Bridge to nowhere
Regardless of whether people support or oppose the Light Rail Transit Project, two issues greatly concern me.
▪ Proposed Woodmont Station. Whereas the Friday Center has ample parking, a station for buses and is a high-traffic destination, the proposed Woodmont station would only serve a small set of low-density residences (Downing Creek and Little John) which are not major destinations and which have poor traffic, no bus service and no available parking. Traffic in this area is already congested, so having a station there would only compound the traffic problem. The proposed station would not serve Meadowmont on the other side of N.C. 54, nor communities like Alta Vista apartments or Finley Forest, since they are closer to the Friday Center (and would likely use the Friday Center station).
Was there a major poll or write-in campaign from the residents demanding a station here? This makes no sense to me. Seems a bit like a bridge to nowhere. What is the justification for proposed Woodmont Station?
▪ C2/C2A routes at grade-level. This would cut off the Downing Creek community from access to N.C. 54, compounding an already-difficult traffic situation with residents having to contend with train traffic every 10 minutes during peak commuting hours? This is a disaster waiting to happen. It would isolate the community and lower property values.
I strongly oppose the light rail plans for proposed Woodmont station and the proposed C2/C2A at-grade routing.
Chapel Hill (Durham County)
I read Jim Wise’s article on the Light Rail Transit Project and was glad to see some coverage issue about this very important issue but do feel further in-depth article(s) are warranted.
The alternative C2 routes would impact many other communities including Finley Forest and Downing Creek as well as commuters on N.C. 54 and Barbee Chapel Road. The Downing Creek Board has sent a letter to Triangle Transit opposing this plan, and there is much opposition to this route in Downing Creek community with one factor being restriction of ingress/egress to N.C. 54 and Barbee Chapel Road, where there are already major traffic-congestion issues. There will be another presentation at the Downing Creek annual meeting May 20.
Hoping that you and the N&O will look into this further, as it has major negative consequences on quality of life, safety and property values.
Tom and Judy Swasey
On the Facebook train
Editor’s note: Our story also generated debate on editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook page. (Send him a Friend request to join this and future conversations.) Here are excerpts:
Julie McClintock: There are two routes under consideration here. One goes through lots of wetlands, entails huge expense, and goes very close to the Cedars in Meadowmont. The other route has a transit stop farther west at Farrington Road – less environmental damage and the possibility of a park and ride. The Chapel Hill Town Council kept both routes on the table. The bigger issue is will this rail ever get built? Our transit tax is going to pay these consultants who are putting on a good show about the options. But it may all be money down the drain. I don't see a sure thing with federal money, and surely not with the state match.
Chuck Morton: The transit line was definitely part of the development package that created Meadowmont. I do agree that the routes following major roads have less impact on wetlands, but it still distresses me to hear people oppose light rail for this reason. Ever since my exile to Mayberry in 1969 the one thing I have missed the most is the trains. I want trains. Please can we have some trains? And would they please extend the west end of the line to Carrboro, so I don't have to take the J bus to the trains?
Heidi Perov: Personally, I would rather see Bus Rapid Transit, for far fewer bucks and with more flexibility, but I recognize that others disagree with that vision and have left it behind.
Mary Bushnell: Why would you be living in Meadowmont and NOT want easy access to a train? I-40 is so often a nightmare ...You could go to Raleigh in a fraction of the time and play with your iPad the whole way!
Bonnie Hauser: The problem is the LRT (light rapid transit) only goes between Duke and UNC. It’s not of any value if you live in Meadowmont (or anywhere else) and want to go to RTP, Raleigh, Mebane, Pittsboro or any other major growth center. Plus so much money is being spent on LRT studies that there’s no money left to serve the new employment/population centers throughout the Triangle. I thought Triangle Transit’s presentation gave good information on options, but they completely left out the part about the $300 million shortfall in state funding and the unlikelihood that the Feds are going to come up with any funds at all. LRT was probably a great idea in the 1990s, but the Triangle is changing, and a single line between UNC and Duke is no longer the primary priority.
Allen Spalt: Meadowmont would be very shortsighted to turn it down. ... Yes, we need buses. But without trains, in the long run we are done in. Should have started this a generation ago. Better late than never.
Ken Larsen: This is not the 1800s. Trains make absolutely no sense in 2015. The proposed Durham/Chapel Hill is just a tremendously expensive shuttle for patients and workers to UNC and Duke Hospital – neither of which will be footing the bill.
Sally S. K. McIntee: I agree that pedestrians and cyclists need better infrastructure, but these are not different faces of the same access issue. The scales are quite different; the reasoning for each is quite different, the pockets of money are different, unless you consider the total NCDOT money allocation, which is not sufficient. Ped-bike infrastructure is not going to move massive amounts of commuter traffic. NCDOT has a complete streets policy. All new state-owned surface roads in towns and cities must be built with minimal ped and bike infrastructure.With its car hook-up capability, each transit car carrying 20-40 people who would otherwise be taking us asphalt space, rail transit is the only way to prevent 15-501 from having to be widened. This rail line will duplicate the route that thousands of commuters take daily, and with the current growth of this area, many more commuters will take in the future.
Terri Buckner: The Triangle Transit staff impress me more with each successive public meeting. Their planning is thorough and based on solid considerations that include environmental, historical, and social issues. None of the routes will please everyone, but I think we'll all be happy with the train when it's in place.
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