5.3.19

NOT IN OUR BACK YARD.

George Will would have you believe that getting people onto rapid transit is something elitists do, but Streetsblog begs to differ. "‘Elitist’ Duke Kills Rail Project That Durham Spent 10 Years Planning." Why?
On the precipice of an important federal deadline, Duke announced on Wednesday that it would not sign an agreement granting the 17.7-mile Durham-Orange light rail project access to land owned by the university. The decision blocks planners from applying for $1.2 billion in federal construction funding that they almost certainly would have gotten.

In a letter [PDF], University top brass blamed the decision on concerns about impacts of the light rail line to its hospital from electromagnetic and electronic interference and construction vibration.
If it wasn't the vibration, it was likely to be something else.  "GoTriangle, the agency advancing the project, says the concerns are just the latest in a six-year laundry list from Duke that project leaders have addressed."

The university is supposedly a nest of Concern for the Marginalized, but that's not how they come across.  "Durham City Councilman Charlie Reece said university officials are out of touch with the needs of the community, especially lower-income residents."

That's likely true of university trustees.  "The decision seemed to be made primarily be three university executives: Duke President Vincent Price, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III, and Health Affairs Chancellor Eugene Washington were the only signatories on the letter to GoTriangle."  Isn't that redolent of the Social Register?

The faculty, not so much.
The Faculty Union demanded that University leadership continue the project. Earlier this week, more than two dozen faculty and staff signed a letter urging the University to grant the project access.

Duke climate scientist Drew Shindell told Streetsblog on Wednesday that the decision flies in the face of the University’s stated concerns about climate change and about the health of the community.
This is a university where the faculty once rushed to judge their lacrosse team as a way of signalling their Concern for the Marginalized.  Fool me once, shame on you ...

It's also interesting to see a tool of the rent-seekers being deployed against rent-seekers.
Another City Councilman, Mark-Anthony Middleton, echoed the “elitist” rhetoric in a statement to the News Observer, and urged the city to use eminent domain to acquire the needed land.

“How can the very economic trajectory of our region be determined by one wealthy, private landowner?” he asked.
Sometimes a politically connected landowner exerts clout to exercise eminent domain.  Now for a real puzzler: does one private landowner have better knowledge about how best to use the land than a state actor, which is the logical basis for eminent domain?

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