Ken Larsen's web site - BOCC Light Rail public input April 4, 2017    


The DOLRT portion of the April 4, 2017 BOCC meeting can be seen in its entirety at



Davenport Consulting firm presented its financial analyis of DOLRT.  [link to their report]



12 people spoke during the public speakers segment.  9 were against the project; 3 were for it. 



Opponents of DOLRT


Click on name to see video.


1 Robert David was a proponent; now is an opponent of DOLRT
2 Paul Rockwell I'm a strong advocate of public transit, but I'm very strong against light rail.  Follow the lead of Wake County and say no to light rail.  Find a solution that will help all of Orange County.
3 Ken Larsen Probability of success is vanishingly low. [slide]
4 John Morris Any one of the risks could wreck the DOLRT financing.  Orange County cash balances for extremely low for many of the years of the loans.  GoT has tried to defend light rail no matter what the facts are.  They've manipulated and withheld information to make the project look better.  GoT chose to finance DOLRT with a huge amount of long term borrowing generating almost $ 1B of loan interest that's a 100% local cost.  GoT has not earned our trust.
5 Brenda McCall I'm a strong supporter of mass transit for all of Orange County ... not just UNC, downtown Durham, and an affluent Chapel Hill neighborhood.  DOLRT will cannabalize mass transit dollars for Orange County for decades to come.  Our transit cost will not cover the cost of DOLRT.  We did not agree to put schools and other essential services at risk to pay for a 3 mile light rail line.  Say no to DOLRT.  Say yes for a comprehensive transit system.
6 Bonnie Hauser Davenport didn't question the veracity of the sales tax forecasts.  They used Moody's baseline forecast which is overly aggressive.  There are no business cycles in the forecast.  Even Moody's pessimistic forecast is aggressive.
Julie McClintock You're to be commended for commissioning Davenport; however, there's not much opportunity for economic growth along the route in Orange County.  People really want to see more bus service.  Please release all Moody and Davenport reports be released to the public ... including all the risk scenarios.  Have Moody's and Davenport's staffs be available to answer questions from the public.
8 Sam Garbo DOLRT has doubled in price in four years ... not including the loan interest.  You're supposed to be fiscally responsible, but I don't see your rosy glasses coming off.
9 Charles Humble The Davenport report shows that Durham can afford DOLRT, but it's very risky for Orange County.  In Orange County the DOLRT route mostly sits on tax exempt UNC property.  It has little potential for taxable development.

Proponents of DOLRT


1 Maria Palmer Says that there is tremendous opportunity for development near two of the four Orange County stations.
2 Tom Farmer Has been a GoTriangle commuter since 2009.  I grew up in this area. I want to retire here.  That requires efficient transit and an efficient transit network.  Lauds St. Louis and Minneapolis light rail lines.  Tom was a resident of St. Louis during the time when it was being debated.  It is now a 50 mile network serving 20 million riders/year.  "Think about how many cars that takes off the road ... how many auto accidents are prevented ... how much smog and CO2 that takes from the air.  Think about the economic impact of efficiently moving that many people to local business and jobs.  That should be us in 25 years.  Other regions get this.  Former Twin cities Mayor R.T. Ryback when he oversaw the construction of the Green Line light rail project in Minneapolis-St. Paul ... a hugely successful transit project and a hugely successful economic development engine for the region.  It faced similar issues that DOLRT faces ... including a cut in state funding to 10%. R.T. Ryback said that as an economic competitor the DOLRT scares the heck out of him because of the competition it offers. 

This $ 2.5B project has a 30% contingency built in.  DOLRT also includes enhanced bus service ... and despite the odds [Ken's speech] ... that is here and onboard which is already here ... 25,000 hours ...  I've been using and enjoying it.  At 40% local funding and 23% on Orange County it puts Orange County at $ 230M in year-of-expenditure dollars.  Getting that percentage down would make it an even better deal for our economy.  And, it is already covered in that transit tax that over 45,000 of us voted for in 2012. 

We can try and hide in our cars, bury our heads in the asphalt; however, the sprawl, the pollution, and the traffic will find us.  If we want to attract good people and good jobs, if we want to support our largest employer, we need to embrace this comprehensive regional transit plan that is anchored by DOLRT.
3 Ramona McGee Attorney for Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC).  We work to protect the natural resources of the southeast.  We advocate on transportation issues.  SELC has long supported the DOLRT project.  From Davenport you heard about the finacial feasibility of DOLRT.  You heard from Davenport the same numbers you heard from GoTriangle.  I hope that you found the report reassuring.  I know I did.  I think that a lot of the information there that when you compare that to the draft Orange County Transit Plan further shows how feasible this project is.  In particular, the Orange County transit plan includes numerous risks and mitigation strategies that will further enable this to be a project that you can commit to with assurances. 

SELC loves the DOLRT project as a smart forward thinking investment in addressing future transportation needs while also helping to guide growth and development in an environmentally beneficial way.  The environmental benefits of light rail are well established ... by reducing the number of cars on the road and reducing the number of dirty tailpipe emisions, the system will improve local air quality and reduce the emission of climate changing green house gases.  Further, DOLRT is a fixed guideway system.  It will prevent car oriented sprawling land use that requires the paving over of wetlands and the clearcutting of forests.  Instead, DOLRT will encourage dense compact development in already developed areas of the county while protecting less disturbed natural areas from sprawling land uses.

These environmental benefits are closely related to the positive effects on community health and quality of life that will result from DOLRT.  Dense mixed use urban development such as that which will result from the light rail line is in high demand by family and businesses alike.  The DOLRT will combat congestion, long commute times, and time wasted behind the wheel.  This project will also facilitate more bike and pedestrian transportation.  Such an active transportation solution will also benefit community physical and mental health.





Ken Larsen's home page