Cary News

Morrisville pushes Wake County on transit plan

It’s time for the half-cent sales tax referendum on transit to go before voters, according to the Morrisville Town Council.

The council sent a letter to Wake County Commissioners asking them to move forward with putting the referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Enhanced bus and rail service are needed now, according to the letter signed by Mayor Jackie Holcombe.

“Increasingly, we hear from residents who can’t get to work in a timely or affordable way, businesses that can’t attract and retain employees because of transportation issues, and stakeholders throughout the community who are tired of being stuck in traffic. We can’t afford to wait to provide more transportation choices to the community we serve. Our need is now,” reads the letter.

Wake County Manager David Cooke and Triangle Transit General Manager David King recently finished showing the regional transportation plan to local governments. The proposal includes new bus lines, increased peak service on commuter routes and rail stations to address Wake County’s projected growth to about 600,000 residents by 2035.

Over the next two weeks the plans will be finalized using feedback gained from the municipal visits, Cooke said. The final plan will be presented to the full board of commissioners, but a date has not been set. Local governments will get a chance to approve or deny an interlocal agreement supporting the plan over the next few months.

Cooke said he also plans to include a “do-nothing” scenario in his report to commissioners in case the bond referendum fails.

The Wake County Board of Elections must have the information for the sales tax referendum 90 days before the election

Morrisville is the first town to formalize their support in a letter, Cooke said.

“One of purposes of going to municipalities is to see how broad the support is,” Cooke said. “Before taking something to referendum, if that is what we decided to do, we want to have some indications from the municipalities.”

He said Morrisville has given clear support and he expects to hear more once the interlocal agreements start to go out.

WakeUp Wake County Executive Director Karen Rindgecommended the Morrisville Town Council.

“They get that we need to take action now,” Rindge said. “Morrisville is a community that is connected to (Research Triangle Park) and Raleigh and I-40 and other area highways. They are experiencing first-hand the growth and transportation challenges.”

Morrisville has about 20,000 residents. About 14,000 employees live or work within town limits.

The town has only one bus stop.

Holcombe said the county is facing growth that “we can’t pave our way out of.”

Morrisville has already started looking at mixed used development ordinances around a proposed rail and transit station. If Wake County voters don’t support the half-cent sales tax, Holcombe said it could impact the planning process.

“We’d like for them to go ahead and get started and get this on the Nov. 6 ballot,” Holcombe said.