Eubanks Road Park-and-Ride Expansion Public Information Meeting

First, read this letter.

For me,the effect of reading the letter from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (providers of transportation, land development, and environmental services) to Chapel Hill's Transit Services Planner, was a sense of deja vu.  The expanded park and ride seems to be a done deal, long before any new Comprehensive Plan discussion.  More than that,  the labeling of an area (" The TOD Planning Area is generally bound by Eubanks Road, Millhouse Road, Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and I-40")  indicate that VHB already knows the planned vision for the Town long before citizens of Chapel Hill.

The deja vu part comes into play because I experienced the same unfortunate clarity about citizens' lack of real input when I received the following email from a Town Staff employee in 2008:

The designation of parcels, principally along the transit corridors, was used as the basis to identify areas for redevelopment. We then developed estimates of future development based on their location, classifying them as mixed use or single use, primarily residential. These projections were then used as the basis for the 2035 projections.

Are we creating our population increase?  Would it be because a critical mass of population is necessary for obtaining federal funding for transportation?  What is rreally driving growth and how much do citizens really have to say about it?


Thanks for posting this Del. Those of you who served, as I did, on the Northern Area Task Force may remember that in the first meeting David Bonk and Gordon Sutherland told us that the over riding constraint on the the task force was that the council wanted it TOD. Well at that time I'd never heard of TOD - it certainly didn't come from the citizens, it came from a long range vision for Chapel Hill that was and continues to be put into place as a "given". Who "gave" the town this TOD vision is still a mystery to me. Do you know? 

That's a good question, Suzanne.  Del Snow

Growth is being driven by people wanting to live and work in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. Or already working in Chapel Hill/Carrboro and wanting to live closer than 30 miles away. Or people wanting to retire. Or go to school. Now, my family left Chapel Hill because I did not want to live 30 miles away from where I worked, but that opened up a space for three other people. Or maybe I moved to Chapel Hill because my father used to live there. Yes, that was actually the reason (seriously)

What does TOD stand for?

TOD = Transit Oriented Development

It is this and it ought to include this.James Coley

Yes, James, in theory that is how it should work.  Yet, we keep considering development that embraces density and calls itself TOD while approving parking spot numbers that reflect a more suburban ratio.  We hear that the residents of those faux TOD developments will use transit, shop locally, and work on site or a bus ride away, so WHY do these developments need excessive parking?

I agree with anonymous 100% on this one

I live in Southern Village; not sure is this is a TOD or a faux TOD.
Southern Village has a huge amount of parking in its park and ride lot.
The park and ride is filled by 7 am by mostly non-SV residents who work
at the hospital. Market Street also has parking. This is due to the
reality that the TOD develoments around here are not big enough to support
the businesses. Weaver Street, the Lumina, various restaurants, doctor's
offices, etc. would fail if only people from Southern Village could
patronize them.I will say that residents of Southern Village shine in one aspect of this -- walking to school (both Elementary and Middle).

For people who work in RTP and live at East 54 (to take a random example of what I would guess is meant to be TOD development), I would guess that maybe not all, but a lot need a car to get to work.  Some folks in my neighborhood commute to UNC via the free town bus, but last I heard that service was slated for the chopping block. Another example: Neighborhood walkable schools are indeed preferable but most kids in this town are bussed. If you don't bus kids for demographic balances, you get something akin to the brohaha in Cary's school system. Even if your child walks to school, what if the school calls you at work saying that your child has thrown up and needs to be picked up immediately? So you take them to the doctor's office and PARK, and then perhaps run to the pharmacy and PARK and then finally you go home. I don't see what's wrong with providing adequate parking that allows businesses to garner sufficiently broad support to make them viable while at the same time moving toward improving or providing a menu of public transit options. Maybe the city could entice more zip cars than the two or three parked at UNC or HourCars. What about a bike share rental program such as in St Paul or Portland?  Just some thoughts.

But what is "adequate" parking? As long as we think that means giving people as much parking as they expect to have, we perpetuate the dominance of the automobile. We should create parking "shortages."It is also true that TOD will not succeed if it does not in some way acknowledge the reality that most people have to use cars. The best compromise is to provide parking on the periphery of car-free zones.These car-free zones should be centered on transit stops, and the ideal to work toward is a network of transit-connected car-free zones with dense, lively walkability. Cars could also be used to get from one to the other of these zones, but taking the transit routes between them would be quicker and easier.What we have seen at Meadowmont and Southern Village is a step toward TOD, but it is not the real thing. The University's plans for Carolina North should be focused on developing it as a showcase of genuine TOD, but at present the boldness and vision needed are, alas, absent. James Coley

enough parking that allows businesses to be viable. The problem with creating parking "shortgages" is the collatoral damage that comes in that wake. Let me suggest two examples. Example 1: downtown. Suppose I want to take in dinner and a movie or listen to live music? That's hard to do on Saturdays since busses stop running at 6:30 PM. So I drive downtown, look for parking, and if I can't find it, park someplace where I get my car towed. That only needs to happen once for someone to decide not to risk that again. Example two: the library. While you can get close to the library by bus, it's not all that easy from certain locations in town. Some people can bike. I'm not that great on a bike and end up pushing to get up the hill. I can do that sometimes, but not all the time and if I have very small children, it's harder to do so safely. Park and ride lots help keep cars away from the center of town and get people to work. Absent some environmental reason, I don't see the problem in expanding them. We want people to work here.James, I would very much like to live in the community you describe in your post. I, too, would like to see us weaned from automobiles, but I'd rather not see it happen by deliberatly creating parking shortages. This puts a disproportionate amount of stress on local businesses and folks of lesser means. 

It's hard to see why someone would risk towing or citation when there is so much parking available downtown for just a small fee. 

Ruby, I agree. I can not find it online, but there was a recent study that identified a surplus of parking downtown, although the news coverage, of course, had to spin it differently. Barbara, I will not argue with you right now about downtown or the library, although I have plenty to say in reply. You say that you would like to live in a TOD community, so instead of continuing the conversation on this thread in a way that centers on what we disagree about, I propose something different.I grant you that there are dilemmas in implementing transportation reform in places like downtown Chapel Hill where business owners, like the rest of us, are dependent on cars. In places like that we are stuck with the legacy of automobile-oriented design.The Horace Williams grounds, however, offers a tremendous opportunity for genuine TOD, because there the urban planning starts from scratch. I propose that you join me and others in calling upon the University to include a car-free zone, like the ones displayed on this site, in the planning for Carolina North.By the way, I hope I did not give the impression that I am opposed to expanding park-and-ride lots, which is what this thread is really about. I am a radical, not an extremist. I certainly support having more than "adequate" parking in arrangements that get people into transit and keep cars from congesting urban areas. James Coley

join you in supporting TOD development at Carolina North. 

I think one concern with expanding the park and ride lots is that encourages people to drive instead of taking the bus. It's also adding a lot impervious surface that might not be fully used. I park at Eubanks to ride the bus to work in downtown Raleigh and often when I've been there the lot is not full.On the flip side, park and ride lots can encourage people to take intercity transit. I know that if the Eubanks lot wasn't there, I probably wouldn't be able to take the bus to Raleigh.

Since the park and ride lot is used by people who take the bus (or carpool) I am not sure how expanding the lots would discourage people from taking the bus. As far as lots currently not being so crowded, one of the elements of the bus and rail plan sales yax that may get voted on next year in Orange County includes increases in express and park and ride services, I believe, so having plans for expansion of the lots will be a good idea if we plan to expand service.

I guess I didn't write very articulately. What I meant to say is that I think many people would take intecity bus or carpool if they didn't have the option of using one of Chapel Hill or Carrboro's many park-and-ride lots. I think the other issue with park-and-rides is all the extra impervious surfaces that they bring.

I understand your point, but I think some of the P&R lot use comes from those who drive to Chapel Hill (or Carrboro) from places where no inter-city bus service is available - e.g. Mebane, Efland, Burlington, White Cross, Silk Hope, Siler City etc.

High-density, urbanized development is the only way genuine TOD will ever become a reality but I fear there are too many CH citizens clinging to a long-gone fantasy of "smalltown" Chapel Hill to make it happen.

37,000 people commute to Chapel Hill/Carrboro each day to go to work. 


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