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NC DOT delays deadline on rail comments

(The following appeared on the News & Observer website on August 25, 2010.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The state Department of Transportation says it will extend to Sept. 10 the deadline for public comment on a proposal to run trains as fast as 110 mph on a new track from downtown Raleigh to Richmond, Va.

Monday had been the cutoff for responses to the draft environmental impact statement published as part of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor project from Charlotte to Washington. More than 2,200 people attended eight public hearings during July in Virginia and North Carolina, and many residents and businesses have filed comments.

"While we received significant popular support for the project, we also learned a great deal from concerned property owners, business people and community leaders on how to improve the project," said Pat Simmons, DOT Rail Division director. "These meetings were a great way for us to hear what citizens along the corridor think about our plans."

One of the most controversial parts of the plan centers on the route northbound trains will take through downtown Raleigh. The Raleigh City Council has scheduled a Tuesday hearing on whether to run the trains through a Norfolk Southern freight yard on the west side of Capital Boulevard, or through a CSX freight yard on the east side of Capital.

A citizen task force has endorsed the Norfolk Southern path. The council is expected to weigh in with its preference in September.

Go to sehsr.org online to read the environmental study and to file your comments.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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