My last post was over a month ago—where the hell have I been? I retired March 1 and intended to concentrate on writing cutting edge Ipeaked posts. But I got sidetracked by an issue that is going to negatively affect my community. The issue is the design and location of a proposed light rail project.
The reason I’m writing about my objections to light rail here is because I think we all need to address issues that are just “wrong”. Your issue could be light rail, bad laws, development, taxes, discrimination, crime, noise, climate change, or less ice cream in the container. I am using my writing and cartooning / illustrating / animation talents to hopefully change some minds. I’ve even helped create a web site with all the facts backing up our objections to the light rail route. It’s important to contact all decision makers when you want change—politicians who care about your vote, funders who feel that objections to their projects will affect the bottom line, your friends and neighbors creating strength in numbers, and the media to get your opinion out.
We all seem to get too comfortable with just accepting life whether negative or positive. If you don’t get involved, who will? You don’t have to be an artist, writer or great orator. All it takes is a willingness to object to things that “just aren’t right” and you can rock the world.
Below is the editorial that I wrote to the local paper outlining my objections. Hopefully this will inspire you to protest bad things both big and small.
Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (D-O LRT) is bringing light rail to town. That sounds like a great idea until you take a look at some of the proposed routes. I live in the Downing Creek community (on the Chapel Hill border, Hwy54) and am now actively lobbying to keep light rail from creating dangerous traffic nightmares and diminishing quality of life in our neighborhood. My objection is with the C2 and C2A routes proposed in the Durham-Orange section of the route alternatives. C2/C2A will cut off the main entrance/exits to Downing Creek and cross the already traffic jammed Barbee Chapel Rd.
The original plan for light rail was the C1 route planned way back in 1995 to be part of the upscale Meadowmont community. “Meadowmont’s approval in 1995, with its high density and mix of residential, commercial and retail uses, was conditioned upon the reservation of land for a mass transit line.” In the last couple of years there apparently was opposition to this plan by Meadowmont residents and they convinced Triangle Transit to consider alternative routes C2 and C2A which would move the light rail across Highway 54 to a location running along 54 on the south side crossing Downing Creek Parkway, Little John Rd, Stancell Dr and Barbee Chapel Rd and creating the Woodmont rail station. This station would have no parking which would likely result in increased neighborhood parking. These proposed alternative routes would negatively impact Downing Creek especially at peak commuting hours since trains would run every 10 minutes and cross all the streets mentioned above at-grade level forcing traffic to stop and make our present traffic nightmares even worse.
The at-grade crossing design is not just a potential traffic nightmare but more importantly it is a safety and emergency response time issue. There are hundreds of train-vehicle and/or pedestrian crossing accidents in the United States every year. One is too many! Grade level crossings are an archaic design and most engineers would agree that elevated tracks are the better option. The engineers involved in C2/C2A’s design have countered that elevated structures are too expensive but if at-grade crossings are unsafe they shouldn’t even be part of a modern design. Build it to optimum safety design standards or don’t build at all.
The C2 and C2A routes travel through less densely populated areas than the C1/C1A (Meadowmont community) routes which would logically result in less ridership. Since this planned (D-O LRT) project does not go to the popular destinations like the RDU airport and Research Triangle Park, Triangle Transit may need every rider they can get to support the astronomical build and operation cost. The possibility of low ridership is real and that ticket could end up being more than any of us want to pay.
For more info on these proposed routes visit: http://transit.downingcreek.org/