Durham-Orange Corridor Rail Alternatives Workshop

NOTE: This is NOT a public hearing or a forum, nor is it a meeting, but public comments will be received. It is one-on-one with staff, Monday 8/29, 4-7 pm, CH Municipal Bldg. Attendees will get a chance to see DETAILS of the Durham-Orange Rail Transit Plan. Durham County residents (including 2,071 voters in the Town of Chapel Hill who live in Durham County) vote November 8 on a 1/2% sales tax to fund rail and bus transit expansion. Orange County has not yet set a vote.


The DCHC MPO has released the rail transit Alternatives Analysis for public comment.  See Web page for report copies and opportunities for providing comments, and for a recent addendum (August 2011) to the report.

TAC Releases Alternatives Analysis
The DCHC MPO board (Transportation Advisory Committee - TAC) voted at their June 22, 2011 meeting to release the rail transit Alternatives Analysis for public comments.  The Alternatives Analysis provides recommendations on rail transit alignment, stations and technology (e.g., light rail vehicles, bus rapid transit) to serve riders between Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh.  The Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) was responsible for completing the Alternatives Analysis and thus the Analysis documents can be found at their project Web site called OurTransitFuture.com.
    * Workshops
Staff will work one-on-one with the public to answer their questions on the Alternatives Analysis, and will receive public comments.  The public can walk in anytime during the workshop hours to work with staff.  The two Workshops include:

          - Chapel Hill Town Council Chambers: August 29th, 4pm to 7pm, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill.
          - Durham Station Transportation Center: August 30th, 4pm to 7pm, 515 W. Pettigrew St., Durham.

Alternatives Analysis Documents
Citizens can find electronic copies of the Alternatives Analysis reports at the following Web pages.  Information on the location of printed and DVD copies at local libraries is also available, as well as instructions for ordering printed and DVD copies.  Readers will note that each Alternatives Analysis is comprised of several detailed volumes of analysis data.  Thus, staff suggests starting your review with Volume 1 (called Detailed Definition of Alternatives Technical Report), which contains relatively more summarized data.

    * Durham-Orange Corridor
details on stations:

Durham-Orange Vol 1 Det Def of Alts Appendices A|Station Evaluation & B|Const. Impacts. (7.91 MB| PDF)

     Durham-Orange Vol 2 Plans and Profiles - Index, Key Index & Typ Sect. ( 21 MB| PDF)

     Durham-Orange Vol 2 Plans and Profiles - Segments A & B, UNC to Friday Center (6.48 MB | PDF) 
     Durham-Orange Vol 2 Plans and Profiles - Segments C & D Friday Center to Cornwallis 22.19 MB | PDF)

     Durham-Orange Vol 2 Plans and Profiles - Segment E Cornwallis to Alston Ave (11 MB | PDF) 
     Durham-Orange Vol 2 Plans and Profiles - Rail O & M Facility and Bus Rapid Transit (35 MB | PDF) 


On the very detailed station layouts for the first segment outbound from Chapel Hill to Durham you will see three UNC Medical center station alternates (A, C, and D) on page 1-3.  Only Alternate C is designed for a potential future extension to Carrboro. Page 5 shows the Masom Farm Rd station (which probably would be better named Mason Farm Rd/Smith Center) while on page 8 there are two alternate Hamilton Road Stations both generally behind the 54W project.  Detailed track alignments are shown.

The next detailed Chapel Hill/Durham station link covers the fourth station (Friday Center) to Cornwallis RdAlternative 1 has Friday Center station on p 1, then the Meadowmont Lane Station (p2), then Leigh Village at Farrington Rd on page 6. Alternative alignment 2 has Friday Center station at p7, Woodmont at p 8, and Leigh Village at Page 11. Then back to one alignment, the Gateway Station on p15 is on the west side of I-40 near Old Chapel Hill Rd and 15-501, just a few yards into Durham County. Patterson Place station is on p 17.Page 21 (Altermative 1) has an MLK Blvd station and an alternative B South Square station on the same page while Alternative 3 on page 24 has the MLK Blvd Station while alternative A South Square Station is on Page 25  

Finally, from the Orangecentric view, the last mapped segment is Cornwallis Rd to Alston Ave. Page 6 has the Lasalle Rd stations (looks like one for eastbound and one for westbound), page 8 is Duke Medical Center on Erwin Rd, looks to be right in front of Duke Hospital. At this point the Light Rail follows the NC Railroad right of way. page 10 shows the 9th Street Station at 9th and Main St, page 12 shows the Buchanan Blvd station across Main Street from Duke Campus. Page 13 is Durham Station, with the LRT flanked by Amtrak on one side and the bus station on the other. Page 14 has Dillar Street, while page 16 is Alston Avenue, end of the line a few blocks from the NCCU Campus.  

Thanks so much for posting this analysis! It can really help those of us who are drowning in information. (And I used to be an expert on the alternatives... 15 years ago.)

Glad to help ! If this afternoon/evening's session is like others in the alternatives analysis process, you can drop in anytime between 4 and 7 this afternoon at the Chapel Hill Municipal Bldg, though at 4 there will lilely be a presentation on what is going on. Not only can attendees find out details of the proposal, but there will most likely be an opportunity to make written comments which can influence the final process of station locations. As mentioned earlier, the alternatives include  (1) three potential UNC Hospital sites for the start of the line, (2) two altermative alignments from the Hamilton Road station to Leigh Village, one of which goes through Meadowmont, the other of which does not, and (3) two different sets of South Square stations over in Durham.  Personally, I think some of the station names should be more descriptive, for example UNC Hospitals rather than UNC, Mason Farm, Rd/Smith Center rather than Mason Farm, Duke (East?) (West?) Campus rather than Buchanan Blvd, and Alston Avenue/NCCU rather than Alston Avenue. The staion names should give the user more information about major locations served.Carrborians shoud be interested in the UNC Hospital stations, as the choices will influence potential futher extensions west.I've been mainly involved in the Raleigh locations for the Triangle Town Center to West Cary segment of the LRT but plan to drop in this afternoon.

I will try to come by when I'm between buses on my way home. Just to clarify, by "Chapel Hill Municipal Bldg" do you mean Town Hall?

yes I mean Town hall

I was at the workshop this afternoon from 4 to 5:15.  Got a chance to absorb an enormous amount of data. Talked with Matt Cz and Ed Harrison from the CH Town Council who were also talking with Triangle Transit staffers. Both indicated to me strong support for the Light Rail proposal. I also saw candidate Lee Storrow who asked my opinion on several detail issues (UNC Hospital station and Meadowmont alternatives). There may have been other council members or candidates there but I did not recognize them Matt. Matt C told me he reads OP and mentioned several of my recent posts here about early voting.I realized that this was my first visit to Town Hall since the mid 1980s, and I had never seen the addition that the council chambers were in.

Hey Gerry. I saw you there. I knew I recognized your name from somewhere, but I was a bit harried and needed to try to get my points across on the Meadowmont routing to the assembled staffers and Matt C before my early departure. (I left before Ed arrived.) Sorry I didn't introduce myself.I thought it was a really helpful session, and the staffers from Triangle Transit and consultants did a nice job presenting the voluminous information.

The rail layout for Chapel Hill seems to have been drawn so as to keep any Durhamites who work at UNC from seeing the commerce corridor along 15-501.  The plan does not relieve any traffic along 15-501, and it has been presented to the Town as a development opportunity along Route 54 rather than as a means to alleviate traffic.  I think light rail transit should serve the 15-501 corridor, not help create another one on 54.

When the 1/2 cent sales tax is implemented we will see all sorts of expanded bus service between this area and major emplyoment centers in Durham.  There will be expanded (and new express) services in the 15-501 corridor.A major correction to your comment: The route will start out following 54 east out of Chapel Hill, but it will turn north when it reaches Durham County (near the Friday Center/Meadowmont) and head up to the 15-501 corridor.  There will be a stop in the 15-501 corridor in Chapel Hill and other stops near 15-501 in Durham.  What the proposal does not include is any stops on Franklin Street, but the traffic on 15-501 between Chapel Hill and Durham doesn't all come from Franklin Street - or even Chapel Hill.  Our whole region including Chatham and even soutehrn Alamance County accesses Duke and Downtown Durham via 15-501. Someone who needs to get from Pittsboro to Duke right now almost has to drive on 15-501 - there's no logical route that avoids it.  Likewise if you live in White Cross or Carrboro or actually jsut about anywhere in Chapel Hill.But after a light rail system is in place, we'll transform some of our local bus routes into feeder routes, so that commuters can take a feeder bus into the light rail station in Chapel Hill and take the train to Duke.  Alternately it will be possible to park-and-ride at several stops in the sytem (though presumably not from the UNC stop).  I doubt that such commuters will really be concerned whether their train passes Meadowmont instead of University Mall; they are only going to be concerned about how conveniently it gets them to and from Duke/NCCU/Downtown Durham etc. No matter hwo you slice it, the system will significantly alleviate traffic problems on 15-501.  The whole point is to get people between Durham and Chapel Hill without a car.  As long as the system goes to where people need to be, they won't really care which corridor they are following.  The question is only where the most useful stations would be.  Somewhere on the UNC campus is clearly one of the logical stops and that's what the present proposal is.  The other proposed stops are at places where current and planned development indicate that there are or will be riders.Tons and tons of thought has gone into the present proposal and it is designed to have maximum benefit for both counties, while maintaining a fiscally sound business model (ie making sure there is an adequate market for the service).  As well, the route is in part dictated by the natural terrain of Durham and Orange Counties.  Trains don't make sharp turns well and they don't do well on steep hills either.  I am not an expert on that aspect of the plan, but suffice it to say that engineers have been deeply involved in the design of the route and the plan reflects their best thinking on it. 


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