Voting is under way on Orange County's half-cent sales tax for transit. Today's Chapel Hill News features Part 3 in staff writer Tammy Grubb's 5-part series on the transit plan, which includes a 17 mile rail line between Chapel Hill and Durham, bus rapid transit on MLK Boulevard, and an AMTRAK train station in Hillsborough.
We also continue our point/counterpoint series that began Sunday. In today's edition Bonnie Hauser, president of Orange County Voice, and Thomas Campanella, a UNC planning professor, weigh in against and for the tax, respectively. Here are excerpts.
Hauser: Triangle Transit's plan was originally developed for the Triangle region, but Wake County and RTP are not participating. Durham supports the plan – which provides light rail through their downtown and targeted development areas. Orange County’s plan completes Durham’s rail line but ignores changing demographics, accelerating growth in Chatham and Mebane, and emerging transit corridors along 15-501, Carolina North, and in the county. I’m voting against the tax because I believe we need a better plan – one that provides flexible and reliable transit system that fits the area’s changing density and commuter priorities, and motivates citizens to leave our cars at home. (Read Hauser's whole essay here.)
Campanella: his November we have an opportunity to build a new train station and get Orange County back on track. The half-cent sales tax public transit referendum, if passed, would provide funds to develop a new Amtrak depot in Hillsborough – a facility that would benefit all Orange residents, especially those in the northern part of the county. The new depot, located just off Churton Street a stone’s throw from downtown, would be a regional transit hub, served by the 420 bus from Chapel Hill. ... The railroad is a rich vein that runs through our county; we need only tap it. A vote in favor of public transit on November 6 is a vote to plug Orange County back into the nation’s rail grid. It’s about time. (Read Campanella's whole essay here.)
What do you think of the transit plan? Please send your letters (up to 300 words) to email@example.com by 5 p.m. today to help get them all published by Election Day. Thanks.