Next stop, Henderson, on high speed rail


Submitted by Elissa Yount, Advisory Committee to Southeastern High Speed Rail
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
10 AM

There was a Valentine’s Day surprise in store for Henderson on Tuesday morning as David Foster and other representatives from the Southeastern High Speed Rail met with city officials for two hours in the Rosemyr Offices which overlook the railroad tracks that run parallel to Garnett Street. Lots of information was shared, but the best news was that the study will propose a stop in Henderson for the High Speed Rail.

The work in North Carolina is not as far along as the work in Virginia. The detailed environmental impact study for the 138 mile corridor is due to be finished in late 2007. There will be three identified preferred alternatives which are broken into three sections. However, the potential for a different alignment along the rail through Henderson is slim.

One of the biggest issues is safety, and the biggest safety issue involves grade crossings. The high speed rail will have to propose a solution for every crossing on the corridor. Henderson is one of the largest urban areas studied so far as the work of the committee progresses south.

There were questions about fencing and the road bed. The type of fencing for our urban area has yet to be determined. The same road beds will likely be used when the track structure is replaced. There will be a vibration analysis to see if structural damage to buildings might occur, but this analysis will apply mostly to freight trains.

Henderson voted to participate in the Traffic Separation Study in July of 2003. Over the years, the track grade of the corridor has been raised as much as one foot. The Traffic Separation Study is to identify the existing concerns and prioritize them. This study will supply a base line as to what we have now. Pedestrian concerns will be accommodated.

The timing of the meeting on Tuesday morning was good. We found out where Henderson is regarding the project and where we are going. The consensus was that cooperation with the High Speed Rail effort is in all of our best interests.

Of the four daily stops, two are recommended to stop in Henderson. There may be other plans in the future for the state to introduce some local rail service using the same equipment as our state railroad uses now.

The advice to our city officials was to be proactive and champion the system as a priority for our community. The South Eastern Economic Analysis has indicated that from a business standpoint, the high speed rail could open unique opportunities.

Possible locations for a train station were discussed. Also, maps were distributed that identified possible road closings, grade separations, overpasses, and other road impacts from North Henderson past J.P. Taylor Road. These are only preliminary considerations and as input from the stakeholders come in, the suggestions will be considered in the planning. The overall transportation plan for the city will be vital in the final recommendations.