The purpose and need statement sets the stage for consideration of the alternatives. It has three parts, the purpose, the need and goals and objectives.
The need for this project can be summarized as a result of the following factors:
According to the SC State Rail Plan, freight rail traffic throughout the state and within the area is projected to increase; this paired with an increase in population and development provides the need to focus on safety within the project area and reduce the risk of collisions and accidents between all users.
The existing CSX and Norfolk-Southern (or NS) tracks occupy the same corridor as they enter Columbia through Andrews Yard from the southeast. However, these tracks spread out and cross over Assembly Street, in several locations, and divide the University of South Carolina campus. Assembly Street is a heavily traveled arterial and the combination of increased vehicular traffic congestion, freight rail volume and slow train traffic speeds results in unacceptable delays (both to vehicles and trains), increased air and noise pollution, and increased danger to pedestrians.
Additionally, it impedes the revitalization of the downtown area along one of Columbia’s primary gateways to the city. The downtown area has continued to see an increase in residential development and with an increase in development, other uses tend to follow including commercial/retail and other support services for the residential growth.
The result of more people living in the city center and surrounding areas will be the need to efficiently move the additional pedestrians and vehicles that come with them. Improving and grade-separating the Assembly Street at-grade railroad crossings would help address these needs and could play a vital role in development, redevelopment and major streetscape improvements for the Assembly Street corridor.
The primary purpose of this project is to implement a transportation solution that would improve vehicular operations in order to alleviate vehicle congestion associated with frequent freight rail movements through the project area.
Secondary needs of the project include:
In addition, project goals and objectives include minimizing community and environmental impacts.
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