dubone

Charlotte Gateway Station and Railroad Improvements

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If I recall correctly, Greyhound has to build a new depot before Gateway Station can start. Does the budget and/or schedule for this project include funds/timeframe for relocating Greyhound?

If not, has Greyhound committed funds towards its eventual relocation?

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I thought I remember hearing something recently that they greyhound station/parking deck project was going to begin soon (by the end of this year?). I don't remember the source....but yes, that has to happen first, before the actual rail station can begin.

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NCDOT was going to throw some Obama stimulus money at the Greyhound station to get it kickstarted....but lease negotiations with Greyhound took too long and the deadline for the Stimulus money came and went. Instead the money went to buy a bunch of new buses for Greyhound to use on NC routes. So right now it is not funded but like atlvr said I would not be surprised if they fund it later this year in FY2011.

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NCDOT was going to throw some Obama stimulus money at the Greyhound station to get it kickstarted....but lease negotiations with Greyhound took too long and the deadline for the Stimulus money came and went. Instead the money went to buy a bunch of new buses for Greyhound to use on NC routes. So right now it is not funded but like atlvr said I would not be surprised if they fund it later this year in FY2011.

I saw previously that NCDOT hadn't yet completed the Greyhound leasing deal which really annoys me. That the state lost an opportunity in this round of stimulus funds for the station because of it adds a layer of anger.

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I, too, am annoyed by this. What seems the simplest of all in this vast amount of red tape and construction will apparently be the last to get taken care of. What part of the crappy N Tryon station does the state not understand? How could it legitimately allow stimulus money to fall by the wayside in this? Wonder what would have happened if this scenario had played out in Wake County?

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I saw somewhere in the HSR documents that station improvements up the line have resulted in a 17% increase in ridership from those stations. I can only imagine that a newer, safer, more accessible landmark station would substantially increase ridership for Charlotte.

(Not having the Crescent pass through and ungodly hours of the morning would help, too, but I guess we can't have everything)

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I fear this project lacking "shovel-ready" status not only doomed it in the first round of stimulus funding (ARRA), but even the recent high-speed rail grants (also ARRA). The recently announced $550 million should be able to at least partly pay for a new station.

Otherwise, what good is it to speed up train service to a failing train station?

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I fear this project lacking "shovel-ready" status not only doomed it in the first round of stimulus funding (ARRA), but even the recent high-speed rail grants (also ARRA). The recently announced $550 million should be able to at least partly pay for a new station.

Otherwise, what good is it to speed up train service to a failing train station?

Exactly zero of the $545 million is going towards actual construction of Charlotte Gateway Station (CGS). However, a large chunk (well over $100 million) is going towards improvements that are prerequisites of CGS. CGS is a complicated facility with a lot of expensive and interdependent components. All of the below must happen before any construction can begin on the station itself:

  1. The NS and CSX tracks must be grade separated near ADM Mill, by putting the CSX in a 3/4 mile long trench. This will cost over $100 million, and will be fully funded by the stimulus. CSX will refuse to allow any more passenger trains to cross its tracks until the grade separation is built there.
  2. A yard must be built to service trains near Gateway station. This will be funded by the stimulus, but it will have to be enlarged in the future as frequencies increase.
  3. A new wye must be built south of CGS so that trains can be turned without a 3-mile backing move that fouls the NS mainline for 15 minutes or more. This is planned to be funded and built by NS, but I have no idea when
  4. A third track must be built on the NS mainline south of CGS. This will allow out-of-service trains to move between the station, the yard, and the wye without fouling the mainline.
  5. All the railroad bridges (4th, Trade, 5th, and 6th) must be rebuilt and widened to accommodate more tracks. The 2nd (MLK) street underpass will probably be built at the same time.
  6. A new facility for Greyhound must be built, and Greyhound must vacate its current location, sell its land to DOT, and move its operations to the new facility. Greyhound is a willing participant in this transaction, but they are in no hurry and want to be sure that they get as good of a deal for themselves out of this as possible.

To me, it seems a bit hasty to say "What's the point in improving the tracks between Charlotte and Raleigh if we can't have our shiny new station, too." Clearly this is a needed project, and it will be built, but it is also very big project and it will take a long time to get all the ducks in a row to make it happen. Holding up shovel-ready track improvements because the station is going to take a while to get finished, is unnecessary.

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^Agreed, go ahead and do the track work that is shovel-ready. But hopefully, people are working concurrently to move the immediate station design and site needs closer to being shovel-ready in the very near-future. In other words, "shovel-ready" can only be the excuse so many times, before it really becomes a horribly missed opportunity.

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It doesn't appear that we lost money, in fact quite the opposite. NC seemed to be rewarded quite a lot in the stimulus for being so well organized. NCDOT prioritized which projects needed to happen before others, and basically the FRA awarded us enough money to build up all the projects to double the frequency. As Orulz said, that funds some pretty significant prerequisites for the CGS.

The station itself is just one somewhat MINOR cost in all the work that must really be done to make it happen. The grade separation at the ADM Mill is $128.5m and was funded. Phase I and the land purchase for Phase II of the Charlotte Maintenance Facility just south of the BofA Stadium is $23.5m and was funded. ($295m of the money goes to upgrading the rails between Charlotte and Raleigh).

The set of projects that are required for the Gateway Station that were not funded in the stimulus. But are now likely to be funded in newly expanded annual budget in FY11 or subsequent years are:

- The wye connector near Wilkinson is $27.9m but is listed as something funded by NS, so could still happen soon

- Phase II of the Charlotte Maintenance Facility is $9.7m

- Widened bridges at Morehead, 4th, Trade, 5th and 6th is $55.9m

- The actual Gateway Station itself $40.2m

So $179.9m of the $285.7m total needed to do all the Gateway Station-related improvements are funded. So $105m more is needed. Seems reasonable to expect that money the normal way in the next few years. But the real plus is that they'll be spending $300m in stimulus money alone to upgrade the rails between Charlotte and Raleigh, and getting more trains. So while we're stuck with the terrible station still, at least we are much farther along and the actual transportation end of things is much better with higher frequency and higher speeds.

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I guess it's not glamorous... But I am realizing that we could have the most modern and beautiful Amtrak station on the planet, and if the service sucks, I would never have an excuse (or want) to use the station...

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I agree. The most important is increasing the frequency, speed, and reliability. It just so happens that NC didn't get 1B or the 4B to build all the way to DC. What we got was 1/2B so they funded the projects that were prioritized at that level of funding. Luckily, that level of funding in one year funds a majority of what is needed to build the Gateway Station.

To me, it is a huge sign of improvement that they opted to fund NC's line at the level they did. It shows a commitment that they will likely continue to fund it in the higher annual budget over the next 5 years.

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To me, it seems a bit hasty to say "What's the point in improving the tracks between Charlotte and Raleigh if we can't have our shiny new station, too."

But we like shiny new things! camera.gif

Seriously though Thank you orulz and dubone for breaking the funds/project down so cleary as it gives a better understanding of the funds usage and an idea of what to expect/hope in the station timeline.

Edited by Urbanity

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I'd quickly accept a large amount of value-engineering to the station, if it meant moving and operating it sooner. You could cut back on a lot of the shiny things without losing the more functional location and its shared use by commuter rail.

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Why do we have to value engineer it? We don't need that much more money for it. It seems very reasonable to expect that we'll get the rest of the funding in the next few years.

Seriously, we do have a station. It sucks, but it at least meets the needs while we work to coordinate all the efforts to build the new one. I've been following this for most of the time I've lived here and all along they expected to start getting funding for it around now, and they have funding now in place for a significant number of prerequisite track work. You can't really value engineer the most expensive part of the remainder of the funding we are waiting for, which is widening the bridges thru downtown. There is not enough track room to have the station there yet, even if they setup a party tent, the trains can't stop here yet.

Plus, the station is a coordinated effort between CATS, Greyhound, and Amtrak. It is really dumb that they have not been able to get Greyhound into their new location already, but really, now that so much stimulus funding has come through, NCDOT will surely work to expedite that part of things because it is more imminent than ever that the rest of the funding will come through.

This is not a 2050 thing we're talking about.

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It is unclear when any unfunded project is going to be finished. But here is what we know:

- It is in the next highest level of prioritized rail projects by the state, so any new money from the federal government will go towards that set of projects that will include the funding of Gateway station. FY11 has 1B and FY12 has 2.5B, some of which is likely to be allocated to NC.

- They have allocated $130m of stimulus money to a project between the current Charlotte Station and the future Gateway Station, which clearly has no bearing on the current Charlotte to Raleigh rail service. That is a significant sign of commitment to building the new station downtown.

I will bet you a cake :fun: that it will be funded in the next 5 years. I'll even go for the bet of a beer that it will be funded in the next 2 years. :alc:

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It is unclear when any unfunded project is going to be finished. But here is what we know:

- It is in the next highest level of prioritized rail projects by the state, so any new money from the federal government will go towards that set of projects that will include the funding of Gateway station. FY11 has 1B and FY12 has 2.5B, some of which is likely to be allocated to NC.

- They have allocated $130m of stimulus money to a project between the current Charlotte Station and the future Gateway Station, which clearly has no bearing on the current Charlotte to Raleigh rail service. That is a significant sign of commitment to building the new station downtown.

I will bet you a cake :fun: that it will be funded in the next 5 years. I'll even go for the bet of a beer that it will be funded in the next 2 years. :alc:

I'll take the bet if you change "funded" to "construction". Give me a date of steel and concrete and you're on.

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New member, long time Charlotte rail transit watcher here.

I agree with dubone.

The funding of the ADM/CSX crossing separation is in my opinion the biggest sign that charlotte rail transit (local and interstate) is being taken seriously by the fed.

It's particularly interesting seeing that a few years ago when CATS and NCDOT were working with the fed DOT the fed said they thought the grade separation was too expensive and a bad idea and told CATS/NCDOT to go back to the drawing board. Now there may have been some design improvements since then, but at the time the fed was wholesale rejecting the idea.

I'm glad they came around.

This should also be a great help to getting the North Corridor commuter rail project.

Todd

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So what's wrong with kicking greyhound out via eminent domain? I know of several businesses that were forced to relocate from this area per eminant domain. How much vested interest does the government have in greyhound? Don't they help subsidize?

Edited by dubone
Edited to fix all caps. Welcome to UP, but sheesh.

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I'm sure they could legally kick them out if they wanted to. The issue is that they provide a public service that is consistent with the goals, and are a partner in the new station. I'm sure it is just a matter of coordinating. No one really could have predicted that such a huge stimulus would be made available for this type of project, so I am sure it couldn't respond quickly enough.

That said, hopefully now they see the momentum and start turning the ship now to get Greyhound building their new facility soon. I hope atlrvr is right that it was already roughly planned for the end of 2010, as that should be about right.

And Mies, i'll go with that bet, even though I don't actually think construction will start, but why not. We'll do a 2012 beer and a 2015 cake bake lol. No promises about the flatness of either though.

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I don't think Greyhound is purposefully holding back so much as they wanted some guarantees about timelines from the State before the sale which probably wasn't possible until recently.

Edited by Urbanity

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I am of the mind set that if we're going to build a center city train station, lets do it right the first time. Don't build a piece of crap that is going to look bad in 20 years. Build something that will last. I have come to appreciate the 20's era mentality of building public buildings and monuments for people to be proud of. As an aside, I find it interesting that we, as a nation, don't build monuments in our cities anymore (outside of war memorials in DC).

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