Ken Larsen's web site - March 7, 2017 DOLRT speech to BOCC by Charles Humble
Good evening. I am Charles Humble.
I was raised in small towns and have lived in big cities, but Iíve been in Chapel Hill for over 30 years. I like living here because we have big city choices with small town headaches. But because other folks want to live here, too, we have problems with traffic and with access to public transportation throughout the county.
When the half cent sales tax for transportation was on the ballot a couple of years ago, I greeted at the polls all day long. At every polling station I encouraged people to support this tax thinking it would help folks with fewer options have better access to schools, daycare, stores and jobs. I supported the light rail (LR) component of the system when I thought it was going to connect Chapel Hill with the Triangle, the airport and Raleigh. I supported light rail when the projected costs were reasonable and the state was going to share a significant portion of these. I supported light rail when it was the cleanest option. Of course, we now all know that if any of those things were ever true, they no longer are.
The issues surrounding public transportation are complicated and the Chamber did us a favor by hosting a Transit Forum 2 weeks ago. There we heard Mr. McDonough of GoTriangle say that only Light Rail can solve our transportation woes between NCCU, downtown Durham and UNC Hospitals. But then we heard Mr. Milazzo of Regional Transportation Alliance say that that ainít necessarily so. He said that Bus Rapid Transit can do the job Ė albeit with different challenges - for a lot less money.
The proposed LR system will be good for Durham and UNC Hospitals, but it does not come close to serving the new growth areas envisioned in Chapel Hillís 2020 Plan or areas further north in the county. Folks throughout the county will be left funding a project that will benefit them little and leave our hands tied financially when dealing with other needs.
I supported Light Rail in the past, but I now believe it is a 19th century solution to our 21st century traffic problem. The financial risks are simply too big, this approach too inflexible. Please accept the petition for a public hearing and a more complete discussion of the risks and benefits of all our options before making any decisions on these matters.
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