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Everything posted by orulz

  1. Charlotte begs to differ; I'd say it's a possibility. 25k is an odd size for a grocer though. There's Aldi, Lidl, and TJ's, who typically like stores in the 10-20k range, while Publix/HT etc very seldom go below 30k. So 25k is kind of a no man's land. Will be interesting to see how this pans out.
  2. The rendering seems to show that this is at the NW corner, not the SW corner. GIS show it as built in 1945, it doesn't show up on a 1925 Sanborn map. So, it's 75 years old. Yeah, that's getting up there these days. I am not disappointed that this building is being saved. I'm not overjoyed, but it's a fine outcome. This building is not really a storefront (which one might expect on a corner such as this) but is nevertheless a decent looking building. Like a lot of stuff in DTCH, It seems like it's trying to evoke the 18th century, but mostly just winds up reminding me of Kannapolis. Which - okay, Kannapolis is a perfectly fine town. But not really an architectural powerhouse. So I'm not, like, super psyched about the historic preservation aspect, but I can definitely get behind the sustainability side of not needlessly demolishing serviceable structures.
  3. Grew up going to that Fudd's on Kids-Eat-Free day. Glad to see it go though. Next redevelop the old Ingles site that burned down like 25 years ago
  4. I hope that the "external action" is them deciding to coordinate with NCDOT's purchase of new trains, and rethink the design to go for high platforms. Level boarding at mid-line stations is likely the lowest-hanging fruit when it comes to speeding up Piedmont service.
  5. Hourly Piedmont trains, to Gateway Station, stopping also in Harrisburg, Lexington, and Hillsborough (in addition to all existing stops) with a trip time fast enough to enable a train to complete its run, be serviced, and turn around ready to head the other way, in 3 hours - is the right vision. Throw in an extension to CLT (while still maintaining maintaining 3 hour trip + turnaround) would be an added bonus. A stop in the RTP/RDU/I-540 area would be icing on the cake. So: -Increase frequency to hourly! -Up to 5 more stops -slightly longer journey (to CLT instead of Gateway) -but still shortening the overall overall journey time -faster turnaround for better equipment utilization Figure out what it would take to make this happen... and do it! How do you make a train trip take less time, while adding more stops and making it longer? -Higher top speeds -Better dependability so less schedule padding is needed -Speed up slow zones -Spend less time stopped by shortening station dwell times -Electrification would obviously be great, but I don't think it would be necessary in order to do the above in 3 hours.
  6. You are so right about integrated planning. It's easy to get lost in the weeds on this, and I am not a professional (what I know I learned mostly from reading blogs) but: The way to do this, is to *start* by drawing up the timetable you want to run. Work backwards from there to figure out the infrastructure needed to make it work. If you do it right (meaning you have a willing and cooperative freight operator), by step 6 (2h 30m run time), you would have a system where passenger trains and freight trains never have to overtake each other in the same direction because they all run the same average speed: about 60mph. Freights would go a steady 60mph. Passenger trains going 90 would start to catch up with the freights ahead of them, but then fall back behind as they slow down, stop at a station, and then accelerate back up to speed. No same-direction overtakes are needed at all, meaning a two-track railroad is perfectly adequate. Actually I think that, perhaps with 90mph top speeds, trains that can accelerate a bit faster, and high platforms for shorter dwells, there would be enough space in the schedule for the new stops that are planned (Hillsborough, Lexington, and Harrisburg) while still maintaining the magic freight-compatible speed of about 60mph. On the freight infrastructure side, you would need to be sure that anywhere freight trains need to slow down to enter a yard or service an industrial siding, that there is space off the mainline for them to do so, or otherwise that they only do so overnight when passenger trains are not running. Norfolk Southern has demanded dedicated tracks wherever passenger trains are expected to go faster than 90. It turns out that this isn't because of safety concerns, nor because of simple unwillingness to cooperate - it's a very reasonable requirement, grounded in the realities of operating a railroad. Raising top speeds to 110 or 125mph, and/or the much faster acceleration of electric trains, will make intercity passenger schedules (even including stops) faster than freight trains can reasonably be expected to operate, which means that passenger trains will have to overtake freights moving in the same direction. Without extra tracks to accomplish those overtakes, it starts to reduce the efficiency and capacity of the line as a whole. Think: overtaking a slow-moving vehicle on a two-lane country road where there is a dashed yellow line. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great example. The system works fine when traffic is light, but during peak season when traffic is heavy, either the slow car has to pull over at an overlook, or (if they're stubborn) you just never get the opportunity to pass them. The Northeast Corridor gets away with fast passenger trains and freights sharing the corridor because it is a largely 3- and 4- tracked, and it is a passenger-first corridor where freight explicitly plays second fiddle. On the other hand, the NCRR, especially between Greensboro and Charlotte, is certainly busy and valuable enough as a freight corridor, that maintaining efficiency of freight operation is an imperative consideration. With electrification, *regional* trains stopping every few miles (rather than every 20 miles) could hypothetically intermingle with freights operating in the range of 50-60mph, and indeed that is what they do in places like Switzerland and Japan. Japan manages to slot freights into <10 minute gaps beween regional passenger trains. We're a long way off from that level of operational precision and proficiency, you need shorter, lighter, and better powered freights, and you also have to design the infrastructure specifically to accommodate it, but we have to understand that it *is* possible, and start planning for it on day one/step one, as we plan the timetable.
  7. Back in the late 80s or early 90s, Governor Jim Hunt articulated a vision for hourly trains and a 2 hour trip time between Raleigh and Charlotte. We need to reawaken some of that ambition. A Brightline-scale effort is about what it would take. 1. Raise the corridor-wide speed limit to 90 mph - (~10min?) 2. Get DEMU trains with distributed traction (for better acceleration - the Amtrak Siemens order doesn't have this) and retractable gap fillers (to make it easier to build high platforms) (~10min?) 3. Complete double tracking between Raleigh and Greensboro (no speedup but enables hourly service?) 4. Rebuild every platform as high level, with a setback from the main line to avoid freight interference, which will shorten station dwell times (~10min?) 5. More grade separations, probably focusing on problematic urban areas like Cary, Durham, Mebane, and Thomasville, where there are clusters of busy grade crossings in close proximity (no speedup but still badly needed for safety) 6. Curve straightening (~5min?) 7. Build some sections of 125mph dedicated passenger-only 3rd track, including full grade separation, in locations between stations where tracks are relatively straight or can be straightened further (~10 min) 8. Electrify the corridor (~20min) That brings the NCRR up to near-Northeast Corridor standards, which should about do it. How much would this cost, and how long would it take? Items 1 and 2 cost essentially nothing in terms of capital (the signals are already done- the track just needs to be maintained for 90mph, and NCDOT already plans to buy new trains) and could easily be completed by 2025. Items 3-6 (complete double track, high platforms, more grade separations, and some curve realignments) combined are probably an ARRA scale effort, so $500-750m, and using the time it took to complete the "Piedmont Improvement Program," this could be completed, through scoping, environmental analysis, planning, engineering, and construction - by 2030. Item 7 (125mph dedicated tracks) is perhaps another $500-750m. Item 8 (electrification) is another $1-1.5b. These could be done at the same time as 3-6 if the project is fully funded on day one, but if not, an incremental program could add the 125mph dedicated tracks by 2035 and electrification by 2040. So my order of magnitude estimate: ~$2-$3b and 10~20 years. Now, that's a lot of money, don't get me wrong, but we drop sums like that on highway projects *all* *the* *time* with nary so much as a batted eyelash. It's time to get with the program and ditch the timid incrementalism. Set a *meaningful* goal and plan a course to achieve it. That would basically be the endgame for conventional intercity rail in the NC Piedmont. The next phase would be dropping $10+ billion on 200 mph TGV-style high speed trains and *1* hour trip times between Raleigh and Charlotte. Which would be awesome, but we shouldn't just skip the conventional upgrades, because service to intermediate cities that a NC TGV would skip (Burlington, High Point, Salisbury) is definitely important.
  8. Cheaper alternative: further reconfiguration of the Belk's interchanges, freeing up one of the three to four "channels" currently used for car traffic, to use as a light rail line instead. If you're going to go to the expense of decking over the Belk, why not do it with a park instead of a boulevard? I still like the Trade Street tunnel option better, though. Tunnels are actually pretty cheap; it's stations that are the budget busters. So, simplify it by having only one or two underground stations. The CATS transportation center obviously needs an underground station. Gateway might, but it might also be possible to curve south and get it above ground along the currently planned Silver Line alignment. The streetcar (which should have dedicated lanes, FFS, I mean come on!) can handle local circulation in the corridor. Sent from my SM-S515DL using Tapatalk
  9. The loops between Old Fort and Black Mountain are actually pretty scenic. But the route is very, very slow as well. There is currently no through freight over this line, only locals serving Asheville-area industries - so if there ever were a time that it made sense to give passenger service a go, then this is it.
  10. 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..
  11. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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....
  16. 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.
  17. 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?
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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?
  24. 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..
  25. They missed the boat on the location by about 3/4 mile. Put this 3/4 mile further east, and it would have access to the commuter rail line. Offices within a short walk of commuter rail stations can often command a premium. But as proposed, it's frustratingly *almost* close enough, but not quite. A 15 minute walk at the destination end of a transit commute is not going to appeal to very many people, so few will do it.
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