The city council chose D6 as its preferred downtown light rail route. The council voted 6-2 in favor of the route, with Councilors Russ Stephenson and Bonner Gaylord voting for other routes.
Route D6 runs down West Morgan Street and Harrington Street and joins at the CSX line to run west through the N.C. State University campus.
The city council held a workshop and public hearing on Tuesday to discuss which route should be chosen.
Members from the Triangle Transit Authority, the city’s Passenger Rail Task Force and city staff presented their recommendations to the council during the workshop session on Tuesday.
Triangle Transit Authority recommended route D6 in its presentation to the council. Director of Capital Development Greg Northcutt said the route would have a lower capital cost, no flyover bridge over Boylan Street, minimum traffic and moderate construction impact, good ridership and public support, and strong development potential.
Will Allen and Maha Chambliss, co-chairs for the Passenger Rail Task Force, recommended that the council choose hybrid route D6a because of factors such as better ridership for state employees, good economic opportunities, and maximum ridership potential.
D6a is a hybrid of routes D6 and D5. Route D5 runs along Salisbury and Wilmington Streets.
Allen and Chambliss also suggested that if D6a was deemed unfeasible, the task force would recommend D6.
Staff recommendations, which were presented by Transportation Planning Manager Eric Lamb, suggested that D6 be chosen because it is the simplest and least expensive route.
Councilor Bonner Gaylord favored Route D5 because it covers most of the visited sites downtown.
Councilor Russ Stephenson preferred a combination of D6 and D6a, in order to combine the development benefits of D6 with the ridership benefits of D6a.
There was a mutual sense of relief in regards to the council’s decision.
When asked if he was happy with the council’s choice, Transportation Planning Manager Eric Lamb said “happy is the right word.”
“I’m just happy to have a decision more than anything. At least we now have a direction to go in, we start to have a better idea of predictability for the overall system, so that’s really for me kind of the key thing,” Lamb said.
Allen and Chambliss of the Passenger Rail Task Force were also happy with the decision, as well as Triangle Transit.
Triangle Transit’s Communications Officer Brad Schulz said they were pleased with the decision that was made.
“This will allow us to move forward with our planning to begin the environmental process, and to move this process forward, and hopefully get started in a few years on the submission of a package to the federal government that would allow us to receive federal funding to help pay for a share of this project,” Schulz said.