Light Rail will make things worse in Charlotte

Charlotte, NC is a wonderful little city with a bit of charm. I grew up in Savannah so you are going to have to work hard to have “charm” as a city. But “charm” does not always help a city with deep problems.

The traffic for a city this size, just over 1 million people, is horrible and not going to get much better. I-85 South is a parking lot every morning and I-85 North is the same way in the afternoon. There was an accident in the middle of I-85 a few days back that created a 13 mile backup in just 20 minutes. That is unacceptable and it happens everyday in Charlotte.

The new toll road on I-77 North is a locked in deal for the next 50 years. No new roads can be built after that toll road so you had better get it right the first time….and they wont. I-77 North out of SC is a mess as they try to merge 7 lanes down to 3 and then wonder why it’s congested all freaking day every day, even on Sundays. Don’t even get me started on I-485 and the fact that the narrowest parts of it are in the most populated areas while the widest parts are in areas where no one lives and is very little traffic.

Then to make things even better….the city council seems hell bent on installing trains and trolleys at the street level to solve these problems they are going about it all wrong. All wrong!

I lived in Japan for some time. I love the trains in Japan. They are fantastic and you can live in Japan without a car and get anywhere. While Japan is 40 – 50 years ahead of the US and Charlotte when it comes to trains it does not mean we can’t learn from them. We can learn a load from Japan when it comes to trains. They have an amazing way of installing tracks and keeping them out of the way or people or standard people driven traffic.

The rail line to the south of Charlotte is a mess and it’s done wrong except for the last few miles at the south end when it stops. How did they get the last few miles right and the rest of it all wrong? Why are the tracks at street level in some of the busiest areas and elevated in areas that are developing? Are the populated areas filled with people who are too stupid to climb stairs and get on the train? No…I hope not!

There is a point it crosses over South Blvd. and makes an absolute mess of traffic in the mornings and afternoon all while the trains are empty. Not to mention the nightmare of having to figure out how to cross the tracks as a car with the weird signs and 3 lights for one lane to let you know when you can, can’t, and maybe can cross the tracks? There is no clear logic to this move and makes for a problem all day every day.

South Blvd 1      South Blvd 2

 

What did they do right? On the south end of the first line they elevated the track above the street traffic and got it out of the way of automobile traffic and pedestrians. But as it gets closer to the city the plopped it right down at the street level and have disrupted the traffic patterns they were trying to help. Not to mention the hazard it presents to anyone trying to cross over the tracks. The more train crossing you have the more risk you create for pedestrians and autos. No one has gotten killed yet but there have been a few close calls. There will be train deaths in the city if they keep leaving the tracks at street level.

Now Charlotte in installing a line to the University Area which is great but again it’s at the street level impacting traffic and people. Not to mention they are running over some very very busy streets that already get backed up and stay that way all day… then to introduce a street level train….are you kidding me? Who is the idiot who approved this design?

Why would you not elevate above traffic and install it right the first time? Why? I have to wonder who is running this and who is planning this stupidity because that is exactly what this is! Stupidity and a huge waste of time, money and effort!

Here are two example very big train overpasses in Japan (Name the location for extra points)

jaapnraiserail

 

trainjapan

There will be a time later when the city goes back to the tax payers and says they need to fix this rail at the street level problem I assure you and then want’s another billion or so to improve the light rail and get it above traffic.

There is also a problem with the HUB that is going to be in the middle of the city that is the central location for the trains….it’s a joke! You don’t start a project like this and then design the central hub station to handle the most people like it’s a little stop on the end of the line. You make it fit the capacity you will need in 10 years with 4 to 6 lines coming into it? Really?

So the solution is to stop building, just stop, and then plan to get the rails above the traffic that is already there. I would submit it will help everyone and give you some great views of the city.

Don’t get me wrong. I think a rail system is a super idea and a way to move around the city that is fun and exciting but at this point there does not seem to be much vision.  As the population grows the problems are going to get magnified and worse. These little backups today will double in the next 3 – 5 years all while the city does nothing along with NCDOT to fix them. The city is not laid out for this type of transportation. Let’s be honest the city is not laid out for automobile transportation either but that is another problem for another day.

The people of the city of Charlotte should be outraged, they should be angry and they should demand better planning but we are a city run by incompetence seeing as how they can’t even time lights in the city much less install a rail system they actually helps reduce traffic and promote safety for everyone.

You should be angry, but your not. So things will get worse, money will be spend and nothing good will come from any of this. In the end this is what big cities do, they waste money and then cry broke all the time demanding more tax money to waste it all again, yet we are paying taxes here like we live in Atlanta or Chicago…that is why you should be outraged. They are wasting our money every day and laughing at you the tax payer every step of the way.

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