Easing traffic: Triangle leaders propose 37-mile commuter rail
Triangle leaders want to bring commuter rail - and better bus service - to our fast-growing region. They are proposing a 37-mile-long commuter line to help ease the Triangle's growing traffic.Posted — Updated
To gain inspiration for how a commuter line might work here, more than 80 local leaders – including mayors, commissioners and city planners – traveled to South Florida on Wednesday to see for themselves what's worked in Miami – and how it might work here.
Miami is known for its busy high-rises and congested highways. To help ease traffic, especially during the commute, the city offers smooth-riding trains and fast-moving buses.
"We all know the Triangle is growing," says Joe Milazzo of the Triangle's Regional Transportation Alliance, which hosted this trip to see how South Florida handles transportation and traffic.
"They've got a commuter rail, inner city rail, bus rapid transit," he says. "They have a variety of mobility options. They have a variety of experiences. We want to learn from them."
Leaders took a look at the Tri-Rail train, a route that began in 1989, is more than 70 miles long, linking West Palm Beach to the Miami airport.
If all goes as planned, the Triangle could be riding the rails by the end of the decade.
While transit plans invariably come with bumps in the road, Raleigh mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin says determination is the key. She hopes showing people how commuter rails work in other cities could help locals envision it for Raleigh.
"People can't love what they can't see," she says. "Many people on this trip have not lived in areas where commuter rail is common."
Aileen Boucle of the Miami-Dad Transportation Planning Organization passed along some advice to Triangle leaders: "Give each and every entity a piece of the responsibility, and make sure you stay unified. You cannot be divide and conquer. You have to stick with your plan."
Baldwin really believes Raleigh can work together and create the political will to get it done. She has stated in the past that with tech giants like Apple moving to the Triangle, a commuter rail is "a must." Likewise, with the expected arrival of VinFast's thousands of jobs, longer commutes could become more common in the region.
One part of the commuter rail really stood out to the 80 guests: A park called The Underline. It's a leafy place with trails and an outdoor gym – all designed beneath the elevated Metrorail in downtown Miami.
Could a magical place like this exist in Raleigh someday?
The Triangle's Regional Transportation Alliance hopes the trip will not just inspire the group, but embolden them to go back home and get on board with a new vision for the Triangle.
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