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Matthew

High Speed Rail and Asheville

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An update on Asheville's link to the state's AmTrak System! City Council is questioning if they should invest in this. I was surprised at Dunn, who asked if Asheville could support rail service! He asked to see proof that Asheville could support it before he would be willing to back the ideas presented by the state DOT. According to a state DOT report, Asheville and WNC is the most requested destination, without rail service, by state rail passengers! The Council is willing to invest $9,600 for a feasibility study to help find the best location for a future rail station, but the city has refused to spend $141,000 in a 50/50 deal with the state to help pay for land. The state has an option to purchase land at Biltmore Village and has invested $141,883 in the cost of their selected site. If Asheville wants to secure $3 million in state transportation funds, a request would have to be made before the General Assembly short session ends in May. The deal to buy the Biltmore Village land will expire on December 31. the city must make a decision before those dates. It's not a bad location for what could become a "tourist train", but I would like to see a train stop downtown, let tourists see our downtown, then take a shuttle to Biltmore if they choose. My idea could also bring more money (from tourists who might not go downtown) into the city. I just don't understand building a multi-modal hub, that should be downtown, in Biltmore Village!

Please contact City Council (and Joe Dunn) and let them know how you feel about this issue. Think of all the riders the system has now and think of how many would like to take a relaxing train ride through the mountains, and visit Asheville for a weekend! This is big! Also ask about Downtown sites!

Quote of the Week!

David Bender: Asheville needs to "demonstrate a firm local commitment" to help make this happen.

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I think they are looking at locals using the service and not realizing this could be a tourist train. If a train ride from Raleigh to Charlotte is successful, just imagine how successful a train ride from Raleigh and Charlotte into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains would be, and how much money this could bring in for Biltmore Estate and the city of Asheville in taxes.

The train could be more though. This hub won't be downtown! They want to build it in Biltmore Village. If it was downtown, it could help downtown restaurants and shuttles could be provided to Biltmore, Grove Park Inn and a tourist bus tour of the Parkway could be provided to help fund expansion of our transit system. This could also encourage visitors to see more than just Biltmore House on their stay! I see that as one of Asheville's biggest problems. A downtown hub could encourage visitors to stay at least one night in Asheville and explore something else they may not have known about and leave with a much more positive opinion of this city.

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I would DEFINITELY take the train to Asheville; my wife would love this, too. Two people here, two people there, I can see how this line would be successful, assuming it doesn't take 6 hours to get there. Of course, driving to Asheville would give me great flexibility, but I would take the train, anyway...

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I would like to see a train to Asheville with stops in Hickory and Black Mountain ONLY! If the train stops at every little crossroads, it will take forever to get anywhere. I think Asheville could be part of a new line to Knoxville and Nasheville! that would bring a large number of tourists to this city! There's great poetential for this line. I'm glad Council thinks of us as a real city, but they need to remember we are a tourist destination as well, and we need more ways to get here than by highway. We are investing in our airport, lets invest in Train service too! It's exactly what AmTrack wants to be and shows in some advertising. A beautiful trip through the mountains were you can relax and look out the window, not at a road. I drive from my home in Henderson County to Winston-Salem four or five times a year and I always find the mountains, forests and farms beautiful. When you drive, you can't look around much to enjoy them. I would take a train for that trip, if I could. If it stops in Bat Cave, Granite Falls, Conover and every little town the train passes-by, I would drive to save time. :lol:

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I'm excited about potential train service to Asheville. A new rail hub could not only be a destination point, but a departure point as well. The great smokies railroad is a continuing success, and i think there is potential for weekend train excursions from Asheville out to our western neighbors.

While I agree that downtown would be an ideal place for a station i don't think it'll happen and it shouldn't. The original station was in Biltmore Village and the infrastructure is already in place (or at least the right of ways are there), not to mention Biltmore Village's enormous unrealized potential. Asheville is desperate for a riverfront retail/entertainment center (RiverLink etc.) A rail station, dense lowrise residential, an urbanized riverfront... Biltmore Village could be so much more...

The secret is already out about our downtown. We don't need to spend a hundred million dollars on a train to get people there. Biltmore Village is close enough.

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Welcome to the forum!

I'm not 100% sure the secret is out? We need higher foot traffic numbers. There are still so many people out there that think "Biltmore" when they think of Asheville and not our artsy downtown. I also think our bus system is under-utilized. A downtown bus and train station would do a lot for local transit. The system would also be more efficient. What we have is good, but we need to improve on that. Not every business downtown is happy with the number of people on the streets. Anyone going to Biltmore is aware of the Village. We need to take those Biltmore visitors to another part of the city and show them a little more of Asheville, before they go through those Biltmore Gates.

If the Village location is what they go with, I would like to see a streetcar system connecting the Village to Downtown. That could be a great line and could help provide more riders for bus transit, through transfers.

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How would this line connect into the main east coast Amtrak system, specifically, now would one taking Acela to DC connect to an Asheville train?

In New England we have the new Downeaster Amtrak service to Maine which has been highly successful and a big boost for Portland. City leaders in Asheville should talk to city leaders in Portland about their experience.

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It's just a link through Salisbury and that's not final. Winston-Salem is fighting for that line and they want the state to run High Speed rail from Union Station in Winston-Salem to this proposed station in Asheville and beyond to Nashville. They are the "Gateway to Western NC" and it works well with other connections to the region they have. Salisbury is the "Rail Hub of Central NC" and they also want this line to keep their title as the major hub. A line to Asheville through Salisbury would just be a connector. I think they will go the cheap route and not upgrade tracks from Winston-Salem to Asheville and go with a connector to Salisbury. It's a disapointment if they go that way, but that does appear to be the cheapest and favored route right now. Salisbury is putting their best effort foward to get that route, but not offering the potential for faster service to Asheville in the future.

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I agree Matthew, Winston-Salem should connect with the rest of Western, NC. Its seems like to me the distance would be shorter that way.

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The map above shows Statesville west of Salisbury. That's not where Statesville is. It would be a shorter trip to go to Winston-Salem. I think for Asheville residents, a faster connection to Raleigh is preffered. Did you know the state keeps two governor's mansions? One in Raleigh and one here in Asheville!

The route from Winston-Salem to Asheville would use the Norfolk Southern L-Line from Union Station to Barber Junction and then take the Norfolk Southern Piedmont Line from Barber Junction to Statesville.

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I thought Statesville was in Northern Iredell, I looked again after reading your post and it's in Central Iredell. Shows how much I know about the central part of the state. :lol: I like the idea of a Wilmington to Charlotte to Asheville train better. Too bad that idea is no longer being considered. :( The proposed Salisbury train is too slow and makes too many stops. Out of the two lines being considered, I like the Asheville to Winston-Salem line best, because it opens the door to faster service in the future with less stops and more major cities to the west when it's expanded in the future. Knowing the NC DOT, they will select what saves them the most money and who from what county gave the decision makers the most money at election time or what county the decision maker is from or represents will weigh more than what's best in the long term.

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At times I feel as though this part of the state is over-looked for the population rich Piedmont or the "old wealth" and influence of the Sandhills and Coastal Plain. I would love to see a governor from Asheville in office! Someone who would think of us out here and include us in their main plans. I feel the future of this line is in the hands of who has the most money and influence in Raleigh, not the locals who know what is best for our region. I'm sure this will also be the last line in place. Goldsboro will have some form of Amtrack service before we do. I guess we don't have enough money or influence in this part of the state to get what we need and want. :(

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