Voters in Wake and Durham counties have opportunities to provide for important community investments and improvements to keep our communities thriving and growing. They should not be overlooked.
In Wake County voters should approve funding, a half-percent local sales tax, for a modern transportation system that will relieve road congestion, triple bus service and expand it to serve more communities. It will develop the commuter rail line to connect all the communities in the Triangle.
RALEIGH -- The Triangle area continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and in Wake County alone, it's estimated the population increases by 64 people a day. That's almost 450 people a week.
Rapid growth also brings more congested roadways and the current population is expected to double by 2045. But this November, voters will get a chance to grow the transportation options in the Triangle through a proposed plan.
On Nov. 8, Wake County voters will see a referendum on their ballot for a half-cent sales tax that will be dedicated to fund the new Wake Transit Plan. The plan includes tripling existing bus services, building a Bus Rapid Transit System with dedicated bus lanes in four major corridors, and building a 37-mile Commuter Rail Transit line from Garner to Durham. That line would have stops in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville and the Research Triangle Park.
As the first day of early voting approaches in Raleigh, North Carolina, voters are being bombarded with ads about the close contests for the presidency, the U.S. Senate and the governor’s office – all featured on the front of the ballot.
But on the back of the ballot in Wake County, voters will face another, less publicized choice: whether to support a half-cent sales tax to help fund a 10-year, $2.4 billion transit initiative, one of 27 such transit projects at stake across the country in this year’s election.
Contrary to the state’s many rancorous campaigns for elected office, the push for the sales tax has been a far less contentious affair, with the transit plan the product of a painstakingly-achieved consensus supported by 10 of the county’s 12 mayorsand a host of non-profits and businesses.
Wake County is growing by sixty-three people a day, but its public transportation system is firmly stuck in the twentieth century. We're overdue for an upgrade.
Within a four-mile stretch of Creedmoor Road, a thriving Raleigh thoroughfare, there are eight drugstores and umpteen fast food joints. There are sidewalks, too, but few people use them and almost every journey of more than 20 steps is made by car.
Roughly two thirds of Americans are overweight and one third are obese. Epidemiologists have correlated the increase in heart disease with the increase in fast food restaurants. They also note a direct correlation between obesity and the distance people live from the center of town. You can see all of this on Creedmoor Road and around the fringes of Raleigh, Clayton, Wake Forest, and Cary. Call it the Rite-Aid Belt.
There are many reasons to vote in favor of the Wake County Public Transportation Referendum in the Nov. 8 election. Better transit will relieve traffic congestion in our fast-growing county; provide alternatives to driving that save time and improve the quality of life; grow our economy by attracting professionals and leading industries to the area; and expand access to education, health care, jobs, and civic life for all.
If a diverse coalition of pro-transit reformers—including all of the Wake County commissioners, municipal politicians, universities, social justice groups, community leaders, and chambers of commerce—gets its way, life as Wake County riders know it will change. Advocates for a $2.3 billion transit referendum promise that, if passed, it will not only quadruple bus service but also entirely revamp Wake's public transportation system within the next ten years, introducing bus rapid transit, commuter rail, local circulators for the municipalities, and express service in, out, and across the county.
Chamber members urged to support transit plan.
Last week Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce President Ann Welton sent out a message to all chamber members and area voters urging them to contribute and to vote yes for the half-cent sales tax that will make possible the Wake County Transit Plan.
“No matter which side of the fence you are on, there is a local issue that will be on the ballot that affects all of us in Wake County. The Wake County Transit Plan Referendum will, if passed, add a ½ cent to the sales tax which will enable the implementation of the Transit Plan. The plan will bring modern public transportation to our county and town, which in turn will benefit employers and residents.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen Wake County become a national hotspot for growth. New businesses and families continue to move here to the tune of a net increase of 64 people per day. I couldn’t be happier with the growth of talent and opportunity in Wake County and the Triangle.
As we look ahead, we have to ask: How do we keep this growth continuing for another 10 years, without compromising the quality of life that drew people here in the first place?
Wake County voters owe it to themselves and to generations to come to support a small item with big possibilities on their November ballots: a one-half percent local sales and use tax dedicated to public transit systems. This tax will allow the county to catch up with the need for developing faster, more efficient transit systems and to plan connections with Orange and Durham counties.