3/5-Letters: Duke and the light rail line

A rendering of a proposed light rail station for downtown Durham.
A rendering of a proposed light rail station for downtown Durham.

Meredith College helped

Meredith College increases its endowment by $50 million dollars. Meanwhile in Durham, Duke University earns that in interest and dividends each year but can’t find a way to play its part in community light rail.
Meredith had its own, more modest, experience with a public transportation project in Raleigh. The city Greenway was proposed to circle half of the campus. Consider how justified the college might have been to insist that they preferred their existing, pastoral landscape not be interrupted with a meandering asphalt path, directly across its front yard! Yet, even with attendant additional security burdens and satisfactory alternative routes outside campus, negotiations with the city led to approval. Meredith College conceptualized a future as an urban academic institution with investment in a supportive community ethic and neighborly attitude by its public and private funders, policymakers, affiliates, students and faculty. Duke can to the same.
Douglas A Johnston

A great service

Duke acted for its own reasons in declining to sign off on light rail development. However the region’s major private university has likely done us all a great service. The extravagant and costs of this project threatened to overwhelm dedicated tax receipts, putting bus transit systems and other public services at risk. The promised benefits for affordable housing are belied by the recent experience of cities that have developed light rail. Gentrification is the most frequent result. Low-income citizens cannot benefit from less expensive transit if they are no longer able to afford to live close to the stations. Yes, there would be a boost to the local economy in Durham, from which some would benefit. Many others in both Durham and Orange Counties would bear the burdens of congestion caused by surface transits, of excessive noise and risk of accidents.

If the light rail threat is now truly ended, those of us who consider ourselves to be Progressives should turn our attention to figuring out how to deploy the funds that otherwise would have gone to this over-hyped project to create better bus transport, provide more affordable housing, and improve public services.
David Kiel
Chapel Hill

Hypocritical concerns

Duke’s fear of the ‘wrong element’ (under the veil of vibration disturbances) via access by light rail is hypocritical. If you’ve ever stayed at Duke in one of the rooms under the helipad you’d understand, especially at 3 AM.
I lived in Houston for several years, and they have light rail right through the center of the Medical Center. It mostly carries medical staff to work and facilitates easy travel from one end of the center to the other. I never heard any complaints.
Bonnie S Bleiweiss
Wake Forest

Gross mischaracterization

“Offshore Drilling would bring jobs to NC” (March 3) was a gross mischaracterization of the impact of offshore drilling. There is nothing unreasonable about preventing permanent damage of the economic engine of coastal North Carolina by continuing to prohibit offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic.
Those 53,000 jobs that “could” be created are a fiction. Offshore oil platforms and the ancillary services they will require have no fixed permanent location. Highly skilled and experienced workers occupy those jobs while they last. They fly in from the Gulf of Mexico or from across the globe to work, and when the well is played out they are off to wherever the next well is being completed. North Carolina is not going to suddenly create a ship-building or platform-constructing industry for a limited number of wells. The $ billion per year within two decades is less than 1 percent of the cost in damage to the coastal ecosystem in store from an industry where spilling oil during exploration, completion, production, and capping are routine. Go to the Houston-Galveston-Baytown-Lake Charles-New Orleans corridor and tell me “this is what I want North Carolina’s pristine beaches to look like.”
Matthew Witosky
Holly Springs

Representative republic

The writer of the ‘Keep Electoral College’ letter laments that we will never be a true democracy until we end the Electoral College. Exactly! The United States is not a democracy, and was never intended to be. We are a representative republic. Read the founding documents. The Founders specifically established the country this way. If we ever become a true democracy, God forbid, the people in California, New York and Illinois will decide for all of us. And why is it we only hear complaints about the electoral college when Democrats lose?

John MacPherson