Wait and pay more
If Earl McKee thinks light rail is expensive (DN, Nov. 30), just wait till later when it is unquestionably needed. Our region has been slow to endorse it for various reasons. And – surprise, surprise – it has become more expensive while we wait. We are fast growing and will clearly need light rail and other mass transit when our roads are overwhelmed. Starting now is better than later.
There are professional mass transit opponents who travel the country making the case it is wasteful and unnecessary (Commissioner McKee is not part of that group.).
We now spend part time in Seattle, known for its monorail. Most people don’t realize it doesn’t go very far. Several attempts to expand it have been turned down over the decades. Until the need is undeniable. The local voters in Seattle Metro just approved a $54 billion (with a “B”) bond to expand light rail and other transit in the region. It is the only way to avoid gridlock which is already almost here.
Pay me now. Or pay me later. I say, start now!
To be world class
It’s a matter of taking the long view vs. short view.
If we’re lucky, they'll only widen/add a few lanes a few more times in the next 10 years. And sprawl will spread right through Mr. McKee’s backyard and neighborhood. It was my understanding area officials wanted to make the Triangle area a world-class destination.
Evan T Howell
How much do you spend now?
To Hans Weber (CHN, Oct. 20) and others skeptical of public transit,
How much money did you spend on buying a car? Will you buy a new one in 5 to 10 years? How much money do you spend on gas every year? Over 10 years?
How much of your taxes go to road infrastructure? How much do those roads cost and how many people use them? Have you heard of NC/I-540, the massive outer beltway around Raleigh that 90 percent people who had participated in NCDOT's surveys approved of? Its cost? $2 billion to connect Raleigh suburbs like Garner (28,000), Fuquay-Varina (17,000), and Clayton (17,000). It's also a toll road, so that $2 billion is not the real cost.
When you invest in public transit, do not bring up numbers like $7,124 per family for the Orange-Durham light rail project unless you actually check your bills and find out how much money you spend on transportation each and every single year. This light rail project, as you calculated, is $7,124 per family (once) and will last for decades. How much do *you* spend over several decades?
Chapel Hill and Garner resident
Buses are better
On Nov. 11 and over the next few days, it was declared that the originally proposed Go Triangle light-rail plan of $1.6 billion had grown to $1.87 billion, adding an additional liability for Durham and Orange counties of about $175 million.
For folk like me who live and work in Orange County, that comes out to an additional $40 million over the next 10 years, since we’re only having to foot 23 percent of the increase. Along with the imminent tax increase that is coming for Orange County residents (based on the 2017 reevaluations plus the likely 5 cent increase for the controversial bonds that were passed in the previous election cycle), this will result in at least a 7 cent, if not 10 cent, increase for everyone.
Simply put, we cannot afford this plan. This is a matter of wants over needs.
I would love to have the sleek, cool transportation option, but to be fair I will most likely never use it because it is nowhere near me for work (Chapel Hill) and home (Hillsborough).
Beyond my own personal hesitations, I want everyone to consider the farmer who operates in Cedar Grove or the family of four in Efland. Can they continue to afford to pay higher taxes for another service that will not improve their lives? How much more money will we squeeze from our rural residents before they all flee elsewhere? In Orange County, we pride ourselves on being an open and progressive community, but many times that means lending a deaf ear to those who have been here for generations and who gave our home its charm.
There is an alternative – it is working with and expanding the bus system we have in place. We have some great community leaders who can weigh in and help craft better, more sustainable options for our county by building onto an already existing mass-transit system. The buses need to be examined as a viable Plan B instead of the financial sinkhole that the Go Triangle light-rail train plan has become.
Other needs greater
Earl McKee is spot on.
One of my neighbors once told me that he loves light rail. I asked him why, and he said it was because of his experience with light rail in Australia. He lived in an apartment and could walk down a flight of stairs, board a train, and get off a few stops later and be right at his place of work.
Well, if everyone were so conveniently located, we’d all love light rail. However, in Orange County only a small number of people will live near the DOLRT.
It’s my assertion that if you live more than a quarter mile from a station, you'll take your car. Less than 1 percent of Orange County lies within a quarter mile of a station. If your destination is more than a quarter mile from a station, you'll take your car, as well. If it’s raining, you have a lot of things to carry, or you’re not physically fit, a quarter mile may be too far, and you’ll take your car. \
Bottom line: We need to spend our money on real needs like schools, teachers, and buses.
Time to #ProtectThyNeighbor
Donald Trump and Mike Pence are the most divisive and threatening U.S. leaders in to be elected in my lifetime.
The campaign Trump ran promising to deport Mexicans, register Muslims, and ignore the Constitution of the United States caused me to be physically ill on Nov. 9.
Pence is even worse. In Indiana he passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, otherwise known as the “Wedding Cake Law” that codifies discrimination against LGBTQ people.
But the time to grieve is over. We must form the Resistance because religion should never be used as an excuse to harm others.
#ProtectThyNeighbor is a campaign launched by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. AU is a national organization dedicated to fighting the religious right and the agenda of using religion as a basis for any legislation. We are committed to religious freedom – true religious freedom for individuals to worship anyway they choose or not at all. We fight to keep the wall of separation intact. By keeping the two separate, each can strive for its own lofty goals. We oppose any registry for religious minorities; any discrimination based on religion such as denying services to same-sex couples; any denial of medical services such as abortion or birth control based on religious views; any religious organization receiving government funds such as school vouchers.
Unfortunately, our newly elected president and vice-president are against these principles. They have vowed to repeal the Johnson Amendment, the law that prevents non-profits from making campaign donation or endorsing political candidates. Repealing this amendment would turn every single church or place of worship into a potential laundry-machine for political donations. Bake sales for candidates in the church parking lot? Does that sound appealing? Aren’t political fund-raisers bad enough without bringing them to our houses of worship?
Trump has toned down his rhetoric post-election, but he has made a number of extreme right-wing political appointments. The worst is Steve Bannon, a vocal anti-Semite. Trump himself has stoked fears about Muslims as extremists and terrorists. Though we don’t know what Trump might actually do, we do know Pence’s record, and so we are wasting no time in getting organized. We will use the local, state, and national stage to draw attention to the un-American acts of discrimination. We will fight to keep religion and politics separate. We will do whatever it takes to protect our neighbors. Will you #ProtectThyNeighbor?
President, Orange-Durham Chapter
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
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