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Charlotte Gateway Station and Railroad Improvements


dubone

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because we're way more awesome than those cities. :)

...but Charlotte has way less rail ridership and way less need to spend a lot of money building a massive new station. I'm as pro-rail and pro-transit as anyone, but I'm also against waste. Just build what it takes to have a station uptown, serving the ridership that is anticipated over the next 20 years or so, and leave room for expansion.

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But we're not talking about the difference between a grand train platform and a utilitarian train platform. We're talking about a mixed use hub that would bring together multiple transit institutions in an accessible location, offices, retail, etc and adding to a vibrant urban streetlife. 

 

We've waited too long for just a train platform. 

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That is basically what my large post proposed last week.  Relocate to a more scalable location not owned by the freight company but easily accessible with the current railroads at Parkwood at 16th then start a scalable station master plan.  Look at the airport, you don't build the whole thing on day 1, you have a standard system that you can scale into over many decades as the traffic warrants.   Put the bones in.   There is ample room at the old Intermodal Yard on Parkwood to have enough space for track connections in the next century, and initially you could even just do a platform with an enclosing structure, which eventually would be a large ticketing and transfer hall.   

 

 

I sadly agree that the demand for a full scale train station is not really necessary for a while.  But if you build it with scalability and growth over a long period, you end up being ready whenever passenger service makes economic sense in the region.      The Gateway Station is oddly backwards, with very expensive changes needed to get past the ADM and mainline crossing, but then try to build a big passenger station because of the "multimodal" aspects, it is really because of the transit components which don't even high ridership projection, and do not actually arrive INTO the station, but adjacent to it. 

 

It is just a very expensive project that has limited ability to scale and has capacity for passengers that just don't exist.    Easy to see why the "master developer" bolted almost immediately.    

 

Somebody, the City of Charlotte, The State of NC, The Airport Authority ( choose the one that best fits..) needs to make an offer to ADM that they cannot refuse, to relocate their facility to the airport where there is plenty of room with excellent rail connections.  

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I hate to state the obvious, but how can anyone in city government know anything about our grand alternatives unless we get them the ideas?  Have any of these proposals/ideas been brought to folks at NCDOT or CATS?

 

There isn't a process going on to rethink these projects.  They're all zombies from the McCrory-Tober era but the only changes seem to be simply removing projects due to lack of funding, not rethinking the system plans based on our experience and the way the city has changed in the last 15y.

 

The CATS Transit Plan is dead after the current construction projects end, other than the hopefully successful Small Starts for the streetcar.

 

 

I wish there was a way to have a new leader step in and start a process to rethink the system from scratch reassessing how the city really is and not what we thought it may be in the 1990s.    

 

The Blue line succeeded and got built, yet it is not being considered a model for any other corridor to build on our success.  

  • Our passenger rail line shares a rail corridor with it for miles, but we are going to branch off and put the station no where near it?!  Really?
  • We successfully build a light rail line along a freight rail corridor, yet we ignore the freight rail corridors to the west, east, northwest and southeast.
  • We rebuild/widen major thoroughfares to accommodate light rail, yet we ignore that option for serving other corridors or centers
  • We don't have any plans to extend the Blue Line or branch off it like most cities start their transit systems, so very obvious branches like Ballantyne/Carolina Place, SouthPark, or even a way to 
  • Imagining the Blue line in the median of 77 or 85 is absurd, yet they thought it would be a good idea on Independence?
  • Dedicating right of way to transit on North Tryon or South Blvd was worth paying for, but somehow Trade, Beatties Ford, Central and Wilkinson were all too sacred to widen for light rail, so we are stuck with a streetcar plans that could still be stuck in traffic congestion.

 

There is no process and no leadership, and it is hard to throw away what has been a published plan for decades and seemed good at the time, and still seems good, but is completely proven to be a bad design.   

 

I hope it can happen, though.    Gateway station is planned in a place that is extremely short-sighted with a number of fundamental flaws that are getting hard to ignore.  

 

Dub1, you are right that they are all zombies from an earlier era.  As mentioned before, FRA will release rule changes in 2015 that will allow "Hybrid Rail", aka DMU passengers trains running on the same tracks as freight.

 

That puts every existing rail corridor into play and planning for a future after BLE completion is necessary.

 

As you show in your map, all the existing lines converge upon the southern end of the old Intermodal terminal at Charlotte Yard, north of where the BLE crosses over the CSX mainline.  

 

Miesian Corners brings up a good point-- how do we get CATS/NCDOT to wake up and plan for the new rule changes?

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2) The Southwest corridor can go all the way to the Airport.  Thankfully NCDOT has triple-tracked the area in front of CLT so the potential is there for DMU service out to the airport someday

 

 

The Norfolk Southern mainline isn't triple-tracked. All the new track work near the airport is associated with sidings and access to the new intermodal terminal. I believe NS received some federal money, but I don't think NCDOT had anything to do with it.

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I think NCDOT and CATS would be very open to rethinking Gateway, given the physical and fiscal challenges. The tougher ones to convince seem to be Charlotte Center City Partners. Their Uptown vision plan has been more recently "updated," but still hangs onto Gateway.

 

That is a great point, but frankly, even CCCP ought to recognize that they already succeeded at stimulating 3rd Ward.  It is now virtually SOLVED with development stimulation by the park/baseball.   Where in uptown is a big massive horrible mess in desperate need of a development master plan, investment, and injection of CCCP-style vision?   North Tryon.

 

 

We are already putting a major focus on this district as part of the North Tryon business district and the CIP Applied Innovation zone, and we are about to see South-End style development pressure hit NoDa between Parkwood and 30th.  277 will also put some serious infrastructure funds to help this area.    

 

The benefits are easy to list, and frankly, even if NO OTHER TRANSIT EVER GETS BUILT IN CHARLOTTE, you have the optimal combination of being very near to uptown and easy transfers to the Blue Line.   But then looking at the potential, it is endless considering the rail corridors going off in all directions from this area.  

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The Norfolk Southern mainline isn't triple-tracked. All the new track work near the airport is associated with sidings and access to the new intermodal terminal. I believe NS received some federal money, but I don't think NCDOT had anything to do with it.

 

Regardless of how you define it, the ROW in front of CLT was widened thanks to $15.7 million in federal funding and additional financial support from the State.

 

Bridges will be a bottleneck for an eventual West Line the airport.  Hopefully this West Corridor study will get updated one day:

http://www.crtpo.org/PDFs/TransporationProjects/Rail/WestCorridorRailStudy.pdf

Edited by ChessieCat
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Well, the democrats got obliterated last night in NC (and country wide).  Anyone care to weigh in on how long it'll be now before we see funding for Gateway station, or any mass transit for that matter? :shok:

 

I'll go with 2018-19. By then, Republicans will have irritated the population that voted for them (again) and there will be a movement to oust them from their seats. 

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Regarding the proposal for rethinking Gateway, I would expect that the first route would be engage a city councilor (it's in Al Austin's district, but Patsy Kinsey could be a good option, too) or Dumont Clark with Meck County. I think that could be done with a cleaned up graphic and a short narrative of why it would be more successful and feasible. Another option would be to contact someone like Mary Newsome to see what she thinks and might suggest. 

 

* Regarding local gov options, it occurs to me that this proposal would effectively move Gateway out of Al Austin's district. Trevor Fuller might be a better option since he's an at-large chair AND chairs the MTC. 

Edited by tozmervo
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Well, the democrats got obliterated last night in NC (and country wide).  Anyone care to weigh in on how long it'll be now before we see funding for Gateway station, or any mass transit for that matter? :shok:

 

Since Tillis is from Cornelius maybe we will see some Red Line funding magically appear....or maybe not.

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Since Tillis is from Cornelius maybe we will see some Red Line funding magically appear....or maybe not.

 

The Blue Line happened with McRory's support (a Republican mayor).  But as McRory has learned, Raleigh is not Charlotte, and DC is a whole different league.

 

Regarding the proposal for rethinking Gateway, I would expect that the first route would be engage a city councilor (it's in Al Austin's district, but Patsy Kinsey could be a good option, too) or Dumont Clark with Meck County. I think that could be done with a cleaned up graphic and a short narrative of why it would be more successful and feasible. Another option would be to contact someone like Mary Newsome to see what she thinks and might suggest. 

 

* Regarding local gov options, it occurs to me that this proposal would effectively move Gateway out of Al Austin's district. Trevor Fuller might be a better option since he's an at-large chair AND chairs the MTC. 

 

Mary Newsome would be good to approach from a non-pol perspective and get her thoughts.  I like the idea about Fuller too cause he chairs the MTC.

Edited by ChessieCat
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Is there someone within city/county government that has sway similar to Mitch Silver in Raleigh?  I always had the impression that Silver was instrumental in the revision of Raleigh's station into something achievable.  I could be wrong, however.

Silver is no longer in Raleigh as he was poached by New York City to Run their Parks Department

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Well, that could just be a strong arm in a negotiation for freebies.  Not as though Greyhound is a high profit business.

 

 

 

Yeah, I'm going to avoid another footlong post, but I do hope alternative locations start to get considered, and I think there a number of options between Tryon, 12th, 30th, and Brevard/Parkwood that could have a laundry list of benefits once you take out priority to be inside of the 277 loop.    

 

It is just hard because you could convince some person in CATS or the city manager or the mayor or even an NCDOT person, but it is just very hard to imagine them all coming together around some new or innovative or alternative location considering how long they have worked towards the Trade St location.  It's like most things, it just takes on a life of its own once it is on the books (like Garden Parkway), no matter how nonviable it is.  

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Well, the democrats got obliterated last night in NC (and country wide).  Anyone care to weigh in on how long it'll be now before we see funding for Gateway station, or any mass transit for that matter? :shok:

Well, NC has the same GOP-dominated state government as it had before, and Kay Hagan and Obama never got a station built, so I don't see what will change.

Democrats always seem to think that a liberal paradise will appear when a Democrat is in power, and nothing but awful things will happen if a Republican is in office, but the facts show otherwise.

Edited by mallguy
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Well, NC has the same GOP-dominated state government as it had before, and Kay Hagan and Obama never got a station built, so I don't see what will change.

Democrats always seem to think that a liberal paradise will appear when a Democrat is in power, and nothing but awful things will happen if a Republican is in office, but the facts show otherwise.

I read that comment in a light hearted way, not very serious way (especially with the smiley).

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Well, NC has the same GOP-dominated state government as it had before, and Kay Hagan and Obama never got a station built, so I don't see what will change.

Democrats always seem to think that a liberal paradise will appear when a Democrat is in power, and nothing but awful things will happen if a Republican is in office, but the facts show otherwise.

Don't tread on me, mallguy....

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I think NCDOT and CATS would be very open to rethinking Gateway, given the physical and fiscal challenges. The tougher ones to convince seem to be Charlotte Center City Partners. Their Uptown vision plan has been more recently "updated," but still hangs onto Gateway.

 

Wouldn't that require CATS to re-think the whole dual-hub concept?  This sounds like a pretty major departure from the 2030 Transit Plan - which may not be a bad thing to re-visit at this point. If you add gateway station to the the changes with the streetcar, the new challenges with the SE corridor, north corridor, etc. I think a compelling case can be made to re-think things.

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I sure hope they do.   The duel-hub was always a very counter productive idea, that I think simply followed from an assumption that the train station should be at Trade Street.  Since we want our planned uptown train station to be multimodal and we need more bus capacity, let's just put it there.     Two hubs seems like an overly complex operation that will result in far more transfers for passengers.  

 

 

One possibility is that if a secondary bus hub does have some merit, then good, just put it with the train station at 16th/Parkwood/North Tryon.   Maybe it would have other benefits such as being very close to the bus service center at the end of the night.  Instead of being bridged by the streetcar, those two hubs are bridged by the Blue Line, which is either equal or better for that purpose.  

 

 

The better opportunity, though, will be to just rebuild CTC or try to expand it south to the block owned by the railroads, and take advantage of the very real possibility of selling air rights for an Epicentre II.    Any opportunity to make sure it remains economically diverse, the better.      The CTC is a very unpleasant place, just like riding buses in general is.  

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