Local News

High-speed rail plan threatens Raleigh business

Posted September 26, 2011 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2011 7:05 p.m. EDT

— Henry Vanpala has been working on cars for 26 years at Auto Shape in Raleigh. He has built his business and future through the shop at 908 Capital Blvd.

Now, his future is in danger because of a new plan to run a high-speed rail line through is property.

“I don’t know what I would do here because this is my business, my only source of income,” Vanpala said Monday.

The plan is part of a larger project by the state to build high-speed rail from Raleigh to Richmond, Va. The portion the state is working on now runs along Capital Boulevard from Whitaker Mill Road near Interstate 440 to downtown Raleigh.

Rail engineer Marc Hamel said three prior plans faced opposition, so the state went back to the drawing board.

“What we developed is an alternative that moves the railroad track toward Capital Boulevard and away from the neighborhoods. So, that should address a lot of people’s concerns,” Hamel said.

The new route will cost $20 million, but officials say the cost to buy properties impacted by the project will be lower.

Vanpala also owned property next to Auto Shape but sold it to the state so it can be used as a future rail office. He said he doesn’t know how the state will be able to fully compensate him for the loss of his business.

“I’ve kind of been respected that I am the downtown shop location,” Vanpala said. “If I move east or west or south, there are big body shops that are well, well established there.”

The new plan will be unveiled to the public Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. during an open-house meeting at the Raleigh Convention Center.

It will be at least two years before the plan is finalized, and no money has been set aside for the project.