The InterNeighborhood Council has gone on the record against a light-rail line past the Downing Creek neighborhood and in favor of more consideration of a terminal east of Alston Avenue.
In a resolution adopted at Tuesday’s delegates meeting, the INC calls on GoTriangle (formerly Triangle Transit) to use an alternative to its preferred route across Little Creek, which runs along the south side of N.C. 54.
Instead, the INC states, designers of the proposed light-rail route “should use every effort to follow the originally intended path through Meadowmont ... or an alternative route with less negative impact on our communities.”
Residents of Downing Creek and nearby neighborhoods say the alignment near them – with four grade crossings within a half mile between their homes and the major N.C. 54 corridor – will add to traffic congestion and create unacceptable safety risks.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
But Meadowmont residents, who live in Chapel Hill, west of Downing Creek and on the north side of N.C. 54, have some of the same issues with light rail cars running through their neighborhood – even though the community was conceived and designed, in the 1990s, to incorporate a light-rail line.
Though the resolution specifically refers to Meadowmont and the “C1A” track alignment through it, Downing Creek homeowner Tom Swasey said he and his neighbors “don’t want this to be neighborhood against neighborhood.
“Downing Creek is looking at how this will impact us and neighborhoods around us,” Swasey said. “We don’t want this to turn into Meadowmont’s bad and we’re good.”
INC President Philip Azar said he’s heard sympathy around town for Downing Creek’s concerns.
“Everybody, at least in Durham, thinks if you were a community designed for transit and transit comes ... you should be embracing it or at least accept it," Azar said.
Delegates from 14 neighborhood associations attended Tuesday’s meeting.
Along with supporting Downing Creek, they endorsed the Northeast Central Durham Leadership Council’s resolution opposing GoTriangle’s preferred East Durham station site west of Alston Avenue, and for “a balanced assessment of the pros and cons” of a site east of Alston.
The light-rail line is proposed to run 17 miles from UNC Hospitals to a station originally planned a quarter-mile east of Alston Avenue. GoTriangle planners relocated the station a half-mile west, near Grant Street, after finding insufficient space for its double-track line to reach the east-side side along its original route.
The Leadership Council, and others including some City Council members, have objected that the west-side site, near Grant Avenue, does not serve East Durham neighborhoods as well as a site on the east side of Alston Avenue; and that GoTriangle has not considered a workable alternative route near the Durham Freeway corridor.
“It looks like it’s feasible to get the station in there,” said Jim Svara, speaking for the Leadership Council. “That’s the thing we need to keep stressing.
“To push that, were it technically impossible, would not be responsible,” Svara said. “It does appear this is technically possible.”
Election forum snagged
InterNeighborhood Council President Philip Azar’s plan to run for City Council has snagged the INC’s plans for a candidate forum during this fall’s municipal election.
For several elections past, the INC has sponsored forums jointly with the League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham counties. But when the league learned of Azar’s plans, it wrote to the INC to withdraw its partnership this year.
“They just feel there is a conflict,” INC forum organizer Don Lebkes said.
The INC has not responded to the league’s letter, Lebkes said.
“We’ll negotiate,” said Azar, who registered a campaign committee with the Durham County Board of Elections June 2. He told INC delegates about his candidacy during Tuesday’s meeting.
“I just wanted to make sure things were out in the open with people around this table,” Azar said.