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Norfolk Southern balks at proposed high-speed rail route

Posted September 13, 2010

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— Norfolk Southern Railway Co. has joined the chorus of opposition to a proposed route through Raleigh for a high-speed passenger rail system.

The route through the capital city is part of a $2 billion plan to build a rail line from Raleigh to Richmond, Va. It would be part of a Southeast rail corridor that would eventually connect Charlotte to Washington, D.C., with trains traveling at top speeds of 110 mph.

Raleigh city planners recently endorsed a special task force's proposal for the route to follow the Norfolk Southern tracks, north from Jones Street along the western side of Capital Boulevard.

The plan would keep northbound and southbound lanes of West and Harrington streets in downtown open to vehicle traffic and avoid the need for a bridge near the Glenwood South area.

Residents of the Five Points neighborhood oppose the plan, saying the route would go through their neighborhood and adversely affect businesses and homes. As many as 12 freight trains and eight passenger trains could go through the area each day, they said.

Norfolk Southern sent a letter last Thursday to the Rail Division of the state Department of Transportation expressing opposition to the idea. Friday was the final day for public comment before DOT officials select the route for the rail line.

"The adverse impacts on (Norfolk Southern) and its customers, as well as on the neighborhood abutting (the corridor), are significant and adverse, far more so that those of the other two alternatives. In most cases, the adverse effects would not be able to be mitigated," the company wrote.

The two other routes under consideration would follow CSX tracks on the east side of Capital Boulevard.

Raleigh City Council members last week decided not to endorse any of the routes. Instead, they voted to submit a list of 12 items for consideration to the DOT, including more study of a "hybrid alternative" that would avoid street closures and minimize the effects on businesses and homes.

Norfolk Southern also said it has no plans to support high-speed rail on its line through Raleigh, which "undermines the viability of the entire project" should the DOT select that option.

The state was awarded $545 million in federal stimulus funds to support the high-speed rail system.

Plans are to complete the track from Charlotte to Raleigh within three years. The time frame for completion of the rail from Charlotte to Richmond is projected to be 2017 or later.

15 Comments

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  • Qwerty27807 Sep 14, 2010

    Amtrak only survives by continual subsidies from the Government. High speed light rail is only a FASTER way to waste money.
    The only places that have success with this are ultra-dense major metropolitan areas such as the Connecticut-NYC-North Jersey area and the DC/Baltimore megalopolis.
    Major league boondoggles occurred in Miami and Los Angeles, and it was later reveled that huge amounts of money ended up in the pockets of political hacks and supporters.
    One only need look at the Roanoke Rapids Theater to see what happens when "pie in the sky" ideas meet with irrational government spending.

  • Vietnam Vet Sep 13, 2010

    High speed rail from here eventually connecting with DC? Who's going to ride it?? The politicians that are pushing for it?? Silly me...politicians have their own taxpayer paid aircraft, don't they??

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Sep 13, 2010

    The NIMBY's in Five Points are the same elitist liberals that pushed for light rail from Raleigh to Durham.

    Looks like these NIMBY's support rail travel as long as it's not in their backyard.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Sep 13, 2010

    Ignore the NIMBY's in Five Points and put the route along the best routing from an engineering perspective.

  • mjjunk Sep 13, 2010

    Sounds like we need to make Durham the transportation core and bypass Raleigh altogether. Then let Raleigh worry about getting a commuter rail to Durham instead of the other way around. I personally, as an Apex resident, hope that the rail goes through Raleigh, but if they are hellbent against it, don't make them have it.

  • Pseudonym Sep 13, 2010

    They have elevated high speed rail in Chicago...

    ...as long as, to you, high speed is 2 MPH.

  • smcallah Sep 13, 2010

    "Three hundred fifty seven miles per hour is what the fastest trains in Europe are traveling now.."

    Not it isn't. That was a TEST. There is no current running train in Europe that is doing 357mph. It was a special train built just to go that fast on a special section of track to make sure it could go as fast as possible. We don't say that the fastest car in use is 763mph, just because someone built a special car with rocket engines to break a world record in the desert, do we?

    They have 120mph and 160mph in Europe.

    And 110mph to Washington, DC is a lot better than the current 55mph average by Amtrak to DC. Double the speed is a lot better in most people's worlds. Why not yours?

    The fastest train in use is 268mph in China. And its a maglev train. Last I checked, we don't have maglev tracks in Raleigh, and if people are so up in arms about regular tracks being upgraded, good luck on getting maglev tracks.

  • smcallah Sep 13, 2010

    "Elevate it like other urban areas have done."

    Other urban areas have NOT elevated HIGH SPEED RAIL. This article is about high-speed rail in case you missed the headline.

    Urban areas have subways and lightrails that they have elevated tracks above some streets.

    Nothing at all to do with high-speed trains.

  • oldrebel Sep 13, 2010

    Elevate it like other urban areas have done.

  • corey3rd Sep 13, 2010

    it is this same lame planning that kept Raleigh off the major interstate map for decades when I-95 skipped over us and it took an Olympic Festival to get I-40 hooked up. Bet there were still idiots demanding there's no reason why I-40 needs to go through Raleigh when that project finally started happened. maybe we should all just be happy pushing rafts up and down the Neuse River.

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