Thursday, August 16, 2012

NCDOT moves ahead with new uptown train station. But ...

After years of planning, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the City of Charlotte are officially seeking developers for the proposed new passenger rail station in uptown Charlotte. They're issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), with proposals due Sept. 21.

If you're an interested developer, click here for more information.

"This RFQ is the next step in selecting a master developer for the project," says the NCDOT press release issued Thursday morning. What's being called the Charlotte Gateway Station is envisioned as a central hub for Amtrak, Charlotte Area Transit System bus and streetcar service, the long-proposed-but-still-unfunded Red Line commuter rail project to north Mecklenburg County, Greyhound Bus service and the county greenway system.

Unfortunately for the Red Line and possibly for the streetcar, Mayor Anthony Foxx said in an interview Wednesday that, when it comes to any transit services beyond the Blue Line, "We're stuck." (More from that Q-and-A format interview will be posted at PlanCharlotte.org as soon as I can type up the transcript.)
The streetcar has funding only for about a mile and a half between Presbyterian Hospital and The Square at Trade and Tryon. An expansion proposal using city funds only, that would take it to the Gateway Station site on West Trade Street near Johnson & Wales University, was killed by the City Council in June.

The N.C. General Assembly has, for two years in a row, tried to kill funding for the planned-but-not-yet-built Blue Line Extension. Both times the BLE was saved in closed-door bargaining.

But this year the legislators decided to make any rail transit projects compete head-to-head with funding for highway projects, a prospect that most transit supporters believe will all but doom any further rail transit in the state.

But to end on a more cheerful note, replacing the dreary Amtrak station a couple of miles north of uptown on North Tryon Street will be a relief to many rail passengers who use the state's three daily trains to Raleigh and back.

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