The Asheville City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the return of passenger rail to Western North Carolina at their March 23, 2010 meeting.
This resolution is one example of the activity that is going on to bring passenger rail back to Western North Carolina.
If you are mentioning efforts and interest on passenger rail then you have to discuss former Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Board member, Judy Ray of Tyco Valves in Black Mountain. In 1999 Judy Ray helped to establish the Western North Carolina Rail Corridor Committee. This committee is comprised of local government, chambers of commerce, and interested citizens from communities along the rail line including Statesville, Conover, Valdese, Morganton, Marion, Old Fort, Black Mountain, and Asheville.
The group meets quarterly and works to keep Western North Carolina’s desire for passenger rail on the minds of officials at the NC DOT and our elected officials in Raleigh and D.C. Many of the towns along the corridor have begun to renovate their depots to have them ready for when passenger trains return.
On April 7, 2010 members of the Western North Carolina Rail Corridor and myself will be going to Raleigh (by car as there is no train yet) to speak with Representative Rapp’s House Select Committee on Comprehensive Rail Service. The group will provide the committee member’s with an update on the WNC Corridor Committee’s history, current efforts and request for funding to bring passenger rail back to WNC.
The City of Asheville is actively engaged in the process. The Asheville Depot resides in the River Arts District and the City is actively working to redevelop this area. Bringing passenger traffic through the Depot could be a significant contributor to the redevelopment and growth of the River Arts District.
There is still a long road to go before passenger rail will return to Ashville. However, it appears a window of opportunity is opening with the current elected official’s interest in multi modal transportation, the riverfront redevelopment and the current administration’s interest in rail. I want the Asheville community to know how hard the Asheville Chamber has worked on this issue for several years now and how excited we are to see slow but significant progress being made.
To support the effort to bring passenger rail to WNC please join The People for Rail to Asheville at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=317583086629