If We're Ever Going To Get Serious About Developing Alternative Transportation Modes...

The Durcham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) is beginning the process of seeking public comments on the various transportation Alternatives which it will incorporate into its 2035 plans to be submitted to the federal government later this year. These meetings will be the last opportunities for public comment before the plans are finalized and submitted so now is the time to make your voices heard.

A Public Comment Period on the
Alternatives for the Regional Long Range Transportation Plan

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) is currently evaluating transportation Alternatives for the region that list future highway, bus transit, light rail, bicycle, pedestrian and other transportation projects to be implemented through the year 2035. Citizens are encouraged to review the Alternatives and provide feedback through any of the following events and media.

http://www.dchcmpo.org -- Web site provides copies of the Alternative maps and tables and several options for citizens to provide feedback.

Public Workshops – Citizens are asked to drop-in at any workshop to review, discuss and provide feedback:
· Chatham County: Agricultural Building in Pittsboro, 8/22, 4PM to 7PM;
· Town of Hillsborough: Town Barn on Town Hall Campus, 8/28, 4PM to 7PM;
· Northern High School, Durham, 9/2, 6:30PM to 8:30PM.
· Jordon High School, Durham, 9/4, 6:30PM to 8:30PM;
· Chapel Hill Main Library, 9/9 4PM to 7PM
· Durham County Main Library, 9/11, 4:30PM to 7:30PM;

Public Hearing – Citizens can provide feedback to local elected officials (Transportation Advisory Committee); Wednesday, September 10, 2008, at 7:00PM in the Committee Room (2nd Floor of Durham City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza). Persons with disabilities will be accommodated -- provisions must be requested at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

Public Comment Period -- The public comment period will be open from Wednesday, August 20, 2008 through Wednesday, October 1, 2008. Comments should be forwarded to:
Andy Henry
City of Durham, Transportation Division
101 City Hall Plaza
Durham, NC 27701
E-mail: andrew.henry@durhamnc.gov Phone: (919) 560-4366



There are two workshops left:

  • Chapel Hill Main Library, Tuesday 9/9 4PM to 7PM
  • Durham County Main Library, Thursday 9/11, 4:30PM to 7:30PM

The workshops consist of DCHCMPO planners meeting with the public to answer questions and discuss the plans--i.e. you don't need to be there for the full three hours, and you won't be asked to "do" anything (except that that they'll give you a simple one page feedback form with five questions about investment priorities, funding and policies.)

"Fixed guideway" in the plans includes both rail and roads dedicated to the exclusive use of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT [Wikipedia] [Video p1] [Video p2]).  For their purposes they are not distinguishing between the two.  While I lack first-hand experience with BRT, I am concerned that bus systems tend to carry far fewer bikes than trains (e.g. caltrain carries 16 or 32 bikes per bike-car.)

A half-cent sales tax seems to have worked well to build up Charlotte's transit system, including light rail.

DCHCMPO has two bike maps--on-road and off-road.
Here is the on-road bike map:

I'm not clear what impact the bike facilities designation of triangle roads is having on the planning process, but I think they are planning to model bicycle traffic in the near future.
Very few of the streets are labelled on this map.
It looks they got most of my prefered intra-city routes designated in orange ("regional"), including Old CH/Old D, Erwin Rd, 86, Old 86, 54, Old Greensboro, etc.. However, some of the important intra-city connections to CAMPO cities seem to be lacking:

  • O'Kelly Chp Rd needs to recognized as a regional (orange) route all the way from 751 to 55.  Currently there is a gap between the American Tobacco Trail and 751.  O'Kelly Chp Rd is a key road for travelling between Chapel Hill/Carrboro and Morrisville/Cary/Raleigh.
  • Mt Carmel, Farrington Fill and Farrington should be designated all the way south to the DCHCMPO border at Jordan Lake
  • Culbreth and Mt Carmel should be recognized as a regional (orange) route, as they are part of a NC-DOT designated cross-state bicycle route.
  • Chin Page Rd needs to recognized as a regional (orange) route, as it connects Durham and RTP to the RDU airport.
Fixed guideway builds in a concrete commitment to service areas that on-road buses cannot.  This promotes dense transit-oriented development along the route, as we're seeing along Charlotte's new light rail route.  Contrast that to TTAs continual process of rerouting buses to optimize ridership.  Flexibility is good, but so is commitment.

Policy improvements I'd like to see include:
  1. Fixed guideway plans need to commit to bicycles on-board all trains at all times, including peak hours, as does Charlotte's new "Lynx" commuter rail.
  2. The Triangle Transit bus system needs to find ways to accommodate more bikes on-board. e.g.: triple bike racks, bike racks front and rear (like in San Luis Obispo, Calif.), bikes in the wheelchair space, etc..
  3. Construction needs to be started on the planned Old CH / Old Durham Rd improvements between Chapel Hill and Durham
  4. Currently, the best route from Chapel Hill to Raleigh is 54, Barbee CH, Farington, Stagecoach, 751, O'Kelly, 55, Carpenter Firestation, Davis, Morrisville Pkwy, 54.  Most of this is inside DCHCMPO jurisdiction and needs improvement.  Especially, the left turn from 751 southbound on to O'Kelly CHP Rd where poor visibility poses a problem for all users, not just cyclists.
  5. A ban on raised medians should be instituted on roads with less than two travel lanes in each direction as raised medians create unsafe and congested conditions by putting the squeeze on motorists attempting to overtake cyclists
  6. Cary's policy of asymmetrically restriping all multilane roads to create wider curb lanes is a very low cost and effective way to decrease motorists/cyclist friction and should be adopted regionally.
    The NCDOT standard for a wide outside lane as a bicycle facility is 14 feet. The Town of Cary will apply this standard to all new thoroughfares. (For example, NW Cary Parkway from Evans Road to High House Road is a designated bicycle route with a 14' wide outside lane.) For existing thoroughfares, the Town will begin restriping outside lanes of multi-lane roads (at least two lanes in each direction) to create a 13-foot outside lane and an 11-foot inside line. This will create additional width for bicycles
  7. RDU airport access for bicycles needs improvement
  8. Amtrak/DOT's roll-on unboxed bike program should be expanded to include the Carolinian train (Charlotte-NYC, via Durham, Richmond and DC) and adding a spare bike rack-equipped combine car.
  9. The "Zip Car" program should be expanded to include citizens who are not associated with UNC.  In addition to encouraging economizing of car trips, car sharing dramatically relieves demand for increased land devoted to car parking.
  10. DATA and TTA bus systems need to be modernized to add mobile web and kiosk GPS tracking & eta as is currently available on Chapel Hill Transit & Wolfline.  This does not have to be done through NextBus--the Wolfline implementation demonstrates that it can be done with local talent.
  11. TTA's GoTriangle trip planner needs to add "bicycling" option (currently just "walking") and better identification of bus stop locations (Google/Yahoo/Mapquest maps integration)


One addition to the background George has supplied is the staff memo to Town Council for Monday night's public hearing on the Long Range Transportation Plan:


Hope there's some turnout for both the Council hearing and the workshop (on Tuesday). As well for the hearing in Durham on Wednesday night, which could be the most interesting discussion on the Plan yet.



Ed Harrison


Not sure why this didn't show me as the person who posted the message. 

Again, hope to get some turnout for at least one of these events. I believe that the workshop will have the most opportunity for discussion about substantial issues, by far. 

 Ed Harrison

The best thing to reduce global warming, and end our dependence on oil, is urban transportation reform. Here is a very interesting new report on "PBS Now" about the stimulus package; transportation politics in North Carolina; the success of transit, and transit-oriented planning, in Charlotte; and the reasons the Triangle has fallen behind. Please forward to others, if you will.           http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/507/index.htmlJames Coley


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