it accomplished (operationally). Clearly you can operate passenger trains through the crossing (as they do now) so it's not really a show stopper for anything, just not really an optimal configuration. 

     

    With expanded service and increased ridership hopefully the pressure for a real solution will come.

  6. You should take a trip to the University area, they have done quite a bit of work on both sides of the road north and south of Harris. Just about every tree and sign is gone. They have built a retaining wall in front of Showmars, and there is a contractor staging area at the site of the JW Clay parking garage. 

  7. Finally some visible work on the ARRA improvements, or what the DOT now calls PIP (Piedmont Improvement Program). I was taking the family to get some dinner last night and noticed signs up that they are closing Caldwell Rd at the grade crossing with NS in a couple days.

     

    Did a search on NCDOT site and looks like recently the have awarded a whole bunch of contracts that are starting NOW!

     

    NCDOT Awards $24.9 Million Contract for Railbed Construction in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties

     

    NCDOT Awards $13.7 Million Contract for Grier Road over Norfolk Southern Railroad in Mecklenburg County

     

    NCDOT Awards $4.9 Million Contract for Caldwell Road Grade Separation over Norfolk Southern Railroad in Cabarrus County

     

    NCDOT Awards $3.4 Million Contract to Extend Caldwell Park Drive in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties

     

    NCDOT rail NEWS

     

    I am very happy to see this with such a long absence of news. It's going to be an interesting couple years in the university area for transportation with this the BLE and finishing 485

     

    TH

  8. That's the kicker, even a paltry billion of that... I'm guessing the CSAs of San Fran and Oakland probably total about that of all of NC, but not recalling any 6.4 billion project of ours, and is the other half estimated even higher?  Anyway, sure there are stats/facts out there to make me retract this, but wow.

    I'm guessing they look more at the economic tax implications of NOT fixing that bridge. I imagine that the mentioned CSA's federal tax contribution is orders of magnitude more than all of NC. 

     

    But still....for just one bridge... damn.

  9. Finally some visible work on the ARRA improvements, or what the DOT now calls PIP (Piedmont Improvement Program). I was taking the family to get some dinner last night and noticed signs up that they are closing Caldwell Rd at the grade crossing with NS in a couple days.

     

    Did a search on NCDOT site and looks like recently the have awarded a whole bunch of contracts that are starting NOW!

     

    NCDOT Awards $24.9 Million Contract for Railbed Construction in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties

     

    NCDOT Awards $13.7 Million Contract for Grier Road over Norfolk Southern Railroad in Mecklenburg County

     

    NCDOT Awards $4.9 Million Contract for Caldwell Road Grade Separation over Norfolk Southern Railroad in Cabarrus County

     

    NCDOT Awards $3.4 Million Contract to Extend Caldwell Park Drive in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties

     

    NCDOT rail NEWS

     

     

    I am very happy to see this with such a long absence of news. It's going to be an interesting couple years in the university area for transportation with this the BLE and finishing 485

     

    TH

  10. I think the best spots will become crap, but I'm not completely despondent.   The area will be set back considerably worse than if those areas were not developed before light rail - no argument - but I also think eventually (sooner than natural life cycle normally) there will be pressure to sell and develop those parcels for more dense development.

    In case anyone misinterprets my statement - this is gonna take a long, long time - but I think in the end, light rail will win in changing the landscape in U-City.

    I agree. U-City will take longer than the south side to organically grow from where it is to more urban high density along the LTR. It might even take a couple cycles of build and re-build. Thats why the car lots don't bother me, they are pretty cheap (comparatively) investment and are more likely converted to denser use in the long run.

  11. As someone who's has no real knowledge of railroads and how they operate, but believes strongly in the need for the city to grow our transportation infrastructure, I am really angry at the railroads around here.  First, NS pretty much blocks the Red Line from happening, and now this.  I know there are so many more things at play, but it just seems like the railroads won't play ball.  I know this situation isn't strictly the fault of the railroads, but it doesn't seem like they're helping.  I just hope there can be some big breakthrough on these projects.

     

    Honestly I think the red line was the city's failure. They failed to involve the railroad along the way, and have them agree to basic principles form the beginning. The City also failed to understand the political environment they were getting them selves into with Iredell county and the Koch brothers.

  12. To tally up the wins and losses for government and railroads and claim that someone is better off than the other is very short cited, it's not a zero sum game. Atlas Shrugged was fiction.

     

    Oh and railroads love corporate welfare just as much as any business. 

    Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Gateway and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crescent_Corridor both of these are programs are expansion of freight capacity and have a significant portion of the cost paid for by the government. 

     

    Back to the original question of why is CSX so hard about passenger trains crossing here when similar situations exist all over the country. "because they can" is not an answer. Is there a technical or political reason that sets this crossing apart?

     

    TH

  13.  Anthony Foxx to see the value of RF&P improvements beyond VA. In addition it appears that VA actually may be able to provide some matching funds to the project as well thanks to their new transportation funding strategy.

     

     

     

    I wonder if the frosty relationship Foxx has with with NC gov will hurt us if he tries to hand down any money for projects as US Sec Trans. Seems the trend in the south is to take joy in throwing money back to the fed, and now with the all GOP NC gov I see this being even more of a problem. 

     

    I don't put it past some people to give up free money for the sake of ideology. (while not all money is as free as it looks)

     

    TH

  14. While I understand the state's point of view on transit funding in Charlotte (as outlined in the viewpoint article), I stick by my assertion that the state is shooting itself in the foot with its insistance that the streetcar not be locally financed outside the transit tax.

     

    I'll offer an analogy to illustrate the state's inconsistency: Roads are generally viewed as an economic development tool (although, like development around the streetcar, that is also subject to debate). The state is paying for a substantial portion of 485 and the city wants to pay for new access roads to the NS intermodal terminal at the airport through the CIP. Why isn't the state threatening to pull its 485 contributions over this? I assume that the state supports both expenditures  since it wants to realize the economic benefits for both projects. I still can't see why is the state (especially when led by McCrory!) has a different perspective with regard to transit (BLE/Streetcar) investments.

     

    I would hope that the goal of any state government (regardless of partisan leaning) is to facilitate development which improves the lives of North Carolinians. I simply don't understand what they gain from telling Charlotte not to self-finance a piece of infrastructure which will likely improve the lives of a few/some/many of its residents.

     

    I think the difference is that the perceived value of the streetcar project is (as others have said) "dubious at best".  While the value of an access road to an industrial park is well understood by the parties involved. Plus the real issue here is side stepping the MTC, which was put in place to prioritize and vet projects.

     

    I have no idea why Foxx is so unyielding on this. If he endangers the BLE I (democrat) will gladly contribute to anyone that might unseat him. But I think damage to his carrier has already been done.

     

    TH

  15. I think it's safe to say that passenger rail is not on any freight railroads radar except as a warning. The freight railroads avoid it like the plague and fight it everywhere. It's not a money maker, and even with subsidies it would have a very thin margin. The only exception I know to this is FEC in Florida, but I will believe it when I see the trains rolling. 

     

    But I'm sure CSX would take some state money to upgrade their routes, as long as they don't have to guarantee any level of service afterwards. Ever ride Amtrak between Rocky Mount and Richmond VA, that is a busy CSX route, and it is terrible! 

     

    I say all this with much love for the freight RRs they are protecting their core business.

     

    TH

  16. There is a nice proportional circle map showing Amtrak ridership at every station in the system. While NC is certainly not part of the core network our stations manage to do pretty well relative to many others. Its pretty remarkable given the conditions of the Raleigh and Charlotte stations. 

     

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/mulad/8438870763/in/faves-beyonddc/

    Nice map.

     

    I imagine that being just south of the busiest rail corridor in the US had quite a bleed over effect. I have always felt that one of the biggest obstacles to rail transit is that much of the country does not have a rail transit culture, it is not an option they ever consider. I think NC has had enough yankees move down who have that culture and it has infected the locals (being one of these yankees). It's clear we have the critical mass to be the next logical extension of the north east corridor.

     

    TH

  17. I remember being frustrated by how out of date it was 8 years ago.  Whenever a link to some information takes me there, I immediately back out because I know it will be out of date information.  

     

    In part we are spoiled because Charmeck is decent and often has recent information available.

     

    It is shocking how hard it is to find information on the HSR funding we got, going to the mainline separation project in 4th Ward and to double track from Charlotte to Greensboro among others.   Granted they posted all the info for the APPLICATION for funds, but why is it so hard to update citizens on the progress of spending those funds.

     

    I agree, worries me. Money can't just sit forever, someone will use it for something else. I have searched far and wide and nothing. These guys http://www.trainweb.org/capt/ are my only hope, but their website is about 8 months behind, but that is better than most.

     

    TH

  18. Umm... you realize the P&N shops are still in use right?

     

    Honestly, as sad as it is to say, the P&N shops don't have much historical value left.  They've been so heavily altered and renovated over the years it's just hideous now.

    I figured they were in use, I did not know how bad off they were. Charlotte has so little of it's railroading past intact I will take whatever I can get.

     

    TH

  19. Good points, I had not really considered how inconvenient the infrequent outbound service from the airport might be. But the ability to uses a ROW that already goes by the airport and could connect Gastonia and Charlotte is very tempting.

     

    Neighborhoods to the west are going to be hard to serve with a line to the airport, they are more or less to the northwest. If I had my choice I would run LTR up the Hwy 16 to 485 and forget the airport .

     

    If you go to the airport with LTR via Billy Graham or Tyvola you are in the woods except for a few office parks, but no one lives out there (trust me look at the aerial it's all trees). I also don't believe a park and ride out at 485 past the airport would be of value, no one lives out there and it's too close to town to make much of a difference to people once they are in their cars.

     

    All that aside I firmly believe that any future LTR needs to be east, that where the people live, and the people on that side of town have asked for it.

     

    Once more Charlotte residents are on the system I think an Airport route of would be a much easier sell. Look at Dallas they have had light rail and commuter rail for a LONG time before they got connected to their airport.

     

    TH

  20. I think the only way to get service to the Airport is to use commuter rail. 

     

    For several reasons:

     

    1. Would be a logical extension of the red line.

    2. Would not only to link Gastonia to Charlotte but also Link Gastonia to the airport.

    3. Commuter rail is cheaper per mile and has lower density requirements. Also it is/can be faster.

    4. Would be easier to implement as both Gastonia and Charlotte have existing stations and are served by Amtrak.

    5. Later as density improves on the west side light rail or street car could be implimented.

    6. Norfolk Southern would most likely prefer the Commuter service as the necessary track improvements would also benefit them unlike the light rail.

     

     

    TH

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