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Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line


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New station changes will also be shared at the meetings tonight and Thursday. Here's a quick summary of key changes:

.....

"Mallard Creek Church" is now closer to Stone Quarry Rd than N. Tryon

I suspect the exact location of this stop will depend on the UNC-C football stadium decision, as this is the corner of campus where a potential football stadium would be sited.

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Just some before and after photos of the view of uptown and the blue line from 11th street. Definitely a big difference!

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I suspect the exact location of this stop will depend on the UNC-C football stadium decision, as this is the corner of campus where a potential football stadium would be sited.

Its location is where there is several large dorm buildings, where there is strategically an underutilized parking lot, and with access easily to the bus system that runs through the University. This allows easy access for students attending classes, but students that are stationary on campus and want to exit the dorms, as well as easy access to a parking lot and an extension of the bus transit system. The current proposal for the stadium at Mallard Creek Church and Tryon corner will be served by the Mallard Creek Station. It's other proposed location near the track and sports complex will not have an accessible station because of the a greenway, but will have easy access via the bus system and is still easily in walking distance- maybe about a 1/3 of a mile to the station on campus.

Edited by Andyc545
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It will be interesting to see how CATS addresses the issue of cutting back service and declining ridership on LYNX vs the cost and need to build the extension. It got no mention here until now, but ridership fell again in Novermber.

It fell only to 15,551 daily trips!!! That's expected with gas prices so low. That is still significantly over the 9,100 estimate! All of the original planning for the NE Extension was all based on the 9,100 ridership for the South line. The 18,100 estimated for the NE Extension was never changed to be reevaluated based on the significant success of the South line, and how it exceeded all projections for all months thus far. My guess is a 1,000 trip drop from October to November is going to have NO effect on the extension. Looking long term- it's expected that gas prices are going to be working there way back towards our record high last year, certainly after the recession ends and likely by the time the extension is opened.

Edited by Andyc545
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... That's expected with gas prices so low. ....
I don't doubt it. However.....

This kind of argument suggests that CATS is failing to meet it's stated goals of taking cars off the street, reducing pollution, etc. etc. i.e. If gas is cheap people in Charlotte will use their cars instead of transit despite CATS having spent 1/2 billion dollars on Lynx along with multi-million dollar yearly operating costs. Cheap gas is why we have so many cars on the roads now. It gets back to the issue of CATS having no relevant metrics that it is being held to so failure or success can be judged. Aside from that, the number has been trending down for some time.

I know people here will bemoan the fact that I said that, but you guys are not the ones to be convinced. The point is that the people against building light rail in Charlotte will use this as an argument to stop more CATS building dead in its tracks. (no pun intended) The defense of 9100/day is irrelevant as transit funding is not parceled out with this kind of spin. The question that comes to mind was how high was it supposed to be in the 2nd year? Will they still be citing this number 5, 10 years from now?

CATS is going to call for cutting back bus routes and light rail service and I will say this makes it very difficult for them to go forward with a billion dollar+ plan to build the NE extension. It won't be the people here they have to impress, but the people at the state and federal level that is going to bring that into question. I only brought it up here, because if the MTC was really doing it's job, it would be asking these questions as well.

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I suspect the exact location of this stop will depend on the UNC-C football stadium decision, as this is the corner of campus where a potential football stadium would be sited.

the football stadium is going where the intramural fields are behind the research institute that is right off of N. Tryon. It will be a sunken bowl design.

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I don't doubt it. However.....

This kind of argument suggests that CATS is failing to meet it's stated goals of taking cars off the street, reducing pollution, etc. etc. i.e. If gas is cheap people in Charlotte will use their cars instead of transit despite CATS having spent 1/2 billion dollars on Lynx along with multi-million dollar yearly operating costs. Cheap gas is why we have so many cars on the roads now. It gets back to the issue of CATS having no relevant metrics that it is being held to so failure or success can be judged. Aside from that, the number has been trending down for some time.

I know people here will bemoan the fact that I said that, but you guys are not the ones to be convinced. The point is that the people against building light rail in Charlotte will use this as an argument to stop more CATS building dead in its tracks. (no pun intended)

CATS is going to call for cutting back bus routes and light rail service and I will say this makes it very difficult for them to go forward with a billion dollar+ plan to build the NE extension. It won't be the people here they have to impress, but the people at the state and federal level that is going to bring that into question. I only brought it up here, because if the MTC was really doing it's job, it would be asking these questions as well.

by this logic the 5% drop in vehicle miles traveled statewide should make it more difficult to get support for building any new roads. Certainly no need to finish I-485!

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Just thought I'd throw in this article from today's Mooresville newspaper. It talks about how Charlotte is in danger of failing to meet a critical ozone quality benchmark in 2010 and therefore might be sanctioned and lose some federal funding for transportation.

Asphalt and concrete or transit related funding? I'd hope that high Ozone levels would lead to more dollars for transit projects/maintenance, not less, though I could certainly see the argument for less road building.

While it wouldn't be popular, a hefty hike in the gas tax would be perfect right now - it would artificially raise the cost of gas, causing an increase in transit usage, and at the same time create more money for transit. Except for those commuting from SC...

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by this logic the 5% drop in vehicle miles traveled statewide should make it more difficult to get support for building any new roads. Certainly no need to finish I-485!
Indeed it would be the same logic except that both you and I know that roads and trains are not funded by the same standards, rules or methods. This isn't a question on how fair the system is, or on the benefits of light rail, it's a question on the lack of CATS having any kind of plan that is going to prove that it is needed. I will contend they can't cut back service and as a result idle equipment and at the same time show a credible argument for spending a billion dollars to add more equipment to the system.
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I'm sure you've all seen the map of the route, but for those out of the loop, an up to date PDF can be found here. It has all of the correct station names/locations and the preferred route. The alternate route is "dashed."

The point is that the people against building light rail in Charlotte will use this as an argument to stop more CATS building dead in its tracks. (no pun intended)

So is your point only that opponents will use this argument or that you think this argument will succeed in stopping the rail line from being built?

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With the exception of the "kink" to get the train onto UNCC (in order to avoid "wetlands"), that looks like a better station alignment than was originally proposed. They're relatively evenly spaced apart and near major intersections.

Edited by MZT
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I will contend they can't cut back service and as a result idle equipment and at the same time show a credible argument for spending a billion dollars to add more equipment to the system.

So you are saying that CATS should not make any operational cuts and they should pillage the Capitol account to pay for the Operational budget. Therefore CATS would have to delay the opening of the NE LRT to wait for the Capital account to accrue enough money to pay for it.

Doesn't sound like much of a solution to me.

State Operational Money is down 15%...Sales Tax Collections are down almost 10%...and the Fed Operational Money is down too....CATS has to make cuts somewhere...either in the Operational Budget or in the Capital Budget (delaying projects). I don't think the Feds are going to hold it against CATS for making cuts as long as the ridership holds up.

Edited by uptownliving
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Asphalt and concrete or transit related funding? I'd hope that high Ozone levels would lead to more dollars for transit projects/maintenance, not less, though I could certainly see the argument for less road building.

Here's another story about the implications for noncompliance with the ozone standard. All it says is that it could lead to a loss of federal dollars, and doesn't specify where that involves road maintenance or public transportation.

However, perhaps more grave in the short term, the report says it could cause Charlotte to not qualify for federal stimulus money.

Charlotte's not alone however. All the major North Carolian metro areas are likely in trouble with the 2010 standard. However, Charlotte's situation is more precarious because it failed to meet a previous standard before the 2010 standard was implemented.

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^You make an excellent point. What is CATS plan, that can be measured, for reducing ozone in Charlotte? Beyond some nebulous platitudes about transit, there simply isn't one. So without it, then the light rail and the buses ability to do anything about it is irrelevant. If CATS removes transit from the system because gasoline is getting cheaper then they are making it worse, not better.

The real issue of course is that CATS is simply not accountable for the money it wastes. I find it simply amazing they are now cutting back service on the light rail system after such a deal was made on all of it's benefits. People ought to demand better than this instead of making excuses for them. Their lack of a comprehensive plan that actually grows transit use in this county is going to put the future growth of that transit in jeopardy.

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I find it simply amazing they are now cutting back service on the light rail system after such a deal was made on all of it's benefits.

Their lack of a comprehensive plan that actually grows transit use in this county is going to put the future growth of that transit in jeopardy.

CATS has repeatedly said that capacity will not be affected- only the frequency of the trains. The biggest losses to the public, IMO, come from the reduction of bus service.

The burden of growing transit use does not fall entirely on CATS. Planners and developers have to play a role in making sure that the built environment encourages transit use rather than cars.

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The real issue of course is that CATS is simply not accountable for the money it wastes.

So you'd rather they play a shell game with operational and capital funds? Granted, they're cutting back headways on LYNX, but since it allows for more consistent two-car trains, it may not actually reduce capacity by much. And as others have stated, slight reductions in operations helps CATS honor the public promise of expanding the system sooner than later.

Even the liberal Creative Loafing recently (2008, the year that didn't completely... issue) bashed CATS saying a future tax increase is inevitable as evidenced in the Commuter Rail and Streetcar projects each needing added funding. Well, CR may not have federal match, so why not use TIF on station-area development? And a similar funding match is needed for Streetcar, which is more a development tool anyway, especially if accelerating the project ahead of its tentative System Plan dates.

As for reduced operations in general, it's to be expected with drastically lower than expected sales tax receipts. It could be a lot worse. For example, Minneapolis unfortuantely funds its system through the sale of motor vehicle sales.

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So you'd rather they play a shell game with operational and capital funds?
What did I say in my post did I say that leads you to believe that I want any governmental agency to play shell games with money. I am asking for more accountability. Did you even comprehend what I posted?

I find the inability to put into question anything about CATS management of our tax dollars to good use on a site where these things should be discussed as disappointing. I should not have wasted my time on this either.

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http://www.charlotteobserver.com/local/story/470910.html

Apparently in this economic environment, the city is not will to add almost $60m to the cost of the NE extension of the Blue line to reach N Tryon St at Sugar Creek. Therefore, they will stay on the railroad corridor until they pass Eastway and connect to N Tryon at Old Concord.

Although it would be nice to see some of the ugly autocentric retail on that stretch of Tryon redeveloped into pedestrian and transit oriented modern developments, the costs of rerouting the line were just too much and would have had questionable results. The station locations, the actual drivers of an redevelopment activity would not have been much in dramatically different locations. The most pressing redevelopments in the area are NorthPark and Asian Malls because they anchor the neighborhood and have sufficient space for density and mixtures of uses. These two locations are still very close to the ultimate station locations.

I think in the end this will result in slightly faster travel time, still have a similar economic effect on the area, and at a lower cost. It was the right thing to do given tight coffers at every level of government.

Looking at the newsletter, interesting, most of the surveyed at public meetings believed the NCRR alignment served the community better anyway.

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The planning group made a pretty convincing argument for the NRCC alignment. Their planned location of a station over Sugar Creek maintains good access to both sides of the NRCC and better access to Asian Mall than the Sugar Creek Alignment would. Basically the now planned location has all the benefits of the Sugar Creek alignment, but is cheaper, less hidden away, effects fewer businesses, and requires fewer fly-overs.

There was a gentleman there representing the North End development group that expressed concern about access to the 16th Street Station from west of the rail yards. The response is that discussions are/will take place with Norfolk Southern to work out the best strategy possible, including reducing the number of tracks across 16th to make it safer. Evidently the North End group has submitted a thorough proposal to the planning team with their thoughts, etc.

One thing that concerns me are the two University City stations - McCullough and JW Clay - and the flyover bridge planned for the Harris-Tryon intersection that lies between them. Basically, it spells death for the intersections at Ken Hoffman and in front of the hospital. The net effect would to be a seriously eroded ability for pedestrians to cross Tryon unless they go down to one of the two stations (incidentally, the hospital's entrance would be realigned with an extended JW Clay).

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While I was on my train home tonight, they had added another announcement ... Something like "Thank you for riding the LYNX, we hope you enjoyed your trip" both in English and Spanish at every station stop.

I thought it was repetitive and annoying. While I may sound like a curmudgeon, I do think a case can be made that when a recorded announcement at each stop is the same, people begin to mentally tune out, and it loses overall effectiveness.

Just stick to announcing the stops, please. If they really want to run the thank you blurb, just do it at CTC, and 485.

Edited by MZT
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http://www.charmeck.org/NR/rdonlyres/evoxz...TransFall08.pdf

According to the newsletter, they plan an underpass for N Tryon to get on to the University Campus. When I saw it, I was interpreting that they would run below grade like that all the way from south of Harris, because I heard they planned to go under Harris also like that. IF that is true, then I believe they'll retain the smaller intersections like you mentioned. Considering it is just a mile between the two, it makes sense that they would simply stay underground the full time rather than coming up and going back down again. But I am not sure, it might be too expensive for utilities to stay down the full mile.

So far, I have agreed with the decisions being made, but it is more of the same as the South corridor as far the engineers adding expensive bridges (and now ditches) that balloon the costs. But I guess it follows the philosophy of building it right the first time, and they're trying to avoid controversial decisions like the multiple grade crossings around the Scaleybark station.

Lastly, I forgot to mention one of my longstanding reasons for preferring the NCRR alternative. I still believe that keeping the station directly at Sugar Creek Road helps to support TOD in the area around North Davidson between Craighead and Sugar Creek. That area has some attractive old brick light industrial buildings that seem inevitable for reuse, and a decent grid for supporting new dense mixed use projects. I know the city is trying to spur TOD northwest of this station, but I think moving the station to the middle of that zone would be at the expense of having the station serve that area of North Davidson. Meanwhile, the station as it is now decided will serve both sides more equally.

post-670-1232115735_thumb.jpg

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According to the presentation last night, the decision for the train to go down below Tryon to enter UNCC's campus was made because the existing topography makes it more practical at that location.

As for bridging Sugar Creek and 36th, it sounded as though that would have to happen eventually regardless of the LYNX. He cited some pretty significant numbers as far as expected freight and passenger train traffic along the NRCC in the future, and traffic on those roads would be significantly impeded by the number of crossings. I don't know how this might apply to the other crossings.

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Yes, they're bridging over Harris (see my concerns about this up above). They didn't discuss whether they had explored an underground alternative, but I'll bet there are some very substantial utilities running under there that would make it cost prohibitive. It was also pointed out that the intersection is the 3rd busiest in Charlotte, and with the impending interchange upgrades on Independence, it is expected to become the 1st busiest. There are renderings of the bridge in the presentation material that is supposed to be available some time today at the Northeast Corridor website.

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