It's exciting to see the Town move forward with plans to develop a transit hub downtown. (I know most folks probably wouldn't use the word "exciting" to describe this, but that's how you know I am a geek.) The Triangle Transit Authority has already started Phase 1 of it's regional rail plan, which will connect downtown Raleigh, north Raleigh, Cary, RTP, and downtown Durham. Chapel Hill will be added in Phase 2, along with the airport (which should have been in Phase -1, but that's another rant).
It's hard to believe everything that is being planned for the town's parking lot 2 (at the corner of Columbia and Rosemary Streets). In addition to this underground transit hub, it's supposed to include shops, apartments, and a multi-story parking deck across the street (here's a sketch of one possible site plan.). As hard as it is to picture this really hapenning, I find it even harder to imagine how regional transit can serve Chapel Hill without either running through the middle of town, or being connected to a hub in the cneter of town. And you know all those peopel who libe in nice house next to the University don't want a rail line in their naighborhoods. But we need that transit, so we've got to make it work somehow - therefore: the transit hub.
I know some of you will think this whole regional rail business is pie in the sky... the Triangle's too sprawled... people prefer cars... transit is for poor people (oops, did you say that out loud?)... no-one will ride it, etc. But there's only so much congestion and expensive gas people will take before they start looking for alternatives to I-40. My concern about it is that if we don't believe this will work (see excuses above) we will only do it half-assed and therefore ensure that it can't work.
It's time to put on our Visionary Thinking Caps and figure out how to make this happen.