Next stop: public hearings

The first transit workshop was held in Raleigh last night, after the Indy went to press.

The second is in Durham March 23, 4–7 p.m. at the Durham Station Transportation Center, 515 W. Pettigrew St.

The third is Thursday, March 24, 4–7 p.m. at The Friday Center, 100 Friday Center Drive, off N.C. 54 in Chapel Hill.

Four more sessions are scheduled next week in Raleigh, Cary and RTP.

For more information, see Triangle Regional Transit Program.

See main story, “Transit plans moving again, but Wake commissioners an obstacle

Two of the Triangle Transit Authority’s three alternative alignments for light rail through downtown Raleigh may require a new railroad bridge over the existing South Boylan Avenue bridge.

One, as shown in the first TTA graphic below, would extend the new bridge over Hargett Street, allowing it to link with a proposed Union Station to be built at West Street south of West Morgan Street. Beyond Union Station, the rail line would head north up West Street or Harrington Street.

A second alternative would curve the bridge to the south, linking it to another alternative: a streetcar loop that would run on Salisbury and Wilmington streets, ringing the State Capitol.

In both alignments, the light-rail tracks would be forced to go over Boylan Avenue because of potential conflicts with freight lines in the railroad corridor beneath the bridgethe area known as the Boylan “Y.” A deal that would allow light rail to stay on the ground through the “Y” is considered highly unlikely.

All of the over-Boylan plans are unpopular in the Boylan Heights neighborhood, however, and with members of the Downtown Living Advocates, according to City Councilor Russ Stephenson and Will Allen, co-chair of Raleigh’s Passenger Rail Task Force.

The task force recommendedand City Council accepted its viewthat the light-rail line use a third alternative, which would bring it into downtown Raleigh as a streetcar line on West Morgan Street. No bridge would be needed. The streetcar would connect to the main railroad corridor where it nearly abuts West Morganbelow Goodnight’s Comedy Club and the Irregardless restaurant. There’s a problem with the third alternative, though. West Morgan “dips” as it enters the downtown, and station stops can’t be on an incline because of Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, according to Eric Lamb, the city’s transportation planning manager. Thus, if the West Morgan alternative is used, no station stop would be possible at Union Station unless the street itself was raisedat substantial expense.The lack of a Union Station stop, Lamb notes, would create a big disconnect in a transit line meant to connect the region.