10/20/2020 meeting summary: exciting transit projects, campaign promises
We had a work session and regular Council Meeting Tuesday, October 20, 2020. We took action on two exciting transit projects. Below is a summary.
1. We took action on the next, upcoming BRT (bus rapid transit) route from downtown Raleigh to Garner, called the “Southern Corridor” route.
In November 2016, Wake County voters approved a bond to expand and better connect public transit. Part of the plan is to create 4 BRT routes. The first BRT line will operate along New Bern Avenue from downtown Raleigh to past Wake Med hospital, called “New Bern Avenue” route; construction will begin next year. We are now working on the next route, which will operate from downtown Raleigh to Garner.
At our meeting, we endorsed South Wilmington Street as the preferred route alignment for part of this BRT line. Attached is a map of the proposed and planned routes and a graphic explaining BRT (from GoRaleigh website). More information about BRT here.
2. We authorized funds to help build commuter rail for our region. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) was recently awarded a federal grant to assist with purchasing an existing rail line (the “S-Line”) to create commuter rail connecting Raleigh and other municipalities, like Sanford, Wake Forest, and Apex. NCDOT is seeking support from the towns and cities along the proposed route.
We authorized staff to work with NCDOT and to provide funds for an additional grant for station area planning adjacent to the S-Line. We also authorized the mayor to send a letter of support and commitment on behalf of the City Of Raleigh for the commuter rail project.
It will be transformative for our city to provide consistent rail connection to neighboring towns and cities, easing commutes to work and other places of interest. Attached is a map of the proposed S-Line commuter rail corridor.
3. We approve a text change to make it easier for small businesses to invest and grow in our city. The change will save small business owners significant amounts of money when they seek to remodel existing, older buildings to create new stores and services. Before, a full site plan was required for all projects, regardless of size and scope. The delay and cost was a big burden on entrepreneurs seeking to invest and grow in our city. This change now provides for a 3-tiered system for categorizing site plans based on construction type and level of impact and includes two categories, minor and major, for modification of approved site plans.
Making it easier to do business with our city, especially related to construction and permitting, was one of my campaign promises, and I am so glad we were able to make this change. We still have more work to do on this issue, but this change is a great start. A big thank you to Council Member Nicole Stewart for leading this effort!
Our next regular council meetings are after Election Day, on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
At this next meeting, among other things, we will be conducting the public hearing and voting upon a text change to expand written notice of projects to renters (not just property owners, as currently provided under our code). This text change is another big step towards increasing access in our city. Council Member Stewart and I will also be announcing an upcoming community meeting on this issue, stay tuned!