Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why We Should Vote Yes for the Transportation Bond

Sig  Hutchinson, a leading greenway advocate who also serves on Raleigh's Bike/Ped Commission, has an opinion piece in today's News & Observer in favor of the proposed transportation bond. We all get to vote on the bond next week. For cyclists, it will mean greater funding for city bike projects. Please vote YES on Tuesday.

Whether selected as the country's "Most Sustainable Midsize Community" by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or "No. 1 Best City in America" by Bloomberg Businessweek, Raleigh's rise to the top of almost any survey as "The Best Place to Live" should not be seen as something that happened by chance, but through strong leadership, clear vision and a road map towards the future.
Recognizing that these accolades do not go unnoticed, there is wide acceptance that we will double in size in the next 20 years. Therefore, the question facing us as a city is, how do we double in size while improving our quality of life?
Raleigh's $40 million transportation bond issue will go a long way towards that journey by recognizing that the best way to ensure our continued economic development, while protecting our quality of life, is by investing in our community:
The transportation bond issue starts by first fixing what we already have with a $10 million investment in maintaining our existing streets with timely resurfacing, thus reducing costly repairs down the road - and those pesky potholes.
The final unfunded section of our greenway system is also in the bond issue, as the final link in the city's100-plus miles of interconnected greenways. This new section along Walnut Creek will connect downtown to the Neuse River Greenway, completing one of the finest such systems in the country and extending from Raleigh through Cary and Apex into Durham to the west and connecting to Clayton, Knightdale and Wake Forest towards the east.
In addition, bike lanes will be expanded to improve our "bikeability," which means adding to our designation as a "Bike Friendly Community"and attracting many of the creative class of young professionals who choose to live here because of our variety of transportation options.
Sidewalks are also a part of the bond issue, as we now realize that sidewalks are part of our transportation system. The city's new policy recognizes this by no longer requiring property owners to share in the cost of new sidewalk construction or sidewalk repairs on their property.
Any real 21st century city must provide a variety of transit options, and so the continued funding of our transit system is also part of the transportation bond issue. Bus shelters and benches will be added to make the wait for transit more desirable, while upgrades and improvements to the Moore Square Transit Station are also part of the plan.
Most exciting is the leveraging of the bond funds with federal funds through the state DOT's Rail Division to remake an old Dillon Supply building in the downtown warehouse district into the new "Union Station" for Amtrak, commuter rail and the future high-speed rail. This $3 million of the transportation bond investment would leverage $20-plus million of federal and state DOT funds, creating a historically renovated new downtown station that will ultimately re-create the downtown's warehouse district into the next Fayetteville Street or Glenwood South, which means increased property values and tax revenues.
It's an exciting time for our city and most citizens will agree that Raleigh is one of the greatest places to live in America. By voting "Yes" to the transportation bonds on Tuesday, we will be well on our way to keeping it that way.

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