The authors of “We Can’t Afford to Miss This Train” (Jan. 6) have staked their political identities on getting a light rail — any light rail — to Durham. The authors assert that since the local funds for the project come from “dedicated funding” (Durham’s transit sales tax), the light rail won’t compete with other public projects for resources. They also assert that the transit tax was approved by “overwhelming majorities” in Orange and Durham Counties.
The truth is a far cry from these assertions. The transit sales tax referendum, which asked for “mass transit” funding, was on the ballot in an off year. Only 17 percent of Durham’s registered voters turned out. The light rail was never mentioned. Of all eligible voters, only 10 percent voted for the tax and seven opposed. This is not an “overwhelming majority,” no matter how you slice it.
The authors’ assertion that other public projects are not threatened is equally spurious. When the transit tax funds collected fall short of expenses, the only choices will be to increase taxes or siphon funds from other services.
The $2.5+ billion light rail will not take you to RTP or RDU. It does not create 30,000 new jobs. It is not even the best modern-day option for solving gridlock in Durham (“The Orange-Durham Light Rail Has Become a Runaway Train,” Dec. 30). Political messages are just what they appear to be: spin on facts we need to check for ourselves.
Ruth Ann McKinney, M.Ed., J.D., Durham City
Bettie Sue Masters, Ph.D., Durham City
Phillip M. Post, Durham County