Transportation

N.C. Department of Transportation
Dave DeWitt

The State Board of Transportation reiterated on Thursday its decision to lower local governments' voice on spending state transportation dollars.

The 19-member board voted unanimously to split localites' input on projects with the analysis of state transportation engineers who oversee the department's 14 divisions, said chairman Ned Curran. 

“I just can’t accept that one party has better knowledge than the division engineer because this is what division engineers do for a living,” Curran said.

A law proposed and passed by the state legislature this year, called the Strategic Mobility Formula, said the Department of Transportation's analysis would account for 70 percent of the decision on regional projects and 50 percent on local projects. Local input -- including views from metropolitan planning organizations and elected officials -- would account for the remaining 30 and 50 percent.

A plane lands at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
redlegs21 via Flickr, Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University are developing radio wave scanners that could dramatically increase the speed at which travelers are checked at security points in airports.

The scanners, which researchers say could be tested in as soon as 12 months for airport use, were one of the developing technologies that scientists showed three North Carolina congressmen in a tour yesterday of laboratories at Duke’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Two local residents, Ivin Scurlock, 41,  and Alexandra Simou, 40, lost their lives in a hit-and-run incident near Southern Village last month.  North Carolina has one of the worst rates for bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in the country.  

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Wake County voters have overwhelmingly passed an $810-million school bond referendum. 

The final margin wasn't even close. Wake voters approved of the new school bond by 16 percentage points. It was a big win for bond supporters, including Democrats and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. Some Republicans had worked to defeat the bond, but they were greatly outspent during the campaign.

The money that will come from the ten percent increase in property taxes will be used to build 16 new schools and renovate dozens of others.

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.

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