dubone

Charlotte Gateway Station and Railroad Improvements

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I would not give much credit to anything with "2050 SEHSR" on it. Anything that far out can be as crazy as they want it to be because it's unverifiable. Those options are normaly included in the report as filler or so show that they were thinking "out side the box". In my firm we call them "Space Shuttle" options because they are normaly as complex or expensive as ..... well you get the point.

Plus the idea of realigning the entire coridor, and bypassing all those population centers just to shave off some time is not very econimical to say the least.

I think the only new service we will see in NC is CHA to Ashevill or maybe something out to willmington.

Todd

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Something hastily added should have still been the obvious choice of extending from Charlotte to Columbia. Sadly, things that are ridiculous on a map still get built. Look at the bizarre routing of I-74 in SE NC being built through the swamps to end up in the same general vicinity as I-73 in SC.

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^I think the planning of the Interstate system is a good analogy. And again, we see too much state influence on the routing of a national system.

Routing I-74 through Charlotte would ideally make much more sense than Greensboro, which would still have I-73. But you have a state thinking about serving its own desire-lines first before thinking of their connectivity to neighboring states and the broader national system.

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I would not give much credit to anything with "2050 SEHSR" on it. Anything that far out can be as crazy as they want it to be because it's unverifiable. Those options are normaly included in the report as filler or so show that they were thinking "out side the box". In my firm we call them "Space Shuttle" options because they are normaly as complex or expensive as ..... well you get the point.

Plus the idea of realigning the entire coridor, and bypassing all those population centers just to shave off some time is not very econimical to say the least.

I think the only new service we will see in NC is CHA to Ashevill or maybe something out to willmington.

Todd

Maybe, but you never know what the future holds, particularly 40 years out. If you asked most transportation experts in 2008 whether 2 years hence, the federal government would fund HSR to the tune of $10.5B ($8B now + $2.5B later this year), most would have said no way. We know petroleum is limited and energy demands are increasing factor than we can keep up. We know that highways are congested, airports are overburdened and security continues to be a major threat. We can see the success that Spain has had in developing their HSR program over just the past 20 years, particularly in corridors of under 500 miles. The demand for this option is not going away, so eventually, the timing will be right for the country to invest more heavily in HSR.

If the national HSR program is funded at close to $50B in the next transportation bill as has been proposed in the US House, it's not a stretch to suggest that given the $545M initial federal commitment, SESHR could be a reality before the end of the decade. So, if you imagine the possibility of trains from Charlotte to DC by say 2020, it's not a stretch to believe that after 30 years of building up the market, we might need to at least consider what alternatives exist and should be preserved for future expansion.

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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?

That trip today only takes 3 hours by car, so IMO it makes sense to use standard rail. If the South Carolina DOT moves forward with passenger rail, a Charlotte- Columbia- Charleston route would be the most logical if they can get travel times at or below 3 hours.

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's no rule that says you can't build a train through a National Forest. In fact, they were specifically set up to manage the logging and commercial/recreational uses of the land.

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There's a mention of the station in an article in the Mecklenburg Times in relation to the SEHSR

And the third — long in the planning stages — is a project to relocate Charlotte’s railroad station to the city center and link it with other local transportation.

“We’re reapplying this summer for money to start construction … in about four years,” Paul said.

http://mecktimes.wor...-speed-service/

The whole article is worth a read btw.

Edited by Urbanity

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Small update in the NewsObserver about NC HSR grant application which includes CLT projects such as Gateway Station.

Charlotte: Gateway Station construction - $38 million.

Charlotte: Gateway Station track improvements including new bridges and modification to existing bridges at 4th, 5th, 6th and Trade streets and Morehead Avenue - $53 million.

Charlotte: Northend grade to separate 36th St. - $30 million.

Charlotte: Northend Sugar Creek Road grade separation and Craighead Road closure - $42 million.

Charlotte: Southend improvements, Wye at Charlotte Junction and Norfolk Southern mainline improvements, including third mainline - $27 million.

Read more: http://www.newsobser...l#ixzz0vivWkNWP

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That is great to see that we are pushing forward to apply for the next phase of HSR related projects. With the dramatic increase in annual budget to go along with the stimulus money, I think that many of these have a good chance of getting funded.

Obviously this set of projects is going to be much 'sexier' than the relatively unseen infrastructure the stimulus funded.

This next set includes projects that are prerequisite projects for other projects. The BLE can't really make it without the 36th Street and Sugar Creek crossings being funded. The Red line theoretically could happen, but not as well without the Gateway Station and the bridge widening north of the station.

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It's already been but thought it was worth stating here that NC received 23.2m in the HSR-II grants with the majority of that going towards Gateway.

yahoo.gif

Edited by Urbanity

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It seems this $25m will just fund a few CRISP items near the station. Pretty much this money will not get us that close to having a station uptown. And last Tuesday, things may have gotten bleaker. The only way that could change is now Republican governors in places like Ohio and Florida are canceling their HSR lines. That could open up the budgeted funds to other places that would accept it.

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Did you figure out which projects specifically will be built? Is it the project that will add a wye at Charlotte Junction and construct a third main track from there to the new Graham Street yard? Is it he ACWR relocation in NoDa? Or is it something else?

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From the DOT (pdf document):

Charlotte – Raleigh: rough FY 2010 awards, a $22 million grant will help eliminate grade crossings and relocate Charlotte’s rail station to the city’s central business district. These improvements will reduce congestion, increase transit connectivity, and enhance safety in Charlotte. These investments build on prior Recovery Act awards that are purchasing and rehabilitating locomotives and cars, upgrading tracks, and improving station facilities. These projects will increase top speeds to 90 miles per hour and add two additional daily round trips between North Carolina’s two largest cities, serving three million people.

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Read above. The grant, unless expanded if they redistribute Wisconsin/Ohio grants to NC, will not really accomplish what is listed in bold. It will just do one miscellaneous project in Charlotte. We just haven't pegged which one.

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http://www.fra.dot.gov/Pages/press-releases/231.shtml

Nope. NC only got 1.6m from the redistributed Ohio and Wisconsin money. I'm pretty sure what they're trying to do is try to get CA and FL up and running so they have a showcase. But it still is very disappointing that after all the money those states already got that this money too went mostly to them.

If our follow-up budgets to the 500m in stimulus we got are going to only be onesie twosies, this thing is not going to ever be high speed rail.

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^That's a shame. I was hoping the HSR funding turned down by WI and OH would be enough to give NCDOT a bit more to build Gateway. In addition, I was also hoping the Urban Circulator grant recently rejected by Fort Worth (yep, they just nixed their project) could maybe fund streetcar to Gateway. But I suppose that Fort Worth's $25 million is more likely to go now to DC or another city.

Edited by southslider

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Ray LaHood is liar!

Seriously! I hate to sound a little immature, but what's up with Maine and VERMONT getting more than NC! Our population is pushing 10 million now. I was so excited watching Mr. LaHood speak a while back. What a bummer.

Edited by abttown

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Ray LaHood is liar!

LaHood praised North Carolina leaders for their work on high-speed rail, telling an audience of regional leaders that because of the efforts, "you all are going to be in the high-speed rail business."

[url=http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/11/18/809948/state-could-get-a-rail-windfall.html#storylink=misearch#ixzz17fZEv2QX]

Between LaHood's tease and the ridiculousness of the Florida project (which the feds are now paying 100% of) I lost a substantial amount of confidence in the ability of the FRA to develop any kind of sensible inter-city rail network.

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I thought the same thing. He should have played it straighter, like explained or stressed why they were focusing on the CA and FL lines. It's bull to dedicate so little when NC has invested so much momentum behind our line.

VT and ME... no comment.

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Right now Patrick Simmons is wishing that, rather than taking what he thought was a measured, realistic approach, that he had instead "shot the moon" like California and Florida by planning for a 180mph railroad. Thanks to the ambition of those states, they're now swimming in HSR cash.

The irony is that with the planned realignments and grade separations, the line between Raleigh and Richmond is planned as a 180mph railroad, but it's being marketed as a 110mph railroad because so far they have just been studying the initial phase of operation, which will be operated with 110mph diesel trains and shared with fast freights. If NCDOT could have predicted that having a "true" HSR plan would have earned such favored treatment from the feds, they would have added in the catenary years ago and planned to buy the line outright from CSX for dedicated passenger use.

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Not really news but its been quiet here lately....

NC DOT has posted the slides from their Gateway Station / CRISP project presentation on November 15. They can be found here

Not a ton of new information, some site plans for the station and yard are interesting. There was also a crude track schematic (slide 11) which shows: Intercity rail (DC, Atlanta etc.), CATS North commuter line (to 'Davidson'), Commuter rail to Monroe and intercity to Wilmington (on the CSX), Commuter rail to Rock Hill (on the NS tracks) and Commuter rail to Gastonia (on the P&N). No mention of commuter rail to Salisbury on the NCRR.

While I suspect this is just a sketch that no one put much thought into its good to know that they are thinking about a variety of commuter service into the station. I was very surprised to see the proposed Wilmington route (via Rockingham and Lumberton), I would think that Asheville service via the commuter refurbished O-line to Barber junction would be more likely (but still a virtual impossibility). I am pleasantly surprised that it will be possible to access Gateway station from the CSX tracks after the trenching is complete.

I really would like to see NCDOT begin to plan for CLT-Columbia HSR service in the distant future (instead of the idiotic path from Raleigh to Columbia that currently appears on the long range plan maps). Plans like this one are where that change can begin to be made. The Columbia connection would make Charlotte a hib (of sorts) for SEHSR, this could become a huge economic advantage in the distant future -- folks like the Chamber need to get on this before any inertia / expectation builds for the Sandhills routing.

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I want to see more renderings for the Gateway Station. It looks like (in page 27) the actual entrance to the station direct from the sidewalk built into the bridge structure. That's pretty good stuff! I would have hated to think about 6+ tracks and the width of the bridge that would have to exist.

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Why is it taking so long to even do the design work for the station, much less actually build it?

In my view, the #1 goal needs to be a new station uptown asap, as the current Amtrak station is not working out. In the near term, the only lines that will serve it will be 10-12 Amtrak trains per day plus commuter trains to around Lake Norman. That takes 2 tracks and a basic building. We don't need a new Grand Central Terminal or even a new 6- or 8-track station for now; it should be 2 or 3 tracks with room to expand.

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