dubone

Charlotte Gateway Station and Railroad Improvements

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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).

And the arch in Atlantic Station.

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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).

While I don't want something that looks like garbage either, I'm more concerned about the future capacity and function being built into the station than of monumental architecture.

I would love to see Charlotte get a scaled down version of the Berlin Hauptahnhof station which I think fits with a lot of Charlotte architecture. http://newpennstation.org/site/station/models/berlin

BTW I think the WTC Transportation hub is going to be considered a monument.

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I know it is fun to dream, but back to reality. The total number of trains planned per day even with high speed rail can be tallied on your fingers and maybe add your toes if you add in the Red Line to LKN. Yes, the lower Manhattan transit hub a wonderful monument, but $3.2b buys you a lot more than $40m. Lower Manhattan deserves a $3.2B hub for the amount of travel, and Charlotte deserves a $40m one.

It is too bad that we didn't have a nice preserved station or even a historic industrial building like they had in Durham. But while the architecture is a little bland, I thought they were very creative with giving it some of the elements like a grand hall and large plaza, by putting the bus hub underground and by combining it with an office building project. While a 7ksf atrium is no Grand Central Station, it way more than would be otherwise justified here for new construction. Sadly, we don't have a Commodore Vanderbilt equivalent to build ours for us.

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^^^

I'm not sure if this was in response to my post, but I wasn't suggesting that Gateway station build a Grand Central or WTC hub station - that part of my comment was in relation to it being mentioned that no one is building monuments in American cities anymore.

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I know it is fun to dream, but back to reality. The total number of trains planned per day even with high speed rail can be tallied on your fingers and maybe add your toes if you add in the Red Line to LKN.

Actually, the AMTRAK/HSR proposal is four round trips Raleigh/Charlotte, four Raleigh Charlotte-Washington, plus the thru Crescent New Orleans to New York. The Red Line will have 16 rountrips at full build out.

That means CGS would have 24 originating departures and 24 terminating arrivals, plus the Crescent.

Interestingly, the EIS (can't find it right now) from 2006 for SEHSR talked about the HSR trains having a station at the airport in addition to Gateway Station, but I haven't heard anything about that recently,

(corrected)

Edited by staffer

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I'll throw in the head, shoulders, and knees with the toes and fingers then to count the extra 4 daily trips I missed. Still not justification for a Hauptbahnhof sized facility.

I'll also add that the Red Line is just planning to build a normal transit station on the west side of the freight tracks, so those users will not even actually go through the indoor part of the station.

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I'll throw in the head, shoulders, and knees with the toes and fingers then to count the extra 4 daily trips I missed. Still not justification for a Hauptbahnhof sized facility.

Agreed. Which is why I stated in my first post a scaled down version of that station.

To clarify - I was speaking from the visuals of the architecture of what I consider to be an elegantly simple glass/transparent building as shown in the Berlin Station.

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Actually, the AMTRAK/HSR proposal is four round trips Raleigh/Charlotte, four ____ Raleigh Washington _____, plus the thru Crescent New Orleans to New York. The Red Line will have 16 rountrips at full build out.

Did you mean Charlotte-Washington? confused....

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At its essence, we are getting a scaled down version of the Berlin Hpf. It is basically two 5-story towers with a covered attrium, all glass. Ours is somewhat like that, only a much smaller atrium, as we expect many fewer people at ours.

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It really distubs me that Charlotte can't be a HSR hub and Raleigh would be.....maybe not a major hub, but a Charlotte-Columbia-Charleston service would be nice....I'd also add a Charlotte-Hickory-Asheville line through Gastonia instead of Salisbury would be quite nifty.

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I've thought that since they first rolled out the HSR map. Why build a redundant line through Rockingham to Columbia when they can just route the Florida continue the corridor past Charlotte they are already investing in. For one, it means that Charlotte to Florida will require a trip north to Raleigh. Second, they lose out on a lot more shorter trips between Columbia and Charlotte, Columbia and Greensboro and points between. It follows the NE corridor model to do that. Although the scale of the cities is VERY different, it is like building a second line from Philly to Boston bypassing NYC, the biggest of the three cities.

It makes no sense to me. Why not invest all in the single corridor?

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^I always thought the same thing when viewing the long-range HSR map. But given South Carolina's lacking interest in high-speed rail, there's no rush to adjust this. Improving service to Atlanta from Charlotte, and hence all of the Northeast, would seem to be an even higher priority, but poor Atlanta may be waiting a long time, thanks to South Carolina.

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Did anyone read the article in last month's Wired about HSR? The Southeast was completely left out of the piece, but they went on ad nauseum about Orlando to Miami and Sacramento to San Diego. Is the NC/VA project different than those? Is it really not "high speed", but rather "higher speed". I'm just trying to gage what the differences would be between the CA and FL rail projects and ours and why it didn't merit a mention.

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That's right. The current NC plan is only higher speed, and not a full high speed line like you have in Europe. Wired may have decided to omit the ones that are lower than the 100mph. But while we whiz through the state at 90mph, they'll still be at 0mph in FL because the stimulus funded our more upgraded line, but isn't even halfway to funding their new start line.

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It really distubs me that Charlotte can't be a HSR hub and Raleigh would be.....maybe not a major hub, but a Charlotte-Columbia-Charleston service would be nice....I'd also add a Charlotte-Hickory-Asheville line through Gastonia instead of Salisbury would be quite nifty.

I would love to see direct Charlotte to Asheville rail service (and I would use it regularly if it could get me close to downtown). However, I suspect that upgrading the dozens of switchbacks going up the mountain at Old Fort for something akin to HSR will be really really really costly. I wonder if a more feasible choice would be the Spartanburg - Hendersonville - Asheville route up the now abandoned Saluda grade. While less direct than the Hickory route it may not be much slower given the better topography.

Of course there is the matter of money and South Carolina's willingness to participate......

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^I always thought the same thing when viewing the long-range HSR map. But given South Carolina's lacking interest in high-speed rail, there's no rush to adjust this. Improving service to Atlanta from Charlotte, and hence all of the Northeast, would seem to be an even higher priority, but poor Atlanta may be waiting a long time, thanks to South Carolina.

Don't be so sure. South Carolina is further down the line, so its still in the earlier planning stages than the NC portions. SCDOT is also conducting a passenger rail feasibility study in addition to their rail ROW preservation, which indicates to me that there is growing interest rail, HSR included. IMO, a Charlotte to Charleston line would be an immediate success, HSR or not.

Also, I think that this whole HSR thing is going to be like the interstate system. It will take a generation to build it, and over time new lines will make it more robust.

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I agree about taking a generation, and that is ok, but why wouldn't SC themselves try to go for a more usable Columbia to Charlotte routing?

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^I think states have generally had too much influence over routing. Since NC has shown much stronger interest than SC, you have a route maximizing NC destinations, even if it comes at the expense of its largest city, neighboring state, and national routing.

Outside of the Southeast, you see the same problem with states leading the prioritization of HSR investments, despite national network needs. Ohio prioritized a Cleveland-Columbus-Cincy route, even though nationally more people want to cross Ohio to/from Chicago and the Northeast. Illinois prioritized a Chicago-St. Louis route, even though Minneapolis via Milwaukee and Madison would have more riders, but that three-state line serves fewer Illinois cities than a line almost entirely in Illinois to St. Louis.

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I've thought that since they first rolled out the HSR map. Why build a redundant line through Rockingham to Columbia when they can just route the Florida continue the corridor past Charlotte they are already investing in. For one, it means that Charlotte to Florida will require a trip north to Raleigh. Second, they lose out on a lot more shorter trips between Columbia and Charlotte, Columbia and Greensboro and points between. It follows the NE corridor model to do that. Although the scale of the cities is VERY different, it is like building a second line from Philly to Boston bypassing NYC, the biggest of the three cities.

It makes no sense to me. Why not invest all in the single corridor?

I'm speculating here, but perhaps it is due to a combination of the east coast travel markets, speeds that could be achieved on the current SESHR lines and freight RRs competing for track space... perhaps some combination of these. Maybe the biggest practical consideration is that the stretch from Greensboro to Charlotte is the Norfolk Southern RR mainline, and they have only agreed to a max speed of 90mph on that corridor (also including the remaining NCRR line from Greensboro to Raleigh). Also considering future SESHR stops in Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, Spartanburg, Greenville, Atlanta and Macon with 90 speed limits along the way, and you can see that the line to the west may be of more limited value to long distance east coast travel from the NEC to FL. That leaves the line from Boston-NYC-Philly-DC-Richmond-Raleigh to Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville, and points south as the primary north-south east coast corridor to FL, especially if there is any hope for achieving competitiveness with air travel (150mph+ speeds over 500-600 miles)... although one can debate the value of trying to compete with air travel up and down the east coast. Even though the line from Raleigh to Columbia is federally-designated as HSR, I doubt it's anything more than a line on the map at this point.

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The line from Raleigh to Columbia was basically hastily added on to appease South Carolina who felt they were getting very little from the HSR corridors designation. This route was chosen to bring service to Columbia probably because it's the route of the existing passenger train (the Silver Star) that already serves Columbia.

No planning whatsoever has happened for this line as far as I know. It's nothing more than a line on a sheet of paper.

ncrailplan.jpg

If I were to infer from NC's Rail Plan, they have basically zero plans to build a HSR line actually along the Silver Star route. NC's long-term plan calls instead for a 150+mph electric HSR line directly from Raleigh to Charlotte by 2050. Any line to Columbia would probably be an extension of that, branching off at Charlotte.

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^^^ Thank you for posting this. It's the first time that the question of HSR in relation Charlotte as a regional hub for S.C. (As it should be) made sense to me.

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The line from Raleigh to Columbia was basically hastily added on to appease South Carolina who felt they were getting very little from the HSR corridors designation. This route was chosen to bring service to Columbia probably because it's the route of the existing passenger train (the Silver Star) that already serves Columbia.

No planning whatsoever has happened for this line as far as I know. It's nothing more than a line on a sheet of paper.

ncrailplan.jpg

If I were to infer from NC's Rail Plan, they have basically zero plans to build a HSR line actually along the Silver Star route. NC's long-term plan calls instead for a 150+mph electric HSR line directly from Raleigh to Charlotte by 2050. Any line to Columbia would probably be an extension of that, branching off at Charlotte.

This map depicts improvements that are pretty unrealistic. The 2050 SEHR path from Raleigh straight to Charlotte is almost impossible. The reason why there is not a direct connection via road or rail today is because of the Uwharrie National Forest. The elevation change in this area would prevent this type of connection to be made. It makes me wonder who is putting togehter these maps if there is little chance of the project ever occuring.

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This map depicts improvements that are pretty unrealistic. The 2050 SEHR path from Raleigh straight to Charlotte is almost impossible. The reason why there is not a direct connection via road or rail today is because of the Uwharrie National Forest. The elevation change in this area would prevent this type of connection to be made. It makes me wonder who is putting togehter these maps if there is little chance of the project ever occuring.

There is a direct connection via road: NC24. There is also a direct connection via rail: the Aberdeen Carolina & Western, formerly the Norfolk Southern.

The reason there are no freeways and no passenger trains is most likely that this is not where the population is in NC, rather than the technical impossibility of crossing the Uwharrie NF.

I'm not aware of what sort of grades you'll find on the ACWR, but electric passenger trains can handle grades of 3% with ease; some lines overseas have grades in the 4-5% range. Even then it's more a matter of passenger comfort than equipment; rapid changes from steep uphills to steep downhills can cause vertigo.

This was originally looked at during the Alternatives Analysis phase of the Tier 1 EIS for the SEHSR corridor. This identified the RF&P -> SAL -> NCRR corridor (with possible detour to Winston-Salem) as the best alternative, though it recommended preservation of the ACWR route as a possibility for future development. Such a corridor will be essential to enable reasonable travel times between Atlanta and Washington.

IMO the most unrealistic part of this plan is the line to Morehead City. That is because it would involve street running through both New Bern and Morehead City. Street running is not very common for passenger trains. I can think of only two such places in the US off the top of my head: Oakland, CA and Michigan City, IN, and those are both grandfathered in for more than 100 years.

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