Southeast High-Speed Rail Releases Detailed Proposals for Raleigh-Richmond Corridor

Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor Raleigh-Richmond

» Project would halve travel time between the two state capitals, but it’s not yet an extension of the Northeast Corridor towards the south.

Yesterday, the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor planning group (SEHSR) — a project run by the North Carolina Department of Transportation in association with the State of Virginia — released its draft environmental impact study (DEIS) for the 162-mile Raleigh-Richmond passenger rail route. The DEIS will undergo public review over the next two months in preparation for an eventual grant submission to the Federal Railroad Administration for up to three billion dollars to pursue the completion of this project over the next decade.

SEHSR is not proposing true high-speed rail: its trains will be limited to 110 mph, be powered by diesel locomotives, and be limited to single tracks along several route segments. But the project is nonetheless quite ambitious. Whereas current Amtrak service between the

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North Carolina State Senate Moves Ahead on Local Sales Taxes

Following an April vote in the House, the Senate appears to be close to allowing the Triangle and Triad to fund new transit systems.

After years of controversy revolving around the regressive nature of sales tax increases, the North Carolina State Senate yesterday tentatively approved a measure that would allow citizens in the Triangle and Triad metropolitan areas the right to vote to increase their local sales taxes by a 1/2¢ on every dollar to pay for transit improvements. Mecklenburg County, which includes the state’s largest city Charlotte, has been taxing itself a similar amount since 1998 after the legislature allowed it and it alone to expand its tax base. The bill, if approved later this week as expected, will also allow other less urban areas in the state to push up sales taxes by 1/4¢ to fund transportation.

The measure passed the state house in April and will let the

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Winston-Salem Proposes Modern Streetcar Line

North Carolina city would rely on stimulus money to complete state’s first trolley line.

As America’s streetcar renaissance continues, more and more medium-size cities are considering an investment in the mode. The latest addition to the game: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a city of about 200,000 and the state’s fifth-largest. Transportation planners envision a 2.6 mile corridor financed by federal government stimulus funds that would redefine downtown mobility there.

The proposed trolley would run in a figure-8 pattern in mixed traffic and connect the central business district with a future commuter rail station that would provide service to nearby Greensboro if built in the next decade. Similar proposals have been under consideration since 2003.

Planners have contracted out with transportation planners HDR Engineering to analyze potential routes, whose cost would likely total $65 million. Attempting to leverage the benefits of improved transportation to increase commercial and residential development in

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Charlotte Business Taskforce Decides that Roads – Not Transit – Deserve More Funding

The North Carolina city, already incapable of funding its long-term transit plan, will likely not see more revenues dedicated to public transportation

The influential Committee of 21, a sort of local Rotary Club for discussing transportation issues in the Charlotte area, told the city council yesterday that any new transportation funding in the region should be dedicated to roads, not transit. Ned Curran, chair of the committee, said “I don’t want to be anti-transitMy company supported (the transit sales tax). We were against repeal, both with our voice and with our money. But where are we going to get money for roads?”  The committee’s statements reflect the mood of the city’s business community and may portend a less-than-ideal future for mass transit in North Carolina’s biggest city.

The argument goes something like this: Charlotte approved a 1/2¢ sales tax for transit back in 1998, and the business community helped work successfully

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North Carolina Opens Up to Local-Option Sales Taxes

New funding capacity will allow for improved transit in the Triad and Triangle Metro Areas

Several metropolitan areas in North Carolina have been toying around with the idea of implementing local sales taxes for transportation for quite a while now, after Bush-era policies made it impossible to rely on federal funds to provide the majority of funds for transit capital projects in areas without a steady tax funding source. One problem, however, was that the state has not allowed the creation of such revenue sources outside of the state’s biggest city Charlotte, which approved a 1/2¢ dedicated transit sales tax in 1998. As a result, detailed plans to improve transit in both the Raleigh/Durham Triangle and the Greensboro/Winston-Salem Triad fell by the wayside.

Over the past few years, however, advocates in both areas have been pushing forward with new proposals for transit expansion, especially after the notable success of Charlotte’s LYNX light

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by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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