mr. chips

Train tracks in Columbia

10 posts in this topic

I think that one of the impediments to better living in Columbia is the train situation in this city: trains blocking major intersections near downtown. It is just getting worse and worse. As more and more people live in the Southeastern part of the city (near the stadium, Rosewood, etc) the fact that Assembly street and Olympia are often blocked by trains is becoming intolerable. We need some leadership to solve this problem.

 

Here are some of the issues and questions that city leadership should address:

 

1) what is the status of burying the train lines or putting them above ground with bridges crossing major intersections?

2) why can't the trains just go around the city?

3) how can we deal with the fact that so much land near campus is wasted by train-tracks crisscrossing the area? Imagine the beautiful parks that could be created instead

4) isn't it possible to turn the train tracks into walking/running paths - i.e. "Rails to Trails"? That would be such a boon to the city

5) what laws or prior agreements stand in the way of progress?

6) how about the Free Times or the State using their bully pulpits to push this issue for the betterment of the city and its population?

7) how about this Forum starting a "movement" to address this issue? 

8) what are other alternatives to having these train tracks through the city?

9) why can't Columbia "think big" and solve this problem?

 

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At one point the City was planning to build a bridge for the tracks that cross Assembly near Sonic, but that was kicked down the road for financial reasons. Rerouting the tracks would be great for the city, but I assume the issue is ownership. Tracks are not cheap to build and unless there was a business case for the company to move them (i.e. massive delays through the city), they are likely not going to fund a redirect.

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Tracks are not cheap to build and unless there was a business case for the company to move them (i.e. massive delays through the city), they are likely not going to fund a redirect.

Maybe we should start a civil protest to create some "massive delays through the city" - i.e. cars and people sitting on the damn train tracks so the trains can't move. It is so frustrating to live in the middle of a city where the traffic is stopped for trains. Not to mention the noise of the train horns in the middle of the night for people living in the city. How can "we the people" allow this to go on without fighting it? 

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Maybe we should start a civil protest to create some "massive delays through the city" - i.e. cars and people sitting on the damn train tracks so the trains can't move. It is so frustrating to live in the middle of a city where the traffic is stopped for trains. Not to mention the noise of the train horns in the middle of the night for people living in the city. How can "we the people" allow this to go on without fighting it? 

The City of Columbia, Richland County, Lexington County and USC have gone in together to try to convince lawmakers to cough up the money necessary to streetscape Huger and Assembly streets from Elmwood to Whaley Street and Rosewood Drive respectively and to build bridges over the railroad tracks, as well as to build the expressway from I-26 to the airport and to do something for Lexington (I forget what.).  The fact that local governments are adopting penny sales taxes (Lexington, too, hopefully) to make road improvements makes it more likely that the state will cooperate on these projects.  That was in the news a couple of months ago.  I don't know where it stands, but the bridges over the railroad tracks alone will take major bucks.  

Edited by CorgiMatt

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If we are waiting for the state legislature, I guess we'll be waiting another 20 years. There must be some other way of making this happen - like maybe not having spent a ridiculous amount of money on a baseball stadium!

 

When I came to Columbia 30 years ago, I used to go to Greenville and think "what a dump". But slowly Greenville evolved, and now they have a really beautiful downtown. At the time, I used to think that Columbia was on the cusp of doing something great, with then Mayor Kirkman Finley a real visionary leader like Riley in Charleston and Max Heller in Greenville. Unfortunately those other cities kept evolving for the better, and I feel that I bet on the wrong horse here in Columbia.

 

But I am basically an optimist, and hope that Columbia can move forward and become a great city like those others. Only it will take some visionary government and business leadership. And an involved citizenry.

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If we are waiting for the state legislature, I guess we'll be waiting another 20 years. There must be some other way of making this happen - like maybe not having spent a ridiculous amount of money on a baseball stadium!

 

When I came to Columbia 30 years ago, I used to go to Greenville and think "what a dump". But slowly Greenville evolved, and now they have a really beautiful downtown. At the time, I used to think that Columbia was on the cusp of doing something great, with then Mayor Kirkman Finley a real visionary leader like Riley in Charleston and Max Heller in Greenville. Unfortunately those other cities kept evolving for the better, and I feel that I bet on the wrong horse here in Columbia.

 

But I am basically an optimist, and hope that Columbia can move forward and become a great city like those others. Only it will take some visionary government and business leadership. And an involved citizenry.

I disagree with your premise.  Columbia is already a great city and needs to compare itself to no other city.  There's a lot to Columbia.  Its best features aren't yet connected and it will take some time to do so, but Columbia owes no apologies to anyone.  It's all perspective.  I've heard people who are in Columbia for the first time express amazement at what all is here.  All cities go through phases.  Columbia's best phase is coming up fast.  

Edited by CorgiMatt

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With more and more dorms and apartments being built downtown south of the USC Campus (near the stadium, on Assembly St, on Whaley St, etc) the traffic is getting to be horrendous. So, whenever a train comes by - which is often - the traffic is backed up horribly. People are late for work and classes, and it causes major delays and frustration. Think of all the land that is being wasted between Catawba, Huger and Assembly St. Think of the possibilities for parks, housing, running trails that could connect Five Points with the river in this area. Check out Rails-to-Trails at http://www.railstotrails.org and let's think "out of the box" for how we can improve Columbia by getting rid of these horrible rail lines that criss-cross the city. Yes, I know - the city is trying to build train trestles to alleviate the traffic problems. But I am talking about doing something really exciting by getting rid of the tracks completely, and using this land for people not trains!

 

Notice how the main train lines in Columbia intersect at a point near the campus - that was fine when the city was smaller, but now it is intolerable and unnecessary. Why can't we re-route the trains away from the downtown (except Amtrack)? 

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The City, the University, Richland County and Lexington County have submitted an application to the state transportation infrastructure committee for money to build bridges over the train tracks at Assembly and at Huger. Included in the application are request for funding to improve and beautify both streets from Elmwood to the train tracks. In addition, they are requesting funds for an I-26-airport connector road and something for Lexington (I forget what.). There is speculation that because Richland County enacted a sales tax for county transportation needs and is seemingly doing its part, it is more likely the state will look favorably upon the application.

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Yes, but that is so "pedestrian" (sorry for the bad pun!) - let's do something more exciting. We need to get rid of the tracks completely and be able use all that wasted land near campus for parks, etc. Freight trains (with toxic chemicals) should not be going through the middle of an urban area anyway.

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Charlotte has a similar problem, though it seems to be working around it (mostly). The cost of rerouting train tracks would be in the tens of millions or more and getting freight companies to agree to a disrupt in service would be even more challenging. As big of an impediment as the tracks are, getting rid of them is not financially feasible. 

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