Saturday, March 6, 2010

Editorial Regarding the Proposed High Speed Rail

I have submitted the following to The Cary News:

The Triangle Transit Authority’s plans for regional and light rail, along with increased bus service have merit, and further planning for additional transit options now so that our region is well positioned to handle the expected growth over the 10-20 years makes sense.

Increased rail service in Cary will also help to spur reinvestment and redevelopment in Cary’s downtown, and in other areas along the rail corridor.

NCDOT Rail’s current plans for high speed rail however, could have just the opposite effect.

During a council worksession, NCDOT Rail Director Patrick Simmons stated that the primary goals of high speed rail is “to move people”, and “public safety”

Public safety to NCDOT Rail means eliminating at-grade rail crossings and the train/car conflict. NCDOT Rail has already recommended eliminating 156 at-grade crossings between Raleigh and Richmond. That means 156 roads that may now dead end where they meet Railroad tracks – unless of course the local municipality invests millions in above or below grade crossings.

Think about how many at-grade rail crossings currently exist in Cary, and how much it would cost Cary taxpayers to grade separate (bridge or tunnel) each one of them. Are you willing to bear a substantial tax increase so that a few hundred people can now get to Charlotte an hour faster than Amtrak’s current service?

Would closing crossings at Maynard Road, Academy Street, Harrison Ave, Cary Parkway and other roads throughout Cary be acceptable to you?

What sense does it make to improve an existing transportation system that negatively impacts another? Why invest so much money in a system that only 3% of the population will ever utilize? And who will want to invest in Cary’s downtown if the majority of road access is eliminated?

The congestion on our roads and highways is not because everyone is trying to get to Richmond or Charlotte. The overwhelming majority is caused by folks traveling to and from work each day, to school, and running errands.

TTA’s plans of regional and light rail, and especially increased bus service to major employment and activity centers might help in this regard. NCDOT Rail’s plans will not.

You may see the majority of council support NCDOT Rail’s plans for high speed rail once we are assured that their plans will not negatively impact our community, our road network, and our taxpayers. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.

In the meantime you can be assured that we will do everything in our power to ensure that Cary’s interests are represented to NCDOT. It might help if they heard from you as well. You can contact them at