Officials from the N.C. Department of Transportation, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and the Red Line Task Force are seeking a meeting, possibly in mid-June, with Norfolk Southern Corp. to discuss the rail company’s misgivings about the proposed Red Line Regional Rail Project north of Charlotte.
In a report to fellow Davidson Town Board members Tuesday night, Davidson Mayor John Woods said the private meeting will be a chance for local officials to hear first-hand why Norfolk Southern officials can’t accommodate both commuter trains and freight traffic.
“The capacity of a single-track line, with various sidings added to accommodate freight and commuter simultaneously, that will probably be the crux of the discussion. … And accordingly, the added cost. That’s going to be a difficult and important discussion,” said Mayor Woods, who also chairs the Metropolitan Transit Commission’s Red Line Task Force.
Red Line Task Force and NC DOT officials have been seeking comments for the past four months on a proposed business and operations plan for a commuter rail line on 25 miles of track between Charlotte and Mooresville. The original plan unveiled last December for the line projected that it would cost $452 million, and use existing Norfolk Southern track. But Norfolk Southern has said more studies are needed and that additional improvements it wants could push up the project cost.
Local governments have completed their reviews of the business plan in its current form, and offered feedback. Plans originally called for the task force and DOT to revise the plan based on that feedback, then submit a final plan for approval by local governments this summer.
But Norfolk Southern has brought the project to a screeching halt by raising objections, complaining it wasn’t consulted and casting doubt on the idea of running commuter and freight trains on the same tracks. Mayor Woods and other officials said last month that any final votes are on hold indefinitely until Norfolk Southern’s concerns are addressed.
Meanwhile, some commercial property owners along the rail line have raised questions about a plan for voluntary special assessments to help pay for the project. And some local elected officials, including those on the Iredell County Commission, have said strongly they won’t support the Red Line plan in its current form.
The Red Line Task Force was scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte for an update.
In Davidson Tuesday night, Mayor Woods said there have been few other developments on the project in recent weeks.
“We are in a period of quiet assessment of our financial plan and modeling of changes, or potential changes, (is) being reviewed right now,” Mayor Woods said. He said the task force and consultants for the NC DOT are studying what changes can be made to the business plan while keeping it financially feasible.”
RedLineRegionalRail.org, the project website, with documents, frequently asked questions, maps of special tax districts and more.
Past coverage of the Red Line Regional Rail Project