North Carolina Planners: Where to Build Light Rail (and Should it Be Built)?

This week residents in the North Carolina Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) will provide input on key segments of a future regional light rail system. The project has been analyzed for 15 years, yet the question of whether to build it remains.

2 minute read

November 22, 2014, 5:00 AM PST

By Pete Sullivan

North Carolina Map

Globe Turner / Shutterstock

NC planners ask: Where to build light rail (and should we still do it?)

This week residents in the North Carolina Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) will provide input on key segments of a future regional light rail system. The project has been analyzed for 15 years and is now partially funded, yet the question of whether to build it still remains.

In a series of public workshops, Triangle Transit—lead agency for the proposed 51 mile system—will seek input on specific route configurations, and among the issues are where to locate station areas and maintenance facilities, which neighborhoods to serve, and how to avoid impacting streams and wetlands.

So why are they also asking whether to build the system at all? The system is estimated at $1.34 billion, which may be contribute to lingering doubt. Several Metropolitan Planning Organizations collaborated to help develop Triangle's future transit vision, which includes increased local bus service, expanded regional bus service, and light rail. The system would serve three counties, and almost two dozen cities, as well as several major employment centers, colleges, and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The 3000 square mile service area includes 1.5 million residents—approximately 13% of North Carolina's statewide population—and is expected to grow to 2.5 million by 2035.

future vision map

The regional transit vision relies on new revenue sources, and some local funding is already in place via sales taxes and vehicle registration fees. However a comprehensive, long-term financing strategy with state and federal support has not been secured.

In their workshops this week, Triangle Transit continues to move the project forward, working to resolve key routing questions and asking a question still on everyone's mind: Should we build it?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in The Durham News

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