SEHSR (Southeast High Speed Rail) and the S-Line Corridor

Since the hotel versus rail discourse is happening again, I’m going to ask a stupid question that always pops into my head when this comes up.

I know single-tracking here would cause a major choke-point, but does it actually kill the SEHSR project? Trains are going to be moving slowly at this point anyway since they’ll be approaching/leaving a station, so it’s not like the tracks need to be up to “high speed” standards. So… does the Moxy really kill this project?

Also, for funsies, I’m gonna email Jason Orthner and see if he’ll tell me what’s going on with this property. It’s a long shot, but screw it, why not.


If you don’t email him I can guarantee what his answer will be.


Does anyone have link to the site plan or ASR or whatever? I’m not great at finding this stuff, but I want to reference it in the email. Only thing I could find on here is a screenshot, and Google is being unhelpful.

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I can’t find it unfortunately, but I’m curious to hear what he says.

This may be a stupid question too, but I’ve always wondered: why can’t S-Line trains just diverge to the right before 501 N West St. (this is the site of the future hotel, right?), use the CSX tracks that cross N West. and Harrington, and then re-join the NS (?) tracks after the Atlantic Ave bridge? So, basically, go past Seaboard Station instead.

Only reasons I can think of are the at-grade crossings on West and Harrington. Otherwise, I don’t really know.

This is correct. This is the only route north out of downtown they could come up with that can be built with no street crossings.


Not trying to be a smartass, but…

Isn’t that what bridges are for.

Trains can’t climb steep grades.

The only real alternative to the approved route would be to just take over Norfolk Southern’s right-of-way and rebuild it with wider (and higher) bridges and multiple tracks. Which - honestly - that would be even better than the approved route.

Problem is, Norfolk Southern can (and probably will) just say “No” - and then that would be that. No power of eminent domain can compel a railroad to play along.


Couldn’t someone just pass a law to say it can compel them? Or at least have to play ball? This isn’t 1890. I don’t understand why freight train companies get their own special rules from everyone else.


Railroads are regulated under the interstate commerce clause - and so it takes an act of congress.


I guess that is what I was thinking.

The control the railroads have in this country is ridiculous. The actual rail lines should be a public utility run by an agency, with railroad companies bidding / leasing for routes / times. Similar to what we do with the FCC and the wireless communication frequencies.

And while we are at it. Power lines too. Consumers would be able to shop around power companies, not restricted by whichever power company has a monoply in your area.

I know - pipe dreams.


Was just on an NCDOT call about S-Line this morning. Some takeaways:

  • they expect an announcement in a month about progress on Raleigh-Wake Forest segment
  • TOD plans illustrated included three sites in Raleigh: Blue Ridge (NCDOT land south of fairgrounds), Midtown (Highwoods? couldn’t immediately ID site), and Gresham Lake, plus downtown Apex and Wake Forest
  • I asked specifically about ROW acquisition in DTR, and they anticipate some deals to close within the year

How can you help? NCDOT says that they are preparing federal grant applications and need letters of support, so please reach out within your networks to see if there are any groups you can provide with a template.


Thought I saw something on Twitter teasing a report release about S-Line, but I’m not yet seeing it online. However, the website does have maps of the sites they studied, including four in Raleigh:


Deep in that website, there’s a not-yet-active link for a “Transit-Oriented Development Readiness Report”, so I assume that’s what that’s about?

For the curious and lazy, these are the TOD areas that NCDOT looked at for Raleigh -and it implies that the state might be interested in making the Blue Ridge corridor/State Fairgrounds and the Five Points/Ironworks/Midtown area more walkable?


Don’t want to hog up this topic too much, but there’s no reason the Blue Ridge / Fairgrounds corridor shouldn’t be more walkable and dense. It’s only a matter of time until that land is too valuable only for the State Fair and State Market.


Maybe I’m confused but there would be stations at these areas on the high-speed line? Cool with me, but I just thought the whole point was fewer stations to allow for higher speeds between cities?


I think the goal is multiple types of service on this corridor. SEHSR would bypass most of these, but, seeing as NCDOT owns the corridor and there’s barely any freight on it (like two trains per day if I’m not mistaken), they can kind of do whatever they want with it. My understanding is that, in addition to SEHSR, they’re hoping to do a local commuter/regional type service that runs north to south (probably Apex to Youngsville initially, potentially extending to Sanford and Franklinton). Best part about that is that we wouldn’t have to wait for Virginia to do track work, so we could have service on this line between SEHSR is even finished.


Definitely a nonzero chance that we end up getting north-south commuter service before the planned Greater Triangle Regional Rail, IMO.


The fairgrounds is far from the lowest hanging fruit at that intersection, which would be the stuff south of the tracks:
-NCDOT maintenance yard
-Gregory Poole Equipment Co
-Low-slung flex space off of Pylon Drive

All the above is much easier to redevelop than the Fairgrounds itself, which is beloved by the public of the entire state, has the 1920s exhibit halls facing the corner of Blue Ridge and Hillsborough, and is also home to Raleigh’s most important contribution to world architectural history: Matthew Nowicki’s 1952 Paraboleum, aka Dorton Arena (which is also the city’s best building overall by a mile, and also just plain cool).

Anyway if any redevelopment is to happen at the Fairgrounds itself it will be generations from now and it will wind up largely respecting the site’s origin as a large open space for events and public gatherings.


Interesting that there are no study areas listed in Cary. You would think they would’ve at least included the downtown. Maybe because the town has it’s own TOD-style plans?