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The Daily Tar Heel
Town Talk

Aldermen hear light rail update, wish for access to Durham

Members of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen are convinced the town needs better public transit options to connect with Durham.

The board heard an update on the plans for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project, a 17-mile, 17-stop light rail system currently planned to stretch from UNC Hospitals to Alston Avenue in Durham, during its meeting Tuesday night.

The board expressed concern for the time lag from the rail’s construction to its extension into Carrboro.

The committee reported that not enough fiscal capacity was present for the extension, but that plans for the light rail include higher capacity bus transit in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro areas.

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist and Mayor Lydia Lavelle said more direct bus service between Carrboro and Durham should be a consideration for Triangle Transit during the upcoming bus service extension next January.

The committee’s current timeline expects construction to begin in 2019, with the rail opening for revenue service in 2026.

Members of the project’s Steering Committee presented their upcoming plans for environmental impact analysis. The board heard concerns about potential environmental consequences of the rail tracks crossing the Meadowmont Wetlands and New Hope Creek and the plans to help minimize impact.

The meeting Tuesday began with the renewal of the charter for PACE Academy, a privately run non-profit charter school in Carrboro.

After Lavelle stated the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education also supported the charter, the board unanimously voted in favor of renewal for the charter school.

“This is not blanketly supporting charter schools in general, but supporting PACE Academy,” said boardmember Randee Haven-O’Donnell.

QUOTABLE:

“I know this is going to be off topic, but can you tell me why the Charlotte light rail does not connect to the Amtrak station there?” Gist asked the Steering Committee.

Gist’s question prompted a discussion about the Charlotte light rail system and the changes it’s undergone since its inception.

NOTABLE:

Fire Chief Travis Crabtree asked the board to approve its yearly roster for submission to the North Carolina Firemen’s Pension Fund.

Gist asked town staff to research whether the beneficiaries of firefighters involved in a domestic partnership or a same sex marriage were eligible to receive the same benefits as the beneficiaries of married firefighters.

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