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Old 11-28-2007, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Downtown Greensboro, NC
3,491 posts, read 7,859,648 times
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I think one great way to spur downtown development, provide downtown transportation and help with parking problems is to bring back the trolley. When I say trolley, im not talking about a bus dressed to look like a trolley, im talking rail lines on the streets. A number of cities are reviving the streetcar and other cities such as Dayton, Oh and even Winston-Salem are talking about reviving them.

1) Streetcars as a redevelopment tool

It is a proven fact that streetcar lines spur development next to the lines. What if Greensboro strategically placed street car lines throughout downtown to help spur development in areas of downtown thats seeing little development. Those areas could be connected to more vibrant areas of downtown. We could see a number of new restaurants, residential and even office development being built along these streetcar lines.

2) Streetcars for downtown transportation

Imagine being able to take a trolley from the ballpark to a restaurant on South Elm Street. Office workers could go to any restaurant during their lunch break downtown without getting in their cars or walking 5 blocks. The streetcar line could even connect from the depot. Citizens who use the bus to get downtown could easily take a streetcar to get to their downtown destination from the depot. Imagine a downtown streetcar connecting UNCG to Elon Law School and then to NC A&T. Imagine student housing and educational buildings being built near these lines. The line could also serve as transportation for the college students who want to head to downtown afterhours to have a good time. They wouldnt have to worry about drinking and driving

3) Streetcars help solve parking problems

Some city leaders have said we need more parking decks because there is not enough "convenient" parking. Why build massive parking structures that would take up valuable real estate when you can hop on a trolley from one of the existing downtown parking decks. You could park at the Bellemeade Deck and a streetcar could take you to Natty Greenes. Downtown has plenty of parking but the issue should be making parking convenient for people without having to build more parking decks.

4) The Big Picture

And finally we need to look at the bigger picture. Eventually streetcar lines could connect downtown with the coliseum and Koury Convention Center. That could serve as a tool to revitalize Lee Street and High Point Road. A line could also connect downtown and the nearby colleges to the planned Gateway University Research Park on the eastern edge of town. Streetcars would be very benificial to Greensboro. Outsiders would say "hey look what Greensboro is doing". It would give Greensboro the cool factor. The Gate City has always been known as a transportation center. Lets take the lead and live up to that. Hopefully some movers and shakers that read here will take this idea further.

modern day streetcars


classic streetcars

Last edited by gsoboi; 11-28-2007 at 12:05 PM..
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Old 11-28-2007, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Roanoke VA
2,031 posts, read 6,139,301 times
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Default Streetcars

I agree streetcars are empowering cities to bring people back downtown. Baltimore has a light rail network that connects the downtown ball park with other parts of the downtown area. When I attended a game at Camden Yards it was easy to take the trolley to the downtown Hotels and restaurants. Roanoke has bought trolley cars with rubber tires that will run next summer from the Carillion medical complex to the downtown area and back. It will allow people to park at the medical center parking garage hop on the trolley to downtown and back without the hassle of parking in a garage.
I think its a great idea to get more lunch time traffic at restaurants downtown. If this plan works out the plan is to dig up the streets where trolleys once ran. Not as expansive as Winston Salems' plans but effective.
I think it would work in Greensboro to connect the Koury center, High Point Road and the downtown ball park. I also like the idea of a light rail network for Greensboro, PTI, High Point and W-S. Norfolk/Va Beach has approved a light rail system from downtown Norfolk to Va. Beach finally. Some cities are further along as it takes decades to get to the density necessary for trolleys
to succeed. I feel it will happen at some point in the future.
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Old 11-29-2007, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Downtown Greensboro, NC
3,491 posts, read 7,859,648 times
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I would like to see Greensboro take more bold steps like this instead of being just a mediocre city. City leaders dont think big here. Its not just streetcars but its everything. Thats why Greensboro's economy lags behind the Triangle, Charlotte and some would even say Winston-Salem to a degree. I think Greensboro has made some pretty good strides with the downtown ballpark and some of the developments downtown, also with HondaJet and FedEx but we need to go much further than that and take things to the next level. The problem is that leaders and even some developers in Greensboro are afraid to take big risks. I commend people like Roy Carroll who stuck his neck out for the Center Pointe Project. I also commend Bob Isner for taking on bold project such as Southside. In the beginning, people said Southside would not be a success because of the type of neighborhood that it was. The idea was that you cant have luxury condos and townhomes in a neighborhood that was once plagued with crime, brownfields and delapitated homes. Isner proved alot of people wrong and today Southside has gone far beyond its expectations and has served is an inner city redevelopment model for the entire country. Its stories like that which should inspire our city leaders. We can do things if we have the "will" to make it happen. If our leaders go in with the mindset that it cant happen, then it wont happen. Instead of thinking of reasons why we shouldnt do something, we need to be thinking of reasons why we should do it. Thats the difference between being a prosperous city and an a city whos economy is lagging.

Last edited by gsoboi; 11-29-2007 at 09:59 AM..
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Old 11-29-2007, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Roanoke VA
2,031 posts, read 6,139,301 times
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Default Bold City

I have noticed driving into Greensboro the downtown is hardly visible to the newcomer. The reason? They built the roads around the City(Wendover). The famous road that everyone gets lost on when they drive down to Myrtle Beach. Now, they have built more circles around the City to take more people away from downtown. I think some sort of light rail/trolley is vital to get in/out of downtown easily so parking is not such an expensive hassle. In the '80s Roanoke City did a survey on what people in the area wanted to see downtown in the future. It was an area-wide plan. Twenty years later a lot of the ideas have happened. Of course, Roanoke is not as sprawling as Greensboro and the downtown has always been a safe place to visit. Richmond is an example of a City that has ignored its downtown and has segregated the poor, disadvantaged and sprawled so far away from downtown, NOW they want to do something and build something NEW like many other cities. Personally, I would never go into downtown Richmond at night but I would visit downtown Greensboro.
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Old 12-01-2007, 05:30 AM
 
Location: Downtown Greensboro, NC
3,491 posts, read 7,859,648 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roanoker 4 View Post
I have noticed driving into Greensboro the downtown is hardly visible to the newcomer. The reason? They built the roads around the City(Wendover). The famous road that everyone gets lost on when they drive down to Myrtle Beach. Now, they have built more circles around the City to take more people away from downtown. I think some sort of light rail/trolley is vital to get in/out of downtown easily so parking is not such an expensive hassle. In the '80s Roanoke City did a survey on what people in the area wanted to see downtown in the future. It was an area-wide plan. Twenty years later a lot of the ideas have happened. Of course, Roanoke is not as sprawling as Greensboro and the downtown has always been a safe place to visit. Richmond is an example of a City that has ignored its downtown and has segregated the poor, disadvantaged and sprawled so far away from downtown, NOW they want to do something and build something NEW like many other cities. Personally, I would never go into downtown Richmond at night but I would visit downtown Greensboro.
I do think it was a big mistake to have I-40 bypass downtown Greensboro back when they were planning the interstates. I-40 runs right through Winston-Salem, I-77 runs right through uptown Charlotte which is one reason why those cities have more hotels and office development downtown. Visibilty and easy access is very important. Downtown Greensboro has struggled with that for years. But I agree with you on light rail/trolley. You know the old streetcar rails are still under the pavement on streets throughout downtown Greensboro and Summit Ave. They were never taken up. The lines could be reused which would save millions of dollars. Some cities are reusing old streetcar rails from the early 20th century.

Even though Greensboro is bigger than Roanoke, I think Roanoke is ahead in terms of its bold thinking. The city doesnt let its size stop it from taking on bold inititives. Greenville, SC and Chattanooga, TN are two other cities which are smaller than Greensboro but take on bold ideas and projects.

Last edited by gsoboi; 12-01-2007 at 05:41 AM..
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Old 12-02-2007, 03:47 PM
 
Location: Roanoke VA
2,031 posts, read 6,139,301 times
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I think Greensboro has been concentrating on the PTI area with the new FedEx hub and the new businesses that will come there. I noticed they are now focusing on the downtown potential. The new Art Museum here was paid for($66m) mostly by wealthy benefactors who would rather put their money in Art, the rest by city & state. Its amazing how such a few have so much $$.
I think the trend now for the billionaires among us to put money into commercial real estate before the interest rates go up next year. But before they will do this they must feel safe downtown and see other projects going on like is happening in downtown Greensboro & Roanoke. I am sure the folks who are planning the Triumph Center have researched the market to determine what will work. With the new ball park it sounds like they will be doing the entertainment angle, offices and hotel. By the way the new Norfolk trolley "The Tide"(similar to what Greensboro needs) cost around $200 million to build(including new track, stations).
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Old 12-02-2007, 07:32 PM
 
47 posts, read 200,950 times
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I always have been a fan of light rail / streetcars, but now after riding Charlotte's LYNX system and seeing it first-hand, I'm even more rabid about the idea.

The Siemens cars that Charlotte has are capable of moving fast enough for intercity service, yet are still capable of handling the steep grades, sharp curves, and low speeds of a downtown line.

I believe PART was considering a commuter rail route from Clemmons to Burlington at some point, though I've not heard anything about it lately.

The North Carolina Railroad is going to do a study about adding extra tracks to the mainline from Greensboro to (Goldsboro?) in order to facilitate extra passenger trains for commuters.

But I've heard no official news lately about any kind of light rail or trolley... At least some of these towns had trollies before. Winston-Salem had a streetcar system at least from 1890 to 1936. I really look forward to a day when I can get where I want to go by rail.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Mountain Island Lake area of Charlotte
74 posts, read 77,004 times
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Charlotte has both Trolly's and Light Rail...you have to have density....Greensboro just doesn't have it....how many people live in downtown Greensboro now...not many...that will change in time...if downtown/urban living ever catches on in your neck of the woods...we lived in -4th Ward- (Uptown Charlotte) for 13 years and just moved out to the burbs...really miss the city and wonder why we ever did it...we thought we wanted a yard.....WRONG!!!!!
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Old 12-07-2007, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Downtown Greensboro, NC
3,491 posts, read 7,859,648 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen City Lover View Post
Charlotte has both Trolly's and Light Rail...you have to have density....Greensboro just doesn't have it....how many people live in downtown Greensboro now...not many...that will change in time...if downtown/urban living ever catches on in your neck of the woods...we lived in -4th Ward- (Uptown Charlotte) for 13 years and just moved out to the burbs...really miss the city and wonder why we ever did it...we thought we wanted a yard.....WRONG!!!!!
I think Greensboro is probabally 15 to 20 years behind Charlotte. I think we will eventually get commuter trains in the Triad because there is a regional transportation board that has proposed this. My concern is that local leaders wont get behind this as they should to really push this forward so it can happen sooner. I think there is enough mass for a system, especially with all the job growth that will be happening near PTI. Ridership for the regional bus system is up which means more and more people are trading in their cars for public transportation.
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Old 12-07-2007, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Highest county in the Virginia hills
129 posts, read 419,619 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsoboi View Post
I do think it was a big mistake to have I-40 bypass downtown Greensboro back when they were planning the interstates.
Oh, I disagree. Very much. Running high-speed roads right into the center of towns is a pretty good way to destroy the towns, in terms of walkability and street-level life. Look up the term "Chinese wall" in architectural/planning terms. They're also just ugly.

Greensboro is better off for not being divided into halves or quadrants by interstates, although some of the in-city roads are still built a little too much like highways.

If the downtown lives, people will want to get there (or be there full-time), without the "convenience" of a highway dumping them right into it.

Real streetcars would be a tremendous asset for Greensboro, or any comparable city. One of the great things about streetcars as opposed to subways (besides vastly lower initial construction costs) is the flexibility. A streetcar doesn't need a "station," it can stop at any point, every two blocks, if that's what makes sense for its local context. People can jump on and jump off all over town.

Also, (I know you touched on this, gsoboi) in terms of having the density to make a streetcar system pay for itself, we must remember that working local transport networks CREATE density. The original "suburbs" (which are mostly now considered urban neighborhoods compared to what came later) were the streetcar suburbs. People moved there BECAUSE the streetcars were available. The same dynamic works for infilling and repopulating downtown cores.

Last edited by spark240; 12-07-2007 at 12:34 PM..
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