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'New' Union Station for Raleigh, NC


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#1 Notelvis

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 09:56 AM

Yesterday's Raleigh News and Observer reported the additional Federal funding will be announced today for a project to convert a vacant Raleigh warehouse into a new Union Station with more parking and much more space.

The new Amtrak platform would be across the tracks and a little northeast of the existing Raleigh Amtrak Station. The warehouse itself sits inside the active 'Boylan Wye' so both pedestrian and vehicular traffic would have to access the station via underpasses which would be constructed beneath the east leg of the wye.

Here are some links to demonstrate what's going on -

Several Views of the Vacant Warehouse

Artist Rendering of finished statiom

Article with diagram of station area

Note that the existing Raleigh Amtrak Station is the structure between points 9 and 5 in the diagram.

Article from Raleigh News & Observer

With this latest grant in addition to one awarded earlier, as well as a bond proposal which passed in Raleigh last fall, construction on the new Raleigh Union Station could begin in the fall of 2013.

David Pressley

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#2 afigg

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 10:57 AM

Yesterday's Raleigh News and Observer reported the additional Federal funding will be announced today for a project to convert a vacant Raleigh warehouse into a new Union Station with more parking and much more space.

The new Amtrak platform would be across the tracks and a little northeast of the existing Raleigh Amtrak Station. The warehouse itself sits inside the active 'Boylan Wye' so both pedestrian and vehicular traffic would have to access the station via underpasses which would be constructed beneath the east leg of the wye.
...
With this latest grant in addition to one awarded earlier, as well as a bond proposal which passed in Raleigh last fall, construction on the new Raleigh Union Station could begin in the fall of 2013.

We will see if FRA head Mr. Szabo will actually be announcing additional funding awards for the Raleigh Station or not. There is a FRA press release announcing the formal award and obligation of $26.5 million to NC for cross-overs, track and signal upgrades between Rocky Mount and Petersburg. The project was selected in the original round of stimulus grants, but has taken over 2 years to get the agreements in place to obligate the funds. There are additional HSIPR funds from "placeholder" money that was de-obligated from the WI and FL HSR projects in recent months, so the FRA may be re-directing some of those funds to NC. We'll find out.

If construction starts on the new Raleigh station and tracks in the fall of 2013, that will be almost lightening speed from the time of the grant announcement in comparison to many of the HSIPR projects.

Edited by afigg, 21 September 2012 - 10:58 AM.


#3 Notelvis

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 11:17 AM

Adding to my initial post, the News and Observer has reported this morning that an additional $23.7 million dollars will be coming to the Raleigh Union Station project. That's in addition to a $21 million Tiger Gtant awarded in June. Though the article doesn't specifically say that this is money that other states turned back, that's a reasonable assumption as it does indicate that this is money from the 2010 stimulus package.

The October 2013 start date is mentioned in one of the articles and not just something I conjured up. It does seem optimistic but do realize that a new train station for Raleigh has been in preliminary planning for several years already. The plan to use the vacated warehouse is a scaled back version of the original plan...... one that can pretty much be achieved with the funding now on hand.

One other factor which may speed things up in this case is that the warehouse is one of several purchased by the Triangle Transit Authority when a much grander intermodal facility was planned in this area. TTA has said that they will donate the building for this project. Furthermore, the platform and trackwork would all be going on the site of what was once a small freight yard operated by the Southern Railway under lease from the North Carolina Railroad. That property is owned by the state of North Carolina and the NCDOT has a pretty remarkable (for a southern state) record of incremental improvement along the route where the state owns the tracks and leases them to Norfolk Southern.

$23.7 million more for Raleigh Station project

Edited by Notelvis, 21 September 2012 - 11:32 AM.

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#4 afigg

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 05:00 PM

The additional federal funds for the Raleigh station are coming from the $545 million that was already granted to NC according to the article. There are contingency reserve amounts built into the projected costs, so if construction bids come in on target or below, NC may have funds to re-allocate to other track and station projects in the next several years. Quoting the article:

It's not new money. There is $15.1 million that was part of $545 million in federal stimulus (ARRA) money for fast-train improvements, announced in 2010. The $15.1 million was a small part of that big package that was not designated in advance for a particular project. And another $6.7 million (not mentioned by Szabo today) that had been marked for track improvements in that same original $545 million package.

There is a follow-up story in the News Observer after the official announcements. Raleigh is doing very well for the station: from no federal funding earlier this year to $43 million.

It will be interesting to see what happens to ridership in NC once the corridor has an Carolinian (with more coach cars) and 4 daily Piedmonts for 5 trains a day with a new anchor stations in Raleigh and Charlotte, depending on how long it takes to get the Charlotte station fully funded and built. Will a new busy train station in Raleigh help to move up the plans for a light rail line?

#5 xyzzy

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 04:05 PM

I'm not aware of any firm plans to lengthen 79/80. And there are no near-term plans for 4 daily Piedmonts, either. NCDOT is planning to add a third Piedmont that would provide a total of four trips daily in each direction between Charlotte and Raleigh -- if NCDOT can find the money for it, and that's not easy given the current political alignment at the NC General Assembly. Anything else is at least five years away, and some folks in the General Assembly would start pushing for Asheville or Wilmington before Charlotte-Raleigh gets a fifth.

Yes, plans for the new Raleigh station are scaled back relative to the visions of two years ago, but those were pie-in-the-sky visions (a/k/a irrational exuberance) that never should have been publicized to begin with. The parties who participated in those plans -- mainly City of Raleigh people -- can now hide in the shadows while a practical station is built under the direction of a much more sane NCDOT.

The good news is that the A-line improvements between Rocky Mount and the NC/VA line are funded (finally) as well as the Raleigh station. The new 3rd track in northern VA will help too.

Edited by xyzzy, 22 September 2012 - 04:20 PM.


#6 Shawn Ryu

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 09:42 PM

Location location location.

It has to be convenient for majority of passengers and well connected to public transit and taxi service.

Otherwise its useless.

#7 RampWidget

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:13 PM

Location location location.

It has to be convenient for majority of passengers and well connected to public transit and taxi service.

Otherwise its useless.


Actually, that's not a bad site, in my opinion, right between downtown and the trendy Boylan Heights neighborhood. Also close to the N.C. State University campus.

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#8 xyzzy

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 05:36 AM

It has to be convenient for majority of passengers and well connected to public transit and taxi service.

Public transit in Raleigh? You must be joking. What the station needs is parking, and that's what it will provide.

#9 Guest_Nathanael_*

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 02:43 PM

The new location is closer to downtown (being on the north side of the tracks rather than the south side), which makes it better as a destination, and has more capacity for both people and cars (the existing one is overcrowded), which makes it better as an origin.

I'll believe this is happening when there's agreement on the engineering plans for getting everyone under that east leg of the wye. Everything else on the site is pretty straightforward.

#10 Guest_Nathanael_*

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 02:56 PM

I'm not aware of any firm plans to lengthen 79/80.


No coach cars to lengthen it with.

The rolling stock shortage is still hurting Amtrak; I'd expect a burst of longer trains in 2015-2016 when the "state bilevels" (aka new Surfliners) start arriving. (Expect to see Horizon coaches in North Carolina.)

#11 cirdan

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 03:23 PM


It has to be convenient for majority of passengers and well connected to public transit and taxi service.

Public transit in Raleigh? You must be joking. What the station needs is parking, and that's what it will provide.



When I was last in Raleigh I took a taxi to the Amtrak station and the taxi driver had to radio his office two ask where the station was.

So not exactly a frequent destination.



#12 John Bobinyec

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 04:31 PM

When I was last in Raleigh I took a taxi to the Amtrak station and the taxi driver had to radio his office two ask where the station was.

So not exactly a frequent destination.


Perhaps - for that taxi driver. There is always a queue of taxis parked on the street waiting for the trains - at least 79, 80, 91 and 92 anyway.

jb

Edited by John Bobinyec, 25 September 2012 - 04:48 AM.

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#13 Guest_Despot of Epirus_*

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:22 PM

At least he didn't drop you at the old SAL station. I used to take the overnight train to NYC from that station in the mid 1960's during school vacations.

#14 xyzzy

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 05:05 AM

At least he didn't drop you at the old SAL station.

It's still there, reused as a café and a retail nursery. 26 years have passed since Amtrak moved to the ex-Southern station. Given the growth of Raleigh, the percentage of residents today who remember the SAL station is very low.

#15 Notelvis

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 06:47 AM


At least he didn't drop you at the old SAL station.

It's still there, reused as a café and a retail nursery. 26 years have passed since Amtrak moved to the ex-Southern station. Given the growth of Raleigh, the percentage of residents today who remember the SAL station is very low.


I remember the SAL station....... but then I am what my wife describes as a 'train geek' and I have been riding trains long enough to have caught trains to and from the SAL station.

I agree that the 'hard part' of the Raleigh plan will be getting access underneath the east leg of the wye. It looks doable from the conceptual drawings BUT that's going to take the longest amount of time and be the most disruptive to current operations.

Charlotte - the current station there isn't exactly a dump but compared to the other new or newly renovated stations in North Carolina, it's among the least attractive. Things that could enhance the Charlotte station are pretty much on hold since there are plans to replace it.

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#16 VentureForth

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:31 AM


Yesterday's Raleigh News and Observer reported the additional Federal funding will be announced today for a project to convert a vacant Raleigh warehouse into a new Union Station with more parking and much more space.

The new Amtrak platform would be across the tracks and a little northeast of the existing Raleigh Amtrak Station. The warehouse itself sits inside the active 'Boylan Wye' so both pedestrian and vehicular traffic would have to access the station via underpasses which would be constructed beneath the east leg of the wye.
...
With this latest grant in addition to one awarded earlier, as well as a bond proposal which passed in Raleigh last fall, construction on the new Raleigh Union Station could begin in the fall of 2013.

We will see if FRA head Mr. Szabo will actually be announcing additional funding awards for the Raleigh Station or not. There is a FRA press release announcing the formal award and obligation of $26.5 million to NC for cross-overs, track and signal upgrades between Rocky Mount and Petersburg. The project was selected in the original round of stimulus grants, but has taken over 2 years to get the agreements in place to obligate the funds. There are additional HSIPR funds from "placeholder" money that was de-obligated from the WI and FL HSR projects in recent months, so the FRA may be re-directing some of those funds to NC. We'll find out.

If construction starts on the new Raleigh station and tracks in the fall of 2013, that will be almost lightening speed from the time of the grant announcement in comparison to many of the HSIPR projects.

For $25 Million, wouldn't it be worth more to speed up Acela by 15 seconds?

Sorry. Just irritated by huge numbers for insignificant changes. But honestly, I thougt the station was already close to NC State. IIRC, my neice who travels to Kannapolis doesn't have to go far to get to the station, but it could be a $10 cab ride...

As for the name, if it is really going to be called "Union Station," I highly object to that. First, it's the biggest cliche in railroad perception next to the incorrectly called Grand Central Station (Terminal). The term Union has historically been used when several passenger railroad companies pitched in to have a transfer point in a single location. Ever since Amday, the term has been used in an historical context. None of these would be true for a new station carved from a warehouse. In fact, it would be a disservice by forgetting the current Union Station. New location should have a new name. Period.

Edited by VentureForth, 25 September 2012 - 08:37 AM.

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#17 xyzzy

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:48 AM

"Union Station" was the proposed project name from the City of Raleigh. Raleigh's original and true Union Station (now a commercial office building) is in the vicinity, and I suppose that's why the Union Station name was picked up. Or one could argue that a confluence of Amtrak, SEHSR, commuter rail, Triangle-area light rail, and bus service -- all parts of the original vision -- could justify "Union".

But I think it's moot now. NCDOT, not the City of Raleigh, is in the driver's seat for the new station. And I haven't heard anyone at NCDOT call it Union Station.

The current and proposed station sites are about 2 miles from NC State.

#18 cirdan

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:55 AM

"Union Station" was the proposed project name from the City of Raleigh. Raleigh's original and true Union Station (now a commercial office building) is in the vicinity, and I suppose that's why the Union Station name was picked up. Or one could argue that a confluence of Amtrak, SEHSR, commuter rail, Triangle-area light rail, and bus service -- all parts of the original vision -- could justify "Union".


I guess you are spekaing in jest, but from what I've heard there are indeed plans floating around for some sort of commuter or light rail corridor in the Raleigh - Durham area. It's probably not going to happen very soon, but I guess at some point within the next 20 years or so it's highly likely the plans will be back on the table.

But then I'm not sure to what extent the current plans allow for that, or whether they'll have to tear it all down and start over.

#19 afigg

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 09:27 AM

I guess you are spekaing in jest, but from what I've heard there are indeed plans floating around for some sort of commuter or light rail corridor in the Raleigh - Durham area. It's probably not going to happen very soon, but I guess at some point within the next 20 years or so it's highly likely the plans will be back on the table.

But then I'm not sure to what extent the current plans allow for that, or whether they'll have to tear it all down and start over.

There are indeed plans for a light rail line in Raleigh to Cary and another one in Durham. The light rail line in Raleigh would connect to the new station. News article from last year on the City Council voting on a preferred route for the downtown segment. There will be a lot of hurdles for the light rail projects to overcome, but they are beyond the tenuous planning stage.

The Transport Politic blog covered the Raleigh & Durham light rail plans last November after Durham county passed a referendum for a 1/2 percent sales tax increase to pay for the light rail project.

The funding for and the building of the new Raleigh train station should help the prospects for the light rail project. A busy intercity and potential commuter train station provides a major connection destination to help sell a light rail system.

#20 xyzzy

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 11:09 AM

In Raleigh there are proposals for both light rail and commuter rail. What makes it confusing is that light rail and commuter rail would share the NCRR corridor between downtown Durham and downtown Raleigh, except possibly for a jog of the light rail line over to RDU Airport and back (if the RDU Airport Authority will ever agree to it). So, when someone says "rail" between Durham and Raleigh, the reference might be to Amtrak/NCDOT or to light rail or to commuter rail.

Commuter rail would cover a longer distance, Hillsborough-Durham-Cary-Raleigh-Garner-Selma-Goldsboro or a portion thereof. There is also occasional talk of commuter trains over the nee-NS Raleigh-Knightdale-Wendell-Zebulon.


Neither light rail nor commuter rail has been funded, and it's anyone's guess whether they ever will be and if so, when. And just to make things totally confusing, light rail is also proposed from downtown Raleigh northeastward along the SAL/CSX corridor that would host SEHSR... assuming SEHSR is funded someday.

The potential combination of Amtrak, SEHSR, commuter rail, and light rail has been a complicating factor in site selection and design for a new passenger station in Raleigh.




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