In their column (CHN, March 10), Eric Ghysels and Robert Healy addressed a troubling aspect of the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project; namely, the refusal of many civic leaders to adjust to changed realities.
Like many people in Orange County, I support public transit and voted for the 2012 transit sales tax to help finance meaningful transit projects, including, potentially, light rail. Several years later, the county seems no closer to better transit, with the light-rail project instead having become the proverbial tail that wags the dog.
Once the legislature capped state support for the project, it lost any real path to financial viability. Yet project supporters, including GoTriangle, refuse to acknowledge that. Rather than adapting and pursuing the best options suited to the available funds, supporters have focused on one mode and one route to the exclusion of all others.
Look at how significant aspects of the financing plan now change from one public presentation to another, with major costs being obscured while revenues are inflated. The goal seems to have little to do with improving transit and everything with rapidly obtaining a blank check from local taxpayers so as to preserve both a recalcitrant bureaucracy and taxpayer-provided opportunities for private profit along the rail corridor.
Consider, too, the recent station planning workshops. While the sessions discussed many tantalizing community benefits, it was clear – but clearly unstated – that obtaining any benefits would require public funds beyond those needed for the line itself. Like any sleight-of-hand trick, the effect was to direct attention away from what actually was happening.
Acknowledging change is never easy, but refusing to do so is even worse. Unless civic leaders recognize how much the realities surrounding the light rail project have changed, the project will obstruct meaningful progress toward improved local transit options for years to come.
Light rail part of solution
I take issue with a recent letter stating “a recent study shows that only motorcycles have a higher incidence of accidents per rider than trains.”
A CNN Money article from 2015 actually indicated that train travel was a relatively safe method of travel. It was stated that bus travel certainly is a safe method of travel but that the statistics are skewed by bright yellow school buses traveling very slowly transporting school children.
The actual figures reported were motorcycles, 217 deaths per billion miles; cars and trucks, 5.75 deaths per billion miles; commuter rail and Amtrack, 0.47 deaths per billion miles; subway and metro rail, 0.24 deaths per billion miles; bus, 0.14 deaths per billion miles; and planes, 0.06 deaths per billion miles.
Conclusion: perhaps we should all fly to work.
Light rail in my view is not the ultimate answer but needs to be part of the solution. It moves people efficiently even in bad weather, discourages urban sprawl, is preferred by riders when accessible and lessens the effect on traffic flow of putting more and more buses on the road.
Light rail fights sprawl
A few local residents are trying to derail the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project that Orange County citizens voted for five years ago. The Sierra Club would like to point out that the DOLRT, besides being important for our local economy, is needed to help us meet our responsibility for cutting greenhouse gases and saving our green spaces.
The Sierra Club has been fighting sprawl since the early 1990s and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that urban form is strongly linked to GHG emissions. “Key urban form drivers of energy and greenhouse gases are density, land use mix, connectivity and accessibility,” factors that are “interrelated and interdependent.”
They and other experts note that density along transit routes, will work in an interrelated way to create vibrant, productive, healthy communities – places that attract both empty-nesters and creative millennials who move first to a great place and then look for work. Luckily, this type of growth has co-benefits for us, including infrastructure cost savings for the municipality, improved air quality, and the health benefits that accrue as individuals spend more time walking.
The DOLRT project has been designed to cover the key commuting routes in our community. It will help Durham and Orange manage the growth that is coming and encourage vibrant, healthy communities along the rail line. And it will play a small but vital role in our larger fight to combat greenhouse gas emissions. We urge everyone who cares about the natural environment – at both the local and global scale – to contact your local elected officials and voice your continued support for the DOLRT.
Melissa McCullough and the Executive Committee of the Orange Chatham Group
N.C. Sierra Club
An obsessive cause
A most refreshing column by Peter Reitzes on anti-Semitism from the alt-left (CHN, March 6).
There are three tests of Jew hating: Demonization, the double standard and delegitimization. The alt-left/liberals of this country have passed every test.
Cognitive dissonances conflict within their own political beliefs. They demonize Israel through lies, distortions, and propaganda: Israel as “occupiers,” “apartheid regime” “Nazis.” I have heard these terms used countless times before. Yet, when brought to light, the truth of facts – regarding Israel – will banish their biased prejudices.
“Israel” is an obsessive cause for liberals bent on vilifying this remarkable country. When faced with the facts, they run and hide, or call you names like “Zionist agent,” which they have called me.
Meanwhile, these same people remain silent over Arab violence, suicide bombers, and the fact that Israel is now surrounded by three terrorist groups: PLO Fatah, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Arabs and Muslims have failed a civil society by not confronting the historical social and political demons within their society; face the facts: Israel is here to stay!
Israel, a brave and bold nation has turned a barren desert into a thriving oasis, yet is held to a ridiculous double standard by those supposed stalwarts of peace: the United Nations, The New York Times, Europe and the American left.
When an Israeli is killed rarely is it mentioned, yet when a “Palestinian” Arab is killed by an Israeli the world goes nuts with condemnation. Israel is singled out for human rights abuses, while China, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia get a free pass. Hamas and Syria, two of the worst perpetrators of world’s worst war crimes, are rarely mentioned.
The two-state solution is now a pipe dream. History and reality on the ground suggests no peace until the Arabs, Muslims, and the liberal propaganda machine realize they have failed.
Paul de la Varre
Democrats too far gone
I have read Mr. Reitzes’ guest column (CHN, March 6) attentively. I refrained from reading the paper, but this time I did urged by my family member. I was pleasantly surprised, that a text like Mr. Reitzes’ made it onto the pages of the Chapel Hill News.
I have to agree with every word written by Mr. Reitzes. However, if this is taken as an appeal to the Democratic Party to change its ways, it is totally misdirected. That party has morphed into something ugly, so I have renamed it ISCOM of North America: “Islamo-Communist Party of North America.”
It is not my invention – David Horowitz expressed that idea, backing it up with irrefutable facts. Famous Mr. Alan Dershowitz vowed to quit the party if Ellison became chairman, but now he has an excuse not to leave – Ellison became only vice chairman. Never mind that Tom Perez has a communist-like past, and his first act was to name a second-place finisher, an anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood Keith Ellison, as vice chair. I do not know which came first: that nomination or Perez’s announcement ‒ “Voting Rights Act does not protect Whites.” Someone commented, “This is hate. Stop the hate.”
I hope the decent members of the Party of J. F. Kennedy and Scoop Jackson will come to realize what has happened and unlike Dershowitz, will quit. They should not hope that they can change anything in the future. It has gone too far: every group in that fractioned party is claiming that they are more anti-Israel (read anti-Semitic) than the others, and Sanders is in the forefront. They have become hard left and violent, as their street riots attest. Good luck, Mr. Dershowitz, I doubt if you achieve anything inside that party.
PACE graduate grateful
I am a member of PACE Academy’s class of 2012. The school was established in 2004 and since then has closed due to the fact that they did not fulfill the requirements to stay open. I started there in 2007. When I was struggling academically in public school, PACE stepped right in and really made me a better person. I am extremely grateful that PACE helped me walk the stage in 2012.
Since graduating it has hit me how many people who have a strong desire to go back to school or work have been unable to do so because they never received their high school transcript, and not just that but also because of the school’s refusal to at least transfer the transcripts to the school. I want to get into a good four-year college but can’t because PACE never gave me my final transcript. PACE was located in the Orange County school district, so why weren’t those transcripts sent to the Orange County Schools system? I made several phone calls and was told to speak with the board of charter schools and that for me has been the one thing that I have struggled to come into terms with.
The reason for this letter isn’t to bring PACE down because that’s my alma mater, but to make my concerns known about not just me but others who have had problems. The very reason why I think people weren’t very fond of the school altogether was because of the way they operated, not just educational wise but also academically. So that’s my input on why this letter should be shared with alot of people.
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