Today the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority unveiled nine possibilities in the formulation of a 2040 master plan. The group wants the facility to be ready for changes in consumer demand, technology, and major facility maintenance over the next two decades. Readers are invited to join the conversation at vision2040.rdu.com and on Twitter using the hashtag #RDU2040.
The alternatives introduce a myriad of changes, from replacing each, aging runway to adding gates, to offering easier rental car service access. Personally my favorite is Plan 8. It allows Southwest to keep their own terminal (which could never be altered to be a showcase) while greatly expanding the showcase Terminal 2. Additionally, it uses an elevated people moved to connect passengers with the rental car hub, like Tampa has arranged. some other plans put a parking garage with rentals on the land in front of old Terminal B, but this is precious land and has no place for expansion.
One of these plans struck me as a totally new way of looking at the airport; Plan 5. This plan adds a 3rd independent terminal north of Terminal 2, where the runway observation park is. However if one backs away, it seems the entire complex could eventually handle a Terminal 4 where General Aviation currently is. Of course, there are models which show the most efficient mix of gates, runways, and curb length, but the real key here is that the plans do not absolutely have to be constrained to just the south side of the north taxiway connecting the runways.
The flaw with all 9 plans is that they assume that people will behave the same way they do today. We are on the cusp of a major transportation revolution, mainly centered around the driverless car. This will bring drastic changes in the demand for prime real estate parking, queues of public cars awaiting service, and traffic flow. Perhaps building expensive parking structures is not the best plan given what we know in 2016.
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Looking for an adventurous weekend getaway? One option many haven’t considered is right under our noses: taking Amtrak to Durham. My wife and I did this urban excursion back in the Fall and had a fantastic experience. Not only were we able to take an unfamiliar mode of transportation and avoid heavy traffic, but we were able to explore a culinary playground for what felt like the first time. Our one-night excursion included a night at the incredible 21c Hotel, drinks in the 21c’s bar, dinner at Mateo, and late-night drinks on the roof of The Durham Hotel.
So packing your rolling suitcase! Here’s how to do make it fun and easy:
Taking the train to Durham made the trip really feel like we were getting away from it all. Had we driven, it would have felt like just another trip to Durham. Amtrak is scheduled to leave Raleigh each day at 4:50pm and the fare is $9 per person.
Parking is less than ideal at the Raleigh train depot. Though it is free, the lot is very small, and overflow means parking on the street. The alternative is departing from Cary where the terminal is spotless, parking is outstanding. The train leaves at 5:03pm each day from Cary, and fare is $6.50 per person.
The problem with departing from Cary, though, is that you skip the great experience of leaving from downtown Raleigh. You definitely want to sit on the right side of the train, because the views as you depart downtown Raleigh, passing by the new train depot construction site, through NCSU, by the backs of Hillsborough street businesses, and by the NC State Fairgrounds, is superior to that on the left side of the train.
It should be noted that Amtrak runs late the majority of the time. Thankfully they have an outstanding phone app which accurately reports the train’s status. It is a must when traveling on Amtrak.
Usually this train doesn’t sell out, so you can buy a ticket at the depot upon arriving. Seating on the train is general admission, though, so it does help to be first in line at the designated steps when the train is loading. All seat rows have a standard pair of electrical outlets under the window, and the seating dimensions are similar to those in First Class on a large airplane. Baggage is loosely stored overhead, not checked.
if the train is running late, you can walk across the tracks to visit Videri Chocolate Factory or Boxcar Bar + Arcade. CAM is also an option on some days, as they are open until 6:30pm on Wed-Fri. If you are in Cary and the train is late, consider visiting the shops in the Ashworth Drugs block.
Durham has three outstanding hotels: The Aloft, The Durham, and the incredible 21c Hotel. The latter two hotels are just two blocks from the Amtrak station, while the aloft is adjacent to the DPAC, essentially 4 blocks away. The scheduled arrival is 5:24pm, so you should have plenty of time to check in and prepare for dinner.
The Aloft– As with most Aloft hotels, the rooms are modern, certainly adequate, but not high end. This location just opened 6 months ago, and I’ve heard a good first hand report about the couple’s stay. Rooms are usually $160 per night.
The Durham Hotel – Set in an old office building that looks like it came out of 1960s Miami, The Durham delivers a high end experience in incredibly minimalist rooms. Nightly rates begin at $290.
The 21C Museum Hotel – Named as one of the best new hotels in the nation in 2015, the 21c is set in the 1930s era Hill Building, Durham’s tallest. The public areas of the building have been converted to a restaurant, a bar, and several rooms of museum space. The front desk area is tucked away on the second floor, but that only ads to the intrigue of the place. The rooms are large, and terrazzo floors and rugs, modern furniture, and neat lighting. The bathrooms look like something from a Stanley Kubrick movie, glowing fuchsia backlighting around the edges of the mirror. Very sexy. Rooms at the 21C begin at $240. Note: the hotel has a construction site across the street, so request a room on the west side of the building if you can.
Make no mistake, these are three high fashion hotels. The 21C has a spa and workout room. The Aloft is the only one with a pool, but it is very small. The Durham has no similar amenities. This is the area where these three hotels are sorely lacking, honestly.
There are some outstanding dining options within a four block walk of these hotels. We walked 2 blocks to Mateo, the creation of James Beard award-nominated chef Matt Kelly. The dinner was impressive, which comes as no surprise given the reputation of the restaurant. Last week Alton Brown gave high praise on Facebook, calling Mateo America’s best tapas restaurant. As of now, you can still have a decent choice of times on Open Table one week in advance.
The 21c’s Counting House restaurant, Pizzeria Toro, Rue Cler, Piedmont, Dashi, Bull City Burger and Brewery, and Dos Perros are all excellent dining choices as well.
Our “pregame” events included cocktails at the excellent bar in the 21c. We were able to peruse the art gallery; a wonderful experience. After the meal at Mateo we made our way two blocks to The Durham’s rooftop bar. Views here are very good, and it gave us a chance to experience the neat, quirky aspects of this hotel project. The atmosphere at the top was certainly the most Glenwood South-like experience of the evening, however.
Admittedly, our trip was a food-based one, however there are some great entertainment options in downtown Durham including a DPAC or Carolina Theater event, a Durham Bulls game, or even a public event at the American Tobacco complex. While these are great options, the Amtrak factor must not be forgotten. Many of these events begin before 8pm and given Amtrak’s history, it could put a squeeze on dinner plans or even jeopardize seeing a ticketed event. If you anticipate dinner and one of these events, prepare to compromise by abandoning the Amtrak option in the afternoon and just drive it.
One of the reasons this getaway is an adventure is that Durham is not the safest place on the planet. In fact Durham County is one of North Carolina’s three counties with a higher violent crime rate than any county in New Jersey. Its rate is 2.5X higher than Wake County’s.
I have had no problems, however my sister and her date did have a scary incident. On a warm night this winter, between the 21c and Mateo, they approached an oncoming group of about 20 young black males who, from across the street, yelled at them, mocking them as racists and making lewd suggestions. There were no other people around to help had the group decided to cross the street and be violent.
The streets are dark in downtown Durham, and sometimes are quiet. In 4 nights of going out inside the Durham Loop, I have never seen a police officer. While the crime rate inside the Loop is probably not nearly as high as the county’s rate, the people creating that rate are not far away. This needs to change, now. Downtown Durham is poised to be the next Big Thing in the nation, as long as people feel safe. The population on the street is changing this spring, however, as the general population walking around patronizing businesses on a given weekend night is steadily increasing during warm weather nights.
There are two options for your return trip on Amtrak; 9:42am and 2:42pm. The early train is good for those who need to get on back to Raleigh, but the afternoon train is the way to go. Regardless, check the Amtrak app upon waking and see how the trains are running. (we made the mistake of hurrying to the station only to learn that the early train was delayed 2 hours).
There are some great lunch spots in downtown Durham. The most popular is Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, reported to be “the real deal”. Another great option, however, is Parker & Otis, which is 2 blocks west of the Amtrak station. P&O is a great café and gift shop like none in Raleigh.
Some other excellent lunch options include Toast, Old Havana Sandwich Shop, Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas, Pizzeria Toro, Dashi, Bull City Burger and Brewery, and Dos Perros .
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Sometimes we all need a getaway. Unfortunately we find ourselves turning to the same old options, many of which involve multiple-night stays and a considerable amount of difficult driving. However random adventures can be just as exhilarating. Consider a great option that is right in our backyard; the Amtrak Getaway to Durham.
Carowinds’ Fury 325 will open this summer as the 5th tallest roller coaster in the world, and will be the most discussed coaster on the continent this year. On Wednesday the track saw its unmanned maiden voyage. A point-of-view camera was mounted and footage is now posted on YouTube.
The 325’ high coaster is 20’ taller than the Statue of Liberty, and will be the highest and fastest for Bolliger & Mabillard. The firm known for engineering the smoothest coasters ever built sees itself well into the 300 foot zone with this coaster. It’s a zone that Intamin has dominated over last decade and a half. Hopefully B&M can bring their brand of well-managed lateral Gs to this class of coasters.
Looks like some track tuning still remains as well as much landscaping. It appears the coaster has a fantastic fine del capo under the pedestrian plaza followed by a splashdown into a lake. This should be a dynamite addition to the NC side of Carowinds, and will attract visitors from around the world to this hidden gem of a park.
Wake County School System has compiled their official calendars for the 2014-2015 school year in PDF format. In fine fashion gogoraleigh has converted all of these calendars into numerous downloadable formats.
Now readers can easily import their favorite school calendars into Android phones, iPhones, Outlook, and more. The set includes calendars for the Traditional, Track 1, Track 2, Track 3, Track 4, and Modified schools. Even better, if you already subscribe to any of these calendars, then all of the new dates have been automatically added for you.
For more information and downloads, see the Calendars tab at gogoraleigh.
Last month the City of Raleigh passed a new sign ordinance, leading to some unexpected results. Under the new law small businesses are forbidden from placing any form of signage in their windows (including lit signs, chalkboards, manikins, or any other means of conveying the what products the business sells), but allows large corporations to place billboards on the tops of their buildings.
In downtown Raleigh the new ordinance began an explosion of tower-top billboards. Duke Energy spokesman Maximillian Thompson said,”After Red Hat showed us that a tower-top sign can be tastefully executed, we began discussions with Raleigh City Council members. They unanimously agreed with us about Red Hat’s sign, and agreed that if every business placed a similar sign on their building, there shouldn’t be any problem.”
The results from the new ordinance have been mixed. A local realtor said,”a city councilor said publicly that my sign was tacky? This is an abomination. The new signs downtown are so ugly that it is causing people to not just wreck their cars, the cars are spontaneously bursting into flames. It’s even worse than a snow day around here.”
Only one Raleigh City Council member would speak to gogoraleigh about the issue, only offering,”Hey, it’s not like our mayor was rigging land values to get light rail funds from Washington and taking bribes on multiple occasions. All I got was a free home renovation…. Oh, wait. Aren’t we talking about the Charlotte mayor thing?”
Today the UNC officials announced that it will erect a bronze sculpture to honor the work of its student athletes. The bronze sculpture, name “Statue of Limitations”, will depict a football player embracing his female tutor. The artist said the athlete’s head will be on the left shoulder of the tutor while the tutor’s hands will be busy writing a paper for the athlete. “I think it perfectly depicts the win-win relationship our athletes and academic support staff share,” said one assistant sports information director.
Officials said the statue will replace the university’s historic “Silent Sam” sculpture which depicts a student who has been sent to fight in the Civil War. “We are tired of the racist imagery presented by Silent Sam. The Statue of Limitations is a far more accurate depiction of campus life in the Modern Era. Plus, there is no racism at all with the student athlete experience, so it’s really a win-win”, said one assistant athletic director.
In order to avoid any media coverage of the situation, the statue will be unveiled at 4:45pm on Thursday, July 3.
Today Duke University announced that it will change the name of its historic Wallace Wade Stadium in an effort to offer clarity to visitors. The new name will be “Wallace Wade Outdoor Stadium”. An assistant athletic director told gogoraleigh,”We had a real problem with visitors showing up to the basketball arena, Cameron Indoor Stadium, in their search for our tiny, outdated football stadium.”
The move should be a boon to tourism and visitor dollars for Durham, as the only people who can navigate Duke’s wooded campus safely are Duke’s typical athletic supporters.
Eager to jump aboard the trend of culinary eating taking over Raleigh, the legendary Angus Barn announced today that it will, effective immediately, be known as the Guacangus Barn. The menu will change slightly, as well, to reflect the restaurant’s new direction. In addition to timeless classics on the menu, all dishes will be served with a side of tortilla chips. However the most mouth-watering addition is the restaurant’s new condiment, Guacangus Sauce, an avocado paste made from onion, lime, serrano peppers, and steak and rib drippings. Yum!
Changes are coming upstairs in the restaurant as well. The bar will be converted into the new Pavo Salvaje Cantina, home of the Triangle’s most impressive tequila selection.
Additionally the Barn will introduce a new celebration for diners on their birthday. The restaurant staff will sing the new Angus Nino/Nina song throughout the restaurant, converting the dining room into a rustic fiesta!
So go west, my friends, and enjoy the Triangle’s newest dining experience!
In recent years NC State University has made a concerted effort to bring more public art to its campus. The Talley Arts Center today announced that a donor who prefers to be only known as “W.M.” has donated the funds to commission an artist for a large mural at the PNC Arena. The mural will be placed as a salute to the historic basketball program as a whole, but will specifically salute the 2014 Men’s Basketball Team.
Entitled “Ball in the Ocean”, the mural will depict an NCSU player standing at a makeshift free throw line on a beach scattered with basketballs. “In the image, the player, no matter how hard he tries, cannot throw any of the balls in the ocean”, said the assistant AD. Also depicted in the image will be Navy ships in their search for parts of an airplane presumed to have crashed in the area.
The Carolina Hurricanes will finish the 2014 NHL season missing the playoffs for the 5th straight season. to nobody’s surprise trade rumors are swirling, and the focus of much talk appears to be on Nashville Predators Assistant Captain Mike Fisher. A deal is said to be in the works to trade Hurricanes Captain Eric Staal to the Predators for the 33 year old Fisher.
The most interesting aspect of the negotiations, however, comes in an offer from the Town of Cary, which has offered to change its spelling to “Carrie” in order to make the trade more attractive to Mike Fisher. Fisher, the husband of 2005 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, could not be reached for comment.
Following the new trend of shunning thru-traffic, neighbors of Raleigh’s Saint Mary’s Street/Lassiter Mill Road have petitioned the City of Raleigh requesting installation of speed mitigation items. Naturally the city’s transportation engineers have elected speed bumps for the 4-mile residential street.
The street, which has carried a 35 mph speed limit since the automobile was invented, will now carry a 25 mph speed limit and will feature speed bumps placed every 300 feet along the entire 4 miles of road. As per city regulations, the speed bumps will carry signage indicating safe travel at 20 mph, however will be constructed to pop tires, ruin alignments, and scrape bottoms of cars in an effort to surprise drivers if they dare cross going faster than 15 mph.
Drivers of Raleigh’s CAT bus Route 8 have requested transfers to Durham’s bus service, citing they’d rather be around a bunch of gun-toting pre-criminals in East Durham than deal with Raleigh’s ridiculous speed bump initiative. Because they will need to wait an extra 5 minutes in emergencies, residents along the route have been advised by the Raleigh police and fire departments to by automatic electronic defibrillators for their own use.
An anonymous transportation planner said about the project,”Our goal is to remove traffic from all neighborhoods and put it on overloaded arteries. That’s what Atlanta did, and it worked really well for them. Our next target will be putting 20mph speed bumps on Glenwood and Wade Avenues, too, as they contain large residential stretches.
The line at Rise Biscuits & Donuts is out the door for a reason. Once you get over to the strip shopping center next to SouthPoint’s SuperTarge, you’ll find a fascinating menu and food that never disappoints. Beware: Rise closes daily at 2pm (5pm on Fridays). Pictured is the Chorizo and Egg Biscuit. I also highly recommend the ham biscuit.
Legendary band The Eagles will make their return to PNC Arena on Friday, February 28. The tour is named “History of the Eagles”, so the playlist will include classics and some older songs they have never performed live. (No word on whether any band’s historical fights will be replayed on stage).
The Eagles are best known for hits such as “Hotel California”, “Take It To the Limit”, and “Lyin’ Eyes”. With 32.2 million copies sold, the band’s “Greatest Hits” album currently sits as the #3 best-selling album of all-time (behind “Thriller” and “Dark Side of the Moon”).
The public ticket sale will begin on Friday, November 9, however the AMEX presale begins Monday, Nov 4, at 10am.
- Take an Amtrak Getaway to…Durham April 22, 2016
- Summer ‘16 Promises Huge Concert Season April 19, 2016
- Publix Coming to Downtown Raleigh April 18, 2016
- Daniels Middle School to Build Skyboxes April 1, 2016
- North Carolina Scores Big in Beard Semifinalist List February 17, 2016
- 2015: A Year of Openings and Closings December 31, 2015
- Raleigh’s Top 30 Stories for 2015 December 31, 2015
- 16 Podcasts To Save You from Sports Radio October 23, 2015
- Public Meeting on Fairview Fire Station Coming Monday October 5, 2015
- Parade of Homes Begins Tomorrow October 2, 2015
- Oktoberfest Coming to Booth Amphitheatre This Weekend October 1, 2015
- Traffic Circles Removed from Currituck Design April 28, 2015
- 125 Concerts to Rock Your Summer April 3, 2015
- Cameron Village Planning Parking Decks April 1, 2015
- Let The Madness Begin! March 17, 2015