Local News

Raleigh City Council to hear high-speed rail proposal

Posted August 2, 2010 10:13 p.m. EDT
Updated August 3, 2010 5:16 a.m. EDT

— A task force is scheduled to present its proposal on the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor to the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday.

The high-speed rail line will eventually connect Charlotte to Washington, D.C., and has some concerned about where the rail's potential corridors in downtown Raleigh could run.

A task force plans to recommend that the trains follow the Norfolk Southern tracks north from Jones Street along the west side of Capital Boulevard. This option would keep North-South streets of West and Harrington open to vehicle traffic and would avoid the need for a bridge near Glenwood South, according to the task force.

The Norfolk Southern lines would also allow for a pedestrian bridge to be built to maintain existing access along Jones Street.

William Allen, with the Passenger Rail Task Force, said using the Norfolk Southern tracks would avoid major traffic reroutes but would impact more neighborhoods.

"I can't say how many (homes) are totally impacted, but of the historic homes there are four or five," Allen said Monday.

Residents along Bickett Boulevard, where the historic homes are located, are likely to come out against the task force's recommendation.

"It's our job to mitigate the impacts on the neighborhoods," Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said. "What we have to figure, is that in the greater public interest or not?"

Baldwin said the Norfolk Southern option would also cost $44 million more than the alternative.

The alternative the task force is not in favor of would have trains travel along the east side of Capital Boulevard, using the CSX tracks.

The CSX line would permanently close West and Harrington streets to vehicle traffic and require a bridge over Jones Street that would negatively impact commercial activity in the area, the task force says.

Baldwin said the City Council will carefully consider both options as their recommendation could greatly influence the Department of Transportation's final decision.

"This has an impact on our city for the next 100 years. It's huge," Baldwin said.

The DOT has held several public meetings on the rail project. The department says public input will be taken into consideration as it designs the train corridors.

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