Hillsborough Rail Station Plans

Last year, the Rail Station Task Force recommended the Collins Parcel in Hillsborough as the best place for a future Amtrak and commuter station for Orange County, which is one of only two counties along the North Carolina Railroad corridor statewide without passenger service today (Davidson County is the other). Conceptual plans for the station and transit-oriented development on the site were presented to a packed audience on March 31, 2010 at the Orange County Library.

The objective in this conceptual design phase was to create a compact and walkable new community anchored by the train station, with a mix of civic, institutional, office and residential uses. Among the proposed amenities would be a major new town park, needed new facilities for the Hillsborough Police Department and Orange Rural Fire Department, two class-A office buildings, condominium apartments, and an arts and cultural center. The new station district would be a 15-minute walk from downtown Hillsborough. It would serve as a growth zone that would take Hillsborough well into the 21st century while extending and enhancing the qualities that have long endowed the town with a unique sense of place—density, walkability, and a robust admixture of uses and functions. The station would put Hillsborough and Orange County back on thenation's rail grid for the first time in 45 years, boosting tourism in Hillsborough while providing a more sustainable transportation alternative for thousands of area residents and university students.

The Task Force plan embodies the kind of walkable, compact, transit-focused development that was emphasized by the citizen-led Special Transit Advisory Commission in its 2008 plan for regional transit service in the Triangle. It also answers the Orange County 2030 Comprehensive Plan's call to both "Revive rail transportation in Orange County and the Triangle" and "Direct development to higher density mixed-use districts along transit corridors."

The site plan and perspective views have been posted on the Town of Hillsborough website below.

The Task Force welcomes comments and suggestions from the public, which may be submitted electronically on the same website.

Hillsborough Station

Perspective view 2

Aerial view 

Hillsborough Station Plan


Tom, thanks for the links. You know I've been staring at the earlier versions in
the Planning Dept. for the past year or two. As much as I've spoken
with you about this, I forgot to ask one thing. Is the "15-minute walk
from downtown" meant to actually be? I ask because the south end of
Hillsborough is not particularly pedestrian-friendly. Is there a plan to
better connect downtown to the new development? Although, I suppose the
"back" way through Exchange Park works...

Hi Allan,Yes, there are two potential means of getting between the station area and downtown: a well-lighted walkway along the tracks parallel to the station platform that projects under the Churton Street bridge to connect to Exchange Park Lane; and (preferably, though a little bit longer walk) sidewalks along the main connector road from station area under tracks to US70A and thence along 70A to town.  The latter gives the added benefit of enabling residences of the Tuscarora Drive community have a safe ped route to downtown.  Sidewalks would obviously also need to be extended up from the Weaver Street area to the US70A intersection across Eno bridge.I have walked the track route to Exchange Park Lane several times and its just about 10 minutes from where station would be to WSM.  The 70A sidewalk route would probably be about 15 minutes.  Add 5 min in either case to get from WSM to King/Churton intersection, the center of downtown. BestTJC 

Now that the midday service of the Piedmont train is operational (as of June), there are six passenger trains through Hillsborough every day, four of which offer free roll-on service for unboxed bicycles on board.This Chapel Hill News article claims:

By 2012, at least 12 Amtrak trains could pass through Hillsborough daily from Charlotte to New York or Charlotte to Raleigh. A regional commuter route from Greensboro to Goldsboro is possible, too.

Is that right?  Are they including the SEHSR? Or is that the existing six plus the Greensboro-Goldsboro commuter going three times each way?


 The midday train that opened in June is supposed to be the first of three additional in-state frequencies that would be added about every 2 years or so, depending on continued funding and completion of projects that remove bottlenecks. The schedule has slipped a bit due to funding issues.

So by 2012, we may have a fourth frequency between Raleigh and Charlotte bringing through 8 trains per day, and in 2014 we may have a fifth frequency and 10 trains per day.  

The recently received $545 million in high-speed rail stimulus for North Carolina should help NC keep closer to the schedule from here on out.  Those projects that make a difference in adding the additional frequencies can be found here(PDF).

At this time there have been studies completed projecting costs and ridership for the Greensboro-Goldsboro trains, but no funding source for construction and operations has been identified.


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