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Feds steer another $22.3 million to Raleigh's Amtrak Union Station

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Artist rendering: Union StationJoseph Szabo, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration, visited Raleigh's warehouse district this morning to announce an additional $22.3 million in federal funds that will complete the cost of a a $60 million replacement for Raleigh's outmoded, dinky Amtrak station. [2pm update: see Matt Garfield's story from today's announcement.]

It's not new money.  There is $15.1 million that was part of $545 million in federal stimulus (ARRA) money for fast-train improvements, announced in 2010.  The $15.1 million was a small part of that big package that was not designated in advance for a particular project.  And another $6.7 million (not mentioned by Szabo today) that had been marked for track improvements in that same original $545 million package.

This money is added to a $21 million federal TIGER grant -- which WAS new money -- that Raleigh won in June. Plus $466,000 announced today, to help with preliminary engineering costs.

So the feds are covering $43.3 million of the $60 million cost to build the first phase of Union Station in the former Dillon Supply Viaduct Building near the corner of West and Martin streets, just a block from the planned Citrix Systems headquarters office. Raleigh has pledged $6 million.  Triangle Transit is contributing the Viaduct building itself, worth $1.4 million.

And the state DOT has pledged to cover the remaining $9 million, something DOT officials forgot to mention when I spoke with them this week.

Allan Paul, who oversees rail operations for the state Department of Transportation, said construction should start by January 2014. He said he hoped Amtrak could move to its new Union Station home in 2016.

This first phase of the city’s Union Station project will serve as Raleigh’s new Amtrak depot, replacing the cramped and busy station a few blocks away on Cabarrus Street.  Planned expansions in the future will also make Union Station a hub for rush-hour commuter trains between Durham and Garner, city and regional transit buses, and possibly a light-rail line.

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Campaign MONEY is HERE!

I agree with the above.  Did a little Googling.  Read Amtrak's July 2012 report.  The Carolian is the only PURE route that MIGHT have all the passengers using the Raleigh station.  However, since folks can get off when they leave Charlotte along the way, it is probably SAFE to use the Budget numbers from the Amrtak report.  The 9 month FY12 budget is 283,477 or annualized to 378K.  That equates to about $160 per passenger for the renovation.  Now I know that folks ride the train north and south and get off in Raleigh, but I can NOT find a pure RIDER embark/disembark number for the Raleigh station.  So I will assume, based on several observations there, that the number of folks that get OFF the Carolian PRIOR to Raleigh (Cary is VERY popular) is about the same as the folks that disembark from the other routes.

Having said that, I think that $60,000,000 is an atrosious amount to spend to "renovate" a terminal in downtown Raleigh.  NOW, if that number includes a total revamp of the downtown area to improve "public" safety, then it might be worth it.

Our son uses Amtrak about 3 times per year from DC.  We QUIT going to Raleigh as the area was LESS than safe, even during the daylight hours.  Cary is a little less convenient, but the safety factor more than made up for the late night pick-up.

It would seem to me that a BETTER location needs to be found and you start with a GREEN Field (or even a BROWN field) and build a NEW terminal.  How about some of the land towards NCSU?

It will take a MASSIVE undertaking to really clean up the downtown area and a lot of folks will be displaced....

This is all Campaign Related....

It is also the epitmy of a government BOON DOGGLE.  I used to build factories, in the US and Abroad.  I can tell you that I could build, even to government standards, a buidling that looks like the Cary Station, only, say TWICE as big, for about one fourth of that.  Let me see the plans and specs.  I'll wager that I would make a handsome profit and can bring it in for around $15,000,000.

This, my fellow Americans, is WHY the national debt is increasing.  BUT, I guess that the Government can finally say...."WE BUILT THAT...."

Oh well, it is only money and Bernacke and company will print up a batch to cover this.

Raleigh has the busiest

Raleigh has the busiest train station on the east coast between Richmond and Miami. Ridership (embankments, disembarkment) has been increasing over 35% year. Of the 60 million, 25 million is for track improvements another chunk - not sure how much, is for road tunnel under the tracks. The station itself comes in around 30 million and it includes three train bridges to get passengers under the tracks to the platforms. And if you think the west end of downtown is sketchy....you clearly haven't been there in while. It's probably the hippest part of downtown now with CAM, VAE, the DesignBox and new galleries and restaurants springing up almost overnight. Not to mention the new Citrix HQ. This announcement is really going to push economic development on the west side even faster than it has been ....Hooray for Raleigh, Hooray for Amtrak and Hooray for real options to the car! For the naysayers that are sure to comment.....if roads pay for themselves and rail is a boondoggle, waste of money....why does the new Tri-Ex Expressway to the park require tolls?

$1.5 TRILLION DEFICITS

If a politician slipped $60 million in taxpayer dollars to a big corporation in a paper bag, you would call it stealing. But if they label it "stimulus", that makes it OKAY. Whatever happened to the corporate practice of raising funds through the sale of stocks and bonds to pay for their own material improvements? What's the point in "taxing the rich" if they're going to give it to them in the name of "stimulus" anyway?

 

It's truly amazing how quickly Americans learned to love TRILLION dollar deficits. Enjoy it while it lasts. Sooner or later the house of cards is coming down like the World Trade Center.

How many airlines own the

How many airlines own the airports that they land at? None!  How many airlines own the runways that they land on?  None!  And one more thing that makes this different from the train station, unlike the airlines, Amtrak is owned by the Federal Government.

As for Stimulus monies, guess where many more billions went than to trains.  Highways!  Why?  Because we drivers don't actually pay enough in fuel taxes to cover the costs of our highways.  We Americans learned to love Trillion dollar deficits in part thanks to our heavily subsidized highways.  It's quite likely that $2 Trillion or more of the deficit is thanks entirely to Federal spending on highways to help provide the heavily subsidized drives we American's seem to like.

Old money, new money

"Old" money, "new" money, "Fed" money, "stimulus" money. How fortuitous that the capital city of a vital swing state suddenly is remembered by our dear old rich Uncle Sam and so near to November! Now we get to spend not just "our" money but "everyone's" money including that portion borrowed from our creditors of afar.

It seems that at election time, that old saying about "no free lunch" goes out of style. 

This reminds me of the thrifty father who paid his children 25 cents to skip breakfast, then charged them 50 cents for supper.

Yes, it was always part of

Yes, it was always part of the plan that 3 governors would outright reject the very funds that their States filled out multi-page applications to get in the first place, just so the Fed could then give that money away at election time.  And it was so fortuitous that other deals would fall through or not be able to start construction in time as outlined by the Stimulus package, again just so the Fed could re-award them in time for the election.

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About the blogger

Bruce Siceloff reports on traffic and transportation. A News & Observer reporter, editor and blogger since 1976, he took over the Road Worrier column in 2003. Lately he drives I-40 with the cruise control set at 68 mph. You can e-mail Bruce, call him at 919-829-4527, check out his Crosstown Traffic blog or follow him (@Road_Worrier) on Twitter.
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