LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri May 18, 2012 9:38 am

Ditto, thank you Mr. Roberts. Nice to see things moving forward.
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Fri May 18, 2012 3:38 pm

It's not exactly part of the Lynx Blue Line extension project but the city of Charlotte should begin construction on the first leg of its streetcar line by the end of the year. The starter section will run east from the existing Transportation Center stop on the blue line to Central Piedmont Community College (the largest CC in the state) and then onto Presbyterian Hospital at the top of Elizabeth ave. The starter section will be 1.5 miles, the two replica trolly's already owned by CATS will be the initial vehicles used for the service.

It sounds like the bond referendum to approve funding an additional 2.5 miles of the streetcar line will appear on the ballot in November (the streetcar was pulled out of the .5% transit sales tax funding structure due to revenue declines associated with the economic downturn). Despite the remarkable success of the fist segment of the blue line, the streetcar will face a tough vote since it has been labeled the "streetcar to nowhere" but the local anti-transit folks and building it will involve a property tax increase.

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/bl ... 8&page=all

The Red Line Commuter rail north to Lake Norman has run into trouble with funding and Norfolk Southern is reluctant to host commuter rail on its tracks. If this line falls through (and it looks like it may) there will be $100 million (or so) in transit tax revenue available for other projects. CATS has not yet telegraphed where they want this money to go.
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Jeff Smith » Sun May 20, 2012 2:00 pm

Bob,

Thanks for the updates. I was just in Charlotte for the All-Star race, but it was a hit and run I'm afraid. I was also through the airport last year; if there's a place that could use LRT, it's inside that terminal!

I've been following the Red-Line; it pops up on my NS radar every now and then. From my observation, NS is generally more accomodating, particularly when they have excess capacity ;-). They've actually been pushing GDOT to "get off the pot" on the line from ATL to Griffin, but unfortunatley, GDOT is not as forward thinking as NC. I think they could start on the ATK Crescent line without much issue; why Griffin is #1 is beyond me (perhaps because Crescent is a busier NS line). At least Peachtree is getting a street car.

Any chance you can get them to extend a Piedmont down here LOL? One-a-day doesn't get it for ATL.

Keep up the good work, and keep us informed!
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun May 20, 2012 3:10 pm

Is a Blue Line extension to Eastway, for now, a good thing? Not sure. The whole neighborhood between uptown and Eastway is "the hood", and so the traffic generated there might not help attract riders in south Charlotte. I'd prefer a short extension to Pineville, if that's all we'll have for a while (if Pineville will change its view and go for it).
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Sun May 20, 2012 6:56 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:Is a Blue Line extension to Eastway, for now, a good thing? Not sure. The whole neighborhood between uptown and Eastway is "the hood", and so the traffic generated there might not help attract riders in south Charlotte. I'd prefer a short extension to Pineville, if that's all we'll have for a while (if Pineville will change its view and go for it).


I haven't heard anyone talking about stopping the blue line extension at Eastway (the closest planned stations to Eastway are Sugar Creek and Old Concord rd -- both park and rides). The Federal Full Funding Grant agreement is predicated on models using UNC Charlotte as the primary trip generator for the BLE so stopping short of UNCC would make the extension ineligible for federal funding. As far as I know the extension will not be phased, the full 10 miles between downtown and UNCC campus will open at the same time (around early 2017 I believe)
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Sun May 20, 2012 7:17 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:
I've been following the Red-Line; it pops up on my NS radar every now and then. From my observation, NS is generally more accomodating, particularly when they have excess capacity ;-).

That has been my impression (of NS) as well, so I have been surprised about their apparent intransigence on the Red Line. The line has very little traffic, I am fairly certain they run fewer than five locals a week to Morresville and back. An CATS' current proposal involves an industrial improvement district strategy to pay for the necessary improvements. I would assume generating more freight traffic on the line (run at night) would be a significant benefit to NS system wide.

I can think of only two explanations for NS's unwillingness to play ball on the Red Line. Either its just a negotiating tactic (but they are getting very close to CATS pulling the plug on the proposal) or they want to preserve the O-line's capacity to duplicate the current mainline. Having an alternative route from Greensboro to Charlotte (via Winston) might be a helpful device to negotiate a lower purchase price should the NCRR go up for sale (something the current legislature has been discussing).

Jeff Smith wrote:Any chance you can get them to extend a Piedmont down here LOL? One-a-day doesn't get it for ATL.


I think the NCDOT would jump at the opportunity IF both GA and SC paid their share of the costs. Two day trains to Atlanta would generate huge amounts of leisure traffic on the corridor. Assuming decent reliability a decent Greenville station combined with a Charlotte-Douglass airport stop would generate heavy business traffic thanks to the euro-auto industry.

While you might convince me that the money for two trains a day exists in Atlanta, I doubt I will live to see the day when the good folks in South Carolina spend a dime on passenger rail. The lack of interest is a shame since I think a Columbia-Rock Hill-Charlotte commuter service (run-through to Morresville and with connections to the blue line at 485 and Piedmont service at the proposed Gateway station) would be very successful.
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Sun May 20, 2012 7:45 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:Bob,

They've actually been pushing GDOT to "get off the pot" on the line from ATL to Griffin, but unfortunately, GDOT is not as forward thinking as NC. I think they could start on the ATK Crescent line without much issue; why Griffin is #1 is beyond me (perhaps because Crescent is a busier NS line).


I was in school in Athens for many years. Given how successful the occasional (but rare) game day trains to Sanford Stadium were I am still appalled that Georgia has not made Atl-Ath service a priority. I would bet that at least 15,000 UGA students drive down 316 to Atlanta every weekend. Is this due to CSX, the state of Georgia or both?

(sorry about straying off topic)
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon May 21, 2012 9:15 am

I think GDOT has been coming around, and would welcome additional service in ATL but I suspect you're right about SC. No worries on Off-Topic - minor diversion. The 316 corridor should actually be top, but yeah, CSX would be an obstacle I think.

Back to Charlotte!
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:02 pm

Despite signing its portion of the FFGA in April the NC Senate has not included its contribution to the Blue Line Extension project (to University City) in its budget:
http://www.wfae.org/wfae/1_87_316.cfm?a ... ay&id=8726

Probably just more of the same old posturing from Raleigh but nerve racking nonetheless.
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:20 am

Thanks for the update Bob. I thought I saw something on this in my news trolling. This affects the extension to UNC Charlotte right? Something about a vote?
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:39 am

^yep. The politics are getting convoluted around the extension to UNC Charlotte and the proposed streetcar extension. It is starting to sound like the anti-transit legislators in Raleigh decided to withhold the state share of the blue line extension until the Charlotte city council took the funds for the streetcar extension from next year's budget. The city capital budget which contained the streetcar funds was voted down on Monday night, a new capital budget (almost certainly omitting the streetcar extension) will be discussed today.

http://nakedcityblog.blogspot.com/2012/ ... uncil.html

No one has spoken to the issue of the state signature of the blue line extension FFGA back in April. If that is a fully executed state commitment then all of the state budget discussion is nothing more than a bluff, it would be a shame to loose the streetcar extension due to politicians not understanding agreements that they are party to.
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:13 pm

On the plus side the state share of the Blue Line Extension is back in the budget. On the minus side the legislature ended the new starts program so any other rail transit projects in the state will now have to compete with highway projects for state funding (I believe that this change effectively removes state funding from the commuter rail project to Mt Mourne).

Still no word on the streetcar expansion project funds in the city budget.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/0 ... -rail.html
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Bob Roberts » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:38 pm

a "major transportation finding announcement" featuring Peter Rogoff (head of the FTA) and Mel Watt (the congressional rep for central Charlotte) will be made at the 9th st trolly station of Tuesday October 16th at 10am.

This is the Fed Full Funding Grant agreement announcement we have been waiting for to build the blue line extension to UNC Charlotte.

Should be complete by 2017... (more time than it took to build the transcon)
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:21 am

Congratulations, Bob! Plus, they built the UP Transcon during WAR!
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Re: LYNX - Charlotte NC Light Rail (CATS, NS, NCRR)

Postby lpetrich » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:26 pm

Charlotte Streetcar another step forward in modern transit - Welcome to the FastLane: The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Charlotte Streetcar Starter Line | Department of Transportation
For the 1.5-mile starter system in downtown Charlotte. The complete system is to be 10 miles long. The starter line will go southeastward from the existing Lynx light-rail line, and the complete line will extend northward and eastward from it.

Home page: Charlotte Streetcar
Maps:
Starter-system map
Complete-system map
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