Light rail for long term
I live right in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, a place that is very walkable. I support the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project as part of the larger transit plan to keep our community moving.
I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I saw the missed promise that occurred when one community did not approve the Bay Area Rapid Transit system – the region is not as connected as it could be. That was a missed opportunity.
What we have the vision and perseverance to build now will serve communities for years in the future. I expect that the current light rail route will eventually be expanded and communities will be built around the transit stops, reducing the need for cars and creating more walkable neighborhoods like the one I currently enjoy.
Buses are good. They are an important part of our transit system, but they add to the congestion and increase gas emissions. It’s important that Orange County have vision for the long term and by long term, I mean 50-plus years. I support the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project.
Rail threatens neighborhood
The proposed Durham Orange Light Rail Transit project will devastate the Fern Lane-Iris Lane neighborhood, because it is the proposed site for a massive viaduct to support elevated track near the corner of U.S.15-501 and Manning Drive.
Fern Lane is a street with homes on one side and the Coker Pinetum on the other. The Pinetum is a protected woods owned by the university and administered by the N.C. Botanical Garden staff and dedicated volunteers. Iris Lane is a short street whose only egress is Fern Lane. There are 10 homes on Fern Lane and Iris Lane, eight built in the 1940s and 1950s, occupied by families with and without children.
As the letter from John Geis (CHN, March 19) explained, the light-rail line will demolish the external stairway to the sanctuary of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Fern Lane, narrow Fern Lane (which is already quite narrow), and degrade part of the Pinetum. The effects will also impact negatively on the larger Laurel Hill Road neighborhood. All this for a project of very high cost and severely limited service to a small corner of Orange County.
Paul F. Grendler
Worried about Israel
I understand why Peter Reitzes is shaken by recent anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish schools and cemeteries (CHN, March 8). Me, too.
My family has a connection to the cemetery vandalized in St. Louis, and the rise of hate crimes in this country since the election should give us all pause.
Like Reitzes, I am worried about Israel, too. But for me the reason is that Israel is betraying itself by occupying the territories it conquered in 1967, including the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and Gaza, where there are no longer Israeli settlements but a 1.75 million people living under siege. Add to that the Palestinian citizens of Israel (over a 1.5 million or 20 percent of Israel’s population) who are discriminated against in their own country.
That Israelis have grown comfortable with oppressing these millions of people is a greater threat to Israeli democracy than anything that the external enemies of the state can do, given its extremely powerful military and its special relationship to the United States, which sends it billions of dollars of military aid every year. A country with an occupying army enforcing discrimination can no longer call itself the only democracy in the Middle East because it no longer is one. That is worrisome and deeply disappointing.
Like Alison Steube ( “Keeping development on the right track,” CHN, Marc 22), I too lived in Brookline, Mass., close to the Green Line Metro. I moved here when the place where she now lives was still farmland. Of course, Meadowmont got built – without a rail line – and helps clog Raleigh Road between UNC and I-40. Before the vote for a sales tax to support public transportation throughout the county in 2012, the idea of a rail line through Meadowmont was used as a selling point. But when a line was proposed through Meadowmont after that vote, it was rejected by local residents.
Unlike the Brookline of 100 years ago when the Green Line was built, the southeastern corner of Chapel Hill is not a developer’s blank slate. There is very little buildable property in Orange County near the planned four transit stops along the light-rail line. Developers will make the most of what few opportunities they have here, but last month they talked about how property values near the stations will rise substantially (putting more strains on housing affordability, regardless of the intentions of local political leaders).
Let me be clear: I voted for the mass transit tax for the county in 2012 and encouraged others to do so. But the visions of a tri-county system with the potential to connect to the airport sometime soon were dashed by Wake County’s decision to drop light rail in favor of bus rapid transit. The ecologic rationale for light rail has been undercut by the introduction of electric buses. And the financial partnership assumed in 2012 has been severely altered by the reduction of state funding to no more than 10 percent (from an assumed 25 percent). Federal funding is now in doubt. Reasonable people can change their minds when reality does not live up to promises. Will our commissioners change theirs?
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