Who’s minding the cemetery?
The Sunday Chapel Hill News included an excellent commentary by Nancy Oates entitled “Who’s minding the affordable housing?” While not a popular topic, that article inadvertently tends to raise the question of the future of Chapel Hill’s Memorial Cemetery.
As I understand the matter, in its wisdom, the town years ago set aside 6-plus acres contiguous to the current cemetery to be used for future expansion. I have read those 6-plus acres are apparently to be turned over to a developer for low-income housing purposes. Moreover, it is my understanding the current cemetery is within two years of being completely full and will then be unavailable to town members.
That being the case, it seems quite logical to ask “what is the town’s plan for future internments when the existing space is exhausted?”
So far, I have been unable to find answers to that question. Absent such a clear plan, this decision for low-cost housing at the cemetery site appears to be unwarrantable and ought to be rethought.
James E. Merkel
Add stoplights please
Someone, please add full stoplights to the crosswalks on MLK Boulevard and Franklin Street or take them out altogether.
I appreciate the efforts that have been made to improve pedestrian safety in our town, but these crosswalks across five lanes of high-speed, high-volume traffic are crazy!
I have talked to many others who, like me, have witnessed near-death crossings on multiple occasions. Pedestrians can’t see past the stopped car on the inside lane to the second car one lane over and a little behind still careening towards them at high speed.
I know lights are likely not possible, so we should remove these crosswalks immediately to ensure that pedestrians won't have a false sense of security and will take their usual precautions when crossing.
Despite all of implied 'safety' remedies implied by GoTriangle, all of which are also implemented in the 30+ city systems across the nation, light rail fatalities continue to rise. Light rail at-grade crossings are fundamentally unsafe.
Some will compare the total number of light rail fatalities and mistakenly conclude that light rail is safer than automobile travel. Light rail has 3X fatalities vs automobile when normalized for passenger miles traveled.
Although GoTriangle has not specified or awarded the final contract, the Siemens S70 (or derivative) seems to be popular in North American light rail projects including the Charlotte LYNX. We estimate that each train car would be 90′ long, 9′ wide, vehicle empty weight of 96,500 lbs (47.5 tons) which is consistent with the model depictions. GoTriangle plans to initially use 2 car configurations (95 tons),
with the ability to accommodate 3 car configurations (142.5 tons) in the future, as demand warrants.
Even if the brakes are the best and can stop the wheel completely (without derailing), the physics of steel sliding on steel do not change the physics of a 95-ton train’s momentum.
According to GoTriangle, the average speed will be 26 MPH (17 miles / 39 minutes). Adjusting travel times by 30 seconds for each station stop across 17 stations (including 20 second dwell time), that means that the train will be averaging 35 MPH when in motion and not in the station.
Light rail trains travelling at 35 MPH with full brake will travel approximately 428 feet in less than 10 seconds before coming to a complete stop.
Consider, that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT): Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of a motorist’s home. Fifty percent of all crashes occur within five miles of home.
A calculation of NHTSA statistics on the rate of deaths per collision in vehicle/vehicle crashes vs the FRA statistics of deaths per collision in vehicle/train crashes reveals: A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. – Operation Lifesaver, Crossing Collisions & Casualties by Year
Or one can merely view recent light rail incidents and fatalities in other cities with light rail across the nation. Light RAIL Transit with at-grade crossings are NOT SAFE. Just Google “Light Rail Accident”
Not so far fetched
GoTriangle. That’s the new name, not a slogan, for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project.
“While our name is different, we are still committed to ensuring all voices and opinions are heard and documented as we continue working on the Durham/Orange LRT Project,” said David D. King, General Manager of GoTriangle.
He predicted the project will serve 200,000 new residents and generate 120,000 new jobs by 2035. Could these projections be pie-in-the sky just to gain public support? Or is there a kernel of truth to the claims?
Check out the City of Charlotte’s Lynx light rail transit system. It might provide some insight into the economic impact GoTriangle could have on Durham and Orange Counties.
The GoTriangle system is closely patterned after Charlotte’s which commenced service in 2007. They differ in that Charlotte’s Lynx is less than half the length of what GoTriangle’s 17.1 miles will be when completed.
During the short span of eight years into the Lynx operation, Charlotte has seen new businesses and housing developments emerge. And new jobs created. Ridership has far exceeded expectations. So it’s not so far-fetched to believe this same spurt to the economy and the creation of new jobs could very well happen here in Durham and Orange Counties.
For starters, construction of the operations center, maintenance facility and laying down of the tracks along the alignment route will require hundreds if not thousands of new workers. In addition, it’s estimated that 120 permanent employees will be hired to staff the operations center and maintenance facility. All along the track alignment, apartments, condominiums and businesses will spring up to accommodate demand of the new labor force.
Some will say this isn’t the kind of rampant growth we want or need. But we badly need a boost to our anemic commercial tax base, and this could well be what the doctor ordered. Land acquisition required for right-of-way to build the rail line will begin next year and could funnel additional millions of dollars into the economy of Durham and Orange County.
By 2025, we can, indeed, expect exponential growth in the area, much of it stimulated by the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project, now known as GoTriangle.
Regarding “Town Council nears Obey Creek vote” (CHN, nando.com/1dh)
Unfortunately, once Obey Creek is built we will be stuck with it for our lifetimes.
Years ago, the planning department held a workshop and asked south Chapel Hill residents what they wanted. The consensus was that if it had to be developed, it should resemble Southern Village in scale, whose commercial Market Street buildings range from one to four stories.
This plan is like East 54, only bigger. Hundreds of hours of meetings and hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time – and all we have to show for it is the same amount of development that Roger Perry asked for in the beginning. We are even taking the unbuildable land as a “public preserve” to reduce the developer's taxes, liability and maintenance costs.
A chimpanzee could have negotiated a better deal for the town.