Voters will have a long, long list of candidates to choose from in the Nov. 8 election. But at the bottom of the ballot, on the back page, there will be a referendum that is, perhaps, as important as any candidate on the list ahead of it.
Voters in Wake County will be asked to whether to add a half-cent to the sales taxes we pay when we make purchases on most items.
That money will be used to increase mass transit throughout Wake County and the region.
As our population grows – and the number of cars and trucks on our roadways along with it – we face a critical quality of life problem. Most of us, frankly, don’t want to spend an hour each morning and another hour each afternoon stuck in traffic between work and home.
But even in eastern Wake County, where we were fortunate to see the Knightdale Bypass constructed a few years ago, traffic congestion is a problem on an almost daily basis.
Mass transit is one of the answers to this problem. Increasing the number of buses and bus routes, adding commuter rail and linking Wake County to other parts of the Triangle will make Wake County much more navigable. Imagine Washington, D.C., without its Metro system. Imagine trying to get from Point A to Point B in Atlanta without the MARTA.
That’s the kind of future that’s in store for Wake County if we choose to keep our half-cent for ourselves, and that’s not a far-sighted decision.
Residents in eastern Wake County have voiced concern over the fact that there is very little in the proposed transit plan for this region. But the truth is, that plan does increase bus service and it affords this area the opportunity to improve mobility for residents who don’t drive and cannot easily access needed goods and services.
A vote in favor of the sales tax referendum would also position eastern Wake County to get in line for future improvements once our population grows to the point we are now seeing in places like Wake Forest, Apex and Garner.
Yes, a vote in favor of this referendum asks us to give a little bit more of our money to the government. But there is no other entity willing or capable of addressing the transportation challenges we face now and in the future. It is a small price to pay to ensure our quality of life remains high and that we won’t spend unnecessary hours sitting in our cars, stuck in traffic while we wish we were at home doing the things we really most want to do.