High-speed rail hearings start next week

From staff reportsJuly 7, 2010 

View SEHSR alternatives in a larger map

Public hearings will start next week (Tuesday in Norlina, July 26 in Raleigh) for a proposed high-speed rail line to carry trains as fast as 110mph from Raleigh to Richmond.

State and federal agencies in June released a 666-page draft study of alternate routes that follow U.S. 1 and an old CSX track. [See 6/4/10 story "Tracks might divide Raleigh" with reader comments.]

The line would cut about two hours off train times from North Carolina to the Northeast.

Two daily round-trip trains would go nonstop between Raleigh and Richmond. A third train would stop in La Crosse, Va., and a fourth in Henderson.

Residents are invited to comment at the hearings, and online at sehsr.org.

“This is a great opportunity to learn more about the project and to inform us if there is an area that we have missed, or if there is an issue that a person or a company wishes to have raised,” Pat Simmons, who heads the state Department of Transportation’s Rail Division, said today. “It’s an opportunity for the public to help shape the outcome.”

Street-rail crossings would be closed or converted to bridges. In Raleigh, the choices include CSX tracks on the east side of Capital Boulevard or Norfolk Southern tracks along the west side of Capital.

North Carolina and Virginia won $620 million in federal grants this year to make rail improvements south of Raleigh and north of Richmond, as part of a proposed Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor from Charlotte to Washington, D.C. The study advances their quest for $3 billion more for the new line between Raleigh and Richmond.

Four hearings are planned in North Carolina. An open house starts at 5 p.m., followed by a formal hearing at 7 p.m.

- Tuesday at Northside Elementary School, 164 Elementary Ave., Norlina

- July 26 at Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St.

- July 27 at Aycock Elementary School, 205 Carey Chapel Road, Henderson

- July 29 at Franklinton High School gym, 6948 N. Cheatham St., Franklinton

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