07/12/05 — Rail system through city will be boost, some say

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Rail system through city will be boost, some say

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 12, 2005 1:45 PM

Local officials and business-owners say they are excited about the potential for passenger rail service in downtown Goldsboro.

Joanna Thompson, president of the Economic Development Commission, said she thinks the move could be a boost for downtown Goldsboro.

"It's one more notch in our belt that we can say we have in the community," she said.

She said the move could bring positive attention to the area, especially for outside companies looking to relocate.

State Re. Louis Pate and Goldsboro Mayor Al King

News-Argus/Mitch Loeber

State Rep. Louis Pate, left, and Mayor Al King listen to Patrick Simmons' presentation on a new rail system proposal.

"It's a quality of life issue but it's also a sophistication," she said. Businesses looking to locate in the area often ask about rail service here, she added. "It's one more positive attribute that we can market."

Ms. Thompson said she would like to see the existing downtown train station renovated into a multi-modal station, offering a variety of transportation options.

"A lot of people would look forward to that day," she said. "It's a ripple effect. When passenger rail is restored as they said it would be, and if we get that train station revitalized into a multi-modal hub, that'll do wonders for downtown, too.

"It's positive all the way around."

Passenger rail service "would be a boost to our real estate in this area," said Sarah Merritt, a broker with Realty World. Mrs. Merritt said citizens could potentially live in Goldsboro and commute to Raleigh via the rail system.

"Real estate's less expensive here. It's not as congested as far as traffic," she said.

Mrs. Merritt said she would be interested to learn of the costs of the project, and how many jobs passenger rail service would bring.

"It's going to take a lot of hard work from some dedicated people," she said. "I definitely think it can be done. It would definitely boost our economy all around."

Grace Rains of B & G Grill said she would love to see rail service return to downtown.

"The place is filled up every day," Mrs. Rains said of the restaurant. "Sometimes they're waiting in line to get a seat."

But Mrs. Rains said she would not mind seeing those lines get longer with rail passengers.

"I'm sure it would help everybody in Goldsboro. I know it would."

Monica Barkley of Phoenix Construction Associates Inc. has served on the North Carolina Eastern Region Transportation Committee and the strategic vision planning committee.

She said having rail service through Goldsboro would be a positive.

"It's much-needed," she said, noting that having access to the coastal port would benefit the public as well as businesses moving products.

"I just think it would be a great asset to eastern North Carolina for business and passengers."

Florence Perkins, co-owner of Per-Flo Tours, said she is very interested in seeing rail service come to the area.

"I am sure a lot of people have never ridden a train and would like the novelty of it," she said.

She said she and her husband, who primarily offer bus trip packages, might even consider incorporating train trips into the mix.

"I would like very much to see anything develop the tourism in this area," she said.

And more investment in the community also could help in other ways, said Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools.

"Any additional investments in our area that would result from the passenger rail service would obviously benefit our school system through additional resources and opportunities for our students," he said.