ChiefJoJo

2035 Triangle Regional Transit Vision Plan

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One thing that you can count on in Raleigh is let’s do a study! Forget the fact that this will be the third study in almost as many years...Lol 

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12 hours ago, orulz said:

This is getting off topic, but NCDOT does have $90 million allocated towards the Crabtree project starting in 2022, which in planning terms is practically tomorrow.

But it's on-topic if the Crabtree project facilitates better bus service in the area. I wonder whether it does. 

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I see where some people on Ridge Rd are oppose to extending Crabtree Blvd and tying it into Ridge Rd and expanded Glenwood/Crabtree Blvd/Ridge Rd interchange. Maybe option would be to cut Ridge Rd out of interchange and tie it to upgraded Varnell St (been a long time but seems Varnell was kind of narrow last time I went over it) to link to Glenwood. Would make the interchange simpler and still keep Ridge Rd access to Glenwood at north end. If Crabtree Blvd could be extended to Glenwood (connect between Brookhaven/Morehead) on north end could take traffic out of the Creedmore intersection as well as Glenwood interchange.

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My objection to the plan, if I have interpreted it correctly, is that going from inbound Glenwood to eastbound 440 still has a tight-radius circle that will restrict cars to 20 mph. The current cloverleaf can back up for a third of a mile with cars doing exactly that. NCDOT and the City are taking the cheap way out instead of building flyovers.  

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The last meeting for this phase of the study is today at the Cary Arts Center, at 5:30PM. I'll be there :)

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Whether it's rural or urban Republicans pushing it doesn't matter. Either way, given the overwhelming Democratic representation for Orange and Durham counties, it's a red versus blue thing. That said, rural legislators of either party (although nearly all rural legislators are Republican these days; hasn't always been the case) have little incentive to see big money going to urban projects.

If Orange and Durham provide 50% of the project cost instead of 40%, is there an issue? The way I read it, the feds want 50% from state and local combined. It may be that the local tax wasn't meant to provide 50%, but that's for Orange and Durham to sort out if the General Assembly forces them to.

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Cross-posting my reply to this from the transit thread in the Charlotte forum.

This is crazy. I wasn't happy about how state share has been reduced from 25% to 10% but it is what it is: what do you expect from an all-Republican legislature.

I could also honestly understand a rule that no state funding can be *spent* until a project has all its local and federal sources in hand. Let the agencies put up their own money during the planning process so the state doesn't pour money into a project only to have it fail due to losing its federal grant application.  This is actually what happened back in 2005 - state money was spent on planning, property acquisition, and even some utility relocation work, and then the project died. As a major source of funding for transit projects, this condition would be understandable as a right-leaning legislature's prerogative (although no such condition exists for most roadway projects). So, if the federal grant application fails, then the money allocated to the project by the state can be reallocated elsewhere - nothing lost on the state's behalf except a few man hours of planning staff time, which would also be nothing unusual since committed roadway projects get cancelled or rescheduled all the time.

But saying you can't even submit for prioritization before all other funding is committed is a blatant attempt to kill all state involvement in transit capital projects. It's so blatant I think it might not be truly intentional, and that even right-leaning legislators would consider an amendment. Possibly the people who drafted that bit don't understand how the New Starts process works.

1 hour ago, ctl said:

Whether it's rural or urban Republicans pushing it doesn't matter. Either way, given the overwhelming Democratic representation for Orange and Durham counties, it's a red versus blue thing. That said, rural legislators of either party (although nearly all rural legislators are Republican these days; hasn't always been the case) have little incentive to see big money going to urban projects.

If Orange and Durham provide 50% of the project cost instead of 40%, is there an issue? The way I read it, the feds want 50% from state and local combined. It may be that the local tax wasn't meant to provide 50%, but that's for Orange and Durham to sort out if the General Assembly forces them to.

I think that taking the state's 10% out would kill the project. They're already leveraging future tax revenues to the max to cover the 40%.

It might be possible with a bond issue and a substantial property tax hike. That would be very, very painful.

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The State of NC has no problem building new roads in eastern NC that are lightly used. while the Piedmont cities are chocking on traffic.

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Yes. Their argument goes like this: eastern NC is in economic despair (and most people would objectively agree). Better roads are an investment that will attract industry or at least remove a reason why industry doesn't want to locate there. If their economy deteriorates further, an ever larger transfer of tax dollars from Charlotte, the Triangle, and the Triad will become necessary so that the eastern counties can provide basic services which they are struggling to provide now. Or to put it differently, do you want everything east of US 1 (except the coastal counties) to become third world?  

Rationale or rationalization... you choose. 

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They just need to apply this 'build it before you need it' approach to other areas and transportation modes instead of being in constant kneejerk triage in the rest of the State. 

Edited by Jones_
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4 hours ago, ctl said:

 Or to put it differently, do you want everything east of US 1 (except the coastal counties) to become third world?  

The other (admittedly unrealistic) perspective is for everything on the coastal plain (other than  beaches, Bragg and ECU) to become farmland and have everybody else become refugees in Raleigh and Charlotte. 

Honestly I think that is a better option, although I do understand nobody wants to leave home.

 

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Qu'ils mangent de la brioche, someone is said to have said. 

Between 1 and 1.5 million people in the deprived areas, depending on how you count. They're not bringing a lot of income or wealth with them. Triangle couldn't possibly assimilate that many without a massive amount of sprawl to build where land is inexpensive. 

And with respect to reuse as farmland, there would have to be a lot of parcel buy-ups and consolidations before big ag could do more than they're already doing. More likely you'd see slash-and-burn in order to plant pine trees... big environmental hit.

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On 5/29/2018 at 12:31 PM, ctl said:

If Orange and Durham provide 50% of the project cost instead of 40%, is there an issue?

Yes, one issue is fairness or equal process. Charlotte (Mecklenburg) only had to provide 25%.  If the State could provide 25% (twice even) for Charlotte, it's pathetic they can't even provide 10% for the Triangle.

Another issue would be the full faith and credit of North Carolina. If the State can change the rules or move the goal post during the game, the market has good reason to re-think doing business here.

 

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The bonds haven't been issued yet, so the full faith and credit argument doesn't work. In any event, bonds for this project would be issued by GoTriangle as Limited Obligation bonds not General Obligation bonds. That said, I don't know of any LOB in this state that has been allowed to go into disrepute.

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Good news for the short term but don't underestimate the NC Taliban - I am sure they will pull some more shenanigans (ala Catch-22). On an off-note, the leading stories on the N&O today were about gerrymandering and BBQ. What the hell happened to NC? Maybe they are priming for a merger with SC. 

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37 minutes ago, DanRNC said:

On an off-note, the leading stories on the N&O today were about gerrymandering and BBQ. What the hell happened to NC? Maybe they are priming for a merger with SC. 

I know you got a weird sense of humor, but I don't get it?  

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4 minutes ago, Green_man said:

I know you got a weird sense of humor, but I don't get it?  

We've been gerrymandered back to 19-dickity-9 and not even the local media fights back...they just roll over and play possum. For a State that had some inkling of progressivism at one point, it sure capitulated with ease and completeness. 

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I've posted about this on another forum, and will probably take some heat for saying this here, but imo they really just need to blow up the project and start over. 

The way I look at it goes like this.  This is a nearly 18 mile long route that takes essentially the least direct route possible between CH and Durham, and from what I have seen, there really aren't a lot of commuters going between CH and Durham to begin with.  The section from LaSalle to NCCU should be priority, but the rest (LaSalle to UNC) should be put on the backburner.  In fact, I'd argue that LRT isn't really a great idea for CH due to unless they are willing to have it come through downtown, which they aren't.

There is a reason why Charlotte's light rail has been pretty successful, and it's because it runs from developing neighborhoods like South End and NoDa into a major business district (Uptown) that employs close to 100k people.  Durham, and especially CH, do not have these same dynamics due mostly to the number of people who commute to very suburban RTP.  However, Durham has a booming downtown as well as multiple colleges and universities in close proximity, not to mention plans to add "bicycle boulevards" and other walkable infrastructure, so a light rail is much more feasible there than in suburban areas of Chapel Hill.

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33 minutes ago, nicholas said:

I've posted about this on another forum, and will probably take some heat for saying this here, but imo they really just need to blow up the project and start over.

I agree, it is an atrocious route. Watching the flyover video you get a sense of how much of the route is though woods, swamps and strip center parking lots. I also agree that the route does very little to improve circulation in Chapel Hill.  Having said that, I think the region will be better off with the project -- the area really needs to see a mode of transport other than a car, and it may provide for some decent expansion opportunities (Carborro), but it does miss lots of opportunities.

Has their been any discussion (at all) about rezoning in station areas to encourage TOD? Seems like Chapel Hill is so anti-development that there is little hope for densification in Orange County.

Edited by kermit
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As someone who lived in Vancouver, Durham-CH could learn some lessons from the city. F-ck up from the beginning and you are doomed, and you better integrate bus service/tram into the plan.  NYC has done a pathetic job of this and the stress on the system is unbelievable.  

Don't boiler plate it as most of the systems in the US do. 

https://humantransit.org/2018/04/why-does-ridership-rise-or-fall-lessons-from-canada.html

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/seattle-struggles-with-growth-and-transit-while-vancouver-b-c-figured-it-out-years-ago/

 

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8 hours ago, kermit said:

I agree, it is an atrocious route. Watching the flyover video you get a sense of how much of the route is though woods, swamps and strip center parking lots. I also agree that the route does very little to improve circulation in Chapel Hill.  Having said that, I think the region will be better off with the project -- the area really needs to see a mode of transport other than a car, and it may provide for some decent expansion opportunities (Carborro), but it does miss lots of opportunities.

Has their been any discussion (at all) about rezoning in station areas to encourage TOD? Seems like Chapel Hill is so anti-development that there is little hope for densification in Orange County.

CH and Durham have to get this right.  The legislators are so anti-mass transit right now that a terrible system might doom light rail throughout NC for the foreseeable future.  I have heard that the plan is to extend the western part of the line from UNC to Carrboro at some point, but I think it will just end up being more of the same no-development/no-lightrail-in-downtown nonsense that we're seeing from CH, and it's going to be soooooooo freaking long at that point (probably ~20 horribly inconvenient miles end to end with ~20 stops) that no one from Carrboro will use it either.

The section through Durham will likely be pretty useful, but building a light rail just for the sake of building a light rail like the rest of the plan seems to be is just stupid imo.  The Triangle cities really just need to work on densifying their respective downtowns, adding some street car and light rail routes, and connecting to the other cities with a fast commuter rail network.

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12 hours ago, nicholas said:

...and connecting to the other cities with a fast commuter rail network.

Yes, this. There is not practical reason why TTA cant run four commuter trains per hour between Raleigh and Durham (with extensions to Mebane/Burlington and Clayton/Selma) -- there is very little freight traffic on this portion of the NCRR and I would imagine NS would welcome an opportunity to pawn off its maintenance expenses on the section of track.  However, making this trunk commuter system work will require much better local transit in Durham and Raleigh (and ideally Hillsborough since any station there will be a bit peripheral). The current LRT plan does an OK (not great) job of this in Durham and Raleigh's revised bus plan might work if they don't cheap out on operations and design.  Unfortunately existing rail makes sending these commuter trains to Chapel Hill terribly impractical so the tragically designed LRT route to Durham is a necessary evil if Chapel Hill and Carrboro are going to have any useful connections to the remainder of the Triangle.  Unfortunately Chapel Hill's intransigence about development and density is likely to doom the western portion of the LRT to poor ridership. Honestly connecting CH with BRT between Franklin/Columbia and Duke Hospital LRT might make more sense than the current plan.

Edited by kermit

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NS was doing yet another study of track capacity last year with respect to commuter service. I haven't heard the results, but I suspect NS will say that regardless of freight and Amtrak usage, you would have to double-track virtually all of Durham-Cary and Raleigh-Clayton for 4 tph. Today's track layout simply doesn't provide enough places for trains traveling opposite directions to meet in such a scenario. 

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