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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines


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*cracks knuckles* here's my takeaways from the MTC meeting tonight: Red Line: The staff recommendation is to keep commuter rail on the O-line as the preferred option. What this largely boils do

I went to the Matthews Community meeting for the Silver Line station area planning last night and I thought y'all might appreciate some of the pictures/information from the event. I meant to take

Hushpuppy321, your question is the perfect segue into further discussions on the proper role of transit, and to do it justice requires more writing and reading than many can tolerate on a forum such a

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On 2/8/2021 at 11:10 PM, Seaboard Fellow said:

In other words, freight traffic and passenger traffic must be dispatched together.  There will be no passenger only operating windows if commuter rail is allowed. With the appropriate track and signal infrastructure improvements I don’t see this as an issue. This arrangement is not uncommon.  

Its so frustrating because CATS lays parallel Track for Regional/Commuter Rail & Stations at their own cost, I don't understand NS resistance to sharing their ROW

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On 2/8/2021 at 8:48 PM, kermit said:

Part 1:

 

 

Part 2:

I think what NS really wants is double-trackage along the old AT&O corridor (Red Line) from Gateway to Mooresville, and all of it paid for with tax dollars.  Whether ridership can justify the price tag is another story...

Edited by ChessieCat
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4 minutes ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

Its so frustrating because CATS lays parallel Track for Regional/Commuter Rail & Stations at their own cost, I don't understand NS resistance to sharing their ROW

1) The ROW is constrained and quite narrow in places. As I understand it there are quite a few encroachments in North Meck and many of them will be tricky to resolve.

2) NS's current lease on the NCRR ends in 23 years. They need to be able to _pretend_ that they can return the O-Line route to mainline status so they can have some leverage when they negotiate their new lease agreement with the NCRR. Nobody who understands Class 1 railroad operations sees the O-Line as a viable replacement to the NCRR (there are very urban sections through North Meck and Winston) but the negotiations will have a political component to them.

4 minutes ago, ChessieCat said:

I think what NS really wants is double-trackage along the old AT&O corridor (Red Line) from Gateway to Mooresville, and all of it paid for with tax dollars.  Whether ridership can justify the price tag is another story...

I am not even sure that double track would be enough for NS. I think they want to act like the O-Line has as much potential capacity as the NCRR, if they commit to 20 (or whatever) number of commuter trains per day then that becomes a tougher sell.

I suspect that CATS has found some political connections that have brought the NCRR into the discussion about the Red Line. Perhaps CATS has found a way to encourage the NCRR and NS to renegotiate the current lease which might allow NS to relax about the O-Line.

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18 hours ago, kermit said:

1) The ROW is constrained and quite narrow in places. As I understand it there are quite a few encroachments in North Meck and many of them will be tricky to resolve.

2) NS's current lease on the NCRR ends in 23 years. They need to be able to _pretend_ that they can return the O-Line route to mainline status so they can have some leverage when they negotiate their new lease agreement with the NCRR. Nobody who understands Class 1 railroad operations sees the O-Line as a viable replacement to the NCRR (there are very urban sections through North Meck and Winston) but the negotiations will have a political component to them.

I am not even sure that double track would be enough for NS. I think they want to act like the O-Line has as much potential capacity as the NCRR, if they commit to 20 (or whatever) number of commuter trains per day then that becomes a tougher sell.

I suspect that CATS has found some political connections that have brought the NCRR into the discussion about the Red Line. Perhaps CATS has found a way to encourage the NCRR and NS to renegotiate the current lease which might allow NS to relax about the O-Line.

NCRR's double-tracking years ago was one of their best moves and maybe it is them who is pushing NS to the table.

NS's shutoff of the O-line at Cornelius along with the abandonment between NGK Ceramics and Statesville decades ago is sad.

Edited by ChessieCat
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Simple solution here, NS leases the line out to CATS or NCDOT. NS retains exclusive freight trackage rights. CATS or NCDOT takes on all maintenance and liability for the leased line. The line is upgraded with long sidings and double track where appropriate. NCDOT or CATS eliminate unsafe and redundant road crossings. NCDOT or CATS fund the necessary PTC upgrades. NS retains all longitudinal utility leases.  
 

A 50 year renewable lease under these conditions is more than reasonable. NCDOT (and NCRR) is already geared to work with local governments to add new freight rail customers. This arrangement would be a win-win. 

Edited by Seaboard Fellow
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4 minutes ago, Seaboard Fellow said:

Simple solution here, NS leases the line out to CATS or NCDOT. NS retains exclusive freight trackage rights. CATS or NCDOT takes on all maintenance and liability for the leased line. The line is upgraded with long sidings and double track where appropriate. NCDOT or CATS eliminate unsafe and redundant road crossings. NCDOT or CATS fund the necessary PTC upgrades. NS retains all longitudinal utility leases.  

I have no interest in public money being used in that way, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to greatly improve a rail line that someone else owns outright.

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On 2/9/2021 at 5:56 AM, BarrenLucidity said:

Yeah, right of way and freight bypass of stations occurs all over PA, NJ, NY, CT, etc. No reason it wouldn't work here. I can't see the red line operating more than every 20 minutes during the busiest of times so plenty of wiggle room.

That's a great point. But I've done a case study on the rail system of Chicago where all 8 of the biggest rail cargo operators in the USA and Canada have lines going through. They have to wait for passenger rail because it takes precedence over them. It will be extremely expensive to fix but they're planning on bypassing the city altogether for thru freight traffic because it's collectively costing the industry billions of dollars each year in increased wait times due to them having to bow to the passenger rail.

That's why NS is so against sharing rail and if they do, they'll definitely stipulate that the red line would have to form its schedule around the freight moving on the lines or they just have to double line it.

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Anyone else feel like there is a big gap in the first ward area of uptown on the silver line alignment? The 11th street and 10th street areas have a lot of housing that won't really be within walking distance of a station. It would be a shame to leave that whole area out.

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Anyone else feel like there is a big gap in the first ward area of uptown on the silver line alignment? The 11th street and 10th street areas have a lot of housing that won't really be within walking distance of a station. It would be a shame to leave that whole area out.

Agreed! I think there needs to be a station at McDowell and 10th. Would serve that side of first ward and the developments around Seigle.
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45 minutes ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

Been studying the Portland Lightrail, Streetcar & Aerial Tram System.  They are\were incredibly forward thinking when it comes to transportation.  

The great thing is Portland didn't wait for the established Railroads to play ball in order to build their network.  They followed the phrase of their most famous apparel company, "JUST DO IT"!!!

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So while CATS is in the process of planning an airport route that avoids airport property this change of heart from the FAA on allowed uses of passenger facilities funds comes out....
 
I am certainly no expert but I believe this means that, if CLT wanted to, they could contribute to the costs of CATS owned tracks running on and through (on to Gaston county) airport property. (I am not saying they would want to, or that a reroute of the Silver onto the airport property would be better, just that it now appears to be kosher)

Are you refering to something like this?
a9e876cc2d41a294ab37def37ba77536.jpg


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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12 hours ago, kermit said:

I am certainly no expert but I believe this means that, if CLT wanted to, they could contribute to the costs of CATS owned tracks running on and through (on to Gaston county) airport property. (I am not saying they would want to, or that a reroute of the Silver onto the airport property would be better, just that it now appears to be kosher)

I would think that they would need to actually service the airport, not just run stops adjacent to it.  But yeah, it's mostly just a removal of a regulatory obstacle so that two governmental agencies or companies can work more closely together.  While the above example might not be deemed kosher something like this might be.  While my example probably isn't ideal from a commuter point of view, CLT could use it to basically double the number of trains going by their parking spots, basically allowing CLT to say well this is what we were going to spend on people movers and busses to those lots so we'll give CATS that money in exchange for their trains to hit these stops.  

airport.png

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9 hours ago, tozmervo said:

Also, think how cool this bridge could be as a gateway when you're arriving in to Charlotte. (Little Rock station is the white dot to the left)

image.thumb.png.b963ea63d00cc69fe7ed5292cd945527.png

I agree with you. If the station isn’t at the terminal there are not many benefits to moving the station away from the Wilkerson Blvd alignment. The airport gateway has tons of potential and light rail can certainly act as a catalyst with good planning. 
 

One unknown factor is whether the People Mover frequency provides an attractive connection to light rail. I’ve seen long headways at various airports. 

Edited by Seaboard Fellow
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22 hours ago, Seaboard Fellow said:

I agree with you. If the station isn’t at the terminal there are not many benefits to moving the station away from the Wilkerson Blvd alignment. The airport gateway has tons of potential and light rail can certainly act as a catalyst with good planning. 

At first I wasn't sure, but now I think moving the line back down to be fully aligned with Wilkinson is the smartest move, because, most immediately, it shortens the length (distance and thus obvs time) for people to be on the 'people mover', and the only city street the airport will have to construct a bridge or tunnel across is Wilkinson. It looks to me like the old right of way from the now disused secondary car rental avenue would be preserved for the people mover's entrance to the airport. This places the station a more equitable distance between its two primary areas of service, and simply means the locus of the new airport district development, its tallest, most dense elements, will be lower, focused on Wilkinson and North Josh Birmingham, rather than closer to 85, which is also probably better.

But I also think having the Silver Line aligned right by Wilkinson will inhibit intensive development--e.g. big box stores, etc.--directly on the boulevard where it's present (I realize the rail line shifts to the median as you go east and then goes a block south of the street), and instead focus development on the adjacent blocks, encouraging TOD characteristics within them, of course including the airport's planned new district. I also think it will help minimize (as much as that will be possible) Wilkinson's congestion, if drivers are having to turn off Wilkinson to secondary streets to get to their destinations, helping keep Wilkinson more of a thoroughfare at least to the west of Boyer. 

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