Durham's big margin for transit -- Orange to vote in 2012?

gercohen's picture

Durham's  60% to 40% margin for the 1/2 percent transit sales tax eclipsed Mecklenburg's 58-42 margin on its initial vote on the same issue in 1998. In 2012, the two allowed dates for a similar referendum are the primary (currently scheduled for May) and the November general election. Putting the issue on the ballot will involve approval by the Orange County Commissioners, the Durham-Chapel Hill Carrboro MPO, the Burlington-Alamance MPO, and the Triangle Transit Board.

Tags: 

issue: 

Total votes: 0

43 Comments

Ruby Sinreich's picture

I sure hope so

Their decision not to schedule the vote in 2011 for this regional transit initiative is on my growing list* of failures of county leadership. I hope they will capitalize on the momentum of Durham's vote to scheduleour own referendum for the May 2012 primary.If not they will be providing fuel for potential challengers. It's enough to almost make me want to register as a Democrat. * Also includes not paying attention to Rogers Road until recently, off-base ideas about economic development, and generally not speaking about almost anything ever.

Ruby Sinreich's picture

And I do

Yes, I vote in the Democratic primary every year. I was referring to being on the other side of the ballot (which requires bring in the party holding the primary) as voting doesn't seem to have much impact when the candidates get elected and become subject to the do-nothing groupthink of the Board. 

James Barrett's picture

one other misconception

There WILL be a Democratic primary on May 8th.  You do not have to vote in the Republican primary in order to vote against hate.  There is NO REASON to switch to unaffiliated to vote against the amendment.

Ruby Sinreich's picture

Not an announcement, just venting

Thanks, James. It would be a stretch to even call it "exploratory." It's simply a measure of how frustrated I am and how few alternatives I see when I start to even think about the idea of running. As you probably know I've run for office before, but I am pretty happy to advocate from the OP soapbox most of the time. Being elected brings no end of hard work and personal criticism. I think I have enough of both already. 

Consultant's light-rail proposal is bad for C.H. commerce

The light-rail route proposed for Chapel Hill avoids 15-501, the town's heavily traveled commercial corridor.  The plan was promoted to the Planning Board as an opportunity to densely develope the areas near Barbee Chapel Road on Rte 54 and the intersection of 54 and 15-501.  It looks as if the route would  bring people to work at the hospitals but keep them away from Chapel Hill businesses.  Perhaps the consultants established that route to maximize condemnation of public lands, without considering how to alleviate the Town's heaviest traffic. 

I believe that the periphery along 54 and the 54/15-501 intersection cannot be built up without exacerbating traffic problems transit is supposed to help, and that it is ironic to increase sales taxes on businesses for the benefit of proposed future competition.

Deborah Fulghieri

Mark Chilton's picture

misleading

The above comment has a lot of misinformation.  The light rail route between Durham and Chapel Hill will mostly be on or near 15-501.  However, the route will swing southward near the County line and enter Orange County along NC 54.

James Barrett's picture

how is it misleading?

The writer's point seemed to be that by swinging to 54 in OC, the LRT avoids existing OC business corridor (Lowe's, Eastgate/Ram's Plaza, UMall).  That's a true point, even if you think future 54 development is more important.

Mark Chilton's picture

My point is that the

My point is that the assertion that the Light Rail Corridor "avoids 15-501" is just false.  It avoids East Franklin Street.Also it is at best disingenuous to say "the consultants established that route to maximize condemnation of public lands." The route in fact does the opposite.  Condemning land can be very expensive and unpopular.  It's hard to say how much land would need to be condemned under this plan because extremely detailed engineering drawings would need to be done before we would know exactly what land is needed.  But mostly the route in Orange County follows the 54 corridor and would likely require less condemnation for that reason.  If Chapel Hill selects the Meadowmont option, then that part of the right-of-way is already owned by the Town.The proposed route was selected in order to meet the largest demand while keeping the cost of the project within the bounds of what the 1/2 cent sales tax and projected farebox revenue will support.  The route will serve lots of employers/employees.  True it will serve UNC Hospitals particularly well, but bear in mind that lots of people will be commuting the other direction as well.  The route goes to Duke, downtown Durham and NCCU among other major employment centers in Durham (where many Orange County residents work).Would I like it to come closer to downtown Chapel Hill (or for that matter downtown Carrboro)? Of course.  But the ridership projections don't support that yet. But later phases of development could include either or both of those.

I am not disingenuous, and not misleading you. Please read.

Mayor Chilton, you're an influential person whose words automatically carry weight. You must have a map of the proposed LRT, which shows that...

the proposed LRT deviates from 15-501 as  soon as it crosses I-40 into Chapel Hill.  It parallels I-40 and goes into the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) Jordan flood control lands, either into Meadowmont, or south to cross Rte 54 into Hillmont, formerly known as Woodmont.  It then parallels 54 on the south side, goes behind 54East on the Finley Golf Course, and then curves west behind Glenwood Elementary school to parallel 15-501 after the merge with 54.  Thus, the proposed LRT avoids every single shopping area along 15-501 in Chapel Hill.  

This planned LRT was promoted to Chapel Hill's planning board as a way to densely develope Hillmont, and commercially redevelope Glen Lennox and Glenwood shopping centers, including a possible purchase by developers of Glenwood Elementary School for such purpose.  I was there and heard this very rationale.

I reckon it is wrong to impose an additional sales tax to be paid by existing businesses in existing commercial centers that are not to be served by the LRT, for the benefit of not-yet-existing competition along the light rail line.

I also think it is wrong to densely develope at the periphery of town-- the ultimate traffic plug is how I see it.

I do think the proposed route maximizes condemnation of public lands, especially in the ACE property which exists to moderate the level of Jordan Lake and serves as a de facto wildlife preserve. 

I do think LRT should serve Chapel Hill's commerce, which doesn't happen with this proposal.

I am not misleading you; it is completely straightforward and therefore not disingenuous at all.

Deborah Fulghieri

Mark Chilton's picture

First, your original comment

First, your original comment was "The light-rail route proposed for Chapel Hill avoids 15-501, the town's heavily traveled commercial corridor."  I guess (in light of your clarification and James Barrett's points above) that I mis-interpretted your statement.  I originally read your comment as asserting that the light rail corridor avoids 15-501 (which it does not).  The light rail corridor does go along 15-501 for a significant distance.  But I see now that your point is that it avoids 15-501 in Chapel Hill, which it does.  I should have called that part of your comment ambiguous, rather than misleading.  Sorry.Second, I am still not sure why you are attacking whatever consultants were involved in determining the proposed route.  I still find it misleading to suggest that the route maximizes condemnation of land.  First of all, why would anyone - anyone - want to maximize condemnation?  Second, crossing the Army Corps of Engineers land reduces the amount of land that would need to be condemned.  That land already belongs to the government.Third, I don't consider Glen Lennox "the periphery" of Chapel Hill. Fourth, when I buy goods at University Mall, I am the one who pays sales tax, not the store.

James Barrett's picture

ok on the 2nd point

but the 1st point was "route in CH avoids 15-501", which is a true statement except for small piece of the bypass.  Still seems more designed to meet the needs of Durham (residents and businesses) than CH/C, IMHO. 

Mark Chilton's picture

Okay on the 1st point, then.

It's true there are a lot more light rail stops in Durham than Orange, but Durham has both more employers and more residents, so it's only logical that they have more stops.  Durham is also paying more for the system - a lot more.  Besides, Orange employers depend on Durham residents; Durham employers depend on Orange residents.To say that the plan serves one county more than the other misses the point, which is that both counties need light rail and expanded regional bus service.  The current proposal is a plan we can afford and which will serve the largest number of Orange County residents possible for the money. 

Why can't I defend my comment in this forum?

Here's the mayor of Carrboro saying my comment "has a lot of misinformation" and later calls it "disingenuous at best."  My reply was very specific on each point to disprove his assertion, but it is not being added to the thread.

Mr Chilton has a map of the proposed LRT route.  His above statement is untrue. The LRT avoids all commerce on 15-501, and is mostly off and far away from 15-501 in Chapel Hill.

Chapel Hill commerce is supposed to collect the eventual sales tax to pay for this LRT plan which will not serve Chapel Hill commerce, but will serve Durham commerce and county.

Deborah Fulghieri

Erin Crouse's picture

Anonymous comment policy

Deborah,By default, all unregistered comments are held in a queue until they are approved by one of the editors. That is why your comments took a while to appear in the forum. If you would like your content to be posted without delay, please create an OP account.

gercohen's picture

Two Herald-Sun transit articles

Two well written stories from this mornings Herald-Sun. HS does not allow comments to their stories, but the first one is a good one to share on Facebook for anyone who does stuff like that. There are Facebook (and Twitter) share links at the bottom of the storyhttp://heraldsun.com/view/full_story/16356099/article-Durham-vote-may-reignite-transit-debate-in-Orange-County-?instance=homesecondleftsome excerpts below ...Transit backers in southern Orange County were feeling a bit of Durham envy on Wednesday, a day after voters in Durham approved a half-percent sales-tax surcharge to finance expanded or new bus and rail systems.“Durham has really stepped up here and demonstrated some leadership,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said, referring to the referendum that passed with 60.1 percent of the vote. “I suspect the people of Orange County will catch that fever as well.”Kleinschmidt added that he would “advocate” that his Town Council begin pushing the Orange County Commissioners to schedule a similar referendum in his own county in 2012......[Carrboro Mayor Mark] Chilton, whose town abuts Chapel Hill, said he’d like the Orange commissioners to put a referendum on 2012’s May primary ballot to avoid having the issue drowned out amid next year’s presidential campaign.He also said “Durham has a lot to be proud of” by taking the plunge and passing its transit referendum this year. ... Chilton had favored holding a transit vote in Orange this year, and on Wednesday said Orange commissioners will have to give constituents an “extremely compelling reason why not” if they don’t schedule one in 2012.“Our county commission is made of a whole bunch of people who were mostly endorsed by the Sierra Club,” Chilton said. “Now is the time to prove what that means – or, for that matter, whether those endorsements are deserved.” =======http://heraldsun.com/view/full_story/16356228/article-Transit-tax-opposition-centered-in-outlying-areas-?instance=homethirdleftthis article notes that a few precincts mostly outside the City of Durham in the northern and eastern parts of the county voted no -- these are areas similar in many ways to "northern" Orange, while the three precincts in southwest Durham County that include Chapel Hill areas (in the town limits or with CH mailing addresses) voted YES.

gercohen's picture

Durham transit vote map (and Orange)

http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/NC/Durham/33075/49932/en/md_zoom.html?cid=0116green is yes, blue is no. Mouse over to see precinct name The northernmost Durham precinct on the Orange County line to vote YES was Cole Mill Road, which corresponds to Eno Precinct in Orange County on a north-south axis.similar map for Orange sales tax votehttp://results.enr.clarityelections.com/NC/Orange/33103/50010/en/md_zoom.html?cid=0118 

gercohen's picture

Wake Commissioners to discuss transit plan Monday -details here

Wake County Commissioners will hear a presentation Monday afternoon at 2 pm on the Transit Plan that they must adopt as a first step towards a referendumhttp://wake.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=wake_a76c97dad6591a84d64839ecb03370f4.pdf(VERY slow load)see pages 1-2, 86-263 for the details of what is being proposed for Wake County and for Wake-Durham connections) 

Ed Harrison's picture

Commissioner Earl McKee and

Commissioner Earl McKee and I both attended the annual meeting of the Eno River Association today, where Durham Commissioner Ellen Reckhow made a pitch for Orange Co. to get going on this. I followed Earl outside when he left for another event, and we had a productive conversation. I believe that he is investing some time and effort in learning about the potential benefits of this program. And it doesn't sound like he minds at all the prospect of "a packed room" (his term) on Tuesday night. Don't let him down! Ed Harrison

James Barrett's picture

I'll be there

primarily for Agenda item #8a, which is the funding for elementary #11 to move forward, but I'll stick around for this if I can (not clear yet whether I need to be at another event that eve as well).  You can count me in the count anyway.

gercohen's picture

CH Town Council discussion Monday night

and for a transit  trifecta this week, the Chapel Hill Town Council will have a forum Mondayhttp://townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=22&recordid=4082&returnURL=%2findex.aspxPublic Forum to Receive Input on Transportation Priorities Posted Date: 11/4/2011 The Chapel Hill Town Council has called a public forum for (Monday)  Nov. 14 (7 pm) to receive public comment on the 2014-2014 Regional Transportation Project Priority Lis, ...In addition, the Nov. 14 public forum will include an opportunity to comment on the Triangle Transit Regional Transit Program Local Preferred Alternative, an analysis of the proposed light rail alignments between Durham and Chapel Hill, in coordination with the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Town staff anticipates returning to the Council on Nov. 21 with recommendations on the 2014-2020 Transportation Improvement Program and in January 2012 on the Triangle Local Preferred Alternative. For more information, contact the Town of Chapel Hill Planning Department at 919-968-2728 or planning@townofchapelhill.org

Extension to CH/C Downtowns and Alignment Choice Questions

As a member of the technical team working on the proposed light rail project between Durham and Chapel Hill, I would like to add some background on why the light rail corridor has been recommended in the location described in the Detailed Definition of Alternatives document released by Triangle Transit in July 2011.First, regarding the question of why the rail proposal does not currently go beyond UNC Hospital to downtown Chapel Hill or Carrboro, the short answer is: “we cannot afford to fund it in the first phase of rail construction.” At this time, the financial capacity of the ½-cent sales tax in Orange County is not projected to be large enough to continue the line past UNC Hospital by 2035.  On the plus side, the bus service operating in the South Columbia St corridor from Manning Drive to Franklin St and the West Franklin/East Main corridor between the two towns already generates passenger counts per mile of service carried by some American cities’ light rail systems. This means that in the 2035-2045 timeframe, or maybe sooner if sales tax growth outpaces projections, the rail extension will certainly have strong merit in terms of ridership. Second, on the question of the recommended alignment versus using 15-501/Fordham Blvd to access the UNC campus, there is a white paper that the technical team produced at the request of the Town of Chapel Hill addressing this question in the Nov 15th Orange County packet referenced by gercohen elsewhere in this thread. Here is the link again:http://www.co.orange.nc.us/occlerks/1111159a.pdfThe pages of interest on this question are 17 through 24. (Exhibit D)

Ed Harrison's picture

The memo to which Patrick

The memo to which Patrick McDonough refers turns out to be very interesting, especially the Triangle Transit response to questions from Orange Co. staff (and, by extension, from Commissioners over time). I hope that concerned folks will give it a read, and then attend the Commissioners' discussion at their Tuesday evening meeting. This week's meeting is at the Southern Human Services Center at the usual starting time of 7 PM.  Ed Harrison

gercohen's picture

rural/urban turnout in 2011 -- compared w/ '08 and '10

While there were many complaints about the scheduling of the referendum at a time of municipal elections, comparing urban-rural split between 2011 and 2010 and 2008 might be more useful than the stats in today's Chapel Hill News article.  http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2011/11/13/68067/decision-shows-a-county-divided.htmlThere are 42 precincts in Orange County, 29 in Chapel Hill Township (roughly the same area as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District), and 13 in the northern and western parts of the county.  While early voting in 2011 has not been assigned back to the precincts, I've allocated them based on University Square/Seymour Center/Carrboro Town Hall with the urban precincts and the Board of Elections Office in Hillsborough with the rural (this probably OVERSTATES the urban %, since it is likely that some rural residents early vote in Chapel Hill/Carrboro if they worked at UNC, while unlikely that urban resident drove to Hillsborough to early vote. The turnout #s for early vote should be allocated back to the precincts in 90 days or so.)            % "urban" vote2011                   69.97%2010 general        64.45%2008 pres primary 67.5%2008 general         67.5%Thus while there is a gap, it is NOT as wide as I would have expected. it looks like a lower rural vote was just about balanced out by the low municipal total in student dominated precincts

James Barrett's picture

early voting details

I pulled the voter records from the state of all absentee ballots.  Of the 4305 ballots cast in OC before election day, 3080 are from people who vote in the 29 precincts you mention (the ones I cared about as a CHCCS candidate). 

gercohen's picture

Thanks Jason

Thanks Jason for the numbers, as I guessed I had overestimated a bit the early voters from Chapel Hill viz a viz rural.  Corrected numbers are: % "urban" vote2011                   69.33%2010 general       64.45%2008 pres primary 67.5%2008 general        67.5%

gercohen's picture

favorable DTH transit story

http://bit.ly/s1x0pn"A half-cent sales tax to fund transit improvements and a light-rail transit system could pass more easily in Orange County now that it’s gained support in Durham, officials say. On Nov. 8, Durham County approved a referendum for a half-cent sales tax, which will help fund bus, commuter rail and light-rail services between Orange, Wake and Durham counties. A similar tax needs to be approved in both Orange and Wake before Durham can spend money from the tax, Chapel Hill Town Council member Ed Harrison said.He said the earliest the half-cent sales tax would be put to referendum in Orange County would be in the May primary election. Brad Schulz, communications officer for Triangle Transit, said the Orange County Board of Commissioners should create a final plan for routing in early 2012 and decide the best time to put the half-cent sales tax to referendum.The half-cent tax would come in addition to a separate quarter-cent sales tax increase passed in Orange County to be used for economic development and education.Steve Yuhasz, vice chairman of the commissioners, said the two taxes don’t strongly correlate and he thinks the passage in Durham County will help the tax pass in Orange County. “We just have to wait and see what the voters think,” Yuhasz said. Commissioner Pam Hemminger said she thinks the transit system will bring economic development to the area and solve traffic and parking problems. “I think it’s a big win for Chapel Hill especially,” she said. “Traffic is becoming an overwhelming issue in our district.”The transit plan will consist of three phases, the first of which will expand and improve the bus service. The second phase will build a commuter rail, which would run separately from automobile traffic. The third would be a light rail that runs from UNC Hospitals to Alston Avenue in Durham. “Ultimately, it allows high capacity transit to get to the University,” Harrison said.Towns in the county have seen a flurry of activity related to the tax since it passed in Durham.On Monday, Triangle Transit staff briefed members of the Chapel Hill Town Council on routing options for the Durham-Orange transit corridor. The county government will have to make choices about technology, endpoints and routing to qualify for federal funding and plans to take town perspectives into account.Commissioners will decide between two possible lines for the light rail. Chapel Hill Town Council held a public hearing on the alternatives Monday, and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and county commissioners will discuss it tonight. ....."the only comment posted so far to this story on the DTH website is a nasty anti-transit one .. positive comments welcome to be posted ...

gercohen's picture

Wake commissioners hear transit plan

http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/11/15/1645145/wake-county-manager-gets-real.htmlon the right side of the Triangle, the Republican majority Wake County Board of Commissioners heard a transit plan Monday night from the county manager that focuses on bus expansion and Raleigh to Durham commuter Raleigh, putting intra-Wake County light rail on the back burner (it was third on the timetable anyway)story indicates that a November 2012 referendum is the current plan

gercohen's picture

upcoming Wake Transit briefing

for anyone interested in following what's going on in the right side of the Triangle, here's an email I got from Capital Area Friends of Transit, the pro-transit advocacy group: "Plans for expanding regional
public transit in the Triangle are advancing.  Durham County just approved
a half-cent sales tax referendum by 60%, to
fund their portion of the regional transit plan.  After months of
collaborative work, Wake County, municipal officials, and Triangle Transit have
produced a draft transit plan for improved bus service, commuter and light rail
for Wake County.

 

Please join the Capital
Area Friends of Transit
for a
briefing on Wake’s proposed public transit plan and  

the process for moving toward a Wake transit funding referendum. 

CAFT also invites your input for building public
momentum.

 

8:30 am – 9:45 am

Wednesday, December 7th

Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce (800 S Salisbury Street)

 

Presentations by:      Wake County Manager David Cooke and Triangle Transit
General Manager David King

Followed by:
            
Discussion/brainstorming about ways organizations and
civic leaders can advance transit in coming months.

 

R.S.V.P.  to logan@wakeupwakecounty.org