Local News

Raleigh residents give input on high-speed rail proposal

Posted July 26, 2010 10:24 p.m. EDT
Updated July 27, 2010 4:22 p.m. EDT

— More than 150 people attended a public meeting Monday night in Raleigh on the proposed high-speed rail line that will eventually connect Charlotte to Washington, D.C., with trains traveling at top speeds of 110 miles per hour.

Many of those attending the information session at the Raleigh Convention Center were residents living near route options where the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor could pass enroute to Richmond, Va.

Raleigh resident Mary Jo Gellenbeck said the high-speed rail line would be a welcomed sight.

“Mass transportation will bring in the next generation of people. They're going to be looking for it,” Gellenbeck said.

However, some in the crowd didn't share Gellenbeck's enthusiasm. They worry the rail line will run through their property.

“It's certainly a fair warning to keep involved and watch what's going to come," warehouse owner Herb Pierson said. "They could move that line 20 feet and that would cut right into our buildings."

Long-time Raleigh resident Pat Brafford's said one of the rail's potential corridors runs through her backyard.

“It is kind of frightening at 70 to have to think about moving because the railroad is coming to your house,” Brafford said.

State rail division director Pat Simmons said the purpose of the public hearing is to get input for further rail development plans. Maps were shown to residents so they could see how alternative rail corridors could affect the area.

“There are some items that are unavoidable in drawing a straight line. So, we will share the product of that work. We will ask the public to correct us,” Simmons explained.

The state was awarded $545 million in federal stimulus funds to support the high-speed rail system, which plans to complete the track from Charlotte to Raleigh within three years. The time frame for rail from Charlotte to Richmond is projected to be 2017 or later.

“If the wind is at my back and we get funding, and everything falls into place, you are looking at about the end of the decade,” Simmons said of a completion date.

Two more DOT information sessions and public hearings are planned for this week:

  • Tuesday, July 27, at Aycock Elementary School, 305 Carey Chapel Road in Henderson.
  • Thursday, July 29, at Franklinton High School gym, 6948 N. Cheatham St. in Franklinton.