Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Et tu Cornelius?!?!... Another Blow to the Red Line

In what must be seen as a stunning rebuke to Red Line supporters, the Cornelius Board unanimously passed a resolution last night that sets a seriously high standard for getting the town's approval.  Actually, that's an overstatement.  What they set is a completely reasonable standard.  It just happens to be one that may be impossible for the Red Line to meet.

See story in Business Today.."Cornelius sets 15 requirements for Red Line proposal"

Here's the gist of their requirements.

1.  Commitments must be in writing from the major players including Norfolk Southern and NC DOT. 

2.  A recertification that rail is the best alternative for this corridor versus an enhanced Bus Rapid Transit system.

3.  A financial plan with detailed analysis that is more than just projections with little backing.

Again, all completely reasonable requests, but recent developments and other factors may make those requests impossible to meet.

First, Norfolk Southern is nowhere near putting the things in writing that Cornelius is demanding.  The company's latest communication just last week indicated their assessment requirements will take a significant amount of time - possibly years.  See this post for more on that.

Second, a serious effort to evaluate the Red Line versus BRT will almost certainly come to the conclusion that BRT is a better alternative. See this post on that subject...Red Line Chronicle - Chapter 5 - Alternative Choices and Federal Dollars  However, if rail is still the best choice Cornelius also wants to know how and when this rail line would connect with the Blue Line in Uptown Charlotte - in writing.  This is effectively asking for a timeline to complete the next phase of the Charlotte Streetcar project and that is not even close to being on the drawing board.

Third, the requested financial plan changes require release of detailed data that has not been forthcoming to date.  In fact just last week, the project consultants indicated they would not release consolidated UBD detail data which would allow town-to-town comparisons.  See here for more on that.  It also asks for significant changes to the proposed financing plan including using all of the Gateway Station SAD revenue for the Red Line until further notice.  That likely directs significantly more "Charlotte money" to the Red Line than currently planned - not something the Charlotte and CATS chieftains are going to want to do.

It's not been a good few weeks for the project and that's putting it politely.  However, the march continues onward this Friday at the LKN Chamber...

Focus Friday speakers to debate Red Line rail plans -

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