Ken Larsen's web site - March 7, 2017 DOLRT speech to BOCC by Richard Chady
I support public transit, but I'm worried the Go Triangle plan wonít serve citizens in Chapel Hill. Specifically, the light rail project does not track the recent growth areas in Orange County.
I will show you a couple of pictures to illustrate.
slide #1 shows line from NCCU to UNC Hospital. The red half circles indicate stops in Chapel Hill that have access problems. At Gateway, the Friday Center and Hamilton Road, riders must cross very busy highways.
These are deterrents to ridership.
slide#2 Chapel Hillís 2020 plan spurred development and density in six major areas. Of the six areas, only ONE, Glen Lennox, is served by DOLRT.
In contrast, three of the focus areas are found along Martin Luther King Dr. and Route 86. This is precisely where Chapel Hill is planning a Bus Rapid Transit line between Eubanks Rd. and Southern Village.
slide #3 The council has already approved more than 4,000 residential units and 2.4 million square feet of office and retail space. With so much growth already planned, DOLRT isn't needed to stimulate more. And two of the stops (Gateway and Woodmont) are in Durham County. Thus, Durham County will collect any sales tax there.
The take home message is that the light rail line is not connecting the major growth areas in Chapel Hill and that the few stations located in Chapel have limited potential for economic growth.
While there is limited economic benefit from the line, now we are facing UNLIMITED financial liability.
Orange County taxpayers must now bear 40 percent of the total $2.5 billion dollars. With state and federal budgets in a complex state of flux, we have no idea what the ultimate local expense will be. The open-ended commitment threatens to take money away from other vital transit needs.
No one here would sign a mortgage when the bank said, "We really don't know what your monthly payment will be. Or what the total will be. But you have to sign now."
As attractive as DOLRT once may have been, recent developments have made it unwise if not unnecessary.
I believe the commissioners are very serious being good stewards of public funds. You want to make sure any commitment of spending is the most efficient and effective.
I urge you to call a public hearing to choose an alternative that is more immediate, economical, efficient and flexible. It will meet our needs for the 21st century and beyond.
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