Local News

High-speed rail draws concerns

Posted July 23, 2010

— A planned high-speed rail line that will eventually connect Charlotte to Washington, D.C., has some communities between Raleigh and Richmond, Va., concerned about how the service could affect them.

The Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor is still years away from a reality, but community leaders in several towns are concerned about the impact permanent closure of railroad crossings could have on traffic and emergency response times.

In Henderson, for example, 12 of the 17 railroad crossings would close permanently for safety reasons.

"We want to make sure the people on the other side of the track have the same opportunity we have on this side of the track," Henderson Mayor Pete O'Geary said.

At the same time, a new rail line would force George Harvin to get rid of seven storage buildings at his company, AA Self Storage.

There are similar concerns in Youngsville, in Franklin County, where a crossing at the town's major thoroughfare, Main Street, would be closed temporarily.

"It splits the town in half, and we don't want to see that happen," Mayor Sam Hardwick said.

Traffic is also a concern in downtown Raleigh.

High-speed rail draws concerns High-speed rail draws concerns

Greg Hatem, a developer with Empire Properties, says some crossings there would also be shut down.

"It's important to make it easy for people to get downtown and through downtown," Hatem said.

The concerns are why the state Department of Transportation is seeking input.

The agency has been holding open houses and public meetings in Franklin, Wake, Warren and Vance counties to explain to the public how the high-speed rail could affect surrounding communities.

"You can't build something of this scale and do it where there are no impacts," said Patrick Simmons, director of the DOT's Rail Division.

Three more information sessions and public hearings are planned for next week:

  • Monday, July 26, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St.
  • Tuesday, July 27, at Aycock Elementary School, 305 Carey Chapel Road in Henderson.
  • Thursday, July 29, at Franklinton High School gym, 6948 N. Cheatham St. in Franklinton.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • jet2rdu Jul 26, 2010

    In 2009 NC applied for more than $5 Billion in Federal Funds for High Speed Rail. The Feds approved only about 10 percent of that, about $500 Million. Still NC transportation leaders, politicians and high speed rail proponents are giving themselves high fives on this victory.

    Guess who will be paying the other 90 percent and then some? Check your mirror.

    Sounds too good to be true. How about questions being answered first before we taxpayers get railroaded again by Perdue and the Pirates of Jones Street.

    1. What will be the ongoing annual costs to the taxpayers of NC due to costs exceeding the Federal Funds?

    2. Will there be full open bidding and transparency of the bidding and contracts awarded?

    3. Will NC firms only be allowed to bid?

    4. How much will this cost the state for right of way purchases?

    5. Can this money be better spent on projects that will benefit a larger population of NC residents?

    If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • mgratk Jul 26, 2010

    High speed trains + NC RR Xings = Happy Darwin

  • Bendal1 Jul 26, 2010

    The concern is valid about at grade railroad crossings. These trains do not slow down except when they're approaching or leaving a station, the rest of the time they're running nearly 100 mph. With the trouble many motorists have in judging a current approaching train at an intersection, the ones at much higher speeds would be a disaster in the making.

    That's why they want to close or build bridges over every at grade intersection on the railroad line. It's a goal that is going to take years to accomplish, but if this is going to work that's what has to be done.

  • Leonardo Jul 23, 2010

    News flash! People like to complain about everything!

  • Sophie Lowe Jul 23, 2010

    High speed rail in Europe is great. Europe is about 3 or 4 times the size of Virginia, plus or minus.

    High speed rail in the USA, in the Southeast? Are you kidding? More Federal money burn to make the feelgood eco folks who will never ride it crow about their accomplishments. Meanwhile they close crosssings so people will have to burn more gas to drive around. Brilliant!
    The world is coming to an end when projects like this are being pimped.