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monsoon

Lynx Blue Line (South Corridor)

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This topic is for the ongoing discussion of Charlotte's south corridor light rail transit line now known officially as the Lynx Blue Line. The line will be operated by CATS (Charlotte Area Transit) For history of this line please check out the archived thread:

South Light Rail Transit

LYNX.jpg

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So far Rubin has had 2 anti-transit articles (at least the title) and 0 pro-transit ones.....he's worse that Dianne.

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Hopefully, Rubin is just trying to set a watchdog tone to gain respect, and then write pro-transit articles later. He lives in SouthEnd, so I somehow doubt he is opposing transit.

It really is not cool, though, that costs keep soaring, and we are getting a lesser line than when we started.

Figuring out a way to do our other lines with state and local dollars would be great, as it cuts out the expensive delays.

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When I was at the Iredell meeting the other night, the issue of the cost of the Blue Line vs the original estimates was brought up. The CATS official said the Blue Line was a very complex project as there are 1000s of feet of elevated bridges, they are re-routing highways, and have complex arrangements with other agencies which means that CATS does not have full control of the project. As a result, the cost risk of that project was significant.

The current construction budget is higher than what was originally proposed because of the enormous amount of construction materials needed and the rise in prices of these materials since this project was started. It's affecting CATS just like anyone else in the construction business and I think they have done a commendable job of sticking to the budget.

Note the poorly written article in the Observer did not say they were going to overrun costs or if it was even likely. And they used the 1999 figures which were accepted by everyone at the time to be a just an estimate. Since the project started however CATS has stayed within its budget on the Blue Line. In fact there is still an almost $7M contingency fund left. The Observer article seems to have missed all of that but its not surprising given the Observer is nothing more than a tabloid these days and this is typical story that one finds in a tabloid.

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The bridges probably were the major reason for cost increases. I still am convinced they could have made it work without the bridges, and just had cross traffic wait the few seconds for the trains to go by. The only exception maybe would be the Tyvola bridge as it was needed to cross the freight tracks.

By cutting those bridges out of the design, it would have saved at least a hundred million in core cost, and in exponential inflation in steel and concrete.

I definitely agree that the North (Purple) line (Or is it the Aubergine Line, metro? ;) ) is immune to many of those cost increases, as no designer will even attempt to suggest a bridge. Luckily, many of the major crossings like 277, 85, Harris Blvd, and 485 already have bridges or underpasses (in the case of 485 it'll have one funded outside of the CATS budget). The north meck towns all have crossings in an urban context, so crossings aren't as bad. The only place I could see a bridge coming up as a request would be Sam Furr, but given the frequency of commuter rail, I don't even see that as a need.

Closing some of the driveway crossings might end up being quite expensive, though, as they'll have to build new access roads which could be long.

It is just quite lucky that we got the Blue line funded federally. The only other lines expecting funding in a next few years are all relatively inexpensive, and many are quite short (streetcar, west line, and NoDa extension).

I sure hope that we can see some increases in the revenues from the transit sales tax as a result of all of our mall expansions (Carolina Place, South Park, and NorthLake). Hopefully that can help to either speed up some projects, have one or two be locally funded on a faster time frame, or to at least cover some of these cost increases.

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I think the Sam Furr bridge will be paid for by the NCDOT independently. There is a project to widen 73 between 115 & 21, and I have heard the commuter rail bridge got slipped onto that project.

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Oh, so they do plan a NC73 rail bridge outside of CATS's budge? That is great!

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I wish they would have kept all the CATS name and branding, like Metro does back home in DC. All the trains, busses, express busses, etc are all just Metro.

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Somehow it just seems odd to me to see ties lying on gravel. Won't they settle as the trains ride over them? I would think some kind of firmer surface would be needed. If there are soft spots, the rails would settle and distort.

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They will have to come in and level the track, and then they will put rock around the ties. If the put rock around the ties now it would be hard to level th track. There is a fine rock base under the rock around the track. It has been pack down to be as hard a paved road.

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According to the Charlotte Future web site, they are starting work on the pedestrian bridge over 4th St. This is awesome, as there was some talk that is might get cut. But it would have been a blow to pedestrian connectivity along the uptown if it wasn't built. I an very happy to see that is remained. Now if only there were an easy way to go North South through the convention center.

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It's a section on the Charlotte Mecklenburg website that talks about construction, development, and such in Charlotte.

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Ok...I think the light rail is a fantastic idea.

I moved here from Chicago where the "L" (Elevated Train) is the only way to travel but why in the world would Charlotte not have more flyovers ? Is it because of cost ?

One example...Not having a flyover on Clanton Rd to me is poor planning. Clanton Road is a major exit off a major, major interstate. The traffic light there is already horrible on South Blvd and once trains are added it will only get worse. Thoughts ?

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Ok...I think the light rail is a fantastic idea.

I moved here from Chicago where the "L" (Elevated Train) is the only way to travel but why in the world would Charlotte not have more flyovers ? Is it because of cost ?

One example...Not having a flyover on Clanton Rd to me is poor planning. Clanton Road is a major exit off a major, major interstate. The traffic light there is already horrible on South Blvd and once trains are added it will only get worse. Thoughts ?

You are absolutely right it needs a flyover. But in the end it is not there because exactly what you said:

Money.

We simply don't have enough.

Chicago, NYC, and DC all have great Transit, but that is because they had a 100 year head start on Charlotte. I still think the end product will give the desired result.

A2

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I'm not worried about the lack of flyovers, in fact, I believe we could have had fewer and still been fine (but cheaper).

Many getting off of 77 on Clanton will be able to take Tryon to places. If they really need to get to South Blvd, it won't be much burden to wait the 20 seconds it will take for the train to pass.

It may not be perfect, but flyovers are very expensive, and in some cases a negative for nearby redevelopment efforts.

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I'm not worried about the lack of flyovers, in fact, I believe we could have had fewer and still been fine (but cheaper).

Many getting off of 77 on Clanton will be able to take Tryon to places. If they really need to get to South Blvd, it won't be much burden to wait the 20 seconds it will take for the train to pass.

It may not be perfect, but flyovers are very expensive, and in some cases a negative for nearby redevelopment efforts.

True D. I am glad they did not build too many, or the cost might have hampered the project altogether. I am going to be happy just to get Light Rail. We can continue to upgrade and add to the system once we get the basic infastructure in place. Right now we are just trying to play catch up to what we need.

A2

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Will people coming off of Clanton be able to turn onto southbound South Boulevard, even if a train is passing by the area? I know they're shifting the southbound lanes right around there so that the light rail runs in the median of South Boulevard, so I was just wondering if only traffic wanting to turn left off of Clanton -- to head towards Uptown -- would really be affected by the lack of a flyover.

Also, Clanton is not nearly as major of an exit as Woodlawn or Tyvola, at least in my opinion. Traffic seems to have picked up a bit on Clanton since they straightened out its intersection with South, but it's still nothing compared to the traffic at Woodlawn and Tyvola's intersections with South. And I'm sure part of that increase is due to people like me, who have been taking the Clanton exit to avoid the mess further down South right now. The construction around Old Pineville and South's intersections with Woodlawn and Tyvola has made traffic over there even worse than it usually is. Coming down 77 South to head to SouthPark, I find it easier to take the Clanton exit, turn right onto South, and then turn left onto Scaleybark to get to Woodlawn. I've really only been doing this since the construction started, and when it's over I'm sure I'll go back to my old route for the most part.

A big part of the problem with the Clanton/South intersection right now is that there's no left turn lane for traffic getting onto Clanton. There's a left turn light, which is fine for the first few cars who want to turn, but after that, the left lane is completely at the mercy of traffic. If nobody wants to turn onto Clanton, northbound South Boulevard moves about as well as it can. If a couple of cars want to turn, however, traffic starts to become a pretty major issue. As the road is right now, they don't really have the room to put in a left turn lane. Instead, the stretch where it is wide enough to have a left turn lane -- and where there used to be one -- no longer has anywhere to turn left to. I would imagine though that once they shift the southbound traffic, they'll convert one of the old southbound lanes into a left turn lane for Clanton. In the meantime, traffic there is a bit of an annoyance, but I'm hoping that most of the traffic issues will work themselves out once the intersection's redesign is complete.

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Yeah, most of the problems with traffic are because of construction. Cars from Clanton will be able to turn right onto Southbound South blvd. without having to wait for the train. Im guessing there will be a turn lane for them as well for when cars turning left onto South blvd get backed up. So really only one lane is needed to cross the tracks for those going north on South blvd. This will actually be an improvement over what we had before construction even started. Anyone remember that sharp S turn just before Clanton hit South, lol. What a nightmare that was.

I would also assume(since they will have all the room in the world) that cars going north on South blvd will have a long left turn lane so it wont hinder flow of traffic going straight. But your right, right now it can get backed up pretty bad. I travel that section of South blvd everyday, sometimes 4-5 times.

The next LRT meeting is coming up soon, we can find out more specifics on traffic flow then. I think its about time for a whole line photo update too. :)

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Looks like they're serious about widening the shoulder at the southeast corner of Tyvola and South Blvd. The road must be elevated around 15 feet from the parking lot already... This will be a lot of earth.

I would think they will convert the whole thing to a retaining wall -- rather than truck in even more earth to create a slope down to the parking area in front of SunTrust.

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