Local News

Rail funding revives plan for Raleigh terminal

Posted January 29, 2010 5:46 p.m. EST
Updated February 2, 2010 6:51 p.m. EST

— The $545 million in federal funding that North Carolina won Thursday for a high-speed rail corridor has breathed new life into Raleigh's long-held plans to create a transportation hub downtown.

City leaders want to create Raleigh's own version of New York's Grand Central Terminal near the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Morgan Street.

"We could use a facility where Amtrak and Greyhound were in one building," said Michael Byrd, who boarded a Greyhound bus Friday at the carrier's depot on West Jones Street.

The bus station used by Capital Area Transit and Triangle Transit is in Moore Square on the other side of downtown, while the Amtrak station is off West Cabarrus Street – several blocks from either bus depot.

Raleigh has wanted to combine the terminals for years but doesn't have funding for the project, which would cost an estimated $200 million. City Planning Director Mitchell Silver said Friday that having a high-speed rail line across North Carolina could put plans for a downtown transportation hub back on track.

About $520 million of the federal economic stimulus money North Carolina will receive is earmarked for track upgrades between Raleigh and Charlotte, which would increase the top speed of passenger train to 90 mph – they now average 46 to 48 mph – and double the number of round trips between the state's two largest cities.

The remaining $25 million would fund North Carolina's portion of rail improvements between Raleigh and Richmond, Va.

"If you have a high-speed rail, you want to have a state-of-the-art station. This really puts the likelihood of this station being built sooner rather than later," Silver said.

Officials plan to release results of a study of the proposed transportation hub and renderings of what it might look like next month.

Silver said the federal government could pick up much of the tab for the facility, or the city could partner with a private business.

"To have a multi-modal (center), you need a large facility. With high-speed (rail) and Amtrak, it's vital for cities of the future," he said. "Once that facility is built, it will create another location downtown. It's not just about the station but what could happen around the station."

Byrd said he thinks a downtown transportation hub is worth the investment.

"A lot of people travel out of (the Greyhound depot) and Amtrak, so I think it would be worth the money," he said.