Triangle considers future of transit

A citizens group called "WakeUP Wake County" presented the case for light rail in a public forum Thursday.

It's not a new idea, but it could now pick-up speed because of record high gas prices.

"Transit is a logical piece for solving our transportation problems for the whole Triangle region," said Karen Rindge with WakeUP Wake County.

One major reason why WakeUP Wake County is talking about a light rail line --at a time of suburban sprawl-- longer commutes, more traffic and higher gas prices.

"It's all about how we're going to move people efficiently and affordably from their homes and to their jobs," Rindge said.

More than 200 packed NC State's McKimmon Center to hear how it would work.

It would look something like charlotte's light rail system and run routes from North Raleigh and Cary through RTP, Durham and Chapel Hill.

"And then there is what we call connectors, which would be things like street cars and trolleys that would go in areas in loops like downtown or to the airport," said Sig Huchinson with Triangle Transit Authority.

It's all part of the special transit advisory commission's broader proposal for Wake, Durham and Orange Counties.

Before work could start, voters would first have to approve a half cent sales tax.

"This could generate 80 million dollars a year and if something like this were approved we could get started immediately first with an expanded bus system," Huchinson said.

It would take $2.2 billion and 20 years –a huge undertaking with mixed reviews from residents.

"The question is do we make such a massive investment. Put such a massive tax burden on top of citizens who are already seeing their local taxes going up," Raleigh resident Joey Stansbury said.

"I'm delighted that WakeUP Wake County is doing this and I think we need to keep having this dialogue and more importantly move forward," Raleigh resident Christina Stableford added.

No word on what an exact time line would be for this project.

Whatever the outcome, the Triangle's transportation will continue to be a challenge. The population across the area is expected to double in the next 20 years.

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