by Bob Geary
Remember the flyover bridges? The railroad tunnels? They are, if not gone forever, at least off the table for now as Light-Rail Transit Plan 2.0 takes shape for DTR (Downtown Raleigh).
A good time to take it all in — or have your say — would be Aug. 1, when the City Council conducts a workshop and public hearing on the two alternative routes that are on the table as Triangle Transit (TTA) moves ahead with the process of once again applying for federal aid.
The two alternatives are called D6 and D6A:
* Under D6, the light-rail line would follow the main rail corridor from the Fairgrounds through NCSU to Charlie Goodnight's; from there, it would depart the corridor and run on West Morgan Street, turn north on Harrington Street and continue until it connects with the CSX rail corridor near the intersection of Harrington and Lane streets. A "State Government" station would be located between Lane and North streets.
The D6 route is shown on this Triangle Transit-generated map of the various alternatives it studied (and though D6A wasn't one of them, you can see by the map how it would work as well):
D6A is depicted in this map linked to by the Downtown Living Advocates:
* Under D6A, the light-rail line would run on West Morgan Street all the way to the Capitol; the eastbound/northbound cars would turn north on Wilmington Street and run to the CSX corridor; going the other way, the southbound/westbound cars would come from the CSX corridor and go south on Salisbury Street — on the other side of the Capitol — to Hillsborough Street, turn west and go a couple of blocks to Harrington before turning south again and connecting to West Morgan.
Thus, under D6A, West Morgan between Charlie Goodnight's and Harrington Street would need two sets of tracks — one on the south side of West Morgan heading for the Capitol, and the other on the north side of West Morgan heading for Charlie Goodnight's and the main rail corridor.
The D6A map is showing four stations in DTF — one at Goodnight's, one at a Union Station stop in the Warehouse District, one on Harrington Street near Lane Street and one at or near Peace Street. All four, it should be said, are highly conceptual given that the D6A alignment is a late-starter in the TTA planning process and hasn't really been vetted the way D6 and other earlier alignments were.
D6A is a new idea proposed by the city's Passenger Rail Task Force, which has formally recommended it to the Council.
City staff prefer D6, according to this good writeup on the Downtown Living Advocates website.
Finally, the city's public affairs staff put out a press release this morning announcing the workshop/hearing and explaining the PRTF's D6A proposal:
Members of the City’s Passenger Rail Task Force will appear at the workshop to discuss with the City Council their proposal for the planned light rail system. The public hearing will give residents an opportunity to comment on the task force’s recommendations.
The Passenger Rail Task Force is recommending the City Council approve the D6a route, a hybrid route that uses parts of two alternative routes studied by Triangle Transit. The D6a route would better serve Downtown workers, especially state government employees, according to task force members who support the route. The task force also is recommending the light rail system use light rail transit railcars electrically powered by overhead wires.
A Union Station would serve as a hub for the planned light rail system as well as for commuter trains and Downtown bus service, coordinating both local and regional transit service providers in a single multi-modal transit facility. City staff is currently working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation on evaluating the suitability of a building at 510 W. Martin Street as a site for the Union Station. The City’s $40 million transportation bond issue that will be on the Oct. 11 ballot for voter approval includes $3 million for the Union Station proposal.
Going east and north, the D6a route proposed by the Passenger Rail Task Force would diverge from the North Carolina Railroad (NCRR) rail corridor and proceed east along West Morgan Street. It would pass the north edge of the planned Union Station area at the West Morgan Street bridge over the railroad tracks in the Boylan Wye. The route would then continue east to Union Square where it would turn north onto Wilmington Street until it joined the CSX rail corridor.
Going south and west, the proposed D6a route would diverge from the CSX rail corridor to follow Salisbury Street going south. It would turn west onto Hillsborough Street, then south onto Harrington Street and finally west to rejoin West Morgan Street, passing the north edge of the Union Station area at the West Morgan Street bridge over the railroad tracks in the Boylan Wye. The route would continue west to join the NCRR rail corridor on West Morgan Street.
The D6a route would have two light rail tracks on West Morgan Street from near Hillsborough Street to Harrington Street —- one track for eastbound light rail transit railcars and one track for westbound railcars. The railcars in both directions would operate in conjunction with vehicular traffic on this section of West Morgan Street.
Council members appointed the 11-member Passenger Rail Task Force to advise them on several specific issues related to the future provision of passenger rail service to Raleigh, be it locally, regionally, or long-distance.