Council Roundup: City Endorses Commuter Rail Stations, Outlaws Can Stealing

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Raleigh City Councilors Tuesday endorsed four locations for a commuter rail line through Raleigh, if and when the project comes to fruition.

Focusing on central employment hubs and existing Park and Ride locations, the Passenger Rail Task Force recommended four locations running northwest from Southeast Raleigh to West Raleigh and on to Research Triangle Park.

The Southeast Raleigh station would be in the vicinity of Hammond Road and Rush Street near Interstate 40. While there are some challenges with this location, building a station is feasible, according to Will Allen with the Passenger Rail Task Force. More land would be needed for parking and Park and Ride facilities.

The Downtown Raleigh stop would be at the proposed Raleigh Train Station, which would be constructed within the Viaduct Building near the existing Amtrak Station. Because the downtown station would be considered a destination station, there would be little parking to accommodate commuters.

There would also be a stop at North Carolina State University, with a proposed location near Pullen Road and Varsity Drive, providing access to both the main and Centennial campuses. Like the Downtown Raleigh stop, there would be little commuter parking.

The West Raleigh location would be near Corporate Center Drive.

Since a conditional station already exists in the location, the task force suggests a special events stop at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.

The four Raleigh stations are part of a 12-stop, 37-mile commuter rail system that would run from Garner to Durham. Trains would run every 30 minutes during peak hours and every 60 during off peak. The projected ridership is almost 7,000 per day.

The total project cost is about $650 million. Funding is planned to  partially come from a half-cent sales tax increase that could be put on the November ballot in Wake County. Durham County has already passed its half-cent increase, but it has not taken effect.

View the Passenger Rail Task Force report below.

Union Station Grant
Councilors already approved going forward with a federal grant application to fund the construction of Union Station, the city’s proposed multi-modal transportation hub downtown.

The projected cost of the project is $75 million, with the city kicking in $7 million. The city has already set aside $3 million for the project from the 2011 Transportation Bond, but it is too late to make a budgetary commitment for the remaining $4 million this year. The city voted Tuesday to commit the funds during the following budget cycle.

“I just want everyone to know that this is an expensive proposition,” said Councilor John Odom, who voted against it.

City Manager Russell Allen said that it is possible that the city could receive more grant funding, but it needs to make the commitment now in order to apply for the grant.

WalkRaleigh Gets Back on Track
Raleigh received international attentionrecently when, during the cover of darkness, resident Matt Tomasulo and his friends placed signs throughout downtown urging people to walk to their destination. The signs listed the direction and approximate time it would take to walk to another location.

Jennifer Suarez / Raleigh Public Record

The old WalkRaleigh signs were removed. Photo by Jennifer Wig.

The illegal signs were removed a few weeks later. Since then, Tomasulo has worked with Raleigh’s Planning Department to create a three-month pilot program. The signs will be placed at three locations as part of a public awareness campaign. The program will be reevaluated at the end of the 90-day period.

“He is the prime example of the type of young person that we want to encourage to start a business here and grow a business here, but also proved to be a very creative person that has done a really great thing for Raleigh,” said Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

Picking Aluminum Cans out of the Garbage Now a Crime
People who constantly remove aluminum cans from recycling bins could be slapped with a $500 fine now that the city has officially declared the act a misdemeanor.

Like those removing the cans, the city makes money off of the redeemed aluminum.

Councilor John Odom voted against the ordinance, saying that he doesn’t understand why there needs to be a separate law on the books.

City Attorney Thomas McCormick explained that until now, there was no law against removing cans from someone’s recycling bin on the street. At that point, can ownership is not clear, he said.  According to the new law, the cans become city property once placed into a recycling bin.

McCormick said the city doesn’t expect to make any money from this law, but hopes that it will discourage people from stealing the cans.

A car charging station. Photo by Leo Suarez.

Electric Car Charging Stations
A change could be coming to electric car charging stations scattered throughout the city. Councilor Bonner Gaylord, who owns an electric car, said that he often sees gasoline-powered cars parked in the spaces.

While the drivers of those vehicles aren’t breaking any laws, it takes a spot away from someone who is expecting to be able to park and charge his or her car.

Gaylord added that the city invested a lot of money to install the charging stations and if people with electric cars can’t park there, then the spaces aren’t actually being utilized. He suggested changing the policy so that only electric cars are allowed to park in those spaces.

“We’re losing income as a result of that,” he said.

City Manager Russell Allen said staff has been looking into the issue and City Attorney Thomas McCormick said that he would prepare a draft ordinance to present at the next meeting.

Public Comment for Hillsborough Re-striping and Historic Overlay District
The Comprehensive Planning Committee will be hearing public comments on the Hillsborough Street re-striping project and the proposed Historic Overlay District for South Blount and South Person Streets.

The meeting will be held on March 14 at 5 p.m. at city hall in the city council chambers

One thought on “Council Roundup: City Endorses Commuter Rail Stations, Outlaws Can Stealing

  1. Correction. The PRTF requested that the NCSU commuter rail station be located somewhere between Pullen and Varsity, but neither the city’s PRTF nor the University would commit to a specific location at this point. Varsity and Pullen are quite far apart and it wouldn’t really make sense for a train station’s platforms to be accessible from both.

    The original (TTA-published) plans called for a platform in a specific location, just east of Dan Allen Drive. In essence the PRTF is asking for that plan to be revised to have a less-specific location for the platform, and let the final decision on location be made later.