Re: RDU Light Rail system likely dead for now
- From: Clark F Morris <cfmpublic@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 00:21:03 GMT
On Tue, 22 Aug 2006 05:11:29 -0400, John Lansford
Another article on what TTA is going to do with the money they've been
collecting for the light rail system:
The TTA wants Triangle community leaders to decide what happens next.
On Monday, business spokesmen and elected officials said rail transit
remains an open question. There were calls for the TTA to stop
collecting the car-rental tax and to unload some of the 169 acres it
has bought or leased for the rail project. But most people
interviewed, including skeptics, said the TTA should hang onto its
property and tax collections -- for now.
"Just because the train is not feasible doesn't mean that transit
options are not feasible," said state Rep. Paul B. Stam of Apex. He
said TTA eventually might need the money to expand bus service or make
The Triangle doesn't have the population density to support commuter
trains now, Stam said. But it might need trains -- and the land TTA
assembled for 12 stations and 28 miles of tracks -- in the future.
"The right-of-way that they've acquired should be kept," Stam said.
"In 30 or 40 years, we might have the density."
The legislature and the Wake, Durham and Orange county commissioners
authorized the TTA to start collecting the rental tax in 1998. TTA
trustees hoped it would be a healthy funding source for the rail
project, but it grew slowly and returned only $7 million last year.
State Sen. Neal Hunt of Raleigh said the TTA should probably sell some
of the land it has bought around proposed rail stops. Until the
agency's future is resolved, he said, it should not collect the
The TTA's original plan called for 60 percent funding from Washington,
with local and state funds sharing the rest. Roberto Canales,
assistant secretary for transit at the state Department of
Transportation, said future state funding would depend on the TTA's
"It depends on what their next steps are," Canales said. "Then the
state can take a position whether it wants to support that plan or
In the past, state funding has been pledged only to match money from
the federal government. Several local leaders said they didn't see a
future for rail transit in the Triangle if the federal government
won't help pay for it.
"The harsh reality is that it's going to be exceedingly difficult to
do it without federal funds," said Eugene Brown, a Durham City Council
member. "It's time to take off the rose-colored glasses, folks."
One of the things that loused up the plan was the insistence that the
LRV's which were to run on a separate set of tracks near the CSX lines
(which may be owned by the state in this case) had to meet the FRA
strength standards (1.2 million pound squeeze test). This escalated
the costs for no good reason. Note that none of the Japanese or
European high speed equipment could meet the test since they only meet
a 220 thousand pound squeeze test even though the European equipment
operates on both dedicated high speed lines and regular mixed traffic
lines. The TGV equipment has hit trucks at grade crossings while
doing 87 mph and the only one that caused fatalities on the train was
when a TGV hit an 80 paving machine. The engineer died and one
passenger who had a heart attack died. Things which may not have been
that great started going downhill from there.
John Lansford, PE
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