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Charleston Transit | Commuter Rail, Light Rail


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I wanted to wait until after Hurricane Dorian passed to post but the new intermodal transportation facility in N Chas has opened last week.  The facility serves as an Amtrak station, CARTA station and

$16 million Federal Transit grants announced   - Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments in South Carolina will receive $880,000 to develop a TOD plan for 18 station areas alon

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That is an extension to the proposed light rail from the Charleston visitor center to the magnolia development in the neck area(I believe they already have the right of way for this portion.) One would go out to Summerville parallel to I-26(I think,) the other would follow Rivers ave to Moncks Corner. I have no idea where all the stops are planned.

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Edited by MikesLogic
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Indeed. If you check the main SC forum there is a very interesting thread that discusses which city in SC will be the first to get rail transit of some sort. Right now Charleston and Greenville are the only two, with RH in a separate class since it may get a leg from Charlotte's LRT.

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  • 3 months later...

Light rail for Charleston is still alive and pushing foward, despite it being very slow, according to the article link below.

The Futrex company has been pushing for financing of a light rail system in Chas for 10 years and still is trying. Company President Byron Waldman says he has reason to be encouraged that Futrex soon could land private financing or a contract to build one of its systems. The Charleston Citywide Local Development Corp. recently helped the situation by deciding that the company did not need to make any payments on a taxpayer-financed loan worth roughly $1.7 million for up to three more years.

Futrex came to the Charleston area with bold plans for a new mass-transit system, saying that 1,000 people could be employed building it. The company has plans for a high-speed, low-cost monorail that would be unusual in that the cars would not sit atop a beam, as monorails do, but would hang from the side of a beam so that cars could travel in both directions at once. A plan that won some federal financing called for a working, $35 million Futrex system serving Charleston International Airport. The original plan was a loop from the airport to the Charleston Area Convention Center, but it fell through due to lack of investment dollars.

Monorail plan still on board

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Futrex is developing monobeam transit, not monorail. There is a bit of a difference as shown in the link below. It does address a lot of the issues of building transit in the already built environment, but it is more expensive than LRT and unproven.

I wondered what happened to Futrex as this was one of the very first threads posted here on UrbanPlanet. You can review it below.

SC & GA Develop Advanced Monobean Transit

Edited by metro.m
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It seems that there are two deparate movements in Charleston. I have read many articles about the proposed LRT, but very few on this. I now think that this may be the hold up to the entire mass transit issue in Charleston. The LRT proponents could be waiting to see if this is going to take off or not.

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I actually like the idea of a monobeam or monorail that Futrex is proposing instead of standard light rail with overhanging wires. Not only is a monobeam more aesthetically pleasing, it would be the most cost-efficient, especially with the potential of hurricane damage. Standard LRT wires and poles would easily be damaged due to high winds and downed trees, but a concrete monobeam would have minimal, if any damage.

Futrex has proposed several routes...even the new Cooper River bridge has the ability to take a monobeam or monorail. One of the primary routes is to start from the Chas Visitor Center DT and would make stops at the Neck (Magnolia or Midtown developments), Uptown (Noisette and near the proposed Hunley museum), the coliseum/convention center, and the airport.

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Good point. I didn't think about that. While monobeam may be more expensive initself, it may end up being less expensive due to the purchasing of rights of way and parcels outright for stations. Which reminds me, with elevated structures like that you can't have the 'informal' stops at ground level (as opposed to the more formal 'station') which may also increase costs.

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Right, but by that I mean they have the option of having ground level platforms with minimal structures associated with it. Particularly in more dense urban settings. Iwth the elevated monobeam you actually have to build up to the track.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...

Indeed. I am glad that CARTA is keeping its options open. Though I would prefer LRT, any sort of mass transit will help Charleston. CR may indeed be a better option if you think about it. It would bring commuters from a suburban world into downtown, which is extremely pedestrian friendly. You don't really need a car there to function.

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Light rail averages about $60M/mile. It's 25 miles from Charleston to Summerville which means a $1.5B line. While it would be great if they did something like that, I just don't see it happening unless there is a complete re-thinking of how regional development takes place there, and all of the local municipalities decide to develop this as a transit corridor. This means making the difficult political decisions to prevent or slowdown development elsewhere. This will of course be an unpalatable plan in places like Mt. Pleasant where the line won't go.

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I just started to read the Charleston thread and I have a question about light rail or transit in Charleston. I use to live DT Charleston several years ago so I understand the city quite well.

These may be on another post so sorry if it is duplicated.

1- Why would transit end at the tourst center? Why not come down the side along East Bay and end at what I use to call the "Polymer Plant" which I am not sure is still there but one of the best places to redelop in the world. Therefore, DT workers could get off there along with more tourist?

2--This would help develpment the area along the Cooper River (again, have not see it in years)

If there was ever a place to have mass transit, it is Charleston (outside of the concervative nature of the city and DT)

Anyway, I miss living there and love to go back to visit.

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