08/01/12 — Residents hear more about plan for station

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Residents hear more about plan for station

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 1, 2012 1:46 PM

A workshop Tuesday night at School Street School shared the N.C. Department of Transportation's plans concerning the acquisition of right of way along the railroad corridors near Goldsboro's Union Station downtown.

The informational meeting showed the NCDOT's next steps toward restoring passenger rail to Union Station as well as introducing commuter rail service from Goldsboro to Raleigh.

NCDOT officials were on hand at the workshop to answer questions about the project, which was broken down into charts and maps for citizens to peruse in the school gymnasium.

Elizabeth Arrington, who lives adjacent to the school, had questions about what properties would be acquired along the tracks, but was relieved to find out her property was outside of the scope of the study.

She said she thinks the restoration of the passenger rail service and Union Station would prove to benefit the community.

"It's an improvement of the neighborhood," she said.

Informing concerned residents like Ms. Arrington was the purpose of the workshop, said Kristina Solberg, project manager for the study, but NCDOT was also hoping to gauge reactions to the project, which, at this point, is limited to only performing an environmental assessment to determine the feasibility of acquiring the right of way.

Following the assessments this fall, designers will prepare possible concepts for the area, which, along with the environmental assessment data, will be published in a report. A public hearing on the findings will be held in early 2013 and this phase of the project is expected to conclude the following spring with a final publication on the right of way study.

While the aim of the project is to restore passenger rail service in Goldsboro, there are several other factors that will need to be addressed, not the least of which is the restoration of 27 miles of rail between Wallace and Castle Hayne to make a Goldsboro-Wilmington connection possible.

Restoration of Union Station, other stations along the line and improvements along the proposed railroad corridor would need to be performed as well, meaning there is still no fixed time to expect the completion of the project, but Ms. Solberg said this small step is a necessary one.

"If you don't plan for the future, (the return of passenger rail is) never going to happen," she said. "This may be seen as a small step, but it's positive."

She also said she was encouraged by turnout at the information workshop, where visitors filled out comment cards to be turned in or mailed back to the NCDOT by Aug. 31.

For those who were not able to attend, comment cards are available from the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. office. Comments can also be sent in by email to klsolberg@ncdot.gov.