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orulz

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orulz last won the day on June 9 2013

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About orulz

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    Raleigh, NC
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    transit, biking, running, outdoors, urban development, local politics

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  1. I am sort of expecting them NCDOT to announce a joint procurement with Amtrak. Siemens has an off the shelf design that's already in service which certainly gives them a leg up. That said, Stadler seems pretty competent, and Alstom just won a big order in Chicago, too..
  2. I am going to seem like Debbie Downer but I am frustrated that NCDOT is not doing more to coordinate this (as well as the platform/overpass project at Kannapolis) with their purchase of new trains for the Piedmont. Hear me out. The lowest hanging fruit for making the journey time on the Piedmont faster is station dwell times. Those trains can stay stopped at stations for a frustratingly long time. On a busy day, dozens or even a hundred passengers can board and disembark at a station. Subways can handle crowds this big, or bigger, in 30 seconds or less, with ease. But the Piedmont can't, for two reasons. While subways have platforms that are the same height as the train floors, and open every door at every station, the Piedmont makes passengers haul their luggage up steep, narrow stairs through just one or two doors that are opened by the conductors. Now, Raleigh - and soon Charlotte - have high platforms, but they did that by putting their platforms on sidings, which is expensive. Plus, those stations actually don't matter as much because they are at the end of the line for the Piedmont (and in Charlotte's case, the Carolinian too.) So it doesn't really matter as much if passengers take a while to get on board there: the train can still leave on time. But for these mid-line stations, it's pretty important to get the trains in and out of there as quickly as possible. It could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to straighten curves enough and raise speeds to save three minutes on a schedule, whereas getting the train in and out of Salisbury three minutes faster is a much, much easier problem. The traditional reason they haven't done this is that oversize freight trains can't operate next to high platforms, and this line does occasionally carry oversize freight. A new development, however, is train-mounted retractable gap fillers, which extend from the door to create a bridge for passengers to walk over. These allow the platform to be set back from the tracks, leaving enough space for oversize freight. Brightline in Florida introduced this technology to the US market. NC has $157m in grant money awarded over the last two years to spend on new passenger equipment. Amtrak is also in the process of procuring new trains to replace their aging Amfleet equipment. If Amtrak and NCDOT made it a priority, they could coordinate the purchase of these trains with these platform upgrade projects and trim some time from the schedule. But it doesn't seem to be. US Passenger Rail just seems to suffer from a frustrating case of inability to connect the dots. So we wind up spending millions, or billions, of dollars - but stop short of doing what it takes to have a really optimized, first rate passenger rail system. Sigh.
  3. CLT should look to Minneapolis and the DC Metro for hints of what to do here. As far as where to put the airport station - just do what the Silver Line extension does at Dulles: wind its way to within walking distance of the terminal, and then back out the other side to serve stations on the far side of the airport. And then the Light Rail can *become* the people mover between the intercity/commuter station and the airport terminal. It already uses proof of payment to verify fares, so just declare that segment as free, and then don't inspect tickets. If you need better frequency, then put in turnback tracks and run short(er?) trains in the schedule gaps. 24 hour service? Sure, why not! Minneapolis does basically all of the above, with their Light rail between their two airport terminals. It's pretty effective- just copy them!
  4. Freight trains that do not stop, roughly match the average speed of a passenger train that stops every few miles. If you have a passenger train that tops out at 60mph but makes a stop every 2 or 3 miles, its average speed might wind up as 30 or 35mph. Places that are competent at operating trains take advantage of this quite often, even in the context of passenger trains running on a frequent clockface schedule. Saw it all the time on the Sanyo Main Line when I lived in Hiroshima, which has 15 minute mid-day frequency. JR East even does this through Shinjuku, the busiest train station in the world (by passenger count), on a double-track line with no bypass tracks or sidings. They don't do this at rush hour (when the schedule has over 20 passenger trains per hour) but they do manage to thread them through in the 5-6 minute gaps during the midday period when they are running 12 trains per hour. The video below shows a four-track line - but it's actually operated as two independent two-track lines: The Yamanote Line (which is a dedicated, passenger-only loop line) and the Yamanote Freight Line (which is the one I'm talking about, which shares its tracks with the Saikyo and Shonan-Shinjuku passenger lines). Now doing this requires upgraded infrastructure such as very short signal blocks and electrification so the passenger trains can accelerate quickly, as well as years of work optimizing and refining schedules and operating procedures. But what's needed on the O-line is nowhere near the level of precision necessary to thread freight trains into 5 minute gaps between passenger trains. The idea that dedicated tracks are needed in order to allow freight operations to continue on a potentially double-tracked O-line in spite of the interference caused by a passenger train running every half-hour or so is just positively laughable.
  5. Raleigh's Publix is 45ksf, but that's Raleigh's first and only full size downtown grocery store, and the second one overall. (Weaver Street Market is 12ksf.) Whereas this proposed Publix is Charlotte's 2nd full size grocer (Whole Foods is 1st) and the third overall (HT is small, at 12ksf). So even with a smaller Publix, Charlotte is still going to be winning the downtown grocery war.
  6. In the time since this line was proposed, many other streetcar lines have been proposed and built (and many of them have flopped). The Gold Line has a route with the potential to be Actually Useful (relatively linear, through walkable areas, servessignificant density), which is more than can be said of many of the other streetcars. The devil is in the details, but it's the hardest part to change once the rails are in the ground - so at least it's good that Charlotte has gotten this part right. Frequency, speed, and reliability are the other parts of the ridership equation. I know it's been mentioned here, but has there been any official discussion from the agency about making the tracks into a dedicated right-of-way, and/or adding signal priority, for at least some portion of its route? That seems like it would be the key to this route's success. If it can zip quickly up and down Trade, relatively unimpeded by car traffic, then in spite of all the hangups and snafus during construction, it will probably be judged positively in the long run. Otherwise, I worry....
  7. Fenton may be exciting / interesting for some reasons, but for now it sure looks like a civil war fortress from Cary Town Blvd, with that retaining wall on top of a hill. May change, but count me as underwhelmed so far.
  8. Awesome, that's really cool! What about a short extension of the northeastern Blue Line to connect to a commuter station at University City Blvd/Mallard Creek Church Rd?
  9. Look up "gas insulated switchgear". The next time Duke has to overhaul that substation, they should rebuild it using GIS. It allows for a drastically reduced footprint, and for most of the equipment to be placed in an inconspicuous building rather than ominously buzzing behind a barbed wire fence in an open field of gravel. The benefit for them? They get to sell off the surplus land. Duke is planning to install its first new-build GIS substation in Asheville. (They did inherit several, including 3 in Chapel Hill.) I can think of no better place for a second one than practically in the shadow of their corporate HQ.
  10. This one has been in the works for a decade now. This is the project discussed at the very beginning of this thread back in 2010. The developer has gone through several rounds of value engineering, adjustments to the affordable housing commitments, supposedly had financing lines up, and been "on the verge of groundbreaking" numerous times before over the past 10 years. So, I would take it with a grain of salt if Mr. Pilos says that Coronavirus will not affect things. He probably had an agreement with the construction lender that if the rezoning was approved, the loan would go through- but no doubt Coronavirus will impact things from the lender's perspective and they may try to move the goalposts again.
  11. It is indeed a flood plain and that does put some constraints on what can be done- but others have dealt with it more tastefully, like the building with Williams-Sonoma and such, or even downright expertly - like the Grand Bohemian. That building pulls it off like sorcery. In contrast, the Home2 Suites is technically not in Biltmore Village proper, so it tries to get away with a flood-tolerant design done on the cheap.
  12. Beyond the original Durham-Garner plan, extensions were studied. What's at issue is whether these extensions would drag down the overall cost effectiveness of the whole corridor. Adding in Clayton would not harm the overall cost effectiveness. Johnston County would have to identify funding for that extension, though, as they are not paying into the transit sales tax. But if they can find the money to pay their share, they can be a part of phase 1. Even if they don't find it by the time the grant application goes in, then it would still be theoretically possible to apply for federal funding for an extension. Service further east into Johnston (like Selma) or further west to Hillsborough or Mebane were all forecast to negatively impact the cost effectiveness of the whole line, so they're basically out of the question for phase I. That does not mean they can't happen in the future. as extensions of the Phase 1 line, though; it's just unlikely that there will be any federal contribution: it will have to rely on local and state funding.
  13. IIRC the 2005 era plan that resulted in Charter Square, The Mariott, and rebuilding Fayetteville Street, called for smaller mid-riseish buildings on these blocks. Which was always a mistake. But perhaps this developer was going based on this. I think Kessler would be a great operator for a hotel at Dix, but I know the idea of a hotel at dix hasn't exactly gone over like gangbusters during the master planning process.
  14. Ah, there it is. This rendering shows it staying right where it is, only at the bottom of a multi-story building. I guess that means it would be closed for a year or two during construction?
  15. I recall seeing a Ruth's Chris in the bottom floor of one of the buildings in one of the renderings, although I don't happen to see it in any of those..
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