Council ducks decision on high speed rail corridor

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Raleigh city councilors passed a set of recommendations Tuesday for the high speed rail route though the city. Councilors opted not to make the hard choice of picking one route and instead commented on all the routes.

The city’s recommendations will go to the state Department of Transportation and then onto the federal DOT for approval.

The high speed rail corridor will run trains from Washington DC to Atlanta. At issue now is how the train will travel from Richmond to Downtown Raleigh, specifically will it take a route down the eastern or western side of Capital Boulevard.

Either way, the rail corridor will close streets and require the DOT to take private property. Read more about the two main alternatives, known as NC1/2 or NC3 here.

Two big ideas did emerge from the council’s comments.

The first, on the NC3 idea which takes the rail line down the western side of capital, asks the state to relocate the Norfolk Southern train yard north of town. The yard is currently along Capital just north of downtown. But moving the yard would allow the new train line to run in the existing right-of-way instead of taking more private property.

The other big idea came from Thomas Crowder, who proposed elevating the track as it crosses over Wake Forest Road and goes into downtown.

Here are the council’s full set of recommendations:

1 . Analyze NC-1/2 hybrids to see if one of them is a viable option. If so, the Raleigh City Council requests the opportunity to hold a public hearing and to comment on that option.

2 . Forward Passenger Rail Task Force and City Staff recommendations to NCDOT.

3 . Replace Durant Road Fire Station.

4 . Mitigate impacts on Windsor Forest Subdivision.

5 . Include pedestrian overpasses at Jones Street.

6 . Include pedestrian overpass, not a bridge, at Hargett Street.

7 . Do not impact the residential properties on South Saunders near Rosegarten. If a crossing of the NCCR corridor is to occur in this area alternate alignments should be considered. A pedestrian crossing may be sufficient.

8 . Coordinate NCDOT and Triangle Transit plans.

a . Relocate Norfolk Southern spur train yard to a location outside the City so passenger rail can use train yard property.

b . Use retaining walls to limit removal of structures.

c . Use brick for walls visible from the community and passenger trains.

d . Consider pedestrian access to Mordecai from Five Points if Fairview is closed.

1 0 .That the elevated viaduct suggestion be considered and consider the mitigation measures submitted separately.

1 1 .Consider any right-of-way acquisitions at earliest opportunity.

1 2 .Review impact on Bickett Boulevard residents.

In further action; Council voted to request the Cary Town Council to work with City of Raleigh planning staff, Triangle Transit, Triangle J planning staff, CAMPO and the NCDOT Rail Division to jointly evaluate the second leg of the SEHSR corridor west of downtown.

A total of 27 citizens addressed the City Council at a September 1, 2010 public hearing on the Southeast High Speed Rail Project. More than 200 people attended the public hearing.

On Aug. 3, the City Council received a report and recommendation from its Passenger Rail Task Force regarding the downtown alternatives associated with the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Southeast High Speed Rail Project, which will provide service from Raleigh to Richmond, Va.

Two alternatives routes were evaluated by the task force regarding the approach to Raleigh Union Station from the north. The alternatives under consideration are the Norfolk Southern route via Glenwood Yard on the west side of Capital Boulevard and the CSX route on the east side of Capital Boulevard.

The City’s Passenger Rail Task Force recommended approval of the Norfolk Southern route for the high speed rail service subject to the following conditions:

An acceptable replacement is provided whenever the closure of an existing street is proposed;

The design of new public infrastructure improvements are established according to the highest standards of design excellence;

Appropriate abatements and mitigations are installed to negate noise and vibration acts;

Any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in adopted plans and policies are corrected;

Mitigations are provided to ensure the integrity of any impacted historic resource;

Adjustments are made to the future planning and development options of the project to ensure that they are not lost; and,

The best available proposals are provided to ensure that the integrity of existing private property that is not relocated is maintained, and those properties that are relocated are placed on sites that preserve their proximity to their clients and customers.

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