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orulz last won the day on June 9 2013

orulz had the most liked content!

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About orulz

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  • Location
    Raleigh, NC
  • Interests
    transit, biking, running, outdoors, urban development, local politics

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  1. Triangle Growth - Issues & Opportunities

    The goal of the agency using design-build procurement for a project is basically to come up with a "worst case scenario" in terms of impacts before handing it over to the contractor. The contractor would then be free to design within those bounds and would have incentives to reduce both the footprint and cost as well. This is the same problem that NCDOT is running into regarding the beltline footprint between Meredith and University Club. The footprint depicted at public meetings is a worst-case scenario. When there is uncertainty, it is just the nature of some people to assume that the worst-case scenaro probably WILL happen. At the very least, the way our environmental review system is set up, it pays to exaggerate how much it impacts you because you might score yourself some extra mitigation. Hence all the blustery, overblown controversy.
  2. I didn't think Norfolk Southern wanted them to build completely independent commuter tracks, I thought they just wanted CATS to pay to double track the O Line. CATS just wanted to build a siding or two.
  3. There are some interesting things to note. There is a power transmission line parallel to Hillsborough that splits the plot in half One of the zoning conditions is that the back of the property will be restricted to four stories as long as the houses not part of the rezoning are still there. The requested zoning is NX-5-UL. UL frontage means that the building has to be oriented to the street with primary entrances facing it, but it doesn't have to be mixed use with retail at street level (that would be -SH frontage). So it could have residential entries or a residential lobby facing Hillsborough and that would meet the requirement. There are some cute houses in this little neighborhood. It seems like the nicest ones (the two brick ones closest to Hillsborough) will probably be the first to go. Frankly I would mostly care about those two houses in the first place, and if they could build this apartment building with a master plan incorporating these two houses without dropping the density, then that would be the best possible outcome. But at the end of the day, if the owners are bought out and it's all knocked down I would proably be OK with it. The neighborhood was targeted for redevelopment when it was zoned NX-3 under the UDO in the first place. It was mangled pretty badly when Gorman was punched through in the early 1990s, and that just left it feeling so disconnected from anything right now. This spot was proposed for a light rail station back when light rail was the plan. There could still potentially be a station here, who knows what the future may hold. It's close to NCRR, close to Hillsborough Street, close to Western Blvd BRT, close to Meredith and NCSU, close to greenways, etc. This spot should be dense. Maybe building something else there could even allow Turner to be connected to Gorman,
  4. There is a rezoning submittal for the corner of Hillsborough and Turner - the south side of Hillsborough between Arby's and the Duke Energy building. They are asking for an increase from three to five stories. I predict what they are planning here starts with the letter "F". And ends with an "..ive story stick built student apartments".
  5. TIGER Grant Cycle

    Raleigh got $20 million for a grade separation project at a hideously complicated and busy railroad crossing on the NCRR. Not sure where that counts on the pie chart but it definitely benefits passenger rail in the state.
  6. I think there is a realistic possibility of eventually electrifying the NCRR and raising the speeds to 125-150mph. They've done a lot of work on closing grade crossings and straightening curves already. "Traffic Separation Studies" are either complete, underway, or planned that would deal with most of the rest of the grade crossings. Feasibility studies have already been done on adding more tracks and other major curve realignments to increase speeds. A direct Raleigh-Charlotte route that bypasses the triad and somehow turns the meandering ACWR into a true high speed route did somehow make its way into the state rail plan at some point but I don't regard that as especially realistic or even all that desirable. If you can get to the point where a full express can cover the 173 rail miles in under two hours, in my opinion, that's probably fast enough - full stop. My long-term vision for passenger rail in the state would have a mix of local and express trains. Express trains would have just 3 stops, which would be Charlotte-Greensboro-Raleigh, along the NCRR. Determine what it will take to get that run time under 2 hours (1:55) and let that define the budget. Limted stop trains would have 6 stops, which would be Charlotte-Salisbury-High Point-Greensboro-Durham-Raleigh, along the NCRR. 2 hours 30 minutes. Local trains would have 14 stops, following the WSSB through Winston-Salem. Charlotte-Harrisburg-Concord-Kannapolis-Salisbury-Lexington-Winston-Salem-Kernersville-Greensboro-Burlington-Hillsborough-Durham-Cary-Raleigh. Run time 3 hours 15 minutes. Westbound express trains would be scheduled to overtake locals at the platform in Greensboro, while eastbound Limited trains would overtake locals at the platform in Salisbury or Lexington. Some day I might make a string diagram for all this. Of course there would be commuter trains on top of all of this... considering freight, two tracks is not enough... Ah, a train nerd can dream, can't he?
  7. Where should HQ2 go?

    My preference for this would be Atlanta. Bigger metro, better able to absorb it, and their Gulch location is PERFECT for it. The cynic in me says it's probably going somewhere in the Washington DC area because Jeff Bezos wants to be physically closer to the White House and Capitol so he can play political connections. The only thing that could possibly help Amazon grow bigger faster would be political dealing and a bigger lobbying presence, and this would certainly fit the bill. The company I work for is based in the DC area and I've heard managers say it's difficult to find qualified programmers up there - much of the tech industry around there is in government services and related stuff. (That's why they have an office down here).
  8. I went to the round one alllll the time when I was living in Hiroshima. Actually it opened while I was there, sometime in 2003-2004. It was kinda expensive but there was lots of fun stuff to do. Great to see they will have karaoke - hope it's honest to goodness Japanese style karaoke. In private booths. With J-pop songs to sing. That would get me to drive to Greensboro, for sure. No Japanese karaoke exists around here in the Triangle. There's a few Korean places but the selection of Japanese songs is extremely limited and rather out of date.
  9. It would be relatively simple to extend the Blue Line to the intersection of Highway 49 and Mallard Creek. This would be an excellent spot for the northern Charlotte Amtrak station given its proximity to both UNCC and 485. This was actually one of the sites studied for it in fact. Most of the impacts for extending the Blue Line would just be to parking lots which could be easily reconfigured. Any further extension beyond that should be commuter rail, IMO.
  10. I believe the commuter rail project between Raleigh and Durham *does* include full double track for that length. There are several segments of double track already in there and the plans would be to connect them together. This would allow something like nine daily commuter trains in each direction while leaving space for freight and allowing for the future planned intercity schedule, which would be something like 5 CLT-RGH locals + 5 CLT-RGH-WAS express runs daily. Compared to the plan that died in 2005, though, this is small potatoes. TTA planned to build a dedicated, 28-mile, double-track railroad so they could run DMUs every 15 minutes all day, from Durham to North Raleigh. The plan was a relative bargain, too, at something like $850 million after final engineering was complete (which would be about $1.1 billion today.) The other cool thing about this project was that it was fully FRA compliant which would have allowed them to connect the tracks and through-run the DMUs onto existing tracks out into the suburbs like Wake Forest, Zebulon, or Clayton. Problem is, the original budget was something more like $700 million, which was to be shared 25% local, 25% state, and 50% federal. FTA was on board with that. But that 25% was the absolute most that TTA could possibly afford with their existing revenue sources, so when the final estimates came in, they had to ask the feds to cover the shortfall and the federal share rose to about 60%, and at that point it started to fall apart. If we had a sales tax, we could have covered the shortfall locally (by delaying future projects, or reallocating money from operations, or something to that effect.) Now, rather than bringing back the DMU plan, Durham County is planning to basically spend all their capital money on a light rail link to Chapel Hill. If it happens, it will be a very well-built line and highly future-proof, and will probably be well patronized, but it will also be very expensive - and they won't have any money left to contribute to even the toned-down commuter rail plan for years to come.
  11. Light Rail to Concord? That's a pretty long way. How about fast, frequent commuter rail through Concord, to Salisbury? Here is my plan: Build commuter rail along the NCRR (by building stations and adding a third track in some places.) One of the stations should be at University City Blvd & Mallard Creek Church Road. Light rail should be extended to this station, and Amtrak Piedmont trains should stop there as well.
  12. Triangle Economic News

    I should also add that this location has unparalleled freeway access, being in the triangle defined by 40, 147, and 540. I have also thought that a future RDU people mover could someday be extended here.
  13. Triangle Economic News

    Honestly? My favorite spot in the Triangle would be "Davis Park East", formerly known as Triangle Metro Center. Why? First, it carries the panache of RTP, which is a drab office park, but nonetheless has a higher international profile than the cities of Raleigh or Durham ever will, at least in our lifetimes. That location would bolster the Miami/Page area that already serves as "Downtown RTP", providing the density needed for it to make the jump from suburban to urban. It also would provide a solid central anchor for a regional rail system between Raleigh and Durham - and reason to run more trains rather than a peak-only commuter rail service. Park Center doesn't do it for me because it's not on the rail line. NCSU's Spring Hill area (between Centennial and Six) would be my second choice. Really though, I don't have the slightest clue how anything Raleigh has to offer could possibly compete with the Gulch site in downtown Atlanta and all the incentives that are reportedly on the table there.
  14. River Arts District

    Stunning. Thanks.
  15. My reason for suggesting going underground is not that subways for subways sake are good, but that there are some very big destinations (Cameron Village, North Hills, Centennial Campus, Crabtree) that could and should be directly connected to downtown with dedicated rights of way, but there really isn't any satisfactory way to do so above ground without extraordinary impacts (like bulldozing Five Points for example.) I think Raleigh is at best 2 decades from even being ready to start this discussion, but eventually growth keeps up we will get there.