Regional mass transit system inches closer to reality

Posted February 4, 2008
Updated April 30, 2008

— Leaders from six area counties agreed on Monday to a long-term plan to help balance growth with area transportation needs.

Details of the Special Transit Advisory Commission's recommendations will include commuter rail and busing systems and having more than 55 miles of roadway spanning Wake, Durham and Orange counties in place by 2020.

"The Triangle area is projected to double in size over the next 20 to 25 years, and that growth means major congestion unless we do something about it now," said STAC co-chairman George Cianciolo said.

The first phase of the plan would make four connections in the Triangle:

  • Chapel Hill to Durham
  • Durham to North Cary
  • North Cary to North Raleigh through downtown Raleigh along the U.S. Highway 1 corridor
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Research Triangle Park

The system is expected to cost approximately $2 billion, with 75 percent of funding from a sales-tax increase of up to a half percent and possibly an additional vehicle tax.

The federal government would cover the rest of the funding.

STAC will work on its recommendations and finalize them by Feb. 29, when they will then go to local transportation leaders for consideration.


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  • john60 Feb 5, 2008

    I've read Hartgen's proposal, and I think he's basically full of himself. Not all the highway money allocated to the RDU area can go to congestion relief; upgrading old infrastructure and maintenance have to be accounted for as well. Similarly, he throws a huge list of "improvements" in the hope that some of them stick to the wall. The JLF and Reason Foundation, I've found, are great at coming up with ideas on fixing things without digging too deeply into the details that make those ideas a lot more complicated than they think. One idea, for example, was to use interstate medians as truck-only lanes, to improve safety and efficiency in moving cargo. Go look at the median width on I-40; see anywhere to put a truck lane?

  • jsanders Feb 5, 2008

    How many years, how many hundreds of millions of dollars, and how much property has been already been taken in the futile pursuit of this idea? When will people realize that the "dream of rail" is completely and totally impractical here?

    As for traffic congestion, UNC-Charlotte Prof. of Transportation Studies David Hartgen has studied that and found that even now, smart allocation of transportation funds would suffice to solve the problem without needing new funding. Raleigh and Durham, however, spend only 73% and 49% of their highway money for highway projects.

  • WXYZ Feb 5, 2008

    Hmmm. Can someone tell me where there is a similar mass transit system in the US, which actually makes a profit? As long as people have a place to park their privately owned vehicle where they live and where they work, they have a choice. Based on this prerequiste, the majority of people who have a choice, will commute using their own vehicle--regardless of the price of gas or the price of a parking space. The city, county and state government is allowing the population density to steadily increase via zoning changes. Perhaps sometime in the distant future, parking places at residences and employers will no longer be available. By then, the majority of the Baby Boomers will be dead or retired and no longer living in densely populated locations. When I retire, I will sell my real estate in Wake County (at a very high profit) and move to the wide open spaces - - and that is less than 10 years.

  • john60 Feb 5, 2008

    I'd point out that NCDOT for the most part does a great job building and maintaining the state's roads, but it only takes a few well-publicized mistakes for the public to get the impression that everything's a big screw-up there. The decision to exclude NCDOT from oversight on the light-rail plan was purely political; politicians/developers/consultants saw big bucks in the rail proposal, and didn't want NCDOT to tell them how the rail system would be designed or built.

    As for a rail system getting commuters into Raleigh from 10 miles out in 22 minutes, dream on, dream on. The original rail design had so many stops and travelled so slowly that the trip from North Raleigh to Durham would take over an hour. Unless they eliminate most of the stops or raise the travel speed, we'll get more of the same.

  • jeffthompson Feb 5, 2008

    People who don't want Mass Transit think again. When your traffic gets as bad as it is here in Charlotte, you will be glad to hop on a train and be at work in 22 minutes 10 miles out or drive in a car for 1 hour...your choice!

    They are saying 2020 (12 years away)...unfortunately we live in NC and you know it will be delayed for years!

  • likemenow Feb 5, 2008

    RE:"The only time they were involved was to make sure certain engineering standards and guidelines were met..."...and that it self is a scary thought...thanks for the insight though..

  • john60 Feb 5, 2008

    NCDOT wouldn't build the transit system; they were excluded from the original plan and would probably be excluded from this one as well. The only time they were involved was to make sure certain engineering standards and guidelines were met, but the planning and design was all done through TTA and private engineering consultants. TTA's management was stuffed full of rail enthusiasts (developers, politicians, etc) and sent out to lay the groundwork for the proposed rail design, and even after the engineering studies began showing rapidly rising costs and lack of riders, they still insisted their plan would work.

    I don't see any of that changing with this latest attempt, either.

  • likemenow Feb 5, 2008

    RE:"I guess only the rich deserve to be close to work."..and apparently you think it's the fault of the "rich" that you can't afford to live in a more expensive house?..errr..seems like you think you have a right to live in any home you want....ya know, without actually working for it..i'm certainly not rich...and that's not the fault of some rich person

  • Space Mountain Feb 5, 2008

    I guess only the rich deserve to be close to work.

  • likemenow Feb 5, 2008

    So people want to live an hour away from work where it's more affordable to buy a home....and now, it's the tapayers responsibility to make it easier for them to get to work?....nice logic