NC DOT Starts Study of Rail Crossings in Durham

State officials will hold three meetings this week (Nov. 28--Dec 2) to get public comments on Durham County railroad crossings.
The "visioning workshops" are the start of a "Traffic Separation Study" aimed at improving safety, and the public's opinion matters, said city Transportation Director Mark Ahrendsen. "Anything that's done with these crossings ... affects communities as well," he said.
Depending on the study results and cost estimates, some crossings could get stoplights or gates, be converted to over- or underpasses or be closed. Where money for improvements might come from is a question for later, said Sandra Stepney, spokeswoman at the N.C. Department of Transportation Rail Division. "This is just the study phase," she said.
The study covers 18 crossings on the railroad's 12.7-mile corridor between Neal and Cornwallis roads.
Anticipating an increase in passenger traffic on the N.C. Railroad line, the state transportation board appropriated $140,000 for the study, with Triangle Transit, the city of Durham and Norfolk Southern Railway chipping in $20,000 apiece.
In 2004, Norfolk Southern suggested closing the Blackwell Street crossing and offered $4 million to build a pedestrian underpass connecting the American Tobacco and Diamond View office complexes with downtown. City officials refused to go along with the idea and suggested a bridge to carry the tracks over a rebuilt Blackwell Street. The railroad dismissed that proposal as too expensive. The company also dismissed Downtown Durham Inc. CEO Bill Kalkhof's suggestion to rebuild the tracks to run underground.
These workshops will have a "drop-in" format and be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at these locations:

* Monday, Nov. 28: Durham Armory, 212 Foster Street, for downtown crossings between Gregson Street and Driver Street.

* Tuesday, Nov. 29: Trinity Ballroom, Hilton Durham, 3800 Hillsborough Road, for crossings in west Durham between Neal Road and Buchanan Boulevard.

* Thursday, Dec. 1: NC Biotechnology Center, Hamner Conference Center - Glaxo Galleria, 15 T.W. Alexander Drive in RTP, for closings in eastern Durham between Ellis and Cornwallis Roads.

DOT will take written comments until Jan. 6 and pedestrian safety recommendations are due by the end of January. The full study is scheduled to run until April 2013.

To read more please see: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown/ncdot-proposes-to-close-18-stree...

Re-bid for ATT Bridge and Trail to Start in November

Durham staff have announced that the second bidding documents will be released to potential bidders on November 15th and a bidders Q&A session is set for November 30th. Bid opening by the City has been set for December 15th. Assuming at least one proposal comes in within the increased funds now available, this could allow an Award to be made in the February-March period. To keep up with the status of these efforts please check in on the City's web site.

ATT 10 Miler Set for Saturday October 22

Only about four weeks until the 2011 ATT 10 miler! The North Carolina Road Runners Club created the American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler in 2007 to raise awareness and support for the growing trail system throughout the Triangle. Proceeds from these races will help American Tobacco Trail development and maintenance through the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy. Packet pick-up for race participants will be held at the White Oak Church Road parking area from 7:30 to 8:30am and parking there will be very limited during the morning hours. The trail will still be open to the general public on race morning for hiking, biking, recreational running and for equestrian use but we are urging all users to be mindful of trail etiquette. For more information on the race including volunteer opportunities, please go to the NC Roadrunners site. If you want to join TRTC's volunteers on race day, please go to the Volunteer Form for this race

Officials Reach Agreement on Supplemental Funding for ATT Phase E Projects

In a September 14th meeting, the Durham-Orange Transportation Advisory Committee considered several options for additional funding and have opted to use ~3.5 million$ from a reserve fund which had been set aside to cover cost overruns, small and county transportation projects, and initiatives for Triangle Transit. An earlier proposal to reallocate funds that had been set aside for future sidewalks in Durham was turned down after serious concerns expressed by Durham representatives. Officials from the two counties agreed it made sense to use the reserve given that the tobacco trail’s completion has been threatened by a budget shortfall. “It’s a regional project that affects the central part of the State, and we need to move forward,” Durham City Councilman Mike Woodard said, after Mayor Bill Bell and Councilwoman Diane Catotti had also signaled support for using the money. The decision must now be approved by the Durham/Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization. Some changes to the specifications for the bridge are being considered such as allowing the contractor to have 18 rather than 9 months to assemble components for the bridge. No date has been set for start of the second bidding but if MPO approval can be settled in 30-60 days this could happen by the first of the year. It now appears construction will not start until sometime in the Spring.

First Annual Ales for Rail-Trails 5K

North Carolina Rail-Trails, perhaps our closest sister organization, will be holding their first annual 5K race in downtown Durham on October 9th. The race starts at the Fullsteam Brewery at 4pm and will include a short section on the American Tobacco Trail. Race proceeds will benefit the advocacy and rail-trail development efforts of North Carolina Rail-Trails. Registration can be through Active.com or by check.

10/11: Race results are now posted on the NCRT site and pictures will be posted soon.
10/19: Initial pictures now posted on NCRT's Facebook Page.

Bull City Open Streets Event --October 9th

Bull City Open Streets (BCOS) will hold their fourth and final 2011 event on Sunday afternoon October 9th. The roads along Central Park and around Durham Athletic Park will be closed to car traffic, making active transportation easy and safe. Event highlights include: dance classes, bicycle powered smoothies, scavenger hunt, food trucks, skate demo, cake-off and much more. For background info, please see the Open Streets Facebook page.

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