Was that a vote? A decision?

September 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm 5 comments

Update: City Council Video just posted. Jump to “3-E”, or “59:30” time stamp.

The Bottom Line

Well based on this meeting, it’s a bit hard to draw the bottom line. The City Council voted on approximately 11-12 items regarding high speed rail; they specifics will be posted to the City’s website shortly.  In short, they referred most items to NCDOT, however, most importantly, they did not endorse any one option and asked NCDOT to review the alternatives that recently surfaced.

We made a difference!  

A few short weeks ago, City Council was going to push through NC3 and we would not have known about it.  Through all of our hard work and efforts, we were able to help the community get informed, influence the extension of the NDCOT public comment period, the Public Hearing and pushed the City Council’s vote back from August 3 to today (9/7/2010).  Thank you to everyone who has been involved and supportive!

The downside? The City Council did not ask for NC 3 to be taken “off the table” which was our focus, although realizing that might be a long shot.  This means NCDOT could still choose NC 3 as the route.

The Public Comment period continues through this Friday, Sept 10th.  Please be sure to comment, ask questions, state your concerns. (Note, we are in Section V)   Then NCDOT will go through all the comments, address them, and then start working toward a final recommendation and the Final Environmental Impact Statement.  That goes to the Federal Railroad Administration for technical review and approval, and then funding is pursued.

We will continue to work to have the best alternative selected to for Five Points and for the City.  (Join us? Email:  Carole at DontRailroadHistoricFivePoints@gmail.com  )

The Details

Well, you know the old shell game where you watch the moving shells to guess where the prize is?  City Council seemed to be masters of that game today.  I daresay that most of us who walked out of the Chamber after the discussion on the high speed rail, were scratching our heads.  What was that? Who’s on first?

Mayor Meeker opened the discussion with personal comments about living near a rail line and an explanation of noise levels.  (Huh? Noise is not the primary concern).  Then he offered a 9 point commentary on what he would like to discuss. These are my notes; the formal comments should be posted tomorrow by Council:

1) Analyze the NC1-2  “hybrid” alternative and potentially hold a future public hearing for input. (Great, let’s ask DOT to analyze all alternative to meet the objectives laid out by the City. Oh wait, do we have an integrated set of objectives for the vision of transportation in the Triangle? Where is it?)

2. Forward the Passenger Rail Task Force recommendation to NCDOT.  (Is this the City’s official position or not?  Russ Stephenson and John Odom both seemed to oppose this suggestion. They must realize that the Task Force was a rubber stamp of Mayor Meeker’s request to create the NC3 option in May 2008, and that the NC3 route has no valid merits on its own standing)

The following items were voted together and “Passed”:

3. Durant Road impact

4. Windsor Forest impact

5. Jones St pedestrian overpass     

6.  Hargett St pedestrian overpass

7. Rosengarten area of South Saunders Street, want to avoid negative impact

8.  Request that TTA and NCDOT work together.  The Passenger Rail Task Force could not speak with TTA as they were a public body.  (Double take.  You mean our two main bodies responsible for transportation have not been working together?  I believe this agenda item was skipped and note voted on; have to see the video tomorrow to confirm).

9.  Comments specific to  NC3

a) Relocate Norfolk Southern outside the city and use that rail space for High Speed Rail.  (Really?  Wonder what NS thinks about this? They’ve been here for over 100 years.)

b) Add retaining walls to minimize impact to property.  (Sure)

c) Use brick masonry for walls where visible to neighborhoods. (Thanks Thomas Crowder)

d) Address pedestrian access between Five Points and Mordecai.  (?? You mean vehicle traffic from Five Points to Capital, right? Nope.  I don’t think we have heavy demand for pedestrian access between Mordecai and Five Points.  We need to get to Seaboard Ace Hardware, Logans, and Downtown.)

 Then Council Member Thomas Crowder presented a very thoughtful and visionary  motion/manifesto that described a number of items:

The consequences of this decision can be severe and can divide neighborhoods for years to come.

We should learn from the lessons of when country’s interstates were created and mapped out.

All of the parties should work together to find common, integrated solutions:  NDOT, DENR, Department of Commerce, HUD,EPA, Federal Railroad Administration,local DOT and Raleigh Planning Staff.  (Appreciate that point, but shouldn’t that have happened years ago?)

He proposes to extend the downtown grid by expanding West Street over Wade Avenue on an elevated viaduct (bridge) and running it to the intersection of Capital and Wake Forest. Perhaps adding greenway and pedestrian space alongside it.  Also, potentially a chance to address the polluted Pigeon House creek area. (What’s the impact on neighborhoods? Would we now face a raised rail bed next to our homes and businesses? What’s the linkage to the Capital Blvd Corridor plan?)

The second leg of the SEHSR project here, in the southwest area of Raleigh,  has already received funding for the High Speed Rail and there is no public comment period for that section which runs from the Boylan Wye, through NCSU, Hillsborough Street, Blue Ridge Road at Fairgrounds, Edwards Mill and so on.  Currently the proposal is to close/seal all intersections between Gorman and Blue Ridge Road.  (Now we know why the nice lady from the Method neighborhood spoke at the Public Hearing last week.  Neighbors Southwest Raleigh – jump in NOW and get involved!)

The comments above – less the “second leg” discussion became #10.

#11. From Mary-Ann Baldwin,with good intentions for the homeowners who are held hostage by the rail issue, asked that DOT be requested to expedite the Right of Way Acquisition.

#12  From Mary-Ann Baldwin, request that Bickett Street homeowners who did not received proper notice and incorrect information , be sure to submit these issues to NCDOT during the public comment period (which ends Friday 9/10).

John Odom was the only Council Member who clearly stated his opposition to NC3 and said he would not support any route that infringed on historic neighborhoods.  Thank you Mr. Odom!!

Somewhere in that discussion, the Mayor asked that the Task Force be included in discussion  of other alternative routes.  (This is the rubber-stamp Task Force that gave the Mayor the “recommendation” he wanted of  NC3. No offense to the Task Force folks, they’re regular citizens who worked very hard but they’re being played as a puppet on this.)

So, is that clear?

  • There was no decision on the route,
  • Council is sending it to NCDOT with a request to analyze alternative routes,
  • But the Task Force’s recommendation of NC3  is to be provided to NCDOT,
  • And all the agencies should work together to find a better solution,
  • Oh, and the Task Force will weigh in on that too.

As a wise neighbor said, “indecision is a decision”. 

Check the Media Coverage section for all the latest stories and stay tuned for more information.

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Entry filed under: City Council, Don't Railroad Five Points, Don't Railroad Historic Five Points, High Speed Rail, John Odom, Mary-Ann Baldwin, Mayor Meeker, NC DOT, NC3, Raleigh, Russ Stephenson, Thomas Crowder.

*** City Council Meeting TODAY 1:00 *** Mayor Meeker on Call in Radio Today

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bob Anderson  |  September 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Our State Rep. Grier Martin is co-chair of the “Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation” in the state house. He is also a member of the “Select Committee on a Comprehensive Rail Service Plan for NC”. Debora Ross, from Boylan Heights, is also on that Rail Service committee.

    It’s time for AS MANY OF US as possible to contact them through email, mail, phone, or a visit to their offices downtown. It’s great to live nearby! They both have an interest in preserving these neighborhoods and serving their constituents-US!

    A friend on the council tells me there are 4 “Hybrid” plans, and that one of them resolves all the engineering problems encountered crossing from CSX to NS south of our area. Let’s continue the pressure on Council to use that plan, or look into the Crowder proposal, though that may be a long shot.

    Meantime let’s get to Grier Martin and Deborah Ross!

    Reply
  • 2. Nancy  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Time to take this to our (NC and US) state reps…and even to write to President Obama!

    There were so many things wrong with this “decision”, as were pointed out above in the site posting, including the Mayor’s “red herring” proposal to move N&S out of the city so HSR tracks could go there (now THERE is an eminent domain grab that’d cost the City…I mean taxpayers…a ton of money)! And yes, let’s decide/stipulate cart-before-the-horse the composition of those will-we-get-any-sound-walls though the most important decision about where the train will go is still up in the air!…(BTW: Is brick even is a viable option? Will it crumble due to the vibrations?…IS it the most effective/cost effective sound mitigator? Is no one asking those questions still???)

    I think the Mayor & City Council owe the citizens of Raleigh a big fat apology for their lack of informed leadership on this important endeavor. That City officials failed on numerous occasions to formulate and ask important questions about a project of this scope is stunning…as was their 11th hour admission that they didn’t have information they needed (PS: That didn’t make us feel better to hear you didn’t have a clue). I DO fault the PRTF in this–they may be ordinary citizens (like us?) but (unlike us) they were “trained” and charged with asking questions and seeking answers to advise the Council–not to rubber stamp the Mayor’s proposal! They failed to do that task: they did not even manage to highlight inconsistencies in information about the plan and couldn’t come to consensus as a group about what priorities were most important.

    The City Council made a very POLITICAL “indecision” to leave this up to NCDOT. NCDOT reps said at the public hearing in July that they accept cities’ recommendations about what option to go with–since they need the city partnerships. But with no guidance from our City, NCDOT apparently will have a carte blanche to do whatever they choose–and what that is or whether it will reflect what we want or need is unknown.

    The Council gets some credit I suppose for responding at the 11th hour to public pressure about this–but it should never have come to this point. The fact that groups such as ours dug for and found answers, highlighted inconsistencies, informed neighbors, AND developed 2 viable alternate proposals in a short 6 weeks is very telling. Where are City planners, NCDOT, and others who are PAID (by us) to do this work?

    This process was just shameful and unfortunately seems to support the opinion of many that this was a sealed deal…Certain reporters seem to think citizens have had too much power in this process–I am not sure what the alternative is: Leaders with too much power who aren’t responsive to public needs and interests? or Leaders acting out of personal interests? I think we have seen that individual voices DO make a difference though in this instance it’s not clear whether we were in this too late in the process–that underscores the need for us to be involved in these processes sooner.

    My sense of trust in our City leaders has certainly been shaken–so let’s stay involved!

    Reply
    • 3. Taylor  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

      Very nicely put!! Politicians are a bunch of bubble-heads that just say what the think they public wants them to say to get elected. The things that stinks is that majority of the public is stupid so they elect folks they can relate to and fear those whose ideas and words they can’t understand.

      Reply
  • 4. Carol  |  September 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I think my last comment disappeared. What is the exact procedural reason that they sent on the Task Force recommendation to DOT in #2, but also voted to consider the new hybrids? That doesn’t make much sense that they are doing both.
    Also, does it make any difference that in 9a they voted to move Norfolk Southern out of the City in the NC3 option? Especially since this is the first time it was mentioned, does it matter if they forwarded the task force’s old version of the NC3 plan? If they can succeed in moving Norfolk Southern’s spur out of the City, and replace Fairview with a like kind street, is Five Points/Roanoke still against NC3?
    Carol

    Reply
  • 5. Sarah  |  September 8, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Can we write to the NCDOT directly?

    Reply

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