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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red, Airport Lines

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12 hours ago, AirNostrumMAD said:

I hope we aren't planning our transit system based on being cheap rather than being efficient.

It is not as simple as cheap vs efficient vs good.

You have the task of actually getting a budget put together then finding funding for that budget.  Given everything we have seen thus far - with Blue Line and Gold Line - I think this is the reality we have to work with.

No amount of hoping can change the hard reality of costs vs benefit (as perceived by the citizens that are paying for it)

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7 minutes ago, Scribe said:

It is not as simple as cheap vs efficient vs good.

You have the task of actually getting a budget put together then finding funding for that budget.  Given everything we have seen thus far - with Blue Line and Gold Line - I think this is the reality we have to work with.

No amount of hoping can change the hard reality of costs vs benefit (as perceived by the citizens that are paying for it)

 

I'm not the one who suggested tunneling underground in the first place. If going underground is a possible option and the financials work out, then that would be the best route in my mind. That's what CATS suggested could be an option. 

 

If not, I would say hug 277 and merge the Silver line with the blue line through uptown. The silver line needs to serve the most dense portions of the city. Either underground, or sharing the blue line tracks. But I don't like the idea of just skirting the edge of uptown then curving into gateway, a place that isn't surrounded by the largest portion of office workers.  Not sure how popular it will be for commuters to walk to Duke Tower. The New Bank of America Tower, etc. from a Silver line that hugs 277 and cuts through gateway.

 

It needs to be efficient. There is a big difference in, for example, cutting the budget on the blue line by not making the stations able to handle 3 cars. That can be fixed. There are ways to deal with that. A terrible route uptown will kill ridership and then what would have been the point of even building it? BRT would be better, in my opinion, than a terrible light rail route

Edited by AirNostrumMAD

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On 11/29/2017 at 4:41 PM, AirNostrumMAD said:

Forget the red Line for this coming up decade.

Haven't the people around the Lake been screwed over enough (no rail, toll lanes, etc.)?  Good luck funding this if it's put to a vote...  

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5 hours ago, AirNostrumMAD said:

 

I'm not the one who suggested tunneling underground in the first place. If going underground is a possible option and the financials work out, then that would be the best route in my mind. That's what CATS suggested could be an option. 

 

If not, I would say hug 277 and merge the Silver line with the blue line through uptown. The silver line needs to serve the most dense portions of the city. Either underground, or sharing the blue line tracks. But I don't like the idea of just skirting the edge of uptown then curving into gateway, a place that isn't surrounded by the largest portion of office workers.  Not sure how popular it will be for commuters to walk to Duke Tower. The New Bank of America Tower, etc. from a Silver line that hugs 277 and cuts through gateway.

 

It needs to be efficient. There is a big difference in, for example, cutting the budget on the blue line by not making the stations able to handle 3 cars. That can be fixed. There are ways to deal with that. A terrible route uptown will kill ridership and then what would have been the point of even building it? BRT would be better, in my opinion, than a terrible light rail route

If the Silver Line is to serve the airport as well, I’d say it could skirt along the John Belk to Wilkinson (kinda like Independence Blvd used to run Charlottetown>Stonewall>Carson>Wilkinson). The existing 277 lanes could be reconfigured and the Silver Line could use existing underpasses to get by the Blue Line. The obvious downside to this would be the distance from the Gateway Station. You’d have to ride the Gold Line to the Blue Line then take that to the Silver Line OR ride the Gold Line to CPCCish and hop on the Silver Line there. Less people would ride if they kept having to switch trains, especially if they were going to the airport with luggage.

 

Since the city planners are making huge plans with zero funding, I’d say let’s go ahead and cap the John Belk while we’re at it.

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I say if we have the money (Which we never do) build underground. It would allow to go the most efficient route and give more freedom as to which approach to Uptown they want to use. I think using an elevated railway would also make it a lot easier, In that case it can go into uptown from John Belk Freeway, Make a turn towards Gateway, And then ride it west and meet with Wilkinson towards CLT. Also, The light rail lines aren’t planned to meet at gateway at least that’s what I grasped the last time I saw the plans.

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If Gateway is just Amtrak, and possibly commuter rail (think Concord and Gastonia, not Huntersville and Mooresville), then I don't think it's critical for Silver Line to connect it.

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It’s certainly not a panacea for Charlotte’s transit funding issues but I thought this was interesting (disclaimer, I know nothing about the firm)

 

 

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1 hour ago, kermit said:

It’s certainly not a panacea for Charlotte’s transit funding issues but I thought this was interesting

Hopefully he has learned a few things from his time at the DOT! This can be good for Charlotte!

Just needs to stay away from scandals like DesignLine!

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Apparently they always planned to use the contingency fund up -- just look at their own projections (pg. 20).

There is gotta be a way to incentivize CATS to actually want to hit the proposed budgets. CATS BLE started out with a 24 % contingency... of which $120 MILLION were completely unallocated (that is ~13% of the entire project) -- each category has a contingency built-in - with ~9-14% range... Then they toss a project-wide contingency on top of that of 13%.

There are some serious management/execution problems with the project that a ~24% contingency on a ~$1BILLION dollar project is blown.

Hell, give 10% of all unused contingency funds as a bonus to all CATS staff. and the other 90% should be allowed to be used on other CATS projects. Get creative. but ffs get your act together.

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Opinion piece in the Gaston Gazette very plainly calling for the development of a Southern bridge over the Catawba which would provide light rail access for Gaston County (in addition to cars)

http://www.gastongazette.com/opinion/20171216/our-view-replacement-bridge-just-one-piece-of-transportation-puzzle

Transit funding from surrounding counties would dramatically change the funding calculus for expansion. 

 

Edited by kermit
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1 hour ago, teeg said:

Any idea where exactly they think that new bridge is going to go?   

I would be surprised if it were not the Garden Parkway bridge plans. IIRC that was planned for the West Blvd area (right by the River District).

EDIT: Its about 3.8 miles from the Allen Steam Station (which I could see as a redevelopment target) to downtown Belmont thorough a bunch of nothing. Optimistically it would be around $200 million to extend LRT from the bridge to Belmont (assuming no elevated structures, etc.)

Edited by kermit
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Surrounding counties usually want to have some link to transit to seem like a hop and a skip away from the action, but it is a sliver of the people they draw with that connection that actually plan it into their lives.   Charlotte has already focused too much on the suburbs for transit plans and needs to get back to the point that the core urban area needs transit in all key dense destinations before it will even matter if it is connected out to the exurbs.  

 

Finally got a chance to read the FTA quarterly.  I'm excited about the extra blocks of no catenary wire for the streetcar, and that they seem to be on track for early Feb BLE!    

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Anybody listen to Lewis talk about the Big Bang this morning in Charlotte talks?  I missed it.

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Nothing new in the interview.

It was full of softball questions that Lewis answered like a politician. Hoping that Federal funding stays at 50%, dodged the question on sales tax increase - by deflecting to getting a portion of new tax revenue on the existing BL.

One part that I still do not understand, Lewis prefers that the Silver Line and the Airport Line be 2 separate lines (i.e. airport line is not an extension of Silver Line ... like BLE is an extension of BL). I am not sure what is the rationale behind that thought process.

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3 hours ago, Scribe said:

Nothing new in the interview.

It was full of softball questions that Lewis answered like a politician. Hoping that Federal funding stays at 50%, dodged the question on sales tax increase - by deflecting to getting a portion of new tax revenue on the existing BL.

One part that I still do not understand, Lewis prefers that the Silver Line and the Airport Line be 2 separate lines (i.e. airport line is not an extension of Silver Line ... like BLE is an extension of BL). I am not sure what is the rationale behind that thought process.

Great recap, thanks.  

Regarding the Airport and Silver lines, if they have a common hub, what's the difference?  I want the Silver line to directly connect to the Blue, Red and Airport but don't really care if the Silver goes all the way to the airport.  

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24 minutes ago, JBS said:

Regarding the Airport and Silver lines, if they have a common hub, what's the difference?

Difference is changing trains... Think hoping on Silver Line at Matthews/CPCC (people from Matthews, Mint Hill, and everything down to Monroe) and going straight to the Airport, that's a great selling point... just my thought (I just don't understand why make it 2 lines if even Lewis says, it will look like an extension of the Silver Line... maybe there is some funding trickery behind the madness?)

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