Local/State

Two options on the table for high speed rail

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The debate over two proposed routes for a high speed rail line that would run through downtown Raleigh went before City Council Tuesday.

A task force charged with studying the issue made its final recommendation to council members. It wants to go with the proposed route that would run near Jones Street just west of Capital Boulevard.

The task force told council members that the plan would keep both West and Harrington streets open at the train crossings, where the alternative would shut them down entirely for both cars and pedestrians.

It would have the least amount of impact on the Glenwood South area, and would not require an enormous four-block-long bridge spanning Jones Street.

The negatives? It would cost about $45 million more and Jones Street would be closed at the tracks. About twice as many homes and businesses, more than 50 in all, would be affected - some having to be torn down.

But supporters of the plan, referred to as NC3, say it's still the better than the alternative.

"Each option has its plusses and minuses and we felt that NC3 had less minuses I guess, if you want to use that word than NC1&2 has," offered Maha Chambliss with the Passenger Rail Task Force.

Despite the heavy impact on the area, some are excited by the idea of high speed rail coming to Raleigh.

Boylan Bridge Brew Pub owner Andrew Leager says the proposal could boost business at his pub.

"There's going to be city buses, they'll be Greyhound buses, there'll be cars, there will be all sorts of things coming down there," Leager said.

The Southeast High Speed Rail line would connect Richmond, Va. with downtown Raleigh.

For safety, no roads would cross the tracks at the same elevation, but some roads would close.

Raleigh city staff agreed with the task force on which route to use, but suggested possible ways to blunt some of the pain.

It included a pedestrian overpass at Jones, a new Wolfpack Lane overpass, and closing Hargett Street - sending traffic down West Street.

City council will hold a public hearing on the proposed high-speed rail service at 7:00 p.m., August 31 in the council chamber of the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett Street.

More on the high speed rail corridor can be found here.

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