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Not sure if this could belong under another topic, but I just caught wind that North Carolina is looking into pioneering 'Hydrail" service between our two largest cities. This would be a hydrogen powered train that only emits water vapor. It would be cleaner and more efficient that the ancient diesels they use now, and cheaper, and still technically cleaner than electrifying the whole line, which could cost $10-16 million per mile. I heard of this via Charlotte Stories but was able to confirm with some other local news sources. At work currently but I can add links for further verification soon.
So its been about 10 years since the Blue Line opened and Charlotte has spent a significant amount of energy talking about how to make the city more walkable and less car dependent. As I think about the walkable portions of Charlotte (Dilworth, Southend, PM, Wesley Heights (needs a grocery store), NoDa, etc.) all of these places were built before cars and they have merely been updated to accommodate modern needs.
Try as I might I can't think of a single post-war neighborhood in Charlotte that has been made more walkable. Is there any neighborhood outside of the inner ring where walking to the store, school or transit is possible for more than a token few? The Blue Line created little or no change in the neighborhoods south of New Bern. Birkdale-like places seem much more like malls than neighborhoods to me and feel as isolated as a mall -- but I don't spend much time there so correct me if I am wrong. Brightwalk comes to mind as one of the best examples but AFAIK it lacks retail and is basically cutoff from any other neighborhoods by Statesville Ave and 77. LoSo is another place where people now want to walk, but it lacks the necessary infrastructure (sidewalks and transit access). We have even failed at connecting neighborhoods by means other than the car (e.g. crossing from Dilworth to Southend on bike or foot is still kinda hairy).
So my question is what is missing from the development process? Is it zoning (e.g. lot size, sidewalk width, land use mix)? Transit? Traffic engineering (too many car sewers)? A combination of all or something else entirely?
Ten years of experience suggests that we have not figured out how to make new walkable burbs -- is it time to give up? Would giving up be a bad thing?
EDIT: am I being too pessimistic? Does new multi-family in places like Park Road / Selwyn make new walkability available to some? Please tell me I have overlooked some significant positive change somewhere.
I watched this documentary the other day and wanted to share. I know many of us on this board love public transit for a variety of reasons, so I hope you enjoy it.
From the description:
" It was Boston — a city of so many firsts — that overcame a litany of engineering challenges, the greed-driven interests of businessmen, and the great fears of its citizenry to construct America’s first subway."