Transportation

Wake School Bus
Dave DeWitt

Voters in Wake County and Raleigh have two major bonds to decide on when they go to the polls today. 

The $810-million Wake School Bond has been dissected and argued over for months. Supporters say it is past time to build new schools and renovate old ones. They offer enrollment growth projections and low-interest rates as two reasons to pass the bond.

The Diverging Diamond Interchange.
audiowiki / Flickr Creative Commons

The state Department of Transportation is working on unusual interchanges designed to relieve congestion at high-traffic areas across the state. 

Crews are building seven intersections known as Diverging Diamond Interchanges.  They temporarily move traffic to the left side of the road before dumping them onto the freeway or shifting back to the right to cross the intersection. 

DOT engineer James Dunlap says it makes getting on and off the freeway easier.

"It's a free-flow left, so once you get past the first signal, you're not stopping again," Dunlap explains.

City of Raleigh

Triangle residents are being invited this week to consider public transportation as a commuter option.  Local and regional systems are taking part in "Try Transit Week" hoping to get people out of their cars and on a bus to work or play. 

 Capital Area Transit is offering special events every day to entice new riders.  Lindsay Pennell handles marketing for the Raleigh bus service.  She says over the years they've been able change some people's transportation choice.

wakegov.com

Wake County commissioners are moving forward with an effort to assess the county's transit needs.  Members unanimously voted this week to bring in experts from outside the county to look at a current plan to improve transportation. 

Those ideas include expanding local and commuter bus service and building a commuter rail system from Garner to Durham.  The plan would cost Wake County more than half a billion dollars. David Cooke serves as county manager and says experts will analyze transportation needs beyond just Wake County.

A bus in Chapel Hill.
Town of Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill Transit has approved a pro-Israel advertisement to run inside town buses. 

The proposal is the latest in a series of polarizing ads that started last year when the Church of Reconciliation ran a poster that called for the U.S. to end military aid to Israel.  The group American Freedom Defense Initiative countered with an ad that called opponents of Israel "savages," setting off a debate about which ads should be allowed on buses. 

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx was nominated for Secretary of Transportation last month.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx appeared today before a Senate committee as his confirmation hearing began this afternoon on Capitol Hill.  President Obama nominated the two-term Charlotte mayor last month to replace the retiring Ray LaHood as U.S. Secretary of Transportation.  Senators will likely delve into his transit reforms in Charlotte during the hearing. 

In his opening statement, Foxx told the committee a story about going to his first job at age 12 by taking the number six bus after school.

Anthony Foxx
Bz3rk, Creative Commons

President Obama has nominated Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx to be the nation's next secretary of transportation. He would replace outgoing secretary Ray LaHood if confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  Foxx -- who turns 42 years old today -- is considered a "rising star" among Democrats. 

Alligator River bridge repairs
NCDOT

The Alligator River Bridge in Tyrrell and Dare counties is once again open to traffic.  The U.S. Highway 64 swing bridge was reopened to traffic late Sunday evening after being closed for the better part of two weeks.  The Alligator River bridge is a major connection between the Outer Banks and mainland North Carolina. 

The Christmas and New Year holiday travel season means big business for the nation’s airports.  A report by N-C State and the Institute for Transportation Research and Education shows just how big aviation is in this state. 

A company in downtown Durham is hoping to revolutionize the way people commute. The ELF is a vehicle created by Organic Transit and its founder Rob Cotter. It fills the niche between the car and the bike, and Cotter thinks it can be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional vehicles.

Orange County Commissioners have given final approval to levy a half-cent sales tax for transit projects starting this Spring. Commissioners decided this week to collect the tax beginning on April 1. Voters in Orange County approved the tax on a ballot referendum in November. Durham residents did the same last year and will start paying the tax at the same time. Revenue goes toward a $1.4 billion plan from Triangle Transit Authority to expand bus services and build a light rail line from UNC Hospitals to downtown Durham.

Research Triangle Park leaders have rolled out a new master plan to transform the business center into a more community-friendly atmosphere. 

Gurnal Scott: You may not realize that RTP has been around 53 years. Its foundation says it must look beyond its original vision of business innovation to grow in the next half century. CEO Bob Geolas says job growth is still a top priority.

Department of Transportation officials want coastal residents to be aware that the rainy, windy weather could delay the ferry from Ocracoke Island to Hatteras Island. The Army Corps of Engineers dredged Hatteras Inlet back in May. But DOT spokeswoman Lucy Wallace says shoaling in Hatteras Inlet means it will have to be dredged again. In the meantime, she says passengers should keep an eye on the ferry schedule.

North Carolina will get about $14 million of the nearly $800 million the federal government is giving out to update transit systems across the country. The grants are part of the US Department of Transportation's "State of Good Repair and Bus Livability" effort.

DOT Secretary Ray Lahood says the grants will have a transformative effect.

Public transportation has long been a contentious topic in the Triangle. As cities like Charlotte have expanded bus service and built a light-rail system, cities like Raleigh and Durham have failed to keep up.

But now, a plan to increase busses and begin the long process of connecting the cities in the Triangle by rail is just a few steps from being implemented. Those last few steps are proving to be the hardest.

Durham and Orange county residents will get a closer look today and tomorrow at a proposed light rail transit plan.

More North Carolinians are carpooling to work. Jeff Tiberii has more.

Jeff Tiberii: Last year 27-hundred people signed up to be part of the states Share the Ride NC program. The Department of Transportation says there are now more than 31-thousand people who car pool to and from work.

Jennifer Garifo: A big advantage is just a relief on stress; especially people that are in urban areas, sitting by yourself in the car, stop and go traffic.

Commuters in Winston-Salem board a P.A.R.T. express bus bound for Greensboro
Jeff Tiberii

The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation is having its busiest year ever. The bus service connecting Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and many smaller communities in the Triad is 9 years old. Yet despite strong ridership P.A.R.T. is in financial trouble.

Voters in Raleigh approved transportation and affordable housing bonds by about two-thirds of the vote.

Triangle Expressway Map
ncturnpike.org

Drivers can start buying electronic transponders for the Triangle Expressway Tuesday, October 11th. The transponders are a means of paying tolls easily. They come in time for the opening of the first section of the Triangle Expressway in mid-December. That's an extension of the Durham Freeway into Research Triangle Park. There will be two transponders to choose from. One is for North Carolina travel. That one will cost $5. The other includes states up and down the coast and is $20. David Joyner is Executive Director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

Several dozen supporters staged a small rally this morning to support the passage of two separate city-wide bonds on the ballot for next week. If passed, the bonds would go to improving transportation and low-income housing. They would total about $56 million and cost the average homeowner about $17 a year. Outgoing mayor Charles Meeker is hoping the historically strong support for bonds in Raleigh continues.

Interstate 95 map
i95highway.com

State transportation officials are looking at ways of raising revenue to modernize Interstate 95. One thing they're looking at is tolling the highway. That's being considered up and down the coast. Greer Beaty with the Department of Transportation says a large-scale study of I-95 started early last year. She says there are a number of things to consider.

The State Department of Transportation has been working on a high speed rail proposal for downtown Raleigh for several years.  Today the public is invited to see an updated plan at the Raleigh convention Center. 

Work crews are making changes to freeways in R-T-P as they build the new Triangle Expressway. The short segment of the Durham Freeway south of I-40 closed for good this week. That section of Highway 147 provided a quick connection to T-W Alexander Drive in south Durham. It will eventually be part of the Triangle Expressway, a toll road running along the west side of Raleigh from Morrisville to Holly Springs. D-O-T spokeswoman Holly Allen says drivers going south on the Durham Freeway should take a detour via I-40.

The town of Chapel Hill is cracking down on residents who illegally park their cars in their front yards. Town officials say citation officers will start giving out tickets for those who violate the town ordinance at the beginning of next month. The issue came to light after residents reported widespread violations in the Pine Knolls and Northside neighborhoods. Rae Buckley of the Chapel Hill planning department says those areas are popular among UNC students who rent houses. But she says lawn parking causes concern for permanent residents.

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