Editorial: A 'yes' vote for Wake and Durham referenda will build better communities
Posted October 19, 2016
A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016; Editorial# 8070
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting
Voters in Wake and Durham counties have opportunities to provide for important community investments and improvements to keep our communities thriving and growing. They should not be overlooked.
- In Wake County voters should approve funding, a half-percent local sales tax, for a modern transportation system that will relieve road congestion, triple bus service and expand it to serve more communities. It will develop the commuter rail line to connect all the communities in the Triangle.
- In Durham County bond issues to fund improvements to the public schools, community college, library and Museum of Life and Science will benefit students and provide important modernization of community facilities for residents and visitors. All four merit the support of Durham County voters.
Voters will find these questions at the end of their very long ballots but they should not be overlooked and need “yes” votes.
Try to travel just about anywhere in Wake County – particularly on major arteries like US 1, I-40; I-440 and I-540 and US 64-264. Even a non-rush hour crash can cause traffic to back-up for miles.
The need for a comprehensive transit plan is urgent. Wake County is growing by 62 people daily – 22,600 annually. With a total population that exceeds 1 million, people need to be able to more easily get from place to place.
This transit referendum is Wake County’s chance to catch up with its neighbors with an adequately funded plan that will be coordinated with systems throughout the Triangle. Over the 10-years of the program, the modernization of the transportation system in the region will further enhance its attractiveness for economic development and job growth.
While the $2.3 billion plan provides for greater investment in mass transportation programs, it also will work along with other spending that is improving I-540, US 1, US 64 and express lanes.
The 37-mile commuter-rail, linking Raleigh with the Research Triangle, downtown Durham and Chapel Hill, is expected to be completed by 2027.
The half-cent sales tax dedicated for the transit plan, will raise $927 million over 10 years and be supplemented by $720 million in federal funds, $512 million in bond financing and $112 million in passenger fees.
In Durham, four important bond issues will help keep the county’s infrastructure up-to-date and provide improvements to better serve the community.
The bulk of the $90 million bonds for Durham County schools will go toward construction of a New Northern High School and major renovations to Eno Valley Elementary school. Additional funding will support roofing upgrades, heating, cooling and energy efficiency and other improvements throughout the school system.
Renovation and modernization of Durham County’s main library will mark the culmination of a series of improvements to the regional system. The building, which hasn’t seen significant upgrades since the early 1980s, will be modernized and remodeled throughout, along with a 20,000 square-foot expansion that will better serve the nearly half-million annual visitors.
The $20 million to expand and improve the Newton Technology Center at Durham Technical Community College marks the first of two phases to make the facility better able to meet the needs of students and the demands of new high-tech businesses emerging in the area. The amount of space in the 40-year-old facility will double and enable expansion of the Automotive Systems and Construction trades programs along with the Industrial Systems, Architectural Technology, Computer-aided Machining and other technology programs.
The $14.1 million for the Museum of Life and Science will provide funding to build a much-needed parking deck along with improvements for expanded exhibit space and other upgrades to the 84-acre campus that attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year.
The cost for Durham County taxpayers, given the county’s AAA bond rating, would be about $50 more a year on a $200,000 home in the county.
These ballot issues will spend on needs that will make life better and provide greater opportunities in Wake and Durham counties. Don’t overlook them on your ballot and vote yes to support them.