I Walk the Line: Dillard Street, a no-man’s land

nadia
Nadia, on her lunch break in front of the old 305 South Anti-Mall

Story and photos by Lisa Sorg

This is the second installation of I Walk the Line. Start the journey at Alston Avenue.

The intersection of Dillard and Pettigrew streets, the future site of a light rail station, is notable not for what’s there, but for what isn’t. From this spot, I try to imagine the street at its peak in the mid-20th century: The air heavy with the aroma of fried catfish from Best Seafood. The clean scent of detergent and lint floating from the laundry. The sidewalks teeming with African-American visitors leaving the Hotel Biltmore or lining up for a movie at the Regal Theater. I wonder what the street sounded like,  at 12:30 on a humid June morning in 1970 when a bomb exploded in the Your Own Thing Theater.

This street belonged to the Hayti neighborhood, which was upended and destroyed by the construction of the Durham Freeway and other urban renewal projects of the 1960s and 1970s. Now it’s nothing but parking lots, a lonely stretch that not’s quite downtown but not yet East Durham.

alston
The Dillard station is at Dillard and Pettigrew streets

it’s a desolate, albeit thankfully brief walk to Fayetteville Street, where you need to take out extra life insurance to cross the intersection. For several reasons, including geography, the Venable complex has yet to live up to its promise. It includes no restaurants, as originally planned, but bioscience companies, city offices and federal bankruptcy court, where, as a reporter, I’ve heard many a tale of woe.

When I moved to Durham nine years ago, the 305 South Anti-Mall, a music and performance venue near Dillard and Pettigrew streets, represented the city’s grit that I quickly fell in love with. Unfortunately, it closed in October 2007 after the city determined it didn’t have enough bathroom stalls. I would argue that regardless of where you go, there are never enough bathroom stalls.

At the time, the Anti-Mall was in a no-man’s land dominated by acres of cars for sale. Bull City Ciderworks was years away. Golden Belt was still in its infancy. Neither the Durham Performing Arts Center, the new courthouse or the new  Human Services building had been built.

Now, though, the Dillard Street station “neighborhood,” extending north to Main and south to Mangum, is considered to be ripe for development. If used for good—racially and economically diverse, with attractive urban design that encourages community—this could help connect downtown and East Durham.

nvItkk-17-DOLRT_SEGF_SHTS_Page_6

Most of the action—foot traffic, in particular—is north of Dillard. Food trucks cluster around the busy Human Services Building. People live in the Main Street Townhomes, which provides 43 units of affordable housing. On nearby Ramseur Street, Ponysaurus Brewing, Honeygirl Meadery and a proposed small arts venue could be generating the momentum to become the next Central Park/Geer Street District. However, the site of proposed new Durham Police Headquarters, in my view, this is a squandering of four acres that could be used for affordable housing or small businesses.

april 23_humanservices1
Outside the Human Services Building, Dillard and Main streets

With momentum will come great responsibility to ensure the developments are well-planned and racially, economically and socially inclusive. For example, across from the proposed Dillard Street station, the old Hendrick Chevrolet dealership has been demolished, awaiting up to 308 multi-family apartments, a mixed-use development and office space. The word “affordable” has not been uttered.

dillard 3
Old Hendrick Chevrolet site, to be developed into mixed-use: apartments, office and commercial
Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 11.55.41 AM
GoMaps via Durhamnc.gov

So what is possible here? What city- and county-owned property could be transformed into a higher use? There are more than 11.4 acres of public land, consumed by buildings, but also parking lots and storage. nstead of providing census data, which would probably be skewed because the block groups encompass neighborhoods well beyond the Dillard Street station, I used GoMaps to see who owns what where. A list is here: Dillard Street area properties

29 thoughts on “I Walk the Line: Dillard Street, a no-man’s land

  1. many

    Lisa,

    Someone once said “follow the money”. Well if you do, there are four main beneficiaries here; the developers, landowners (quickly becoming one in the same) and the employment offices of the two largest University Hospitals. In your admittedly short DOLRT segment I see ~20 acres owned by developers not including small parcels totaling 1.7 acres owned by individuals. There are various businesses that may or may not be redeveloped so I did not count those, but if I did they would be mostly included in the developers’ column. The biggest is the Durham Partnership Group LLC. which has so far invested +5Million in purchasing the land and plans a +400Million development (I am betting that a deal is already in place for the rest of the Hendrick property). I am not disparaging the developers, they are a critical part of the system we live in. They should make no apologies for seeking their primary reason for existing; to make money, and I am not at all surprised the word “affordable” has not been uttered. I am trying to point out that the pattern is already in place a both ends of DOLRT and the taxpayers are funding it with little social benefit to show for it.

    Beside the goldmine for developers, you have to ask if DOLRT is such a great deal why aren’t the two other beneficiaries, Duke and UNC investing from their respective (and enormous) endowments?

    Here are some other things to ponder:

    An analysis of DOLRT once again shows it is more about economic development than about transit. “Our *Transit* Future” on the ballot without the mention of LRT was arguably a ruse used to coerce people to pay for it. Funding DOLRT relies on a regressive form of taxation; the sales tax. The cost falls on the backs of the taxpayers in a disproportional way and as a taxpayer I have to ask the obvious question; why residents in both counties should be required to subsidize the DOLRT line when it serves so few? Why aren’t reporters pointing out the obvious inconsistencies and misinformation from GoTriangle?

    What is the ongoing cost per passenger trip that taxpayers will be required to subsidize DOLRT with? If you look at the figures on the nearby Hampton Roads Transit (HRT “Tide”) in 2013, The average loss per passenger ride was $6.63. I fully expect DOLRT to dethrone the “Tide” in this dubious distinction. Yes, I know all transit is subsidized but I think the taxpayers might notice if they had to pay $6.63 for every 7.4 car miles driven.
    http://hamptonroads.com/2015/06/tide-biggest-money-loser-passenger-country

    What about destinations? How can we spend so much money (1.8 Billion and likely much more) on “public Transportation” That really does not serve many places people go? The DOLRT bypasses many important locations on 15-501 (most of the out patent health care offices, shopping, restaurants and most importantly the jobs). If 15-501 was impractical as GoTriange says it is (and do not believe them), then why does transit investment bypass major commuting destinations such as RTP and RDU?

    I think you should also examine what will happen if DOLRT sucks the economic vitality out of other areas rather than contributing to the overall good.

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  2. Michael Bacon

    I’m really trying to be better and engage in good faith with LRT critics, but for so many of them, including “Many”‘s, I have no idea where to start. How much of this is actually, legitimately believed, and how much of it is cooked up to fulfill a pre-existing agenda? I mean we all select facts to fit our agendas — I do it all the time even as I try not to — but what is actually motivating people like “Many” to write this stuff, which to my (admittedly already opinionated) eye is so filled with nonsense that I have no idea how to respond in good faith?

    Like

    1. many

      Where do I begin, Michael?

      From my perspective it’s the LRT proponents that are living in the confirmation bias bubble. Study after million dollar study, denial after denial. It’s been more like a jobs program for urban planners.

      Which of my assertions in your opinion are not to be legitimately believed, or is that they are beginning to make you doubt the TTA/GoTriangle propaganda?

      I will tell you my motivation, it is really very simple; I do not want to spend 1.8 Billion (likely much more) dollars of our tax money on a public transportation system that is not needed, especially when there are so many better uses and more pressing needs. I also resent the way TTA went about this, it was less than above board. When I see the one sided journalism which is so prevalent on this subject in this area it makes me want to question the group think.

      It’s really that simple. Now tell me yours.

      As far as respond in good faith goes, I am truly sorry if I offend your sensibilities, however DOLRT offends mine. It sounds as if you are an intelligent critical thinker. No one is keeping you from opining, but simple shallow innuendo is most certainly not the definition of responding in good faith, but I bet you knew that already didn’t you?

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      1. Michael Bacon

        You don’t offend my sensibilities, it’s just hard to know where to start.

        Here’s what I’m talking about —

        “Someone once said “follow the money”. Well if you do, there are four main beneficiaries here; the developers, landowners (quickly becoming one in the same) and the employment offices of the two largest University Hospitals.”

        Yes, the light rail system would include stops at the two most densely concentrated job centers in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, the two university hospitals. Because of this, we’re supposed to “follow the money,” rather than notice that if one wants a public transit system to get people to their jobs, we should build it to, you know, jobs…

        “An analysis of DOLRT once again shows it is more about economic development than about transit. ”

        So transportation projects shouldn’t spur economic development? Where is this coming from?

        ““Our *Transit* Future” on the ballot without the mention of LRT was arguably a ruse used to coerce people to pay for it.”

        The ballot initiative was one sentence and funded multiple transit initiatives. The light rail plan was widely publicized and discussed and promoted by its biggest advocates, but somehow I’m supposed to believe that it was all some kind of cryptic ruse that was slipped through on the sly?

        “If 15-501 was impractical as GoTriange says it is (and do not believe them),”

        All I ask of people who keep peddling this is that they ride from Durham Station to UNC Hospital on the GoTriangle buses during a normal weekday when class is in session at peak rush hour. Then come back and tell me 15-501 is practical as a corridor.

        ” . . . then why does transit investment bypass major commuting destinations such as RTP and RDU?”

        Maybe it’s me, and because I like this kind of thing I’ve seen all of these articles that other people just miss, but I think Bruce Siceloff has only covered this in the N&O about two dozen times. Okay, one more time. Airport links to transit are insanely expensive and underused compared to job links. Airports are not major commuting destinations, they are very minor commuting destinations. As for RTP, it is a sprawling industrial park with campuses built back on mile-long driveways with no circulator service. It’s effectively impossible to build any kind of general public transit there without it being almost completely redeveloped. Both RTP and RDU stops on the initial system would be tremendous wastes of money, and that’s why they’re not getting built.

        I don’t blame people for being curious and skeptical about these plans, that’s natural. I blame people for not bothering to do the slightest bit of research before stomping into serious discussions of the issue and throwing around accusations of incompetence, graft, corruption, and waste. These are decent questions, but they have been answered, repeatedly. If you need them answered again, fine, but your ignorance is not a sign of corruption.

        Here’s my bias — for 14 years I lived in a neighborhood that would have been served by the original DMU train plan and would be served by DOLRT, and even though we’ve moved away we still own a house there. I’ve spent nearly two decades watching Durham politics as property tax money went to maintain, repair, and extend Durham’s overwrought road system with an absolutely minimal public transit system. For 9 years I traveled back and forth to Chapel Hill on a daily basis, often taking the bus, and know first hand how poor the options are for bus corridors and how high the demand for that service is. For once, a transportation project would actually do something other than build a bypass through my general part of the city or throw far flung roads at developers building crap-built houses by the hundreds out on the periphery of the city where we’ll also get stuck with the bill for expanded water, sewer, libraries, schools, and everything — for once we’ll be encouraging development where we already have the infrastructure in place, and in my back yard where I actually WANT the development to happen. So yes, I have a bit of a financial interest in it, but after decades of underwriting ugly, poorly built, sprawling development that I hate, I’m not really ready to apologize for that.

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      2. many

        Very good. Here are my responses: I appologize in advance the editor here does not allow me to delineate your comments from mine very well. I used two carrots for mine: >>

        “two most densely concentrated job centers in the Durham-Chapel Hill area”…I guess it depends on how you define “the Durham-Chapel Hill area” doesn’t it?

        >> My scope is somewhat broader. I include RTP in the calculation, which you may or may not know is also in Durham County.

        ”So transportation projects shouldn’t spur economic development? Where is this coming from?” It comes from the ration of the taxpaying population to the limited population served.

        >> Economic development is all well and good but it should not suck up the lion’s share of the public transportation budget leaving everyone else to pay the taxes.

        “The ballot initiative was one sentence and funded multiple transit initiatives. The light rail plan was widely publicized and discussed and promoted by its biggest advocates, but somehow I’m supposed to believe that it was all some kind of cryptic ruse that was slipped through on the sly?”

        >> Well yes. The initiative did not mention DOLRT or LRT at all. Was held in an off year election cycle (now made illegal by the NC Legislature). All of the meeting were held during the middle of the work day and very difficult to attend. (I tried), so yes I think it was less then above board and not inclusive.

        “All I ask of people who keep peddling this is that they ride from Durham Station to UNC Hospital on the GoTriangle buses during a normal weekday when class is in session at peak rush hour. Then come back and tell me 15-501 is practical as a corridor.”

        >> As a matter of fact I have. If a proper BRT system were put in place not only would it be less expensive, it would be as fast or faster than LRT.

        “Maybe it’s me, and because I like this kind of thing I’ve seen all of these articles that other people just miss, but I think Bruce Siceloff has only covered this in the N&O about two dozen times. Okay, one more time. Airport links to transit are insanely expensive and underused compared to job links. Airports are not major commuting destinations, they are very minor commuting destinations. As for RTP, it is a sprawling industrial park with campuses built back on mile-long driveways with no circulator service. It’s effectively impossible to build any kind of general public transit there without it being almost completely redeveloped. Both RTP and RDU stops on the initial system would be tremendous wastes of money, and that’s why they’re not getting built.”

        >> Maybe it is you. That is why the cab companies all hang out there and guard their territory so jealously. Also it might be that parking is a major source of income for the airport authority. Of course it’s easier for an authority to force its will on taxpayers than it is on another “authority”……RTP has bus stops and people take the bus. Also there are people who bring their bicicles. I will wager all day that given a proper public transit system there will be greater ridership to RTP than on the DOLRT.

        “I don’t blame people for being curious and skeptical about these plans, that’s natural. I blame people for not bothering to do the slightest bit of research before stomping into serious discussions of the issue and throwing around accusations of incompetence, graft, corruption, and waste.”

        >> You really should read more. On September 2nd, two Duke economists Eric Ghysels and Robert Healy sent a request for information to Natalie Murdock of Go Triangle for the model TTA/GoTriange used in there ridership and revenue assertions in the DEIS. GoTriange flatly refused to send the data citing “for civil rights reasons”. HaHa. I know. Whose cival rights are Ms. Murdock and Patrick McDonough trying to protect? Incompetence, waste and corruption are the least of my worries when it comes to outright fraud and violation of the NC Public Records law.

        “Here’s my bias — for 14 years I lived in a neighborhood that would have been served by the original DMU train plan and would be served by DOLRT, and even though we’ve moved away we still own a house there.”

        >> I am truly sorry for your loss, but please do not expect me to pay to make it better through regressive taxes and seriously flawed plans.

        Like

  3. Michael Bacon

    1) RTP is not dense employment at all — as job density goes it is quite low. See the rest of my comment. The hospitals have higher job density and hence are far more suitable for transit.

    2) Again, the ballot initiative was one sentence, and covered multiple projects. Why should it have mentioned when every newspaper article that covered it mentioned the light rail? Seriously, there are a few decent points folks have made against the project (regressive sales tax being a tough one for me) but this one is utter and complete crap. Again, proponents of the plan were trying as hard as they possibly could to publicize the LRT plans. Seriously, I have less than zero respect for this argument — it degrades any conversation it’s brought up in.

    3) “Economic development is all well and good but it should not suck up the lion’s share of the public transportation budget leaving everyone else to pay the taxes.”
    I have no idea what you’re trying to say here. “lion’s share” is debatable and the rest is non-sequitur.

    4) “On September 2nd, two Duke economists Eric Ghysels and Robert Healy sent a request for information to Natalie Murdock of Go Triangle for the model TTA/GoTriange used in there ridership and revenue assertions in the DEIS. GoTriange flatly refused to send the data citing “for civil rights reasons””

    I haven’t seen this request reported — I’ve only seen their op-ed, which doesn’t mention it. Ghysels is a management economist and econometrician. He has no background in transportation planning or technology. Healy has actually studied sustainable development, but we’ve now seen this “transportation museum” line trotted out by them and Paul Stam, and it’s frankly moronic. Rail technology is in one of its fastest developing phases in history, with bullet trains, high speed rail, overhead powered rail, and more getting built at a record pace around the world. And this is quite simply one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever seen two tenured faculty make:

    “In addition to problems of service and cost, the LRT system could be technologically obsolescent before it’s built. Even if all goes well, the earliest opening date for LRT is 2025. Therefore the technology chosen will be 13 years old at the time of opening.”

    So because it will take until 2025 to get the rail off the ground, we should bank on self-driving cars which, in that time span, will still cost a 150-250% premium over regular cars. I want some of what they’re smoking. The core point of their article also flagrantly ignores the dominant conclusions of real estate geographic research, which is that the *predictability* of fixed guideway transit makes it a better driver of economic development, and that the “flexibility” lauded by Ghysels and Healy is actually a bug, not a feature when it comes to sustainable development. I would think Healy should know better, but his almost his entire career of research was in sustainable tourism, so maybe he never bothered with transportation geography until now.

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    1. many

      “RTP is not dense employment at all — as job density goes it is quite low. See the rest of my comment. The hospitals have higher job density and hence are far more suitable for transit.”

      >> Source? The only reason the Hospitals are more suitable is the huge number of low wage workers that could take advantage of mass transit, if only they were not going to be priced out of the market.

      “Again, the ballot initiative was one sentence, and covered multiple projects. Why should it have mentioned when every newspaper article that covered it mentioned the light rail?”

      >> Exactly. One carefully crafted sentence.. It was a low turnout elections with low information voters, hoodwinked by “our transit future” propaganda. The ballot mentioned no light rail, its cost and was misleading in that it implied it was for transit, not a small part of Durham’s economic development. People will wake up and when they do they will be angry.

      “I have no idea what you’re trying to say here. “lion’s share” is debatable and the rest is non-sequitur.”

      >> OK. Put it in the context of 1.8 Billion. What is the rest of the total 2014 budget for TTA/Go Triangle? I’ll tell you: $30,736,378 total revenue, and $28,307,038 expenditures. So x10 that’s 590 million in 10 years (the time it takes to implement DOLRT). In 20 years, that just a little over 1 Billion, so DOLRT costs close to 40 times GoTriangles current total revenue + expenses for ONLY 17 miles of DOLRT. http://www.triangletransit.org/sites/default/files/files/FY14%20Final%20Budget.pdf
      >> Does that give you an insight into how much better transit could be county wide if they spent the money on transit rather than economic development for downtown Durham? Does that better define the Lion’s share for you? Does it put things in perspective for you?

      “Rail technology is in one of its fastest developing phases in history, with bullet trains, high speed rail, overhead powered rail, and more getting built at a record pace around the world.”

      >> My turn to say non-sequitur.LRT makes use of none of that. Makes you sound like a LRT bigot who can’t see other forms of transit are better for the money and more flexible at the same time.

      “In addition to problems of service and cost, the LRT system could be technologically obsolescent before it’s built. Even if all goes well, the earliest opening date for LRT is 2025. Therefore the technology chosen will be 13 years old at the time of opening.”

      “So because it will take until 2025 to get the rail off the ground, we should bank on self-driving cars which, in that time span, will still cost a 150-250% premium over regular cars”….

      >> So self-driving buses are beyond your scope of understanding? I was saving this technology obsolescence argument for a little further down in Lisa’s sojourn, but the answer to your question is a resounding Yes! For the 1.8 billion we could probably buy people self-driving cars, but when self-driving cars get here they will be more like Taxis and ownership may well be passé. Criticize the professors if you like, but they are far more credible that you, sir.

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  4. Michael Bacon

    Just to try to put this whole “sneak attack” thing to bed once and far all.

    The DCHCMPO’s information sheet on the ballot initiative:
    http://www.dchcmpo.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=28358

    Note the big picture of the light rail train on it and the words “BUS AND RAIL” at the top.

    WUNC FM’s coverage:
    http://wunc.org/post/durham-transit-referendum-goes-voters
    “On Tuesday, Durham County voters will decide whether to approve a sales tax increase that would help fund big improvements to public transit. Public transportation advocates across the Triangle have been working for years to plan a comprehensive network of buses and trains to make the area more commuter-friendly.
    . . .
    On this fall afternoon, Glenn and I are walking through a hardwood forest that borders a few houses and a shopping center. If the referendum were to pass, a commuter light-rail stop would eventually be built right here.”

    The Indy:
    http://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2011/06/27/durham-voters-to-weigh-transit-education-taxes-on-november-ballot
    “The county wants voters to allow a 1/2-cent sales tax on goods (except housing, food, medicine and gasoline) in Durham County to expand public bus services and add commuter-rail and light-rail systems that could eventually interconnect with rail services in Orange and Wake counties. See maps, graphics and plans here.”

    WUNC TV’s “crossfire”-style coverage. Note that both sides mention light rail:

    http://video.unctv.org/video/2163336292/

    Yeah, sneaky of them to hide their plans by promoting them on every major news outlet in the Triangle.

    Like

    1. many

      Wow. Thank you.Michael.

      DCHCMPO’s information sheet is a very good example. It does not say that “step 3” costs 1.8 Billion vs. a few million for step 1. We all know now that step 2 has been nixed by the voters in Raleigh (who were better informed). Does Step 3 still make good sense, especially since the ballot specifically stated the tax was to “enhance regional transit” and *doubled* the county’s spending on “tran…..er economic development? Other inaccuracies include the trip time and number of stations. This must have been before the Corps of Engineers made GoTriangle reroute the line, we still don’t know why or the history of that decision, but it is either poor planning or something changed, take your pick. Aren’t you interested in what happened?

      WUNC FM’s coverage states “big improvements” and quotes a voter “….So do you know about the referendum? Not much about it but I’ve heard about it actually. Are you planning to vote? Um, well I have a lot of stuff on my slate right now, you know life as it is, but I’ve been thinking about it.” Yea, people knew what they were voting for alright 

      The Indy, yea, we all know how impartial the Indy is on this issue.

      WUNC TV had by far the most comprehensive coverage. I wonder how many people watched it Sunday at 11:30AM? haha

      “Yeah, sneaky of them to hide their plans by promoting them on every major news outlet in the Triangle.”

      The truth is the cost of DOLRT was downplayed (or not mentioned at all). People had no idea of the magnitude of the proposal, nor did they realize they were funding economic development not transit and TTA/GoTriange down played those facts. I only wish I could find the actual verbatim ballot language in Durham, Orange and Wake. I suspect it would be interesting to compare them.

      I noticed you haven’t addressed the other fun fact that TTA/GoTringle refuse to reveal their model to Ghysels and Healy. I wonder why that is? Probably not the stated reason of “for civil rights”. Could it be that the model is deeply flawed?

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  5. Michael Bacon

    “Source? The only reason the Hospitals are more suitable is the huge number of low wage workers that could take advantage of mass transit, if only they were not going to be priced out of the market.”

    American Community Survey data as well as Oak Ridge National Labs’ LandScan Ambient population database. Impossible to place a station in RTP with the same number of employees (nurses and lab techs are not low wage, dear) in 1/4 mile radius, widely accepted standard of walkability, without putting it inside the IBM campus.

    “Exactly. One carefully crafted sentence.. It was a low turnout elections with low information voters, hoodwinked by “our transit future” propaganda. The ballot mentioned no light rail, its cost and was misleading in that it implied it was for transit, not a small part of Durham’s economic development. People will wake up and when they do they will be angry.”

    After posting my prior reply, I posted another comment full of links to both news coverage, but I presume because of the number of links, it’s awaiting moderation and will show up probably when Lisa sees it in the morning. It includes a link to the flyer that was, among other things, sent to all City of Durham water ratepayers (but you’re not one of those, are you?) and declares the “Durham Bus and Rail Investment Plan” across the top, along with a large picture of a light rail car below. The sentence as written on the ballot has legal implications and is carefully crafted for those reasons, not for “hoodwinking” the voters.

    And frankly, if you’re going to make one more accusation of being sneaky and bad faith, you can write it under your own name.

    “Does that give you an insight into how much better transit could be county wide if they spent the money on transit rather than economic development for downtown Durham? ”

    Tell me, did you throw this much of a fit when the developers of 751 South donated land to NC DOT to manipulate the protest petition process, bullied a former planning director into accepting an inaccurate modified map of Jordan Lake to weasel out of clean water restrictions, spent millions to buy the city council to force through their the planning process, and when that failed went and bought some legislators at the NCGA to override local decision making and burden Durham tax and ratepayers with the massive additional cost of infrastructure, all in the name of “economic development” in an area that (unlike downtown) the vast majority of Durham opposes developing? Do tell, I want to hear about your pseudonymous blog heroics on that one too.

    “Criticize the professors if you like, but they are far more credible that you, sir.”

    Look up my credentials, sir. You can do that because my real name is attached to each of these posts.

    And people wonder why I don’t treat these concern trolls seriously.

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  6. many

    American Community Survey data as well as Oak Ridge National Labs’ LandScan Ambient population database. Blah Blah…..

    >> Funny you should cite density when the TTA/GoTriange has been told repeatedly that the density on the entire triangle is insufficient for DOLRT. However +1.8 Billion in economic development (not transit) should take care of that if only for the well off, eh?.

    “………It includes a link to the flyer that was, among other things, sent to all City of Durham water ratepayers (but you’re not one of those, are you?)

    >> No, not a Durham water customer and I think that flyer brings up equal protection issues. Also curious they chose to put “Bus” before “Light Rail” don’t you think since it 1.8 Billion for DOLRT and only a few million for Busses?

    “And frankly, if you’re going to make one more accusation of being sneaky and bad faith, you can write it under your own name.”

    >> Really? That old saw? Statements like that are the last resort for those that are losing an argument.

    “Tell me, did you throw this much of a fit when the developers of 751 South……..”

    >> Yes. I thought that was a terrible abuse of power by the NC Leg (along the lines of Kelo) and I told them so. As long as we have established you are concerned about the Jordan Lake watershed, how is it that the C1 route was rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers? I have to ask; when the DOLRT was proposed and Meadowmont was “purpose built” for DOLRT didn’t the TTA/GoTriangle think to secure the route and get the approval of the Corps? Did they forget, or did the Corps change their mind. If the Corps changed their mind what exactly is the new concern? Moreover how is that concern mitigated by moving the line a half mile to the southeast?

    “And people wonder why I don’t treat these concern trolls seriously.”

    >> Hmm Trolls, eh? Well you have not successfully refuted one thing I am “trolling” about so far, but I guess that’s your way of escaping from a losing point of view.

    Like

  7. Michael Bacon

    “Well you have not successfully refuted one thing I am “trolling” about so far, but I guess that’s your way of escaping from a losing point of view.”

    Look you syncophantic loser, if you come on here declaring bad faith and sneak attacks by transit advocates and then I demonstrate that the those same people were trying to get on every news agency they could to talk about the train, I’ve refuted your point. Your response has been to change the subject regarding the water bills, piss around about word ordering, and declare bias. This was also, again, extensively covered in the News and Observer, the Herald-Sun, WRAL, WTVD, along with public rallies held by the DO-Transit coalition (which was, in turn, backed by the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, Durham CAN, the People’s Alliance, and a dozen other major civic groups that all included it, including things about TRAINS in their newsletters) but I’m a full time student plus I work 20 hours a week plus I have volunteer and family obligations and don’t have time to do your research for you. If you want to declare bias, go do a damned google search yourself and pull news articles that demonstrate a burying of the light rail project. You won’t because you can’t find them, and this sneak attack thing is a completely made up charge hoping that no one will actually remember what actually happened. Bad news, I do, and I have citations.

    Concern troll is a term of art, of sorts. Look it up.

    And before you get pissy about name calling, you’ve been asserting bad faith from the beginning, I’ve just given up on trying not to respond in kind, and if you keep arguing in bad faith, I’m going to keep insulting you. Get used to it. If you actually drop the empirically disproven bullshit and debate in good faith, we can get past it.

    As for Ghysels and Healy and the “civil rights” objection, the only place I’ve heard this is from pseudonymous comments on a blog who won’t give a reference or a citation, so it’s pretty damned hard for me to respond to it, eh? (Or are you Ghysels or Healy? That would help things, care to share the full text of your request or response?) I already engaged the arguments I know of and can find easily online, I don’t have time to go hunting down phantom arguments. Cite or shut up.

    Which brings a greater point — there are perfectly legitimate reasons to hide behind a pseudonym, but have the balls to at least disclose what county you live in, if you have any financial stake in the success or failure of the rail development (like I did, remember?), if you live near the rail line or know someone who does, and if you are employed by any firm that engages in activism towards this kind of thing. Maybe even an abstruse hint as to why you’re so worked up about this thing. (And before you pull out the, “just debate my arguments” dodge, I refer you to Aristotle’s _On Rhetoric_ and the importance of _ethos_ in persuasive writing. I don’t need your identity, but I do need some basis for your _ethos_.)

    tl;dr — if you want good faith granted you, demonstrate it. Otherwise, piss off, troll.

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    1. many

      Heh. It appears that you have lost your cool trying to defend the indefensible. I’ll let you cool down without resorting to the ad holmium attacks you are so comfortable with. All I can say is that I must have really struck a nerve. You will have to take my word that I have good reasons not to reveal my identity. I am so sorry that bugs you so much that you lose control. If you are too much of a hot head to “just debate the issues” then you really shouldn’t expose yourself to this sort of forum, it clearly does not suit your temperament.

      As for Ghysels and Healy, I still ask why TTA and GoTriange will not release the model as requested. Certainly a fellow of your self-assigned transit stature should be able to produce a link to the model in the spirt of transparency, eh? Take a minute to digest the magnitude of 1.8 Billion in the context of a 17 mile LRT and the current size of the TTA/GoTriange budget. Take a look at you own density maps (which show a current density less than that of RTP, which you yourself said was too sparse). Take a look at what was left out of the TTA propaganda. Tell me this is not an economic development program using “transit” as a ruse. Tell me that the money being spent could not serve the people who need transit better than DOLRT. Say it with a straight face.

      I do not live near the rail line. I live in Orange County. I am a private citizen with no connection to the rail line, people who live near the rail line (other than hearing their concerns), developers, or any decision making government entity. You should go back and read the statement I made at the beginning in response to your first question; do it slowly this time. You apparently missed it and it displays your reading comprehension problems.

      Like

      1. Michael Bacon

        You struck a nerve with your first post — the only difference is I’ve given up on trying to be patient. You don’t listen, you don’t engage, you don’t provide evidence, you don’t respond to evidence given. I resort to ad hominem because coming up with funny names amuses me, because basically I’ve decided that conversing with you has no merit beyond that. Monkey poo.

        One more time on Ghysels and Healy because whatever else you’ve shoved in your skull seems to be blocking this out — I still have no idea what you’re talking about. When I google their names, the only thing transit related that I get the Herald-Sun editorial, which doesn’t mention anything about requests and civil rights.

        Provide. A. F—ing. Source. It’s not that hard. I will engage an actual source. I will not engage a random phantom thing some pseudonymous twit keeps referring to but won’t define.

        As you your, “take a minute to engage…” I would be happy to if I thought for five seconds you weren’t deprived of the psychological disposition to listen. In fact, I’ve done so in the past on my personal blog (now shut down because I got tired of paying the hosting fees, but if you give me some kind of contact info, even anonymized, I’ll send you the archives), on BCR comments, on Facebook, in letters to the editor of both Triangle papers, and such. I have on the back burner a blog post for BCR that looks at the capacities of roads connecting Durham and Chapel Hill and their loadings at rush hour to explain why simply buying buses cannot solve the problem and that it requires a new corridor of some point. I can then point to analyses of different forms of public transportation and compare things like BRT with overhead-powered light rail, and why BRT is superior in some instances but why LRT is more suited to this corridor. We can then compare equivalent passenger costs of non-transit investments like the Triangle Expressway and try to work towards some kind of consensus on what an apples-to-apples comparison between transportation projects of different sorts might be. I can do all of that for an audience willing to engage in good faith.

        But you and your ilk don’t. You start from the premise that this prima facia CANNOT be the right solution, make up stories about how the referendum didn’t include rail when it empirically evidently was, go down ridiculous rabbit holes of conspiracy theories, tie yourself into knots trying to invent convoluted stories of waste, and in the end trip and rhetorically fall on your face. You demand evidence but never present it, and when contradicted with it you change the subject and refuse to admit error.

        And so, because it’s generally considered rude to do so otherwise, I will use you to try to determine if I like the sound of “limp-witted buffoon” or “anti-empirical numbskull” better. Do you have thoughts on which works better?

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  8. many

    Heheh. Name call away, it does not bother me one bit sonny, it just hurts your cause. I will leave to to the reader to decide who the “limp witted buffon” in this context is. (very funny, still laughing)

    I know your reading comprehension is very low, I sympathize and I am not trying to take that away from you, but what part of “where is the model GoTriangle used to determine cost and project ridership” don’t you understand, sonny?

    Again: Take a minute to digest the magnitude of 1.8 Billion in the context of a 17 mile LRT and the current size of the TTA/GoTriange budget. Take a look at the ridership they serve now with 1/40th of the budget and how many will be served with the x40 1.8 Billion. Take a look at you own density maps (which show a current density less than that of RTP, which you yourself said was too sparse). Take a look at what was left out of the TTA propaganda. Tell me this is not an economic development program using “transit” as a ruse. Tell me that the money being spent could not serve the people who need transit better than DOLRT.

    Still don’t have any thing meaningful to say, do you, sonny?

    Like

    1. Michael Bacon

      And you still can’t find one citation to back up anything you say. Funny how this whole “civil rights” thing you kept going on about has disappeared when I asked for a source. Almost like you either made it up or heard it from someone who heard it from someone and don’t actually know what you’re talking about.

      As to cost. The Triangle Expressway costs $1 billion, connects RTP to a couple of growing but still small towns in the suburbs, doesn’t include the sale and operating costs of the vehicles, and its tolls aren’t even currently projected to cover its maintenance expenses. That’s a comparable project.

      You’re talking about “density maps,” but I’m not sure what you’re referring to (this is a theme). RTP has about 140k employees in 11 square miles. A transit station’s “walkable zone” is a 1/4 mile radius, or roughly .2 square miles. That’s an average density of 2,500 jobs in a transit zone. Alternately, most of the major campuses in RTP are in the .2 square mile range. The largest is IBM’s, which does not release site-specific numbers but the N&O estimates has about 7,500 employees. Hence my prior comment about placing the stop on RTP’s campus.

      UNC Hospitals alone has 7,100 employees, almost all within the transit stop’s 1/4 mile distance, and the stop is at a hub-point for one of the highest ridership bus systems in the state and on a highly pedestrian-friendly campus with a total of 25,000 jobs. Duke Hospital and clinics have over 20,000 employees, all either in walking distance or connected by Duke’s very frequent shuttle service. Further, both UNC and Duke charge for employee parking, which almost no RTP employer does, which naturally drives demand to transit.

      Now, that took me about 5 minutes to research, and 5 minutes to write up. I’ve got dozens of these kinds of arguments that back up my support for the transit system, but again, I have limited time. If you have specific (and I mean specific) questions as to what my justification for certain positions is, I can supply those. If you want what is effectively an updated executive summary of the STAC report that covers every stop, population and employment density, evaluation of alternatives, comparison to other transit systems nationwide, detailed comparison of travel costs with highway construction projects, and so forth, that’s about a 5-10 hour job, depending on what you want. I am a qualified geospatial analyst and while my consulting business is basically in mothballs at the moment, my standard billing rate is $120/hour. I can arrange for anonymous billing if that’s important to you.

      Like

      1. many

        Glad to see you have calmed down. I hope you can maintain your composure.

        Yes, Triangle Expressway and DOLRT are comparable in length. We have no idea if they are comparable in other areas because GoTringle won’t publish their model. If you compare them in cost as you suggest Triangle Expressway cost about 45% less than DOLRT.

        Yes, I agree. Your reading comprehension problem is a theme. The daily density in RTP is greater than the current density in the DOLRT corridor.

        Wouldn’t it be nice if UNC Hospitals 7,100 employees lived anywhere near a place they could take DOLRT to work? Those that do now, will be priced out by rising rents and housing costs and have to either drive to UNC or drive to DOLRT (hope they are building plenty of parking) because DOLRT has sucked up all the money that should have been used for transit on a misguided economic development program. Same goes for Duke.

        Keep it up. I will refute every one of them. I do thank you for the lead on LandScan Population Data. I am awaiting my access.

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  9. Michael Bacon

    “Keep it up. I will refute every one of them.”

    Again, you haven’t provided a single source for any of your assertions, nor have you engaged in numbers, nor have you engaged in any kind of empiricsm. You’ve refuted things in your mind. Congratulations, I’m sure that feels rewarding.

    On density — this is what I’m talking about and why I’m asking for clarification. “The daily density in RTP is greater than the current density in the DOLRT corridor.” Daily density of what? Ambient population? Employment density? Commercial and retail intensity? Residential density? These things are different things, requiring different data and different analysis.

    I was specifically referring to walkable employment density near a potential transit stop. My data demonstrate, as TTA found when it attempted to make transit work through RTP in the early ‘aughts, that it’s pretty much impossible to make transit work through RTP because of the low employment density and poor transit connectivity. Your very first post asserted that this was all a scam meant to benefit the HR departments of Duke and UNC, and that a value-neutral system would favor RTP. I’ve demonstrated that the employment density near potential transit sites and transit connectivity to those sites is far, far higher at the Duke Hospital and UNC Hospital stops. Indeed, they are the highest density **at the quarter mile radius scale** in the Triangle.

    Now, you could challenge this in a number of ways. You could dispute my numbers (they might be wrong, I got them mostly from the N&O and from places like Triangle Business Journal). You could assert that a different scale is more important (although you’d need to say why, as the 1/4 mile radius is a nationally accepted rubric). You could even propose an alternative transit scheme for RTP that doesn’t rely on transit stops (although you have to deal with secured campuses, long driveways, poor internal connectivity, and no natural hub). But basically what you say is, “nuh uh, RTP is denser,” which rejects a scale-specific and quantified density measurement with a hunch. That’s “refuting” it? Seriously?

    I’ll address the cost comparison with Triangle Expressway vs. DOLRT in another post.

    Like

    1. many

      Employment density, commercial and retail intensity for certain. Residential soon (that’s why RTP proposed rail in their new plans, so you obviously missed that part, eh sparky?). Residential density will soon be coming, All this before the DOLRT get built.

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  10. Michael Bacon

    For starters, one more time. Could you PLEASE give ANY source to your assertion that TTA “won’t show their model?” This is a serious allegation. I’d like to know more if it’s real. If it’s something you made up, please stop referring to it. (I can imagine a refusal to show a model being legitimate and being stonewalling, but it entirely depends on what the ask was.) Seriously, what are you talking about, specifically?

    If we’re going to compare the Expressway with DOLRT, which I think is helpful, we should make sure we’re comparing apples to apples. The top-line numbers look bad, don’t they — 24,000 (TTA estimate) daily commuters for $1.8 billion over 25 years, vs $1 billion for 60,000 (Triangle Expressway’s estimate). But that’s not apples-to-apples.

    $1.8 billion is the total construction, operating, and maintenance cost over (if I remember right, don’t have time to dig through the published GoTriangle docs) 25 years, and it’s denominated in year-spent dollars. (In 2015 dollars the cost is $1.61 billion, I believe.) The $1 billion cost for Triangle Expressway is construction (initial taxpayer outlay) only. Both systems have user fees which go back into the calculation. Both actually have comparable *system-level* maintenance and operating costs — in the $15 million annual range, neither of which is covered by user fees.

    The massive cost that is hidden in the Triangle Expressway numbers is the cost of driving the car, which is built into DOLRT cost projections but not in the Expressway numbers. Let’s just assume that the average commuter drives 15 miles on the TriEx (roughly RTP to Holly Springs). That’s 900,000 car miles per weekday. To get the cost of that in 2015 dollars (which means we ignore changes in inflation-adjusted gas prices, taxes, emissions standards, fuel efficiency, etc.) the easiest thing to do is use AAA’s comprehensive cost per mile figure, which for 2015 is 60.8 cents per mile. Run that out over the same 25 year period (at 250 weekdays/year) and lookie there, there’s a $5.6 billion dollar cost (2015 dollars) for all those drivers!

    So, now we’ve got something closer to an apples-to-apples comparison. $1 billion in construction cost plus $375 million over 25 years in maintenance (partially paid for by tolls, the rest by state taxpayer funds) plus $5.6 billion to pay for the car miles used only on the expressway, for a 25 year total of $7 billion in costs. At 60k cars/day, that comes to an overall cost of roughly $94k/daily commuter in 2015 dollars (and 2015 car prices, an assumption that’s bound to be error prone but hard to say which way). Compare that to DOLRT’s $1.61 billion all-inclusive for 24k daily riders, and you’ve got a 2015 dollar figure of $67/daily commuter.

    Now, before you get started, yes, there’s error in those estimates. The 60k/day figure assumes exclusively single passenger vehicles, which remain the vast majority of commuters but are thankfully dropping thanks to growing ridesharing. The Triangle Expressway’s remains somewhat under capacity at 60k cars/day. And then there’s the aforementioned uncertainty in the cost to own a car — it could go up (e.g., higher gas prices) or down (e.g., increasing gas efficiency). If you know which way that’s going to go, let me in on it and we’ll make a fortune at the markets. While I’ve done my best to use fair numbers here, the net result is that the TriEx is probably overpriced here. If you wish to contest the result, though, I’d ask you to propose and defend alternate figures and do the math yourself.

    Like

    1. Michael Bacon

      Correction — the per daily commuter number for DOLRT should be $67k, not $67. The TriEx is 40% more expensive, not 1,400 times more expensive. 😉

      And while I’m typing, I’ll put a gut guess on the 95% confidence interval of about $40/daily commuter around that $94k/car figure. So, it could indeed be cheaper than DOLRT overall, but it’s probably not and if it is it’s not by much.

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      1. many

        Michael, back out the cost of car ownership and compare, a car or truck will take you many more places than DOLRT and that has significant value. TriEx is not 40% more expensive.

        I know these guys are not exactly neutral but I think it is interesting the the NCHBA has come out against Light Rail and they make some pretty good points, and back it up with a UNC-Charlotte study that I have not read, but I am tempted to buy a copy.

        http://www.nchba.org/wp/legislative-news/the-truth-about-traffic-and-mass-transit/

        …and that UNC Study is backed up by a UC Davis paper (which I have read before)
        http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/assets/Uploads/HandyPaper2.pdf

        Again I ask you look at the TTA budget and how many people they carry and how many miles they travel per day on buses for that amount. Now compare that to DOLRT and how many people they carry for 17 miles costing 1.8 Billion.dollars (and if history is any guide that figure will actually by in the 2.5 to 3 Billion dollar rang by the time DOLRT is built). Now think about how much more service could be applied to the area if the 1.8 Billion was used for transit rather than development.

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    2. many

      If TTA has a model why isn’t it public. Where is it Michael? I *know* it has been asked for (although to post the emails would violate confidence and be rude). I *know* it was refused.

      “The top-line numbers look bad” Yes, Michael they do look bad. That’s not the worst part though the underlying assumptions are wrong, for example the assumption that 40% of people will not have a vehicle.

      Look again Michael, the budget does not include maintenance over 25 years. Plus history shows that actual LRT costs are almost always over budget by half.You are flat out dreaming. And the operational costs for 18 miles of highway is far short of 18 miles of light rail,. Next you want to include the individuals cost of car ownership into the mix to make LRT look better, Really? C’mon that doesn’t even pass the laugh test. I don’t need to do the math, the preposterous assumption and tortured logic you just went through makes my point for me. You still could not make DOLRT look good.

      Like

      1. Michael Bacon

        Let me get this straight. You want me to respond to something you heard in a private email but won’t share the details? What, do I look like a mind reader?

        “40% will not have a vehicle.” What are you talking about? Do you have a congenital condition that makes you forget to cite where you got information?

        One more time. The budget for DOLRT is $1.4 to $1.6 billion in construction costs plus $18 million per year to operate and maintain. You figure it how you want.

        Not total cost of car ownership. AAA’s estimated cost per mile to operate the car, which includes the fractional cost per mile of the car purchase. It’s not perfect but it’s a decent rubric. You give up the car to take transit more, your car wears out more slowly. (Taxes and insurance naturally don’t scale with mileage, but they’re a pretty small part of the cost of car operation.) You can laugh all you want.

        I’m done. Lisa, sorry about the mess.

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      2. many

        Again, if the TTA DOLRT model is available then be a hero (not a mind reader) and please provide a link or source. No one I know can find one and requests to TTA have been refused.

        I see math is not your strong suit either. 18 million * 25 = 450 million. 1.6 billion + 450 million =
        *two billion fifty million*. The costs for DOLRT have been creeping up every few months since this whole mess started. If DOLRT is even only 20% over their stated budget, I will eat my hat. My main point is you are making a tortured comparison of the costs for a highway that is complete to DOLRT which is still not even a settled design. Not even a laughable comparison. Tu capisci?

        Again I ask you look at the TTA budget and how many people they carry and how many miles they travel per day on buses for that amount. Now compare that to DOLRT and how many people they carry for 17 miles costing 1.8 Billion dollars Now think about how much more transit service could be applied to the area if the 1.8 Billion was used for transit rather than development.

        Have a nice day and continue to work on those reading an math skills, once you master them they will pay you back many fold in the future.

        Like

  11. many

    BTW Lisa the assumption that 40% of people will not have a car is here:

    http://ourtransitfuture.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Appendix-K02-Travel-Demand-Methodology-and-Results-Report.pdf

    Table 5.3 page k.2.27

    The “methodology” such as it is makes gross and sweeping assumptions without any background data, which is what Mr. Bacon was so concerned about before he departed.

    Another major point: LRT specifically and transportation in general will be disrupted by technologies on the immediate horizon. LRT being highly inflexible and very expensive will be an early casualty in that disruption. Just today GM (yes the car company) entered the car sharing market. Googles driverless cars have now launched in Austin Tx. How long until companies with driverless technologies enter the mas transit business? I assure you the disruption will occur sooner than DOLRT can be deployed,.

    http://consumerist.com/2015/10/01/gm-testing-car-sharing-program-in-nyc-as-alternative-to-zipcar-uber/

    Like

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