Some Raleigh residents oppose proposed rail route
Posted August 31, 2010 11:01 p.m. EDT
Updated September 7, 2010 7:56 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — More than 100 people showed up for a public hearing Tuesday night to give their input on three proposed routes for the high-speed passengers trains through Raleigh.
Raleigh city planners recently endorsed a special task force's proposal for the Southeast High-Speed Rail route to follow the Norfolk Southern tracks, north from Jones Street along the western side of Capital Boulevard.
The plan would keep northbound and southbound lanes of West and Harrington streets in downtown open to vehicle traffic and avoid the need for a bridge near Glenwood South.
But many from Raleigh's Five Points district at Tuesday's meeting opposed the plan, saying the route would go through their neighborhood and adversely affect businesses and homes.
As many as 12 freight trains and eight passenger trains could go through the area, they said.
Keri Brang said the plan would bring the rail through her backyard, and the uncertainty is keeping her from selling her house.
"Unfortunately, all the feedback that I get is, 'We love your house, but tell me about the train,'" Brang said. "No one wants to purchase a home that will be the subject of eminent domain."
Not everyone was against the proposal.
Daryl Grout, a resident at West at North condominiums in downtown, said the two other plans presented to the City Council on Aug. 3 would shut down historic downtown streets and affect public safety.
"The closing of Harrington and West streets will block access to downtown, and – this is a key point – block emergency routes for fire and emergency vehicles," he said.
Many support a compromise, a so-called "hybrid alternative" that would avoid street closures and minimize the effects on businesses and homes.
The steepness of the rail under the alternative plan, said Eric Lamb, manager of the city's Transportation Services Division, wouldn't allow for certain types of trains to travel through.
The state Department of Transportation, which will ultimately decide the high-speed rail, will further evaluate the option.
The Raleigh City Council has until Sept. 10 to make a final decision, and members said they expect to discuss the issue again at their meeting on Tuesday.
The rail, still years away from completion, would provide high-speed train service from Raleigh to Washington, D.C.
The DOT has held several public meetings in communities that will be affected by the project and 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 completion of the rail from Charlotte to Richmond is projected to be 2017 or later.