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Old 02-12-2016, 01:24 AM
 
571 posts, read 587,288 times
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The article below touches on an idea that occurred to me a number of years ago when I drove through downtown Gastonia and lamented at the unrealized potential. I posted the idea here, back in August 2008: Official: Charlotte, you're no world-class city (yet)

Unlike downtown Charlotte, most of Gastonia's old historic buildings are still standing. But when I was there, the area looked pretty seedy and run down. But with the right commitment, it seemed like it could be transformed into a hip, artsy, fun and vibrant place like downtown Asheville. And having a train run between Charlotte and Gastonia would make it possible for Charlotte folks to come into town and have a few drinks without worrying driving back. I looked at a map and it just so happens that these same railroad tracks from downtown Gastonia, through downtown Belmont, then goes right by the airport before continuing on into uptown Charlotte. I'm assuming these are the same tracks CATS is hoping to one day possibly provide light rail service from Uptown to the airport. So why not extend the light rail line to Belmont and Gastonia? I've long thought it was a huge shame that the city planners in Charlotte in decades past decided to raze so much of the old inner-city neighborhoods, rather than restore, re-purpose and revitalize. They lost the heart and soul of the city in doing so. But a rail connection to a revitalized historic downtown Gastonia could be the second best thing. It would be good for Charlotte (and struggling west Charlotte), good for airport transit, good for Belmont, and wonderful for Gastonia.


Article Link: Gastonia, NC

"Gastonia is currently moving forward with plans to revitalize its downtown, like many other eastern cities, seeking to both restore and reinvent itself. As part of revitalization, city is also working on plans to create a multi-modal center closer to downtown. A study has begun to determine the best location and strategy for developing the multi-modal hub that would ideally combine terminals for Greyhound, Amtrak, Gastonia Transit, Gaston Access, Charlotte Area Transit, and perhaps light rail to downtown Charlotte along the old Piedmont and Northern (P&N) interurban tracks."

Last edited by brichard; 02-12-2016 at 01:35 AM..
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Old 02-12-2016, 06:40 AM
 
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Couple of notes.

For the alignment you're talking about, it would be better to utilize commuter rail than light rail. It would be cheaper, since the rolling stock would be compatible with the currently existing tracks. Norfolk Southern is the owner of this rail line, and they would probably request the NCDOT to build addition parallel tracks before allowing any rail on their right-of-way. This likely has to happen one day anyway, since that corridor could one day support high speed rail to Atlanta.

For the alignment mentioned in the article, the P&N line isn't really suited for any long distance traveling. Unlike the NS line, the P&N line is very meandering and winding, and top speed on the line would be very low. Also, part of the original alignment is owned by CSX between Mt. Holly and the rail yard near Brookshire. The line might be more suited in becoming a rail trail between Mt. Holly and Gastonia. However, I do know Belmont is pushing for a streetcar along parts of the P&N in their town limits. A good idea would be an interurban between Mt. Holly and Belmont, and commuters could then transfer to a future Belmont Station along a future Gastonia/Charlotte commuter line.
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Old 02-12-2016, 07:38 AM
 
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Awesome feedback Third Strike.

If Charlotte ever builds a light rail to the airport, would connection to Gastonia be possible? Looking at the map, while I love the concept of the OP, I fear it is fantasy land to think that a CLT - Gastonia connection could be made, just on pure distance and cost/benefit.

Love the idea of getting some $ invested into the westside though. Linking it all through town over to Matthews would be awesome too. I think we're talking about 2050 Charlotte...if we're lucky.
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Old 02-12-2016, 08:55 AM
 
261 posts, read 298,411 times
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Light/commuter rail between Charlotte and Gastonia would be great, in theory. However, the OP's supposition that Charlotte residents would use it to visit Gastonia for a night out is preposterous.

And the answer to the question "So why not extend the light rail line to Belmont and Gastonia?" has a simple answer. Money. More specifically, the lack thereof.
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
106 posts, read 115,932 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coastal Planner View Post
However, the OP's supposition that Charlotte residents would use it to visit Gastonia for a night out is preposterous.
Well, they wouldn't flock there in droves, but it would happen. If there were reliable trains to any of the towns around CLT I'd take that trip on the reg.

The future high-speed rail improvements may make trips to downtown Salisbury worth one's while; That's a pretty awesome downtown. Pineville missed their chance with the Blue Line. And one day the Silver line will make Matthews the only Mecklenburg town to have rail access, so that'll be a cool (far away) day. If there was a reliable commuter rail to Gastonia, Belmont, or Mt Holly, I'd be there.

Last edited by Sgt Campsalot; 02-12-2016 at 10:01 AM..
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Old 02-12-2016, 10:17 AM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
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Light rail to Gastonia is discussed in a couple of threads.

Currently commuter rail is on the docket for Belmont/Mt Holly, Gastonia, Kings Mountain, Shelby, & Boiling Springs.
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Old 02-12-2016, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Tega Cay, SC
544 posts, read 615,876 times
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Instead of continually widening I77, a train from Fort Mill to uptown would be better.
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Old 02-12-2016, 10:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Proud Father View Post
Instead of continually widening I77, a train from Fort Mill to uptown would be better.

I agree with you.

And think it's true for Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Indian Trail, Pineville, Waxhaw or Weddington.

One Charlotte's most attractive features (cheap housing in the suburbs within relative proximity to downtown) of the 1980's-2000 is now facing the trade off's of traffic congestion. This is true for residents in any of our suburban communities.

If I were moving to Charlotte and didn't have 2+ kids, I would much rather live closer to the city and not have to deal with our already overcrowded interstate highways.
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Old 02-12-2016, 11:17 AM
 
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In regards to rail to Fort Mill, one possible plan is to model it after Dallas' A-Train. There could be a commuter train that starts in Chester, then passes through Rock Hill, Fort Mill, and Pineville, and terminates at the current I-485 Station. Passengers would then transfer to the Blue Line towards Uptown Charlotte. Or instead of ending at the I-485 Station, it would continue towards the Gateway Station, though it would still be quicker for passengers to transfer at the I-485 Station, since the Blue Line is a straight shot to Uptown. It's worth noting that there are future plans in the works for intercity rail between Columbia and Charlotte using this corridor.
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Old 02-12-2016, 12:51 PM
 
Location: West Raleigh
1,037 posts, read 1,194,510 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coastal Planner View Post
Light/commuter rail between Charlotte and Gastonia would be great, in theory. However, the OP's supposition that Charlotte residents would use it to visit Gastonia for a night out is preposterous.
True, but it'd probably be a bonus for people in Gastonia who want to have dinner/drinks/see a show or game in CLT and go home without driving.
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