In North Carolina’s Triangle, the Passage of a Sales Tax Increase in Durham is Just the First Step

» A 30-year plan to bring increased bus service and three new rail lines to the Research Triangle gets off to a promising start with an election in Durham.

In 2000, North Carolina’s two largest metropolitan regions each planned big transit improvements, and each had received preliminary approval to do so from the Federal Transit Administration.The Triangle’s leaders wanted to build a diesel multiple unit-powered regional rail line connecting Durham and Raleigh while Charlotte’s elected officials planned an electric light rail line linking downtown with its southern suburbs.

Ten years later, Charlotte’s Blue Line has been up and running for almost four years, attracting higher than expected ridership. The Triangle’s efforts were flummoxed in November 2005 by an FTA ruling that the regional rail project was not cost effective, and the project was cancelled.

Yet the passage yesterday of a half-cent sales tax increase dedicated to transit in Durham

Continue reading In North Carolina’s Triangle, the Passage of a Sales Tax Increase in Durham is Just the First Step »

Southeast High-Speed Rail Releases Detailed Proposals for Raleigh-Richmond Corridor

» Project would halve travel time between the two state capitals, but it’s not yet an extension of the Northeast Corridor towards the south.

Yesterday, the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor planning group (SEHSR) — a project run by the North Carolina Department of Transportation in association with the State of Virginia — released its draft environmental impact study (DEIS) for the 162-mile Raleigh-Richmond passenger rail route. The DEIS will undergo public review over the next two months in preparation for an eventual grant submission to the Federal Railroad Administration for up to three billion dollars to pursue the completion of this project over the next decade.

SEHSR is not proposing true high-speed rail: its trains will be limited to 110 mph, be powered by diesel locomotives, and be limited to single tracks along several route segments. But the project is nonetheless quite ambitious. Whereas current Amtrak service between the

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How Viable is Commuter Rail for North Carolina's Triangle?

» North Carolina Railroad studies new commuter rail system in the state’s center, but its ridership estimates may be unrealistic considering the region’s demographics.

The fastest-growing tech hubs in the United States are unified in their sprawling nature and provide definitive proof for at least one uncomfortable truth: the country’s smartest inhabitants aren’t necessarily rushing off to urban hubs. Despite the recent increase of wealthy, young, white inhabitants in many central cities — a reverse “white flight” — the overall trend suggests that the fastest-growing high-education metropolitan areas continue to be places with low overall density.

According to a new report from the Brookings Institution, of the country’s 100 largest regions, 28 feature both high growth rates and high levels of educational achievement (what it categorizes as “Next Frontier” and “New Heartland”). Of those 28 regions, only two had higher transit use than the average of

Continue reading How Viable is Commuter Rail for North Carolina’s Triangle? »

North Carolina's Triangle Questions How Best to Connect a Multipolar Region

» With several urban cores and a major research park at the center, how would fixed-guideway transit work?

North Carolina’s Triangle is known as one of the most economically vibrant areas of the country. Its cities are growing rapidly and their inhabitants, attracted by several prominent universities, are some of the smartest in the country. Decades of population expansion, however, haven’t been followed by serious efforts to concentrate growth around better transit. Indeed, the region is sprawling more than almost any other, with the vast majority of new housing growth in new low-density subdivisions on the margins of the area’s four biggest cities: Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill. Though downtowns have experienced significant regeneration over the past several years, the lack of efficient transit alternatives has handicapped hopes for further densification.

With more than one million inhabitants and increasing congestion on the area’s most-trafficked arteries,

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North Carolina State Senate Moves Ahead on Local Sales Taxes

Following an April vote in the House, the Senate appears to be close to allowing the Triangle and Triad to fund new transit systems.

After years of controversy revolving around the regressive nature of sales tax increases, the North Carolina State Senate yesterday tentatively approved a measure that would allow citizens in the Triangle and Triad metropolitan areas the right to vote to increase their local sales taxes by a 1/2¢ on every dollar to pay for transit improvements. Mecklenburg County, which includes the state’s largest city Charlotte, has been taxing itself a similar amount since 1998 after the legislature allowed it and it alone to expand its tax base. The bill, if approved later this week as expected, will also allow other less urban areas in the state to push up sales taxes by 1/4¢ to fund transportation.

The measure passed the state house in April and will let the

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The Site / The Fight

  • by Yonah Freemark
  • Twitter: @yfreemark
  • yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com
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