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Businesses oppose closing Raleigh streets for high-speed rail

Posted November 30, 2010

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— Businesses in west Raleigh have started a petition drive to keep area streets open once high-speed trains start using a nearby rail line.

Burke Brothers Hardware has been in business at 5227 Hillsborough Street since 1936, and Henry Burke, the third generation running the family business, says that he fears high-speed rail will separate him from some of his customers.

Tracks along Hillsborough Street, which are now used by Amtrak and freight trains, will likely become part of a high-speed rail corridor connecting Charlotte to Washington, D.C. To improve safety, Powell Drive and other side streets could be closed to eliminate rail crossings.

"It's going to hurt. There's no way around that. It's going to hurt our business. It's going to hurt a lot of people, all those businesses here," Burke said Tuesday. "We want to be able to get from that side of the track to this side of the track."

Blue Ridge Road, which is about three-fourths of a mile to the east, would likely be made into an overpass or underpass to accommodate the rail line, but some Burke Brothers' customers said they wouldn't use that route to get to the hardware store.

"I may go somewhere else so I'm not stuck in traffic," customer Jim Heilig said.

About 1,200 people have signed a petition against closing nearby streets to accommodate the trains, and Burke said about half of those people want to have high-speed rail.

"(We want) to keep our crossing open or use an underpass," he said. "We're just trying to keep connectivity through there and keep west Raleigh a viable and growing place."

Amtrak train Businesses oppose closing Raleigh streets for high-speed rail

Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder said underpasses are needed on side streets to help with ambulance response times and business development.

The state Department of Transportation is expected to hold workshops in the coming months to iron out details of the high-speed rail corridor and its impact on surrounding neighborhoods.

Burke, who has worked in the family business since he was 10, said he wants it to remain open for at least one more generation.

"We want to be a part of the progress, not get run over by it," he said.

13 Comments

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  • orulz Dec 1, 2010

    I live on Powell Drive and use that crossing several times each day. A couple observations.

    First, that crossing is dangerous. Every day during the fair, every time there's fireworks, and every football game I witness people risking death at that crossing because they apparently don't realize that the 60mph freight trains and 80mph Amtrak trains are dangerous.

    Next, the reason delays are so bad at the Blue Ridge / Hillsborough intersection is the railroad. The traffic signals are timed conservatively to prevent people from getting trapped on the tracks. Once Blue Ridge Road is separated from the railroad, traffic will flow MUCH better.

    What I would like to see is for Powell Drive to be realigned through the concrete plant so that it lines up with Youth Center Drive. Then build an underpass so Youth Center and Powell can connect under the tracks.

    I have no problem with crossings being closed, as long as they are replaced with new bridges nearby.

  • Bendal1 Dec 1, 2010

    Closing streets decreases congestion on SOME streets, specifically, the ones that are closed. On others it increases as traffic diverts to other routes. Now, maybe those routes can handle the traffic without increasing congestion, but often they can't and congestion goes up.

    Having said that, if Raleigh wants high speed rail then there's no way to avoid impacting some businesses. No one wants to have their building taken, no one wants their street closed. That's called NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) and nothing would ever be built if those protesting got their way.

  • erp Nov 30, 2010

    "So if I take your example.... closing off a few arteries will help circulation in your body, right? Taking one lung will help you breath better, right?"

    Traffic flow is not fluid flow. Maybe you should read some traffic studies...

  • Apotheosis Nov 30, 2010

    Please explain who's going to lose their house--considering that the railroad is already there

  • delilahk2000 Nov 30, 2010

    ANOTHER USELESS IDEA FROM THE DOT, AT A TIME WHEN WE HAVE NO MONEY FOR IT. WE DO NOT NEED THIS FROM CHARLOTTE TO DC. JUST SOME BIG WIGS THAT WANT A TOY AT OUR EXSPENSE TO PLAY WITH. I REALLY DOUBT THAT MANY PEOPLE WOULD RIDE IT. ALL AT THE COST OF PEOPLES HOMES AND BUSINESSES TO WHICH THEY WI8LL PAY NOTHING FOR.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Nov 30, 2010

    I'm sure they complained when I-440 was built, too. You can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs.

  • Apotheosis Nov 30, 2010

    Oh, I forgot, the anti-government crowd is anti-intellectual, too...I'll keep believing the scientists and engineers, you keep living in your fantasy world

  • north 501 Nov 30, 2010

    Don't worry about it. You'll all be dead from old age before the thing is built anyway, if it ever is.

  • monkeyboy Nov 30, 2010

    "Actually, closing streets decreases congestion, Google it sometime. "

    if you actually believe that, then i'm very very glad you're not involved in the urban planning in this area...

  • NCPictures Nov 30, 2010

    "Actually, closing streets decreases congestion, Google it sometime. But I'm sure you can find other reasons to hate the government..." ----- Apotheosis

    AHAHAHAHHAHA So you believe everything you read on the interwebs?

    So if I take your example.... closing off a few arteries will help circulation in your body, right? Taking one lung will help you breath better, right?

    I dont need any more reason to hate government, and if you had any sense you would be aware as well, instead of blindly following whatever they say.

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