Feedback on the Wake County Transit Plan

I wanted to share the feedback I submitted about the Wake County Transit Plan, which all readers should take a look at. I think a whole discussion could come about the idea of an invisible east/west barrier that goes right down Raleigh. I am hoping that an upgrade to transit could break down that barrier and really expand mobility choices and access to all areas of the city. Does anyone else see these barriers to mobility around our city? -Leo

Feedback

Hello,

I’ve taken a good look through the latest Wake County Transit Plan update and wanted to share some thoughts I had about it. I’ll admit that this may be more detailed than the document shows but maybe it is something that the planning team could consider.

I believe there is this invisible “divide” between east and west Raleigh, where Capital Boulevard, McDowell/Dawson in downtown, and South Saunders create a sort of barrier. Going from parts east to west, and vice versa, by any travel method meets a “resistance” when you hit this divide.

Driving a car across Raleigh, the options are slim due to Capital Boulevard’s lack of cross streets, downtown’s more urban nature, and south Raleigh’s lack of east/west streets. Cycling is in a similar situation. Currently, none of the GoRaleigh bus routes go between east and west Raleigh but rather terminate in downtown’s Moore Square Transit Station for a transfer.

I see this Transit Station as contributing to that same invisible barrier.

My feedback as part of this new transit plan would be for the planning team to discuss this and see if transit could break through this barrier and connect east and west Raleigh more directly. For example, a bus route that does not stop in downtown Raleigh but uses both Hillsborough Street and New Bern Avenue/Edenton Street.

Thanks a lot ahead of time and I very much look forward for the successful implementation of this plan!

Response

Mr. Suarez

Thanks for taking the time to review the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan and for submitting your comment.

Your comment fits very well within the key goal of the Transit Plan to make transit “useful” to as many people as possible. Divides and barriers, real or perceived impact how and if people use transit and the focus of the transit plan is to address and solve these types of issues.

The project team has specifically looked at BRT and bus line corridors that flow through rather than to downtown. The New Bern Avenue to Morgan St /Hillsborough Street alignment has been specifically studied. That said, there are different perspectives on how BRT should flow through Downtown Raleigh and connect with the various destinations. The perspectives differ in how radically they would change existing streets, how vehicles would interact with bus stations and how the different BRT corridors would interact with each other. Moving forward we hope to have a clear community dialogue on the options, benefits and costs of the various ways to implement the different projects shown in the recommended transit plan. We anticipate this dialogue will be open to public ideas and reactions on solutions.

Some of the service realities we are asking decison-makers to consider are: (these parallel your comment)

1) As vehicle frequency increases there is less need to stop and wait at big stations and street based platforms (that allow vehicles to keep moving) make more sense.
2) Routes work best by collecting and combining multiple trips – routes that stop in downtown rather then flowing through downtown limit their usefulness for certain trips.
3) Frequent routes tend to be used for shorter trips and riders on shorter trips tend to have a low tolerance for delay (i.e. they will switch to other modes).

Please keep in mind that the transit plan is positioned to provide vision but also to allow a start and evolution approach if that is needed or best for the community. One question we asked staff from all of our partner agencies to answer on each of the projects was “are there multiple ways to accomplish that and still meet the goal?” The recommended transit plan takes this approach not to get “watered down” versions of everything but to keep an eye toward the larger goal and allow the system to change as needed as community perspectives change. National and local positions on transit, what street should be used for, and what creates a great place to live are changing and evolving in ways we have not seen in previous decades and these positions may/will likely continue to evolve.

If you have further questions on the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan please respond to this email, call 919-856-5477 or visit www.waketransit.com

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7 Comments

  1. Isn’t it nice to know that your comments were even read? It must have been a really pleasant surprise to actually get a nice detailed response. Congrats on that. :-)
    As for the east/west divide, I can see your point but it doesn’t affect my personal travel from side to side. I grateful that DT doesn’t have a freeway through it like many other cities have in their downtowns. The couplet streets (McDowell and Dawson) do make walking east to west a lot easier than if a freeway was plowing through. Of course, we still have our mini-freeway in that small stretch of Capital that enables cars to race in and out of the core for a few blocks. That, unfortunately won’t be changing with the new bridge configuration but it won’t be worse than it is now.
    Take solace in the fact that, at least, the RLine continually connects both the west and east sides of the core. Now if we can just get a dense station bike share for DT and some key destinations on its periphery….One can dream.

  2. Raleigh is fortunate not to have a highway slicing through its Downtown, however the corridor you mentioned (Capital, McDowell-Dawson, S. Saunders) still acts as a barrier through our city. This divide is widened by rail lines, the industrial space that borders them, and the creeks that run through the area. These things might not be so easily changed, however more things can be done to weave east and west together. Six Forks and E Whitaker Mill should extend across Capital. The intersection at Atlantic and Wake Forest Road should be improved as well. The ‘valley’ and Capital going north toward the Beltline is perfect for denser development and better transit and would make it easier to have buses that go from east to west without stopping in Downtown.

  3. @CX, I understand what you’re saying and agree with those assessments but I hardly consider the area north of the Wade Avenue or the Wake Forest/Atlantic intersection to be downtown. That isn’t to say that there isn’t opportunity to make some changes and improvements to urbanize them and to rebalance them from a car/pedestrian perspective. Since the advent of the roundabouts on Hillsborough Street, I’ve imagined one at that weird intersection of Old Wake Forest, Atlantic and Brookside. It could truly be transformational and a fine way to welcome people to DT. The function of the northbound exit to Wade from Capital will not change with the work that will commence soon in that initial corridor and bridge work. Of course, the entirety of Capital Blvd continues to need some much needed love and I know that the city has made it a priority.
    As for the couplet, I just don’t see that as a barrier. Yes the traffic moves through on timed lights but they are both only one way streets. This makes them MUCH easier to navigate as a pedestrian going east to west. The rail corridor coming into DT from the north is another issue altogether. Unfortunately, advances in high speed rail and the resulting corridor will only exacerbate the disconnection in the future. We’ll just have to make the most of it and plan effectively around it.

  4. I understand the city’s desire to improve Capital Boulevard, but why isn’t there a bigger effort to improve New Bern Avenue? It’s a direct corridor into downtown and should be revitalized. The section between the hospital and Oakwood needs some major TLC. To me, it would make sense for some developers to come in and connect this area to downtown. I hope the city is working behind the scenes to try to improve this area.

  5. Paul, a city sponsored study of the New Bern corridor was actually completed back in 2012. In terms of work priority I think the city ranks this project number 2 (or perhaps 3 behind Peace St.). Searching “New Bern Avenue Corridor Study Raleigh” should get you to city website with more info.

  6. @Stew, thanks for the information. I was aware of the study, but if my memory is correct, the major changes are to the sidewalks. I’m referring more to giving incentives to allow developers to come in and revitalize that area. Am I missing something, or is Raleigh planning a major overhaul to the area?

  7. The new NC State Senate 2016-2017 budget provision would add new restrictions: Each commuter-rail or light-rail project couldn’t receive more than 10 percent of its total funding from the state. And the Durham-Chapel Hill project wouldn’t automatically get funding – it would have to wait two years and go through the Department of Transportation’s prioritization process again.

    Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article81673352.html#storylink=cpy

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