Member Briefing: February 19, 2021

Here is a brief weekly update from the RTA business coalition — the voice of the regional business community on transportation.

A renewed task force, for a new normal at RDU
We all know the importance of a successful RDU Airport to our region. To ensure that RDU can continue to serve us well, RTA created a task force in 2019 to develop suggestions for sustainable funding for RDU as the region grows. When we released the task force findings early last year, we weren’t planning on having a task force 2.0 – of course, neither was RDU. But a pandemic showed up, and so we are revisiting things in 2021. We are again seeking to identify a stable financial footing for the airport, in what is now a volatile, changed, and lowered air travel environment. The RTA RDU AID task force 2.0 goal is to provide some new findings and recommendations by our RTA breakfast event later this summer; more on the task force in this week’s Thursday Thoughts at 3 blog.

Commuter rail possibilities for a growing Triangle – part one
At last week’s RTA Leadership Team meeting, Elisabeth Raskopf with GoTriangle provided an excellent update on a robust, ongoing outreach process concerning the opportunity of commuter rail to connect the region. The proposed service would link center city Durham and Raleigh, along with future new transit centers in Research Triangle Park and Cary, and other potential station stops across multiple counties including Morrisville, Garner, and Clayton.  Outreach participants mentioned concepts like reliability, congestion (relief), connectivity, and the environment. My sense is that the regional business community is in alignment with the responses received to date:  we recognize that commuter rail is expensive and that equity is a major consideration, and we also note its significant potential upside in terms of reliable connectivity for our increasingly spread-out region. We applaud GoTriangle and the NC Railroad Company for working on this initiative that, together with regionwide bus rapid transit, can develop a robust, interconnected enhanced transit network over the next decade.

Commuter rail possibilities for a growing Triangle – part two
NCDOT Deputy Secretary Julie White provided an update at last week’s RTA meeting about a second potential commuter and intercity rail corridor that could complement the NC Railroad Corridor initiative. The “S-line” concept would link Sanford, Apex, Cary, Raleigh, north Raleigh, and Wake Forest – and eventually Petersburg and Richmond, Va. – with passenger rail service.  While there is still plenty of study and vetting to go for both corridors in terms of implementation timelines, the potential upshot of all of this is that we could only be a few years away from a northwest-to-southeast commuter rail spine along the NCRR corridor, intersecting with a southwest to northeast commuter rail corridor at Raleigh and Cary.

Thank you to each of our RTA member companies for your ongoing support!

Let’s get moving,

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director

Gold members

Thank you to our Omnia Gold, Sustaining Gold, and Gold members

Omnia Gold