Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tracks before their time

Historic trolley car No. 85 (above)

Tracks before their time

Who knew? Maybe you did. But it was news to me to learn from CDOT interim chief Danny Pleasant that the construction work on Elizabeth Avenue near Central Piedmont Community College includes laying streetcar tracks.

The work started as a "pedscape project" -- making the area amenable to pedestrians. Developer Clay Grubb, whose project is at the Presbyterian Hospital end of Elizabeth, wanted wide sidewalks. CPCC, which generates pedestrian traffic, got excited about the pedscape idea, Pleasant tells me, and is moving its parking garage entrances off Elizabeth.

And some $5 million in CATS money is paying to lay down streetcar tracks. Makes sense. Why rip the street up in 10 years, when the streetcar line is actually getting built? And in the interim, what about good old trolley car No 85, (pictured above) which was banned from sharing the Lynx Blue Line with the heavier light rail cars?

Pleasant says the light fixtures are being installed with the electricity that eventually will be needed for streetcars. (Or something. I am no electrician so I'm probably getting that part wrong.) When done and the streetcars are finally set to run, all they have to do is put in catenary lines, he says.

The 2030 Transit Plan shows streetcars on that section by 2023 -- 15 years off.


Anonymous said...

To recap then, building trains is on automatic pilot and no longer requires a vote of the MTC. Ditto Eastland. City staff has decreed trains are coming, hence trains are coming. Nevermind how to pay for them.


Anonymous said...

Thank God the trains are coming.

They should have never left. Bless the memory of Duke's Piedmont & Northern.

Anonymous said...

Um, so what did Pleasant say about running the vintage trolly cars on the track whilst we wait 15 years for the actual streetcars?

Uncle Dennis said...

This has been in the works for many years, no surprises here. Thank goodness the tracks are being installed, to do the digging twice would be typical government waste!
If you look at the patterns of the current Gold Rush, excusing the homeless from staying cool in the summer and warmn in the winter, you will find that people hop on for short rides of 3 or 4 blocks.
When the Streetcar Line is installed from Johnson C Smith to Presbyterian Hospital, it will promote the same type of commercial activity all along the line.


Cato said...

Lemme see if I've got this straight - the streetcar offers the expense and inflexibility of rail with the inconvenience of buses?

Also, that stretch of Elizabeth Avenue is already served by at least four bus lines. It's hard to see why more transit options are needed.

As for economic development, I didn't realize that Elizabeth was in such rough shape.

And, do we think that more people will go to the hospital because of the streetcar (again, there already are buses - with handicapped access - and hospital visits have pretty much inelastic demand. You need to go, you find a way)?

Oh, I forgot. Streetcars are fun! Why, those visiting Wells Fargo execs will never know the difference.

Just be sure to appoint a commission of All The Right People to choose the bells on them. World class all the way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, vintage trolly cars will be a good fit for Charlotte.

Eventually tracks could be extended up Trade Street from CPCC, allowing tens of thousands of visitors easy access to the Queen City's premier tourist destination - the Confederate memorial at old city hall.

Center City Partners could hire hundreds of laid-off bankers to dress in period costumes and enact events along the route depicting the city's glory days.

There could be women in crenoline twirling laced umbrellas, watching stovepipe-hatted men beat the daylights out of runaway slaves. The scene could then progress to our post-Reconstruction period with a parade of robed and hooded men stopping to burn a cross. Another tableau could depict a board of elections office circa 1910, with black citizens being blocked from registering for any number of petty reasons.

And finally, the Piece d'Resistance: Scores of sneering, jeering white children, "welcoming" a brave Dorothy Counts to her first day of integrated schooling.

Then again, should Wells Fargo execs get wind that such a memorial exists, or that descendants of such mean-spirited people still thrive here, they may put a damper on much of Charlotte's good-old-boyism.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see they are thinking ahead. Something most complainers on this post seldom do.

Anonymous said...

As the Great Communicator might have said, "Johnny Reb, tear down that monument!"

(But he probably wouldn't have for fear his party would lose the Dixecrats-Turned-Into-Conservative-Republicans vote.)

Jumper said...

Only partially on topic, but here's a huge collection of tax credits for NC energy efficiency:

Porn Student said...

Most people can walk 3 or 4 blocks. There are busses for those who can't. It's a waist of money and over development.

LNBruno said...

I'm still waiting for us to take retro-transport back another notch: if trains are the newest old-school cool thing, how cool are horse drawn carriages (Charleston has 'em!!!)? and hitching posts instead of bike racks uptown (Tweetsie Valley has 'em!!!)?

horrayfortheinternet said...

We have horse drawn carriages - for the same purpose as Charleston. I assume there might be hitches too. I guess you weren't serious about that though. Since we're cracking jokes instead of having a real constructive dialogs, how about how about gun racks for all, and slave quarters too!
Charlotte is the 19th largest city the country, not Tweetsie Valley. Get with the times man.