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dubone

Proposal for Transit to the Airport

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Now that the Wilkinson corridor is dead, I really believe they could change their way of thinking about the airport route, and really create a transit route that would support the system in a major way. By running a streetcar from the airport terminal to SouthPark Mall, they could open up three major employment centers to the Lynx transit system. It would connect the South LRT line that is under construction to the airport, to the Tyvola office parks, and to SouthPark Mall and office parks. Along the way, it would also support many other industrial employment locales, as well as commercial centers.

The route would basically go down Airport Drive from the terminal to Paul Brown Blvd. That section would connect the terminal with most of the remote parking facilities, as well as the Auto Rental facilities. From Paul Brown Blvd, it would connect to Yorkmount Rd either by a new connection on greenfield, or by using the existing Paul Brown Blvd. It would follow Yorkmount past all the office Parks around Tyvola (including the Belk, BF Goodrich, and Billy Graham corporate headquarters). The Billy Graham Library is actually set up to be a large tourism destination, with the library expected to draw 200,000 visitors per year (half of the what the Nascar Hall of Fame expects in the long term). It would also support the coliseum redevelopment project, which will include a large amount of office and residential space.

It would then connect to Woodlawn by South Tryon, and follow Woodlawn to the Light Rail. The LRT is the main spine of the transit system, running from UNCC to Pineville (roughly). By connecting to the LRT, only a single transfer would be needed to reach a large number of destinations in the city.

The corridor would then extend east on Woodlawn past Park Road Shopping Center, ParkTowne Village, and Pfeiffer University. This is a major retail destination, and would also support students at Pfeiffer. It would then continue straight onto Runnymeade, running near the Selwyn Village retail area of Myer's Park, as well as the vast school complex that includes Myer's Park High School. While it would not directly support it, Queen's University would be only 1.3 miles from the corridor, which is easily bicyclable, and would provide opportunities for a shuttle service.

Next, the corridor would turn onto Colony, and do some loop to support all the dense housing, shopping, mixed-use, and intense office uses that exist in the SouthPark area. I would propose that the corridor turn right onto Sharon, right on Fairview, right onto Barclay Downs, right onto Morrison, left onto Roxborough, and then left back onto Colony to return back. That route would support Morrison Place, Morrocroft, the new Colony Apartments redevelopment, Philips Place, the Live Oaks redevelopment, Sharon Corners, Piedmont Town Center, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company corporate headquarters, Nucor corporate headquarters, and all the various office and commercial buildings surrounding the mall.

This corridor would be much more valuable to the system as a whole than the Wilkinson corridor to downtown. While it wouldn't provide direct downtown to airport connectivity, it would provide it through an indirect route, but one that would actually get users to the convention center, the Nascar Hall, the arena, and closer to the bank offices downtown, rather than a train station half a mile from those visitor destinations.

The total corridor would be 12 miles from the airport to SouthPark, which is very close to the Beatties Ford to Eastland streetcar corridor that costs only $250m. Users going from the airport to downtown would have a 10 mile ride, 6 miles on the streetcar, and 4 miles on the South LRT. That trip would take a maximum of half an hour, which is a typical ride that a tourist would accept, especially if it cuts out the need to rent a car, pay for parking, etc. From the airport to the Tyvola office parks, it would be only 4 miles. From SouthPark to downtown it would be only 9 miles, 4 miles on LRT and 5 miles on the streetcar. From 485 to the airport it woud be 11 miles, 6 on the streetcar, 5 on the LRT.

There is significant employment at SouthPark, the airport, and Tyvola. There is also significant residential population in South Charlotte. The first LRT line went from South Charlotte to downtown, the largest employment center. The idea of going from downtown to the airport was not a good idea, as it didn't go from a large residential area to an employment area, it went from employment area to employment area, with not much residential along the way. Not only would the circumferential route from the airport to SouthPark, connect multiple employment centers, but also significant residential areas along the way. But most importantly, it provides a one-transfer connection between the spine of the transit system to those residential and employment areas.

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Wow D, thats sounds brilliant. Where do you come up with this stuff? There's so much potential along that route too. Even future extensions off each end have endless possibilities.

Print it and bring some copies to the next MTC meeting. If for nothing else but to open their minds a bit of what can be done.

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dubone, the anti-center city guy.

But seriously, although it sounds like a great idea, the route still lacks the main purpose of a airport route (IMO). Hotels, convention biz, connections to every other transit line, and nearly 70K workers are the reasons an airport should be connected to a city's center. Amazingly, very few people live between MARTA's airport station and downtown in Atlanta. There is also very little density on that route. Still, the city got funding to build it.

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Thank you. I am thinking about who to send it to.

Another benefit of this line, is that if the commuter rail is built to Iredell and then extended as planned down to Rock Hill (or was it just to Fort Mill), it would go right past this area, too. That means a station connection could be added near Tryon and Woodlawn connecting this streetcar route to North Meck and to South Cack.

Keep in mind that significant numbers of people commute from all over the county to the airport, to SouthPark, and to Tyvola. We often think that people are communiting only to downtown, but I know of many who commute from downtown to the SouthPark, downtown to the airport, North Meck to Tvyola, and all the permutations you can think of. Connecting those employment hubs to the commuter rail system and the LRT system would be a major boon to transit connectivity.

EDIT:

dubone, the anti-center city guy.

:). I'm not anti-center city to say that the airport transit connection should go where most of residences are, rather than to downtown. Frankly, having a connection to Tyvola, the airport, and SouthPark would be a major benefit for all the transit oriented development going up downtown and along the South LRT. People commute to all those places, too.

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I've made posts here before about the current design of the Charlotte transit system being broken in that it assumes that everyone wants to go to the center city and because of that, downtown is the only place where the lines converge. It's a fundamental flaw in the design that will affect ridership.

We need crosstown lines such as the one posted above, but I am also a believer that street level street cars, which are nothing more than glorified electric buses, are not worth the money they cost to build. Not in a suburban city such as Charlotte and especially on that route since it will go through mostly neighborhoods of typical 1/4 acre suburban housing. The route would better be served by BRT which would be much less expensive to build and would have more flexibility.

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WOW, how much time did you spend on that? Impressive. Has anyone said the west corridor is officially dead? Maybe down the line some TOD initiatives could boost ridership.

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Just one more thing. I think CATS would have an awfully difficult time getting SouthPark neighborhoods to go along with the plan. Especially running a transit line down Colony. The heads of many a SP housewife would explode at the thought of connecting the west side to their suburban bliss.

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The MTC members expressed that the West corridor is dead. It would not receive federal funds, and would have lower ridership than the current regular bus routes down Wilkinson.

The benefit of streetcar is that it is much less expensive than LRT and probably competive in cost with BRT. Buy by being a fixed-guideway rail corridor, it has a nationally proven track record of attracting riders that would not ride busses, and attracting development that a non-fixed system would not.

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The benefit of streetcar is that it is much less expensive than LRT and probably competive in cost with BRT. Buy by being a fixed-guideway rail corridor, it has a nationally proven track record of attracting riders that would not ride busses, and attracting development that a non-fixed system would not.

BRT is significantly less expensive than building an electric Street Car line. The MTC will decide amongst these two choices for the West corridor where cost is the primary deciding issue. This corridor is not dead BTW. From the ridetransit.org website.

The MTC is scheduled to make a decision on the West Corridor Refined Locally Preferred Alternative, including technology choice on Wednesday, August 23, 2006. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth Street, Room 267

We will know what will happen then. Unfortunately last time BRT was proposed for this route there were charges of racism because this area of town is primairly Black and they accused the council of only spending money in the White parts of town. It's a touchy issue for sure and one that may not be decided solely on what is needed.

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The BRT option was selected multiple years ago. However, the engineering studies proved that BRT would be slower than the current regular bus routes. Yes, that's right, slower than the current busses that use that corridor. The streetcar would have been the preferred option, but the ridership on Wilkinson was too low to get any federal funds. Therefore, MTC members, who haven't yet voted, gave the informal assessment that the Wilkinson corridor should receive no more funds for study. If they do keep it, it would just be for enhancements to the existing bus routes, perhaps some express busses.

The core problem, as I said before, is that there just aren't many people living along the corridor, so it serves very few people. My proposal would tie in the airport as a bonus on top of the critical mass that would be going to the office parks, the commercial centers, and the residential areas of south Charlotte.

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While I support this line, I think taking Tyvola is a far more useful route....it also allows the rail to be double-used for a downtwon to SouthPark streetcar, via Kenilworth, Park and Fairview.

I do think however that this line is a relatively low priority, and that a direct Airport-Downtown route should be established first, preferabily with a high-speed alternative.

This route makes more sense for serving business/employees than airport travelers. At 12 miles of streetcar, it will take about 35-40 mintues to go from the airport to SP. If someone was to connect to the LRT line to go downtown, it would liekly be well over an hour of travel time. It's just not efficient enough, or reliable enough to serve a business traveler.

All that said, the route has lots of long-term merit, and would complement a city wide system of cross-town steetcars.

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In addition, I don't think BRT would bring in new riders, it would only be supported by those already riding the bus. People are extremely close-minded about riding the bus. Streetcars, trains, and lightrail have a much cleaner feeling to them. Also, except when they cross a street, they have no negative effects on traffic. BRT's have designated lanes, but at the same time do interfere with traffic anyway.

Dubone, this is an excellent proposition and I hope the right people take note of it. I'd at least like to see this taken to public vote if anything. Even if they won't use it, I think a lot of people in Charlotte believe a link to SouthPark is critical (even though it probably isn't.) Many of my friends said they'd ride LRT if it went to Southpark once the line is extended to the university so that they wouldn't contend with the consistent traffic jams. Upon hearing it doesn't go there currently, they say they'd had no other reason to ride into south charlotte. I have to agree.

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I chose Woodlawn rather than Tyvola, as it would serve Park Rd Shopping Center/Park Towne/Montford/Pfeiffer, Selwyn Village, and the Myer's Park K-12 campus, which are major centers of activity. A Tyvola route would go through much high speed traffic, would be longer, and the only other employment center it would serve would be the poop factory.

As for higher speed to the airport from downtown, that isn't on the table. Ridership is low, cost is high, and there is so little traffic that the current busses are pretty much as fast as needed.

Also, from the airport to Woodlawn LRT station is only 6 miles, most of which on roads that very lightly traveled (Airport Dr. and Yorkmount Rd) as they are basically service roads to the high speed Billy Graham Parkway. I believe a Streetcar would be able to navigate those 6 miles in 15 minutes (24 mph average), and LRT from Woodlawn to downtown taking about 10 to 15 minutes.

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As for higher speed to the airport from downtown, that isn't on the table. Ridership is low, cost is high, and there is so little traffic that the current busses are pretty much as fast as needed.

There's always monorail! :lol:

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:). Thank you Craig Maddans. That would only be, what, $25m/rider?

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This is the alignment and technology (BRT) that CATS has recommended to the MTC. The MTC will decide on the 23rd (among other things) if it will use this technology and alignment or go with the alternative street car plan. "No build" is not one of the considerations as far as I know meaning the West Transit Corridor is not dead.

This pretty much has been the plan for the West Corridor since it was proposed in 2002. Alternatives such as as a streetcar were researched, but as CATS is discovering, street car technology is prohibitively expensive, and that money does give you much bang for the buck over regular buses. The big problem with street car technology is that it does not travel in its own right of way and this is why you don't see many of them being built in the USA.

On this map, notice the BRT, like the South LRT travels partially in mixed traffic. BRT can approach speeds and capacities of LRT but like the SE Line, the expense of LRT might put off construction for decades. If they go with BRT they can have a system much sooner.

WestBRTalignment.jpg

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Again, I think this only works well with a network of streecars.....in this case, their is a connection betwen the "Tyvola Line" and PRSS with a "Park Rd. Line".....I doubt that there is much direct relation between the airport and PRSS.

Remember too that the coliseum site is getting redeveloped and that Childress Klein owns lots of office land fronting Tyvola. As far as the high-speed factor, I would argue that a plus in this case, given the length of time the trip would take.

.....

All of this aside, what this city needs to do is to identify a 100 year transit/development plan, and begin to look at land use policies and infrastructure improvements that will reach that goal. It's short-sighted to look at 5 corridors and 2025 as the end-goal for transit in Charlotte, because what is happening is many other routes that could be transit supportive (Randolph, Park, Sharon/Sharon Amity, East/West, Tyvola, Woodlawn, Monroe, N. Graham, etc. are being developed with non-transit supportive land-uses and infrastructure.

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Based on the cost, I doubt there will be any street car lines built in Charlotte. This city just isn't designed for it. CATS has already canceled plans for two of them after doing the due dilligence, and its very doubful the other one will be built because the cost benefit over using buses is just not there. The Feds will deduct the current ridership of the buses on that line when doing their cost effectiveness study, and the projected additional ridership isn't worth $250M (in 2006 money)

I do agree however the region needs to look at transit as something more than as a mechanism to deliver people to downtown Charlotte. Dubone's route is a good start, and I think there need to be other routes. Lake Norman to University, Eastland Mall to South Park, South Park to Carolina Place, Lake Norman to Concord are a few examples. Though it will be well after 2025 before anything like this is considered.

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What an amazing idea! I really hope that someone who can push this idea forward hears about it.

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Metro, you might be right that they are still considering to do BRT, although I'm shocked that is CATS's official recommendation still. All the engineers said the following about BRT during the West corridor public meetings: it is very expensive as NCDOT will not allow them to take over an existing travel lane, requiring them to buy up right of way, but then run the BRT down the median. They said the studies show that ridership would not be high because of the lack of riders in the area. They said that they way they would have to engineer the BRT lanes in the median, the BRT would be slower than the current bus that runs the route, because they wouldn't be able to shut down the left turns, leading to very complicated traffic signal phasing.

So I have been interpretting for a long time from the CATS engineers that any choice to do BRT would be a colossal waste of money, so they were focusing their efforts on the streetcar. However, in the MTC presentation this past month, even that had such low ridership so as to render federal funds unavailable.

That is a steep contrast from the Beatties Ford - Central streetcar, which analysis showed to have a Medium High Cost-Benefit ratio and be a solid contender for federal Small Starts funding.

I had no idea my proposal would get more sour responses as strong, but I guess I was just so excited about it, I didn't think of as many flaws. But I may email them the proposal anyway, just in case it clicks with any of the people who have done the analyses.

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It was really just me that was sour....and I'm always a pessimist....oh yeah, and MC, which is odd, because he is a SouthPark Mallrat.

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dubone, i really think you should submit this, it's a great idea. I also think the lines that metro mentioned would benefit the community as a whole and would be viable. Hopefully this can all be done before I turn 50.

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I had no idea my proposal would get more sour responses as strong, but I guess I was just so excited about it, I didn't think of as many flaws. But I may email them the proposal anyway, just in case it clicks with any of the people who have done the analyses.

I think your proposal has a lot of merit. However, I don't think they can afford to it do by building rail transit anytime soon.

I also think that long term that Charlotte is going to have to adopt the idea of transit "nodes" in addition to the transit corridor approach they have now. This would mean they develop other parts of the city as a main transit hub with very dense highrise development and change the zoning to allow for it. I could see SouthPark being developed as one of these nodes and several transit lines converging there would support highrise development in the area. Possibly University City could be another node with lines running from there to downtown to Lake Norman and to Concord. There might be other places this could happen. The biggest obstacle that I can see to this however is the mindset that everything must be in the center city.

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I also think that long term that Charlotte is going to have to adopt the idea of transit "nodes" in addition to the transit corridor approach they have now. This would mean they develop other parts of the city as a main transit hub with very dense highrise development and change the zoning to allow for it. I could see SouthPark being developed as one of these nodes and several transit lines converging there would support highrise development in the area. Possibly University City could be another node with lines running from there to downtown to Lake Norman and to Concord. There might be other places this could happen. The biggest obstacle that I can see to this however is the mindset that everything must be in the center city.

Nodes would work really well in this city as the shape of our corridors makes it a little harder to develop five seperate lines. Southpark would be a little more difficult to develop has there is room, but not a lot of it. UC shouldn't have an issue finding places to fit the hub as it is so spread out. Maybe if UC became a node it would cause the city to pay more attention to the many infrastructure needs there.

I hope there are CATS and MTA representatives on UP that read these threads. I feel their idea of building transit corridors and consolidating growth there is important, but they leave out many existing neighborhoods and towns. Having nodes would fix this issue. But I guess they have to lay the foundation before the branches can be proposed. I see the blue line becoming the main line of Charlotte transit with offshoots going to different areas.

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It was really just me that was sour....and I'm always a pessimist....oh yeah, and MC, which is odd, because he is a SouthPark Mallrat.
:shok: I see that in only a month's time, Boston is beginning to put its mark on atlrvr. Such cutting remarks are soooo un-Southern.

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