|CEMT Recommendations for
The North/Lake Norman Corridor
Also the busway along I-77 in this corridor is not wanted by the majority of citizens and the town officials of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson, as far as we have been able to determine. A busway will only serve to further increase development along I-77 and to the west of this highway, to the detriment of the traditional centers of these towns. This is the exact opposite of what they are trying to accomplish with mass transit.
DMU commuter rail transit should be instituted in rush hour service as soon as money becomes available, an agreement can be reached with the railroad and the tracks and stations prepared. Rail service can be supplemented with mid-day bus service serving most of the train stations until such time as sufficient ridership has been built up to replace it with full rail service.
The Independence Corridor
The existing center lanes on the Independence Freeway could be used for express bus service, as is now planned. We think it could be shared with HOV car traffic however, without having a serious effect on express bus service. The focus of this express bus service however should be shifted to the Albemarle/Eastland Mall area. The planned bus transfer hub at Eastland Mall could be built and express buses coming off Independence Freeway and Albemarle Road could feed into this terminal. This would then utilize the existing express lanes, while testing the acceptance of a busway as an alternate mode of rapid transit.
The Airport Corridor
While a busway might be cheaper and offer more frequent service, light rail could be a more attractive alternative. It also could be faster and more reliable, provided the alignment chosen is one that avoids heavy street traffic enroute to the airport.
Whatever mode is finally decided upon we feel that far more citizen input needs to be made, not only from the local community this corridor serves, but also from the greater Charlotte area, as this corridor is likely to be used more heavily by people from other parts of town. Also airport officials and even the airlines themselves need to be heard.
Charlotte Trolley, as light rail operates together with vintage trolleys in several other cities around the country. Light rail should cause no problems running through the convention center as opposed to major problems that would have occurred if a busway had run through this facility. Light rail should enhance rather than detract from property in the South End district. Even the rail line right-of-way, now overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash should look much cleaner and neater with the coming of light rail, and this can only help property values in the neighborhoods.
However, the greatest potential of this corridor will not be realized until the line is fully extended to the Pineville area, so it can serve the Arrowood and Westinghouse complexes and tap into the communities beyond. Large parking areas at light rail stations in the outlying areas are a must if drivers are to be lured off I-77. Feeder buses to the industrial and business parks, Ballantyne, Carowinds, Ft. Mill and Rock Hill are also a must to make this service succeed. Once all this is in place, light rail should be able to prove what a valuable tool it can be in community development, as well as providing fast, clean, dependable rapid transit service.
The University Corridor
By the time you get to Derita, you are well on your way to the University area without building a single mile of busway or railway. Yes, this does require the necessity of looking at building a light rail line, not a busway. However, logic seems to dictate that to do otherwise in this narrow corridor would be wasteful. Why duplicate infrastructure? Use the abandoned rail corridor through the University area and build through UNCC to tie into the Norfolk Southern rail alignment near I-485. There needs to be a large parking facility in this area for people coming in from Cabarrus County. At some future date, a satellite Amtrak station might be built in this area so that people could transfer from rapid transit to the train, or get off I-485 and transfer to the train, without the necessity of driving uptown.
Others may argue that a different alignment, such as North Tryon should be used. However, if the consultants recommendations are to be followed, building two parallel transitways alongside each other on Graham Street makes no sense to us. We dont believe you will find many examples of other cities doing it either.
Summary of Recommendations
We must repeat again that no other city in North America has invested this much of their hard-to-come-by transit funding in busways with the exception of Ottawa, Canada. Should we make this large an experiment with the taxpayers dollar here in the hope that it works? We dont think so!
We also do not agree with the idea of building busways now and replacing them later with light rail. This is an idea we have not heard of until it was proposed here. Rapid transit, whether it is bus or rail, is very expensive, and to come back in 15, 20 or even 30 years, tear it down and rebuild it just is not fiscally responsible. Federal funds are almost certainly going to be involved, and they will want their investment fully depreciated before any changes are made.
It is also an open question whether funding will be available for replacement of these systems in the distant future. Therefore it is most likely that whatever we build on these corridors now is what we will be living with, not only in our lifetime, but for generations to come. With this in mind, it is extremely important that whatever we do is done right! We strongly feel that you need to "do it right the first time or dont do it at all."
Posted October 30, 1998