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  1. #1

    Durham-Orange Light Rail Dead And Duke Killled It

    The Durham-Orange Light Rail project is dead. Duke has its reasons but there's no question that Duke killed it. This is a very bad look for Duke. The failure of this project will have long term consequences for the area and for Duke's relationship with local governments. I can't understand why Duke wasn't yelling from the rooftops months or even years ago that it could not accept the plan. Duke should expect not just zero cooperation from the city of Durham in coming years but possibly active retaliation.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by hallcity View Post
    The Durham-Orange Light Rail project is dead. Duke has its reasons but there's no question that Duke killed it. This is a very bad look for Duke. The failure of this project will have long term consequences for the area and for Duke's relationship with local governments. I can't understand why Duke wasn't yelling from the rooftops months or even years ago that it could not accept the plan. Duke should expect not just zero cooperation from the city of Durham in coming years but possibly active retaliation.
    Zero cooperation is nothing new.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by hallcity View Post
    The Durham-Orange Light Rail project is dead. Duke has its reasons but there's no question that Duke killed it. This is a very bad look for Duke. The failure of this project will have long term consequences for the area and for Duke's relationship with local governments. I can't understand why Duke wasn't yelling from the rooftops months or even years ago that it could not accept the plan. Duke should expect not just zero cooperation from the city of Durham in coming years but possibly active retaliation.
    Here is an article that explains the issue a bit better.

    https://www.newsobserver.com/news/bu...227696349.html

    This is the line I would take away from it...

    GoTriangle has offered documents showing Duke didnít raise EMI concerns until November 2017 ó nearly two years after the route was set. Michael Schoenfeld, Dukeís vice president of public affairs and government relations, raised questions about GoTriangleís responsibility to build and operate ďa rail line safely and without creating danger to public health.Ē

    ďIn 2016, GoTriangle issued an environmental impact statement describing a plan to route a catenary electric light rail 150 feet from a hospital and research complex. It made no mention of EMI impacts on sensitive equipment, which means they were either unaware of this well-known issue, or chose not to disclose it,Ē Schoenfeld said in an email.
    Duke is looking out for their hospital and given it's status as one of the best in the world, I don't blame them one bit. I don't think it's a bad look at all. In this case I blame GoTriangle and the municipal planners who didn't do enough to make Duke happy with the plan. Duke is far and away the most important employer and the economic centerpiece for Durham and deserve better treatment than they have been given.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    Well all that stuff, and not enough density to make light rail really work in Durm.

    But that's a different story.

    (Here in suburban DC, with way more folks looking for transit, the "Purple Line" may not have enough density to be viable; but we're going ahead with it - damn the realities!)

    -jk

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Well all that stuff, and not enough density to make light rail really work in Durm.

    But that's a different story.

    (Here in suburban DC, with way more folks looking for transit, the "Purple Line" may not have enough density to be viable; but we're going ahead with it - damn the realities!)

    -jk
    Thatís what I was thinking. Duke might be saving them from themselves. I canít see this project even covering operating costs. Then there would be the bond payments. Tax payers should be happy. They can enhance the bus system at a faction of the cost.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Durham, NC
    BTW, as a local resident I can tell you for sure that not everyone in Durham will be sad to see this system go unbuilt. Here's one of many editorials (one I happen to agree with FWIW) explaining why the proposed system was a bad idea.

    https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion...226603239.html

    Howard

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Well all that stuff, and not enough density to make light rail really work in Durm.
    -jk
    To be fair, usually a rail system comes with zoning changes to significantly increase density in the areas around rail stations...and since there is easy access to rail, that density becomes a selling point. It's a bit of a chicken and an egg problem.

    If you wait for the density it becomes far more expensive to build as the value of land increases and that density may never happen without the appeal of nearby mass transit.

    Just imagine with all the growth around the Triangle, if instead of widening a road, light rail were added instead. Granted, rail is far more expensive to build and operate than a road, but it's just a thought experiment.

    It's a bit like the argument for Raleigh to build a center piece park around the old Dorthea Dix site. Sure, maybe it doesn't make sense right now...but what about in 50 years? or a 100 years. If it's something that doesn't happen and get planned for now, it's not something that will be here when Raleigh is a city of 3 million people (ugh).

    Please do not accept this as my support for or against any mass transit or public park. I merely aim to discuss in a positive manner.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by PackMan97 View Post
    To be fair, usually a rail system comes with zoning changes to significantly increase density in the areas around rail stations...and since there is easy access to rail, that density becomes a selling point. It's a bit of a chicken and an egg problem.

    If you wait for the density it becomes far more expensive to build as the value of land increases and that density may never happen without the appeal of nearby mass transit.

    Just imagine with all the growth around the Triangle, if instead of widening a road, light rail were added instead. Granted, rail is far more expensive to build and operate than a road, but it's just a thought experiment.

    It's a bit like the argument for Raleigh to build a center piece park around the old Dorthea Dix site. Sure, maybe it doesn't make sense right now...but what about in 50 years? or a 100 years. If it's something that doesn't happen and get planned for now, it's not something that will be here when Raleigh is a city of 3 million people (ugh).

    Please do not accept this as my support for or against any mass transit or public park. I merely aim to discuss in a positive manner.
    This is a reasonable take, except that in this case all the stops were in already densely packed areas...downtown Durham and UNC hospital.

  9. #9
    I live in South Florida with 5+ million people. Light rail runs from West Palm Beach to Coral Gables. It serves 3 International Airports and 3 Ports. It also loses a boatload of money each year, as well as causing many traffic delays for automotive traffic

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    I live in South Florida with 5+ million people. Light rail runs from West Palm Beach to Coral Gables. It serves 3 International Airports and 3 Ports. It also loses a boatload of money each year, as well as causing many traffic delays for automotive traffic
    Losing money isn't necessarily a problem for public transportation infrastructure (our roads aren't profitable either), but it is only worth the cost is there is a proportional benefit.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    6 miles from Heaven, 10 miles from Hell
    Quote Originally Posted by Acymetric View Post
    This is a reasonable take, except that in this case all the stops were in already densely packed areas...downtown Durham and UNC hospital.
    The density of residential development is nowhere near what is typically needed for rail service. Thatís why there were going to be a lot of reasonings happening soon (If they hadnít already happened in some areas.)

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by DU82 View Post
    a lot of rezonings
    FTFY

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Acymetric View Post
    Losing money isn't necessarily a problem for public transportation infrastructure (our roads aren't profitable either), but it is only worth the cost is there is a proportional benefit.
    It is a concern when there is very light usage. It is more disruptive than useful. More bus service would better serve the public and be a better use of the tax dollars.

    I would differ with you on roads. They facilitate the commerce that is the source of all public revenues - some of which go to subsidize the light rail.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    6 miles from Heaven, 10 miles from Hell
    Quote Originally Posted by PackMan97 View Post
    FTFY
    Dang iPad auto-correct. Tanks.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    It is a concern when there is very light usage. It is more disruptive than useful. More bus service would better serve the public and be a better use of the tax dollars.

    I would differ with you on roads. They facilitate the commerce that is the source of all public revenues - some of which go to subsidize the light rail.
    Yeah, I'm sorry that there is this schism between Duke and Derm, but the total cost ($2.7 billion?) is preposterous...for sure more bus routes would seem to be a smarter idea. Our area had a well intentioned rail project some years ago, back in the days of Howard Dean, and while many folks thought it was a swell idea, it proved to be a boondoggle due to a lack of density (it wasn't even close to being worthwhile).

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Refer back to the closed thread on this issue, and you will know my position on this as a life-long Durham resident. I'll give you a hint . . . I was celebrating and breathing a sigh of relief. Read up on the history and you'll see that the ones pushing for this were clueless about the consequences and were only thinking about the $1.74 billion federal dollars they could waste on this colossal mess.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by aimo View Post
    Read up on the history and you'll see that the ones pushing for this were clueless about the consequences and were only thinking about the $1.74 billion federal dollars they could waste on this colossal mess.
    I'm not sure I'd go quite this far, but I'm also glad it's not happening. As far as the "schism" between Duke and Durham goes, I really haven't seen or heard of anyone being particularly upset by the cancellation. I'm sure there must be some, but the project had been rowing upstream for so long that I don't think very many people really expected it to happen.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Durham
    Quote Originally Posted by howardlander View Post
    I'm not sure I'd go quite this far, but I'm also glad it's not happening. As far as the "schism" between Duke and Durham goes, I really haven't seen or heard of anyone being particularly upset by the cancellation. I'm sure there must be some, but the project had been rowing upstream for so long that I don't think very many people really expected it to happen.
    There was an earlier thread on this topic that got shut down so hopefully we won't go there. That being said, there are plenty of people who support this project and are upset by what happens. The NY Times had what in my opinion was a really poorly written and researched, one-sided article (linked below) about the situation (I normally am a huge fan of the Times and one of their strongest defenders).

    Duke admittedly did not handle this situation perfectly, but I agree with others that it is a gigantic waste of money. The Triangle does not have the density, particularly residential density, to support this. One can buy a lot of environmentally efficient buses and have them up and running very shortly and accomplish the same thing. Use the space that would be used for the rail to widen some roads. And to those who criticize Duke for being self-interested, the University would actually be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the rail, as it seems like hospital workers would be among the populations most likely to actually use it.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/18/u...apel-hill.html

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by howardlander View Post
    I'm not sure I'd go quite this far, but I'm also glad it's not happening. As far as the "schism" between Duke and Durham goes, I really haven't seen or heard of anyone being particularly upset by the cancellation. I'm sure there must be some, but the project had been rowing upstream for so long that I don't think very many people really expected it to happen.
    One more data point about this: The local progressive paper (the Independent) published an article essentially blaming Duke for the demise of light rail. But if you want to get a feel for how Durham residents are responding, read the comments and judge for yourself.
    https://indyweek.com/news/northcarol...iangle-durham/

    Moderators: feel free to remove this if it's inappropriate. I apologize in advance if so.

    Howard

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by howardlander View Post
    One more data point about this: The local progressive paper (the Independent) published an article essentially blaming Duke for the demise of light rail. But if you want to get a feel for how Durham residents are responding, read the comments and judge for yourself.
    https://indyweek.com/news/northcarol...iangle-durham/

    Moderators: feel free to remove this if it's inappropriate. I apologize in advance if so.

    Howard
    Ridiculous "article", great responses. I had forgotten about the Operations Manager that they actually tried to defend hiring, even though he was facing criminal charges in another state. It wasn't until a citizen, who attended a meeting and did some research on him and made the charges publicly known, that they let him go.

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