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Atlside

Is the Raleigh-Durham area behind in its thinking and planning?

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It seems as it the Raleigh-Durham area is always behind in so many things.

Just a few thoughts and questions to those who live in the Raleigh-Durham area (Triangle) to why this region seems to do odd things. Is it because there are too many universities there?

The Raleigh-Durham metro area spends 15 years and millions of dollars on a rapid rail regional transit system. They go as far as to hire architects to design most of the stations, hire engineers to design the rail tracks and bridges and they go as far to buy all the rail corridor and yet never once did the leaders in the Raleigh-Durham area ask their citizens to a pay transit sales tax. Due to this millions and millions of dollars spent went down the sink. As of 2009 the Triangle has no rail system, no joint bus systems and has to start all over with public transit planning as if they have never talked about rail transit and a combined bus system in this region.

But, guess what?.... now Wake County is moving forward to vote a new light rail and bus transit tax. What are Durham and Orange counties going to do? What purpose is it to have just Wake County vote on a sales tax and the other core Traingle counties do not? Seems like this region doesn't know how to plan well together.

Norfolk-Virginia Beach is now beating out Raleigh-Durham in terms of having its first phase of light rail.

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1397009.html

Raleigh builds a new sports arena and they do it the way things were done in the early 1980s....didn't build it downtown. They build it out near NC State's football stadium and their state fair grounds. The area would remind one of what the Charlotte Coliseum was like when it first opened in the late 1980s way out away from its downtown. Of course Charlotte demolished this facility and now has one in the heart of its downtown.

Raleigh is very late in building a modern convention center when other midsize cities like Charlotte started building them in the early to mid 1990s. Durham said it was building a convention center in the 1990s (Omni Hotel now the Marriott) and built just a hotel with some convention space in it as most hotels already have in the first place.

Durham has also had many plans for new highrise buildings in its downtown and not one has ever been built to date or the ones that have been built were all down scaled in size. There were an original plan for something called Erwin Square that was to be a number of 25 story towers and only one short 12 story or so buiding would be built. There were plans for more than one tower to be located near the green highrise in Durham's South Square area and yet only that one tower was built. There were to be twin 30 story towers called Durham Center and yet only one of the twin tower was built and it was half the size. There were plans for a 30 to 40 story highrise condo tower for Durham's downtown and not one was built.

The Raleigh outer loop perimeter feeway was planned just as far back as the I-485 Outerbelt in Charlotte and yet Charlotte's is almost finished and Raleigh is talking about putting a toll on the entire southern leg of its loop in order to even build it.

They don't have lights on the freeways in the Triangle with the exception of the the expanded I-85 in northern Durham. Raleigh-Durham has to be be one of the most dark urban cities in the Southeast. Even Montgomery, Alabama has lights on its freeways.

Just curious to why such a great region like Raleigh-Durham that has a population of 1.6 million seems to look to be so far behind in its planning and actual building projects?

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It's kinda funny to see this post. As a resident of Greenville (SC) we always hear about how Raleigh is "ahead of the curve" and "on the ball." A lot of Greenvillians look to Raleigh as where we are headed, espeically in looking at it's research park and airport. And many of us also have similar type concerns of where greenville is sometimes. Perhaps when you live in an area you tend to see more of the shortcomings, whereas "outsiders" tend to see more of the positives, or at least aren't in a position to see some of the shortcomings.

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But, guess what?.... now Wake County is moving forward to vote a new light rail and bus transit tax. What are Durham and Orange counties going to do? What purpose is it to have just Wake County vote on a sales tax and the other core Triangle counties do not? Seems like this region doesn't know how to plan well together.

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Is the Triangle behind? yes...

Can it be corrected? eventually..

What needs to be done?

1. Lights on freeway.. yes

2. Light rail? yes.. think Capital BLVD to down town to RDU to RTP.. the first line to start..

3. Sports arena downtown? yes.. but make it a basketball arena.. football and hockey are fine near State.. it's already built, why replace a perfectly good building.. and the Triangle actually needs to share facilities so that the area as a whole can feel more connected..

4. More roads? Actually, there are a plenty.. instead of building more, why not just make the ones we have work better and add lanes..

5. Biggest needs.. a walkable community in RTP with stores, shopping, and nightlife..

6. Speaking off.. Raleigh needs more nightlife.. Glenwood South is good... but there needs to be other areas for nightlife.. visitors to the area (Triangle) needs options and a good way to get to the options..

that's enough for now..

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atlside I think you are going to ruffle some feathers with the tilt of these comments. You assume that there is one almighty regional god that waves a wand to makes things happen. The who, how and why of each thing listed is connected only by the fact that all of these issues would affect the same patch of Earth known in the news as the Triangle. First off, lets get it straight that the triangle does not exist. Neither does Raleigh-Durham. Constructs for the uneducated and uninitiated who might not otherwise have a clue when a news story has another tidbit to belch forth. You also assume things to be innate truths that are in fact quite debatable and even downright wrong.

Universities: Hardly the reason anything "odd" happens here, they are the core of what makes the region thrive. The weather helps too.

Rail Plan: Raleigh-Durham spent nothing on the regional rail plan. Triangle Transit Authority did, and the source of their funds being primarily rental car taxes, visitors dollars generated a huge chuck of that. The complexities of mixing rural rooted southern folks with transplants of all kinds sets the stage for the political task of gathering support for dedicated transit taxes. This may indeed make the area seem "backwards", buts its not a collective thing. Its a weighted thing, and finally the weights on the scales are starting to win out in favor of moving forward with something. Be aware too, that the FTA stopped the previous plan, not local opposition. I thinks its rather impressive that fighting upstream, and without much corporate suppport (like Charlotte) leaders here continue to forge ahead with a plan. Since Raleigh-Durham does not exist, there is no authority that can force the three counties to work together. The form of any transit plan has a very complex set of inputs for a poly-centric area such as this so its not even a given that the three must work together for a workable plan to emerge.

Arena: I stand firmly on the side that arenas don't belong in downtowns or areas of a downtown that people live in. A low and midrise downtown is pedestrian friendly. Its livable. Its active all the time. An arena area is active only when there is a game or other event. For those who think a downtown should be a destination primarily, then I give them a maybe. Downtown Raleigh being physically small, never had room for something like the RBC center. For those who think these uses can coexist, I ask if you would want to live within even a half mile of an arena. Having been to arenas in DC, Atlanta, Denver, Charlotte and New York, the clusterf*( of gameday is not good for local neighborhood. Denver has probably the best setup of what I have seen with all of its arenas on the edge of downtown, preserving the integrity of downtown itself. I agree that the RBC Center way out on Wade Avenue is probably too far out, but I prefer that over wiping out any existing 4-block area in our downtown proper.

Anything that has to do with plans for towers that don't get built is strictly a function of what the market will bear and a particular developers ability to work within that market. Durham was a built overhyped in my opinion when it came to plans for majestic highrises. Love Durham for what it is. In one word...eclectic.

Convention Center: Late, maybe...or maybe not if you compare the populations of places when their CC's were built. In the case of Charlotte, its population in the mid 90's was more than Raleigh is even now. Durham has never needed one the size of Raleigh's new one. Places like the Friday Center have have met the need for the area.

I-540 and freeway lights...ask DOT.

"Just curious to why such a great region like Raleigh-Durham that has a population of 1.6 million seems to look to be so far behind in its planning and actual building projects?"

I personally resent this in light of the fact that few places can boast a record without holes of some sort. Lights on freeways? What are the schools like? Have an arena downtown? What is crime like nearby? Completed outer loop? Bahaha....that is no measure of progressiveness.

I suggest you rethink the whole premise of your opening post.

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I'm not defensive at all with at least some of these critiques. This stated, I agree with the previous post. My feathers ain't ruffled at all - I can see clearly what we don't have a good grasp of here, but it should be noted that many, many people here are trying.

Some of this stuff - having the super coolest skyline around or having 10 beltways - I could care less. Not having those things helps make the area distinctive. Dark highways and freeways has come up in many threads here, I believe. It's a problem - I-40 between 15-501 and Wade Av is scary at night, and downright dangerous in inclement weather. The ball is in the DOT's court on that, so we just have to bear with their timetable.

There are plenty of issues not mentioned in the original post - things like affordable housing (essentially a serious crisis in Orange), or environmental protection, or transit - that we could do a much better job with, and a bit more regional thinking might be an advance in those matters. But a lot of people are working very hard on each of those issues, and if there are places that have responded to those issues more effectively, there are also plenty of major urban areas that haven't dealt with them at all.

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Raleigh is very late in building a modern convention center when other midsize cities like Charlotte started building them in the early to mid 1990s.

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Gard, didn't Durham County come to Wake County a long time ago to speak about merging their transit systems? Wasn't it Durham County that push TTA to merge with it's DATA bus system?

I could be wrong. But, it seem like I remember reading that Durham County was very much looking foward to merging its transit system and Raleigh's CAT system wasn't as excited about doing so and Chapel Hill Transit didn't want to merge at all. You might have the answer to this question.

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Jones133 Raleigh-Durham and the Triangle does in fact exist. The region has been jointly planning and working together as a solid metropolitan area going back to the 1950s when the RTP was created. Also, the television media and radio media refers to this area as Raleigh-Durham and as the Triangle. Also, locals who are natives will refer to the metro area as the Triangle and many of them call it Raleigh-Durham when they travel outside of North Carolina. Many outside of North Carolina only know this region as Raleigh-Durham. Heck, even Facebook list the city as "Raleigh-Durham". We all know it's not one city.

Fact:

The Triangle J Council of Governments

http://www.tjcog.dst.nc.us/

The Triangle J Council of Governments is a voluntary organization of municipal and county governments in North Carolina's Region J (Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange and Wake counties). Established in 1972 by the General Assembly to aid, assist, and improve the capabilities of local governments in administration, planning, fiscal management, and development.

Triangle J works to meet the region's needs in a wide range of areas, including:

Regional Land Use & Transportation Planning

Environmental Protection

Water Quality Monitoring & Preservation

Aging Services & Caregiver Support

Geographic Information Services & Mapping

Cable Television Regulation & Franchising Assistance

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Web Site Design/Maintenance & Graphic Design

Economic Development

Emergency Planning & Medical Support

Information Services

Research Triangle Regional Partnership

http://www.researchtriangle.org/pages.php?...&page_id=45

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership is a business-driven, public-private partnership dedicated to keeping the 13-county Research Triangle Region economically competitive through business, government and educational collaboration.

The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority

In 1939 the North Carolina General Assembly chartered the Raleigh-Durham Aeronautical Authority to build and operate an airport convenient to both Raleigh and Durham.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is governed by the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, an eight-member board. The cities of Durham and Raleigh and the counties of Durham and Wake appoint two members each to the Authority board of directors. The Airport Authority is a governmental body responsible for the development, operation and maintenance of the airport.

Airport Authority Board Members

Michael A. Weeks Chairman, Wake County

Robert D. Teer, Jr. Vice Chairman, City of Durham

Kim D. Frazier Secretary, City of Raleigh

Tonita F. Lipscomb Treasurer, City of Durham

Geoff Elting City of Raleigh

Craigie D. Sanders Durham County

Tommy Hunt Durham County

Terry K. Yeargan Wake County

The Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority which is known by the name Triangle Transit (formerly Triangle Transit Authority or TTA)

The 1989 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly enabled the creation of Triangle Transit as a regional public transportation authority serving Durham, Orange and Wake counties. The new unit of local government was chartered by the NC Secretary of State on December 1, 1989.

On March 17, 2008, after 15 years as Triangle Transit Authority, the Board of Trustees changed the agency's name Triangle Transit.

Triangle Transit is governed by a thirteen member Board of Trustees. Ten members are appointed by the region's principal municipalities and counties and three members are appointed by the North Carolina Secretary of Transportation.

Bill Strom, Chair, Town of Chapel Hill

Jeff Merritt, Vice-Chair, Wake County

Ellen Reckhow, Secretary, Durham County

Joe Freddoso, Treasurer, Wake County

William V. Bell, Durham City/County

Jean Davis, City of Raleigh

Sig Hutchinson, City of Raleigh

Alice Gordon, Orange County

Robert Hinshaw, Town of Cary

William G. Smith, City of Durham

Kenneth Spaulding, NC Board of Transportation

Nina Szlosberg, NC Board of Transportation

Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina

The Research Triangle Park is managed by the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina.

Members come from across the Raleigh-Durham Combinded Statistical Area.

http://www.rtp.org/files/Fact%20Sheets/rtp_board_042308.pdf

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urban980 I fully understand what you're saying and agree with a lot of your comments. But, when you have places like Norfolk-Viginia Beach-Newport News-Hampton, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose.... don't you think that Raleigh-Durham should be able to plan better together and make things happen? Of course now the nation as a whole is in a bad economic way....so things are harder to move forward.

This topic is not an insult to Raleigh-Durham, it's just a curious question to why a region that's been so popular and has done so well seems to be behind when it comes to the things that tend to make a region look progressive and feel progressive. It just seems like more things get stopped in the Raleigh-Durham area. Thus the region looks smaller than what it really is. When projects get stopped in larger cities you don't see the impact. But, when you are a region the size of the Triangle you notice that it lacks some of these major things.

Even in terms of downtown Raleigh. Look at how big downtown Richmond is compared to downtown Raleigh. Yet, Richmond is a much smaller city than Raleigh. Yet, look how big Winston-Salem's downtown is compared to downtown Raleigh. Winston-Salem's downtown wasn't impacted by Greensboro's downtown. So, I don't know why downtown Raleigh should be impacted by Durham.

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distortedlogic thanks for your views. It is very true that many places look towards Raleigh-Durham. This is why I posted the curious question to those that live there. The is a major expectation to what Raleigh-Durham should look like. But, when you go there it's the most odd looking place in terms of a region that has 1.6 million people. One expects the region to look more advanced. For years you'd hear about how Raleigh-Durham is the star region of NC. Yet, when you go to Charlotte from its downtown, its freeways (including lights etc when they are on) one would think that Charlotte was the more advanced place in NC.

I guess maybe if one looks at Greensboro/Winston-Salem the Raleigh-Durham area might look like an equal. Yet, Raleigh-Durham is the region that is thought of as the most progressive in North Carolina.

distortedlogic what do folks in Greenville think of the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area? Do they also look at this region for their planning or do they mainly look at Raleigh-Durham?

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urban980 I fully understand what you're saying and agree with a lot of your comments. But, when you have places like Norfolk-Viginia Beach-Newport News-Hampton, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose.... don't you think that Raleigh-Durham should be able to plan better together and make things happen? Of course now the nation as a whole is in a bad economic way....so things are harder to move forward.

This topic is not an insult to Raleigh-Durham, it's just a curious question to why a region that's been so popular and has done so well seems to be behind when it comes to the things that tend to make a region look progressive and feel progressive. It just seems like more things get stopped in the Raleigh-Durham area. Thus the region looks smaller than what it really is. When projects get stopped in larger cities you don't see the impact. But, when you are a region the size of the Triangle you notice that it lacks some of these major things.

Even in terms of downtown Raleigh. Look at how big downtown Richmond is compared to downtown Raleigh. Yet, Richmond is a much smaller city than Raleigh. Yet, look how big Winston-Salem's downtown is compared to downtown Raleigh. Winston-Salem's downtown wasn't impacted by Greensboro's downtown. So, I don't know why downtown Raleigh should be impacted by Durham.

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Just curious to why such a great region like Raleigh-Durham that has a population of 1.6 million seems to look to be so far behind in its planning and actual building projects?

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Good point, but you must check up on Raleigh's history to understand the answer to your own question. Raleigh is historically the smallest city of all the cities you just named. Winston-Salem was NC's largest city 80 years ago. It wasn't until the 1930s Charlotte became the state's largest.

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The answer is simple. Those running the city, as well as the most influential citizens, are small thinkers who cater to Raleigh's status quo. To a certain extent, these groups do not want Raleigh to change at all. This makes it extermely difficult for any outside influence to penetrate this market.

I've actually heard backwards comments like..."they're trying to turn Raleigh into NYC with all those tall buildings." It's really sad.

Progress will come, because it can't be comepletely halted. It's just a matter of how quickly. In the meantime, i'd hate to see the city make a bunch of bad planning decisions that might set us back for years to come.

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Didn't many people in Durham vote against building a AAA baseball park for downtown Durham when the Durham Bulls first wanted to build a new ballpark?

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What's the source of that city data? Just curious as I'd like to get more past 1970.

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What's the source of that city data? Just curious as I'd like to get more past 1970.

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Gracias. I filled in some of the 2007 dates and carried a chart with the data up to that year:

148de39.jpg

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I see what you are trying to say but these various organizations have different missions and different enacting authority, and do not represent some common will and do not enable the existence of a single amorphous entity that has control over itself. COGs exist to get communities to work together when they might otherwise not do so. Heck, all these organizations exist because the many are stronger than the few, and some things are better worked on by proximate neighbors, but whether or not 9th street gets tall buildings or downtown Raleigh bulldozes all its old ones, whether lights exist on the highway that belongs to none of the players, where the Centennial Authority (including NC State) wants to locate its arena...these things don't well lend themselves to collective input. Collective input. Raleigh-Durham does not really exist, or it could and would make all the decisions over the three counties, or six, or whatever, but it doesn't...no matter what Facebook says. Sorry.

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Gracias. I filled in some of the 2007 dates and carried a chart with the data up to that year:

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^It's never valid to compare cities by their municipal city limits population. Every state has different laws on what constitutes a city and what powers a city has to do annexation. It's better to count urbanized area, county population or metro area population depending upon what you are looking for.

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^agreed. And there are a myriad of reasons that areas on one side of a municipal line but not the other isn't growing but a region itself might be. Heck, in Virginia, County and City don't coexist, making places like Arlington impossible to include in the mix of municipal comparison.

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I guess maybe if one looks at Greensboro/Winston-Salem the Raleigh-Durham area might look like an equal. Yet, Raleigh-Durham is the region that is thought of as the most progressive in North Carolina.

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I personally don't think anyone should look to Charlotte for urban planning, at least not concerning annexation. The city has a land are equal to a small European country. Charlotte's beastly land mass dwarfs and other major NC city by double. If Charlotte's actual land size was comparable to Raleigh or Greensboro or WS, what would the city's population be? And how would this impact planning decisions?

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