Friday, January 16, 2009

No bike/walk path for NE corridor?

From the foot and bicycle traffic I've seen, the rail-side path along the new Lynx Blue Line is popular. It's a great way to walk or bicycle and avoid traffic. Too bad there might not be a similar path along its extension up to UNC Charlotte and beyond.

At a Tuesday night public meeting on plans for the extension, Charlotte Area Transit System and city planning department folks said it will be much harder to find money for, and build, a similar path. One key reason: The city owns the railbed from uptown south to Scaleybark -- where the path is. But heading northeast out of uptown, the rail right of way is owned by the N.C. Railroad, and CATS will lease space in the ROW. That section already carries freight as well as Amtrak passenger trains.

The bike/walking path was paid for mostly by city bond money for the so-called SCIP (South Corridor Improvement Project). The city hasn't yet prioritized its list of proposed NECI (North East Corridor Improvement, and they're calling it "nee-sie") -- and it's a bigger laundry list to start with. And a time of pinched local government budgets and tight credit all over the country.

Andy Mock of CATS tells me CDOT and the county park and rec department are working to see what can be done, perhaps with a walking/biking path that leaves the trackside and goes up North Tryon Street -- which the light rail will do, probably north of Old Concord Road.

If you think the city absolutely should put this project atop its NECI priority list, be sure to let your City Council representatives know.


Rick said...

If money is an issue, one suggestion would be to ask your council member why CATS asked for $110 million more for the South Corridor in BOBs (Barack Obama Bucks) from the stimulus rather than a single dime for the Northeast Corridor.

That might be a good question.

barkomomma said...

Maybe they should forget the train sand just install bike/walk paths. Before long, those will be the only forms of transportation people will be able to afford.

Anonymous said...

WHAT?! When I lived in Sedgefield, I'd bike almost daily on that path next to the Light Rail. It's fun to race the trains. It's hard to connect on a bike to Uptown on that route however. Can't believe they'd plan the NE Route without a ped/bike path. You can't fit your bike on the Blue line b/c it's so crowded.

Anonymous said...

This snowy weather reminds me that mass transit helps workers get to work safely in bad weather. According to CATS' website they're not experiencing any delays or detours today.

Just another reason to support mass transit.

Rick said...

Just out of curiosity Mary, why did you choose to post a piece about a possibly missing bike path instead of the incredible (and apparently growing) cost of the overall project.

At the Thursday meeting last week the CATS official said estimates for the NE Corridor are just fuzzy numbers at this point, and we should expect more accurate numbers in April.

When the city published CATS's official legistative priorities for the coming 2 years, the Northeast Corridor seems to continue with its ever expanding price tag.

They are now looking at $900M to $1.1 BILLION dollars.

I would think that's a bit more newsworthy seeing as we've got a shrinking transit tax and shrinking subsidies from the state.

Check out page 2.

Anonymous said...

Rick, I imagine CATS asked for upgrades to the South Corridor, since those projects are a lot more shovel-ready than the Northeast Corridor, which is not even yet fully designed. And if you think CATS should give up an extending light rail, I can only wonder what you think of the rising costs of widening I-485 in South Charlotte or completing it in North Charlotte. Afterall, gas taxs are way down as well as sales taxes in this economy.

Ray Atkinson said...

There are three potential locations for sidepaths: North Tryon Street, University City Blvd and Old Concord Road. Cyclists try to avoid North Tryon Street and University City Blvd intersects with North Tryon Street so Old Concord Road is the main route used by cyclists traveling from UNCC to uptown. Unfortunately, the railroad company plans to build another track next to the existing track that parallels Old Concord Road and the other side of Old Concord Road has development too close to the road (,-80.734963&spn=0.004843,0.010568&hnear=Old+Concord+Rd,+Charlotte,+North+Carolina&gl=us&sqi=2&t=h&vpsrc=0&layer=c&cbll=35.279754,-80.735551&panoid=La_RQ1CbA0zVOzIEAMlRFg&cbp=12,239.96,,0,2.56&z=17) so the possibility of constructing a sidepath along Old Concord Road is a slim possibility. I love how bicyclists and pedestrians aren't considered in planning!