Downtown-Dix Park Connection

I have been lurking on these boards for a while, and thought I’d share an idea I find to be (somewhat) feasible and (very) exciting.

Reading the master plan for the park, the rail road tracks that run through the property are emphasized as a natural boundary between its major sections. These tracks continue to none other than Raleigh Union Station!!

I know that proposing rail transit is controversial around these parts, so please bear with me. Why in the world would the city NOT want to utilize these tracks and run a train connection between the park and RUS?

Although there is only one set of tracks for that stretch, a single train could quite feasibly operate back-and-forth service every 15-20 minutes, and get out of the way when a freight train comes through.

BRT service to the park is planned, but the route to DTR is indirect. Passengers would also have to make their way to Western Boulevard and cross the street (yikes) While some would be willing to do this, your average person would be far more likely to appreciate the ‘signature’ experience of riding the train.

Folks could park at the farmers market (or ride in on the BRT line), and then explore Dix park in the late afternoon, take the train to DTR for dinner, and then back to Dix later.

How can we make this happen?


I believe you’d have to talk Norfolk Southern into selling the tracks or allowing public access and they haven’t had much interest in doing either in the past.


I can’t imagine that there would be enough of a demand to justify the expense of such a service.


I could see it for special events if they start having more concerts/ festivals there. But probably would not get used too much for daily service.

1 Like

The most useful use would be to turn it in to a “rail to trail” and provide a second entrance to the park without having to cross Western.
But I don’t see that happening thanks to NS.


Raleigh wants a “thing”? Urban gondolas


Agree 100% …


'sup, Tar! Welcome to the deep, dark world of joining in and commenting on this Discord :stuck_out_tongue:


I totally agree that it would be a cool and awesome-sounding idea. Maybe even useful? But “feasible” isn’t a word I would use lightly.

Like everyone else said, Norfolk Southern owns those tracks. Since transit corridors that aren’t for cars are not public utilities (read: citizens get to call dibs) in the U.S., neither the federal or state government can demand public transit to be allowed through. That makes those tracks private property, so you can’t really do much as long as NS isn’t willing to hear you out about passenger rail service on their turf -and history suggests they’ll hate your guts for mouthing those words anywhere near their face.

This means you’re left to beg NS to let trains pass through that 1.2 miles (1.9 km)-long path -and for you to come up with a convincing reason to believe you.

Remember, we’re struggling to justify a Durham-Raleigh commuter rail line or light rail of any sort in the Triangle. In light of that, I’m not sure if this would be a battle worth fighting…

PS 1: a possible compromise would be to lobby for a Dix station to be part of a Raleigh-Fayetteville rail route, which is being studied by several government agencies right now. …but there’s a whole other thread for that.

PS 2: about public transit being 'controversial'...

The affordable housing discussion is hella controversial, since it ends up being a bloodbath of arguments which are all well-thought-out and relatively watertight.

I don’t think the discussion about public transit fits the bill -or at least, not on this site. I think most of the discussions are repeats of the same, core arguments of “oooh this sounds really cool you guys!!” versus “wait this doesn’t pass the b.s. sniff test”. But at the end of the day, there’s a pretty good consensus that some sort of comprehensive public transit investment would be an investment that’s worth the effort; a lot of us seem to be on the same page, on that end.


I think this is a great idea! I think it competes with a rails-to-trails project. But first step is to purchase the line. There is a great discussion on this community about this.


Let’s not forget that the Dix stop on the Western BRT will include some heavily improved pedestrian amenities, perhaps even a pedestrian bridge or underpass. If you think they’re just gonna plop a BRT station on Western in the current pedestrian environment and expect people to access Dix from there, then you’re throwing money into a paper shredder.


Thanks for the comments, everyone!

I agree that offering train service during special events would be a very good idea (similar to the stop offered by Amtrak at the state fair).

But, I guess this all falls into the hands of NS


Could help offset parking requirements at Dix if we could bring folks in by rail for big events.


Tar - welcome to the forum. I like any idea that involves using those tracks to move people around instead of freight. My personal preference is to convert the tracks to a greenway/rails-to-trails project to connect people to the park from the north and south. But as others have said, the tracks are owned by NS and it doesn’t appear that they’re interested in changing the status quo.

I did the guided walking tour of Dix earlier this year and our guide - Kate Pearce of Raleigh Parks - did note that they have small/medium/large asks ready to go regarding future use of those tracks. I have no details on what those asks look like.

Certainly we need to be thinking about options for getting people to/from the park - particularly if it’s to be a “transformative public space for our community” and a regional attraction. No way the park reaches its potential if we think/plan/build for most visitors to get there by car.


Should probably make two stops. One in Dix park and the other at the Farmer’s market.


I hate to be cynical but I think I hear a paper shredder warming up.

Phase 1 of the park is supposed to take ~10 years to complete. Phase 1 projects are supposed to break ground within 2-4 years according to the “Next Steps FAQ.”

I can see DOT/Council deciding the pedestrian amenities at the Dix BRT stop can wait until Phase 1 is completed.

1 Like

They might actually get started sooner than most think. I attended a closed-door meeting held by Steve Troxler and his staff last month to discuss the future of the State Farmers Market. He informed us the amount of money raised so far is surprising everyone involved, somewhere north of hundreds of Millions already. He also said a few recent partners who have joined can write $50M checks with ease but wouldn’t name anyone specifically.


That’s great news - thank you!

I’m guessing some of the people who can write $50m checks with ease may not be spring chickens? (I say that as a non-spring chicken myself.) Maybe such folks don’t like the sound of, “Parks of this size and caliber often take decades for full build out.”

1 Like

Even people writing $50 million checks will not keep this from taking decades to build out…

1 Like

The Western BRT is still in pre-planning anyway. They (the BRT planners) know they have to get this right as far as the pedestrian connections to Dix go.


Old money types that are thinking about their legacies. I think they understand that their contributions are going to jump start and insure the direction of the park development. They’re rich enough, and old enough to realize they can’t take it with them and have found a worthy cause that can be a source of great fulfillment.