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Charlotte Gateway Station and Railroad Improvements

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^^^I strongly disagree! There is no urgency in my mind to move the Amtrak station right now. Keep in mind that I hate the current station and think it's a blight and a horrible statement for Charlotte. Aesthetics and general convenience aside, I don't see the need for the rush.

I'm much more concerned with Gateway being built right with the ability to handle future capacity from the start, I do share your impatience of wanting to see this move forward quickly, just not at the cost of it being done correctly.

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^^^I strongly disagree! There is no urgency in my mind to move the Amtrak station right now. Keep in mind that I hate the current station and think it's a blight and a horrible statement for Charlotte. Aesthetics and general convenience aside, I don't see the need for the rush.

I'm much more concerned with Gateway being built right with the ability to handle future capacity from the start, I do share your impatience of wanting to see this move forward quickly, just not at the cost of it being done correctly.

OK fair enough, I can wait for it to get done "right". But a train station is basically just a building with some tracks and platforms. We (and surely the DOT) know how many trains will be running through in the next decade (and longer), and we have the ability to add a few more tracks for added capacity. The station has been on the drawing board for years- at least since 2005, if not longer. Norfolk Southern (as it and its predecessor railroads) has built passenger stations in the Amtrak era (such as the Greenville, SC one) and could surely build one in just a few years at most, if it were in charge. Why is it taking so long?

I'd have to respectfully disagree that there is no urgency to move it. The current station is in a location that just will not suffice for attracting as many riders as the trains otherwise would. Plenty of my former co-workers (located uptown) who would take business trips between Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham would not even consider the train; either they didn't know about it or would not be caught dead in that part of town. An uptown station would give the trains a lot more visibility and would help erase the stigma of mass transit.

Edited by mallguy

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Charlotte's station is in the next set of priorities for improvements to NC's passenger rail system. It didn't rise above putting 2-tracks and other changes that will allow 4th and 5th trains per day. However, if we will ever get further investments from the feds for our rail system, Gateway Station should be among what is funded.

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^^^I strongly disagree! There is no urgency in my mind to move the Amtrak station right now. Keep in mind that I hate the current station and think it's a blight and a horrible statement for Charlotte. Aesthetics and general convenience aside, I don't see the need for the rush.

I'm much more concerned with Gateway being built right with the ability to handle future capacity from the start, I do share your impatience of wanting to see this move forward quickly, just not at the cost of it being done correctly.

Given the fact the world is now going to be watching the Queen City, do you still think leaving the station where it is is a good idea? This is our chance to shine--the North Tryon station doesn't really offer that possibility.

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I never thought leaving the station where it was as a good idea. I do agree that it would be extremely better to have people who arrive via amtrak come in through a gleaming new station in city center,, but I really don't foresee the ability to build a new station (which is more than just a building) by 2012.

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I never thought leaving the station where it was as a good idea. I do agree that it would be extremely better to have people who arrive via amtrak come in through a gleaming new station in city center,, but I really don't foresee the ability to build a new station (which is more than just a building) by 2012.

That's what I was thinking. Even if they had every dollar they needed for construction today, I don't think it could be finished in less than 18 months. Which is unfortunate.

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It would certainly be possible to build an Amshack and a couple of temporary platforms in 18 months. However, there's much more to bringing trains to Trade Street than just building a station and platforms.

Amtrak won't be able to serve the Gateway Station area until the CSX-NS grade separation, the Graham Street yard, and the wye at Charlotte Junction are done. Particularly the grade separation project is very complicated and will probably take well over a year to build. Furthermore, these projects are funded by ARRA but the money hasn't even been handed to NCDOT by the feds yet.

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I hope the Gateway station plans can easily accommodate a future commuter rail route to Columbia (I assume with stops in Chester and Rock Hill). The article indicates the purpose of the line is to connect the midlands with SEHSR.

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=14156702

I am sure its just talk in the short term, but this does seemly like a likely _future_ route that will need to be accommodated.

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^^^This is an example of what I meant when I talked about building Gateway right versus fast. I would love to see Columbia-Charlotte regular rail link. I'm not so certain as a commuter line as the distance seems a little far, but I think a HSR line from Charlotte to Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston from Charlotte is very desirable.

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I hope the Gateway station plans can easily accommodate a future commuter rail route to Columbia (I assume with stops in Chester and Rock Hill). The article indicates the purpose of the line is to connect the midlands with SEHSR.

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=14156702

I am sure its just talk in the short term, but this does seemly like a likely _future_ route that will need to be accommodated.

It would be impossible to design Gateway Station in a way that didn't accommodate trains to Columbia. The line to Columbia branches off from the NS mainline several miles west of downtown. The only line that would be challenging to accommodate at Gateway would be the CSX line to Mount Holly and Lincolnton. That would have to be done through reactivation of the P&N right-of-way through Wesley Heights.

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It would be impossible to design Gateway Station in a way that didn't accommodate trains to Columbia. The line to Columbia branches off from the NS mainline several miles west of downtown. The only line that would be challenging to accommodate at Gateway would be the CSX line to Mount Holly and Lincolnton. That would have to be done through reactivation of the P&N right-of-way through Wesley Heights.

My concern wasn't as much about routing as it was about the availability of platform and equipment layover space (I should have been more specific).

It sounds like SC wants to time its service to connect with SEHSR departures (thus both trains would likely need to be on a platform simultaneously). Combining this with the North Line Commuter rail to Mt Mourne, possible commuter rail to Gastonia (via the P&N I would think), the (remote) possibility of commuter service along the NCRR to Salisbury/Spencer and the even more remote possibility of commuter service to Monroe and all of the sudden we have a VERY busy rail station which will be tucked into downtown Charlotte right beside the N&S Mainline. Such a location suggests limited opportunities for future expansion so I hope the station is designed such that it can accommodate this level of service.

Edited by kermit

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It would certainly be possible to build an Amshack and a couple of temporary platforms in 18 months. However, there's much more to bringing trains to Trade Street than just building a station and platforms.

Amtrak won't be able to serve the Gateway Station area until the CSX-NS grade separation, the Graham Street yard, and the wye at Charlotte Junction are done. Particularly the grade separation project is very complicated and will probably take well over a year to build. Furthermore, these projects are funded by ARRA but the money hasn't even been handed to NCDOT by the feds yet.

Actually, Amtrak would still be able to serve the Gateway Station without the CSX/NS Grade Separation. My understanding is that design and environmental planning studies are in progress. The grade separation will improve operations at the CSX/NS at-grade crossing and provide for a grade separated crossing of the NS O-line to Mooreville when it is put back at its original location. The mainline improvements from Orr Road to the Charlotte Wye and the most important rail improvements in Charlotte relating to the Gateway Station. That project will add the additional tracks necessary to access the station and maintenance facility.

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Actually, Amtrak would still be able to serve the Gateway Station without the CSX/NS Grade Separation. My understanding is that design and environmental planning studies are in progress. The grade separation will improve operations at the CSX/NS at-grade crossing and provide for a grade separated crossing of the NS O-line to Mooreville when it is put back at its original location. The mainline improvements from Orr Road to the Charlotte Wye and the most important rail improvements in Charlotte relating to the Gateway Station. That project will add the additional tracks necessary to access the station and maintenance facility.

My understanding is that CSX balked at the idea of having more passenger train movements across the diamond, whether they are Amtrak or Commuter trains. Currently, there are two such movements each day (the Crescent) - not a big deal. But if the Carolinian and Piedmont were moved downtown without at least building the new wye at Charlotte Junction and the Graham Street yard first, there would be twelve new passenger train movements each day across the diamond, with six of them being S-L-O-W backing movements. Even with the new wye and yard south of the diamond, there would still be six, which would have a significant impact on CSX's freight trains.

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So what is the timeline for the Gateway Station to be built? I hope that with the DNC 2012 coming, this will expediate the process of infrastructure projects like this.

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So what is the timeline for the Gateway Station to be built? I hope that with the DNC 2012 coming, this will expediate the process of infrastructure projects like this.

1) It requires the CSX / NCRR grade separation to be complete before the station can be used. Money for this has been allocated but not yet delivered to the state (awaiting agreements between NS, NCDOT and the FRA). One article (in the business journal) indicated the project would not be complete until 2017 at the earliest.

2) Money for the station (other than some planning funds) has not yet been allocated or budgeted. As I understand it the gateway station money was the highest priority item in the ARRA grant request by the NCDOT. that did not get funded. However, given the current uncertainty about federal budgets there is no telling when (if) this money will be budgeted.

Add it up and there is _no_ chance the station will be started (let alone completed) by the DNC.

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1) It requires the CSX / NCRR grade separation to be complete before the station can be used. Money for this has been allocated but not yet delivered to the state (awaiting agreements between NS, NCDOT and the FRA). One article (in the business journal) indicated the project would not be complete until 2017 at the earliest.

2) Money for the station (other than some planning funds) has not yet been allocated or budgeted. As I understand it the gateway station money was the highest priority item in the ARRA grant request by the NCDOT. that did not get funded. However, given the current uncertainty about federal budgets there is no telling when (if) this money will be budgeted.

Add it up and there is _no_ chance the station will be started (let alone completed) by the DNC.

Thanks for the info. So in a nutshell this could be like the Trump towers. All fantasy and talk but when it's time to put up or shut up it just doesn't fall through?

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Thanks for the info. So in a nutshell this could be like the Trump towers. All fantasy and talk but when it's time to put up or shut up it just doesn't fall through?

I don't think its like that at all. The Trump project was all bluster at the height of a building boom. This is a necessary infrastructure project that is going to happen, its just a much longer time frame than we'd all like.

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The $2.4 billion of HSR money previously awarded to Florida is being put back up for bid. It is a sure thing that NCDOT will apply for some of that money, and I'd say it's very likely that Gateway Station would be at the top of NCDOT's list. Maybe they will just turn around and resubmit the $290 million application from FY2010.

The applications are due April 4th which also gives NCDOT, USDOT, and Norfolk Southern some time to sort out their differences. If the issue with NS isn't solved by then, though, I doubt if NCDOT will be awarded anything at all.

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I don't think its like that at all. The Trump project was all bluster at the height of a building boom. This is a necessary infrastructure project that is going to happen, its just a much longer time frame than we'd all like.

Well I can tolerate waiting a bit. I just hate when we get these projects, especially infrastrucutre projects that seem to be more talk. I've been trying to read more on SEHSR and it seems so far there have been prelimanary and environmental studies. Is the Gateway Station one of the several things holding it up?

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Unfortunately there is no gateway station money in the HSR III (Florida reallocation) round of federal grants. I can't help but think are new legislature made Ray LaHood nervous that more money would get rejected (the money all went to politically 'safe' states, NC was in this category until the last election). The only funding NC received was $4 million for environmental studies on the Raleigh-Richmond CSX route.

The requests for Gateway station included:

CRISP - Charlotte Gateway Station Track Improvements including new bridges bridges at 4th, 5th, 6th, Trade St. and Morehead Ave and tracks connecting to the Maintenance Facility and loop track.

$146.5 million (I have a hard time seeing any other source of cash for this project given its magnitude)

Charlotte Gateway Station Construction Phase I (Potential PPP)

$38.5 million (while the city / state might be able to find this money in a friendlier political environment I wonder if construction would be pointless in the absence of the track improvements listed above)

The 36th street grade separation (for NCRR, SEHSR and CATS blue line extension) was also unfunded

Given that Gateway station is unlikely to begin moving for several more years I wonder if we should consider a new, temporary inter-city rail station on the NCRR at either Sugar Creek or 36th street which would smoothly interface with the blue line extension. This would have the virtue of providing better connections to downtown than the current station (and would also have better parking!).

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^The existing Am-shack on North Tryon isn't that far from the BLE's Parkwood and 25th Street stations. I wonder then, how much would a pedestrian bridge cost?

Even after the train station ultimately moved to Gateway, a bridge could be an amenity to help re-develop North Tryon in providing access to the BLE.

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^The existing Am-shack on North Tryon isn't that far from the BLE's Parkwood and 25th Street stations. I wonder then, how much would a pedestrian bridge cost?

Even after the train station ultimately moved to Gateway, a bridge could be an amenity to help re-develop North Tryon in providing access to the BLE.

^ Much better idea than mine!

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