Mayor: Red Line study possible
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Mayor John Woods announced Tuesday evening, June 26, Norfolk Southern has agreed to engage in a rail traffic control study for the Red Line.
This news comes three months after Norfolk Southern sent its third letter to Red Line Task Force leaders stating it had no interest in pursuing the current model of the Red Line, because they believed the financing plan and timeline for the proposed 25 miles of passenger rail from Charlotte to Mooresville was “fatally flawed.”
In those letters, they repeatedly stressed an infrastructure and operations study would have to be completed for the company to even consider the possibility of partnering on the Red Line project.
The rail traffic control study they’ve agreed upon is a computer modeling of the rail system in question, which is Norfolk Southern’s O-Line, also known as the Red Line, which runs from Charlotte to Mooresville and all the way to Salisbury, looping to Winston-Salem.
“It’s an ingredient in the network of Norfolk’s rail system and the study will engage how freight and passengers can exist on the same line,” Woods explained during the Davidson town board meeting.
Norfolk Southern has estimated the study could take upward of one year to complete.
“And that’s a long time for us,” Woods said.
During a Wednesday afternoon meeting, scheduled after the Herald’s press deadline, Woods was scheduled to present the idea to the Red Line Task Force. He explained the task force’s next move will be to investigate how much the study will cost, how long it will take to complete and other factors that could sway task force members as to whether to move ahead.
“Not only is the scope and cost an issue, but timing is an issue that really has us concerned,” Woods said, regarding the estimate that the study could take up to a year, possibly more.
And while the Red Line Task Force has been focusing on the Red Line as a way to reduce traffic congestion in the region, the Lake Norman Transportation Commission has also been working with the N.C. Department of Transportation on plans to widen Interstate 77.
During the town board’s meeting, Davidson’s Mayor Pro-Tem Brian Jenest reported the NCDOT has come up with a plan for the widening of I-77 that includes two High Occupancy Toll lanes from Charlotte to Exit 28 in Cornelius, and one HOT lane from Exit 28 to Mooresville.
“We didn’t think we were going to get that extension, but they think they can fit it in the causeway,” Brian explained. “They’re only going to do one lane (in Mooresville), because they can’t do two in the causeway without having to do a lot of environmental work,” Jenest explained.
He said NCDOT will award the contract for the work this summer and plans on starting construction in 2014.