Friday, November 19, 2010

Transportation Alphabet Soup: NCDOT, HSR, MTC

Another week; another series of major announcements impacting Third Ward.  Monday night's neighborhood meeting brought Allan Paul and Mike Shumsky of NCDOT from Raleigh (and local consultant Travis Pollack) to present detailed information on railroad infrastructure improvements leading to the development of Gateway Station.  Mr. Paul and Mr. Shumsky were well-informed about Uptown Charlotte and Third Ward specifically, having cultivated feedback through community meetings dating back almost ten years.  Their presentation can be found here; note that the "South End" improvements noted in the document relate to the section of track between Uptown and the airport (not the South End neighborhood).  Bottom line: Design charrettes for Gateway Station will begin in 2011, though its final design and construction will wait upon a public-private partnership (i.e., private investment) or possibly a major federal grant.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's remarks may have forecasted just such a grant.  Speaking in Charlotte Wednesday morning, LaHood indicated that North Carolina could be the recipient of high-speed rail (HSR) stimulus funds to be rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin (at least one editorialist disagrees).  The Charlotte hub for the HSR line linking south to Atlanta and north to Raleigh, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston will be, of course, Gateway Station.
Not to be outdone, the Metropolitan Transit Commission entered the fray Wednesday afternoon.  The MTC decided to pursue an accelerated schedule for the Blue Line Extension (extending the current Blue Line toward UNC-Charlotte) in a "scaled-back version."  For the commuter Red Line serving Lake Norman communities - to be based at Gateway Station - the MTC recommended seeking private investment.
Apart from the section from the arena down Elizabeth Avenue, implementation of the streetcar has been postponed indefinitely.
For more on NCDOT's work on Gateway Station, see this website.  2011 will present big opportunities for Third Ward residents to shape the most significant infrastructure investment in the region.  Please plan to join the discussion.