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Charlotte Gateway Station and Railroad Improvements

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^ Well, this is also the area of the Intermodal yard which is slated to be available soon, for Lynx maintenance facility #2 and possibly mixed use. I wonder if some TIF $ could support a vechicular bridge? Connections between N. Tryon and North Davidson need improvement anyway.

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Very glad to hear about some movement on station development in today's CBJ email update:

On Monday, the Charlotte Area Transit System will ask the City Council to approve $13.2 million toward the project, with 80% of the money coming from the federal government.

State transportation officials have told the city that bids will be solicited for developing Gateway Station as soon as this fall. [EDIT: see post below for the critical second sentence to this quote]

http://www.bizjourna...du&ana=e_du_pub

I am confused about how important the $200+ million for bridge repairs requested as part of the Florida HSR cash reallocation on the NCRR was to this project.

Edited by kermit

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State transportation officials have told the city that bids will be solicited for developing Gateway Station as soon as this fall.

You misquoted the article.

State transportation officials hoped to begin soliciting bids from prospective developers of Gateway Station as soon as this fall. Changes in the political landscape and economic concerns have delayed those plans, state transportation department spokesman Allan Paul says.

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Something you'll notice is that the train tracks are at grade. The station was torn down when the Southern railway was elevated through central Charlotte, somewhere around 1961. This is the same project that consolodated operations onto Southern's main line, moving most trains off of the line to Columbia bettween 12th and Tyvola. I'd guess that the train station was in the way of the new embankment. Rather than rebuilding in place, the Southern instead decided to build the current station up on North Tryon street.

It's too bad the station is gone, but IMO this wasn't a completely pointless loss of an architectural gem, eg. for the purpose of building a parking lot. Elevating the railroad was a pretty essential transportation project. It enabled Southern to maintain or increase operations without choking off traffic in the growing city. It also left mostly open the line that later became the Charlotte Trolley, and later still became the Blue Line (though I doubt there was any such consideration at the time.)

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A little off topic but since it was mentioned in the last post, when did trains completely stop running from 12 street to Tyvola. It also appears there was trackage from where the Westin is now connecting from the current light rail corridor to the Mainline just before the old Southern train station. I assume this was to give direct access to passenger trains. When was this connection removed? Some of the grade is still visible near BofA stadium. Last thing two things when was the Charlotte Observer spur built and when was it taken out of service and when was the original O-line connection taken out of service (will be reactivated for Red Line). It is interesting to note that even before I-277 Charlottes center city was surrounded by rail on all four sides. Thanks for any help.

Edited by ajfunder

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A little off topic but since it was mentioned in the last post, when did trains completely stop running from 12 street to Tyvola. It also appears there was trackage from where the Westin is now connecting from the current light rail corridor to the Mainline just before the old Southern train station. I assume this was to give direct access to passenger trains. When was this connection removed? Some of the grade is still visible near BofA stadium. Last thing two things when was the Charlotte Observer spur built and when was it taken out of service and when was the original O-line connection taken out of service (will be reactivated for Red Line). It is interesting to note that even before I-277 Charlottes center city was surrounded by rail on all four sides. Thanks for any help.

I think the spur in question only went as far as the Observer building. No tracks, other than streetcar, ever crossed Tryon in the uptown area.

Something you'll notice is that the train tracks are at grade. The station was torn down when the Southern railway was elevated through central Charlotte, somewhere around 1961. This is the same project that consolodated operations onto Southern's main line, moving most trains off of the line to Columbia bettween 12th and Tyvola. I'd guess that the train station was in the way of the new embankment. Rather than rebuilding in place, the Southern instead decided to build the current station up on North Tryon street.

It's too bad the station is gone, but IMO this wasn't a completely pointless loss of an architectural gem, eg. for the purpose of building a parking lot. Elevating the railroad was a pretty essential transportation project. It enabled Southern to maintain or increase operations without choking off traffic in the growing city. It also left mostly open the line that later became the Charlotte Trolley, and later still became the Blue Line (though I doubt there was any such consideration at the time.)

The new station on North Tryon was the modern/minimalist style that Charlotte glommed onto in the mid to late 60s, and it was compatible with the suburban lifestyle that most people wanted to have. It's not an excuse for tearing down the old ones, just an explanation.

It could be worse though... they could have just closed all of the streets through uptown like they are doing all across the state.

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http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=1.6E-05&lat=35.2247610548073&lon=-80.8524836728523&year=1960Unless the 1960 photo is made up, there is a rail line running from the current sight of the Westin, through the current Charlotte observer building (to the right of the current spur) past the edge of Bank of America Stadium then on a trestle over the P&N trackage then joining up with the mainline right before the station. In the link below, the current site of the Westin is in the bottom right hand corner, follow the spur from the junction across the city to the Southern Mainline, the Southern station is right out of view to the top of the page, when matched with modern photos, some of the grade is still visible near BofA stadium. The Charlotte Observer spur had not been constructed yet. Heres the link. Edited by ajfunder

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The CBJ is reporting that Gateway station "has become a top priority of N.C. and Charlotte transit officials in recent months." It appears that "DOT expects to ask the private sector for what it describes as requests for expressions of interest [in April], followed by a more traditional request for qualifications a month later." A developer for the complex will be selected in June.

Not much new news but it is good to hear that there is some momemtum now on the land side of this project. I was on the Piedmont yesterday and was (as usual) overwhelmed by the crappiness of our current station (particularly in comparison to great stations in Durham, Burlington Greensboro and even Kannapolis)

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/print-edition/2012/02/10/pitch-for-gateway-station-in-works.html

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OT, but the "slide" comparison feature on that website is the best thing ever. I could be looking at maps for hours this way

Same here. Can someone verify that there was what looks to be a Speedway at Sugar Creek and N Tryon in the 1960 aerial. The Asian Mall is currently at the location I am speaking of. Just curious.

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I was reading yesterday more in depth on the HSR line from Charlotte to Raleigh. My understanding is that this thing needs to be under construction by the end of 2012. Does this include the Gateway Station as part of that project? Or just the line itself?

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^ The station itself was not funded as part of the ARRA HSR grants -- so unfortunately Gateway is not on anybody's immediate to-do list. The maintenance / storage yard facility at Summit St. and the CSX trenching (and NCRR overpass) was part of the grant agreement. If my very rusty memory is correct these are the only two funded HSR projects west of Old Concord rd.

Edited by kermit

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http://www.ncdot.org/download/recovery/1511_Certification_Rail.pdf

You can review where our $545m is going (the green column), and where other funds are being leveraged in conjunction. The prioritization of projects in the original list was based on that '3rd frequency', '4th frequency' and so on, based on the number of trains per day. The stimulus funds covered most of what was necessary to reach 4th frequency, whereas Gateway Station and many other improvements were not prioritized as necessary until the 5th frequency category. It would be in the next band of projects if any new funds come in.

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Also in order for the Gateway station to be built CSX required the NS-CSX diamond to be separated. Until this trackage is separated CSX would protest all extra passenger train movements over the junction. This is another reason why the actual station is in a later phase.

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http://www.ncdot.org...ls.html#id=1576

I do wonder, though, about the right of way for the CSX-NS grade separation near the Music Factory. The right of way costs are $41m, and will start acquisition by the end of the year. Could this high price include the purchase of ADM flour mill land? The description of the project in the CRISP details include the possible relocation of the ADM mill.

EDIT:

http://www.bytrain.org/quicklinks/reports/clt_mm_mainline_sep.pdf

And a report from the timeframe of ARRA includes reference to 'Pending ADM relocation'.

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I do wonder, though, about the right of way for the CSX-NS grade separation near the Music Factory. The right of way costs are $41m, and will start acquisition by the end of the year. Could this high price include the purchase of ADM flour mill land?

And I wonder if the costs cover the nearby land currently undergoing a rezoning for urban apartments. Better yet, I question if that new rezoning is even a negotiation tactic for the landowner with the State for their easements needed for the grade-separation project.

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That land is already owned by a private owner, LLC SEABOARD STREET CONDOMINIUMS, and half of that was already owned by the public because it was previously the closed onramp to 277.

I can see from the last slide deck I posted that the designs include taking over the concrete and other factory, expanding the cemetary but still shows some sort of truck parking. Perhaps the "ADM relocation" is simply buying the other industrial concerns there, adding some open space, and then fitting ADM into the remaining land, with their truck crossing being a bridge over the CSX trench. I think I am happy that the cemetary gets expanded and all the at-grade-crossings go away (no horn noise for 4th ward), however, it would have been nice if the ADM mill were totally removed. But then again it is just a flour mill, so once truck traffic moves to Music Factory Blvd (Seaboard), and theoretically new silos get built, it may end up being less of a negative for the neighborhood.

Tallying up the newly assessed tax values of all the industrial parcels within 277 at this junction, it comes to $5.3m. That is NO WHERE near $41m. And I see no other parcels that are needed for this that are not already in the hands of the railroads or the public. Could the other ~$36m be that we must not only buy the land but must pay to relocate the industrial businesses that were there? That would be a huge expense, but I suppose it is a good end result, as long as they leave themselves enough room for any potential future expansion of tracks toward the gateway station.

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CBJ reports that an RFP to developers for the Gateway project went out today. The deadline for response is April 25th.

http://www.bizjourna...-03-29&page=all

Based on this report from Davidson news on the Wednesday night MTC meeting the expected completion date for the CSX / NCRR overpass is September 2017. It does suggest that a temporary bridge for the NCRR will be erected for construction -- it does not comment on the viability of the temporary bridge for passenger train run through to Gateway station (CSX will not permit additional passenger trains through the current crossover)

http://davidsonnews.net/blog/2012/03/29/red-line-votes-delayed-indefinitely-amid-norfolk-southern-concerns/

Edited by kermit

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If the CSX needs to be lowered for NCRR to go over, I think that may result in a temporary track for CSX, as well as the temporary bridge for NCRR. And that temporary track likely goes to one side or the other of the existing CSX line, which seems to be in rather narrow corridor between the ADM plant and the street leading to the Music Factory.

Edited by southslider

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http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/03/30/3138534/developers-sought-for-charlottes.html

I sure wish that they'd stop calling it our 'Grand Central'. Do they even know how big and beautiful Grand Central is? The comparison makes our plans look absolutely provincial, which in a way, they are. They have all that land collected along Smith to be able to handle many tracks for connections, yet the station itself is designed pretty much to be an office building lobby (remember those ridiculous sketch drawings that have been the only renderings of this station?). Meanwhile it isn't designed to provide anywhere close to the type of service they plan in rail-oriented european cities or big US cities. Why only a few tracks? Why not plan for the possibility that many tracks will be needed for regional service to Albemarle, Statesville, Monroe, Mt Holly and Rock Hill in addition to HSR operations from Washington to Atlanta and hopefully (if the ridiculous Raleigh to Columbia HSR plan that skips Charlotte is dropped) to Columbia and Miami. Why does Lynx not have looped connection to the station?

Have our leaders actually been to NYC and seen Grand Central? Have our journalists?

Meanwhile, we are hoping for some developer to swoop in and say, "I want to build a speculative office building and let my lobby be used for a few trains a day to Raleigh, and maybe some of the charming Greyhound passengers." Hey maybe Mr Vanderbilt's decendents will hear about it show up for a bid. I'm sure it will be a stampede.

In Europe the train stations are the hubs of transit operations and in many cases are like malls. Even one of our peer cities, Denver, is redeveloping their train in a serious way and they have only a 2 block gap from their light rail system and people are complaining.

If the article hadn't brought up Grand Central I may have remained in group-think mode and just been glad it is progressing again. But the comparison reminded me of the 100 cities I have been to in my life that have significantly better train stations that we are EVEN HOPING FOR.

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Meanwhile it isn't designed to provide anywhere close to the type of service they plan in rail-oriented european cities or big US cities. Why only a few tracks? Why not plan for the possibility that many tracks will be needed for regional service to Albemarle, Statesville, Monroe, Mt Holly and Rock Hill in addition to HSR operations from Washington to Atlanta and hopefully (if the ridiculous Raleigh to Columbia HSR plan that skips Charlotte is dropped) to Columbia and Miami. Why does Lynx not have looped connection to the station?

Amtrak's long range service plan for the Silver Star (which currently travels from NYC to Miami via Raleigh, Southern Pines, Hamlet and Columbia) does discuss rerouting the train from Cary to Greensboro, Charlotte to Columbia. It appears Amtrak would like to make this shift (it will increase ridership) but its not currently feasible to access the current Columbia station from the Norfolk Southern tracks from Charlotte. The shift would have the bonus of adding an extra daily round trip between Charlotte and Raleigh (although its timing would be perpetually unreliable)

There is a small group of folks in Columbia trying to get Columbia to CLT commuter service started -- this would solve the problem for the Silver Star. So, in short, daily Miami-Charlotte-New York service _could_ happen quickly.

EDIT: Discussion of Silver Star rerouting can be found begining on page 73 of this document:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amtrak.com%2Fservlet%2FBlobServer%3Fblobcol%3Durldata%26blobtable%3DMungoBlobs%26blobkey%3Did%26blobwhere%3D1249232403443%26blobheader%3Dapplication%252Fpdf%26blobheadername1%3DContent-disposition%26blobheadervalue1%3Dattachment%3Bfilename%3DAmtrak_2011_PRIIA_210_Report_09-26-11_final.pdf&ei=5Uh2T6XjN8Lh0QHD_K2RDQ&usg=AFQjCNFVAYt7r9k8cyIsOg8J2VPbSzDdLA

Edited by kermit

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