Ken Larsen's web site - March 7, 2017 DOLRT speech to BOCC by Rachel Phelps Hawkins
I am Rachel Phelps Hawkins, and tonight I am speaking on behalf of the Schley Grange.
Our 145 members care deeply about the county and are seriously concerned about the latest plans for Durham Orange Light Rail. Many of us have roots in the county that span centuries – so we really understand what it means to take the long view.
We support the goal of providing good public transportation for Orange County – but cannot endorse spending billions of dollars for a single service corridor that serves few of our citizens. Because so much of the land on the corridor is owned by UNC, we won’t see economic development either.
We are even more concerned about how the plan burdens our children and grandchildren with nearly a billion dollars in debt that we will be paying for decades. Because of the enormous price tag, there’s little money left to provide transportation services to those who genuinely need it.
We are most concerned about the way this is unfolding. We have watched repeatedly as our commissioners are asked to hurry up and make decisions with partial information, only to have everything changed a short time after. We are embarrassed that the federal government has challenged our proposal because GoTriangle failed to do their homework and properly prepare submissions on our behalf. We have lost confidence in our partners – and now, more than ever, are relying on our commissioners to protect the interests of our citizens.
Under the latest plan, we are especially concerned that overruns and shortfalls will fall to our taxpayers, and light rail will compete with our schools and essential services for funding. We see firsthand how our neighbors are struggling under the weight of high taxes. We ask that you not burden them further with a light rail project that doesn’t serve them.
Please take the long view and insist on transportation that we can afford and that benefits Orange County.
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