Iconic Raleigh | Citizen | Indy Week
Pin It

Iconic Raleigh 

Beam us to Durham, Scotty

What a strange sight we encountered in Raleigh on Saturday night. It was a traffic jam--I kid you not--at the corner of West Davie and South Harrington streets.

There were four stretch limousines implicated. I counted them as I watched from the patio at Humble Pie. The traffic was headed, beautiful young people in tow, for the hot, new nightclubs that suddenly dot the downtown Depot District. Depot District? Yes, that's what the city's been calling it, as it's located in between the existing Amtrak station and the planned West Side station for the TTA's trains.

So you see where I'm going with this. Just as downtown Raleigh's finally showing some signs of life, and Durham too, the TTA has been forced to pull the plug--temporarily, we trust--on its intercity commuter railroad project. The reasons why were well-covered over the weekend by Yonah Freemark, a Yale undergraduate from Durham, on a transit blog called "Live From the Third Rail." If I may summarize for him here, they are: 1) No local leadership; 2) No help from Liddy Dole or Richard Burr, our two U.S. senators; 3) No help from the transit-unfriendly Bush administration; and 4) No local leadership.

(I've put a link to Freemark's post on our Citizen blog.)

Here's my question: Is it still the Depot District without the TTA depot? And my next question: Is it still a region if the only way to get from one point on the Triangle to either of the other two points is on car-choked I-40? And my final question: Why are we so consumed with Plensa Plaza, and so blasé about the TTA?

We keep pawing over artist Jaume Plensa's design for Fayetteville Street, as if shining a light toward the heavens will somehow be the "iconic" evidence of Raleigh's visionary wonderfulness. What I think would be iconic of some vision is a transit system that reels in the region's sprawl, connects our various centers, and anchors a new era of sustainable, metropolitan growth in the Raleigh-to-Cary-to-Durham (and eventually to Chapel Hill) corridor.

Or perhaps we should start thinking of it as our High Achievement corridor that goes from downtown Raleigh (Peace College, Shaw and St. Aug's) to NCSU to Meredith to NCCU to Duke to UNC. Which is where the TTA rail line will go, when we build it. Which we will, when the Bushies are just a bad memory.

Let's brand that.

And let's put our public art in the HA! Corridor at every station. Now that would make a statement.

Meeker to Dole to Szlosberg

And speaking of our local leaders and Sen. Dole, suddenly the word is out that Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker is iffy about running for a fourth term in '07 and is meanwhile mulling a run for higher office in '08. What higher office? U.S. Senate, is what I'm told by numerous Democratic sources, who do not--I should add--include Meeker himself.

Who will run for mayor if Charles does not? Republican contenders could include City Councilor Philip Isley, who's taken to paying his constituents' parking tickets (a page from the Meeker playbook) and whipping up sentiment against the TTA. (Isley wonders why there's no transit planned for Brier Creek? It's because BC's the epitome of sprawl, Philip. A bus trying to pick up passengers there might never be seen again.)

On the other hand, Isley's shown his practical, pro-downtown side by voting for all the big-ticket projects (F-Street, the convention center, the Contemporary Art Museum) that the real-red conservatives despise. Besides which, he says he's not running.

Also not running, on the Democratic side, is Nina Szlosberg, who is president of the Conservation Council of N.C. and is Gov. Easley's officially designated environmentalist on the state Board of Transportation. Szlosberg's hosted many a fundraiser for Democrats in her University Park home, including one this week for Congressman Brad Miller, and no question she is the progressives' first choice to succeed Meeker should he decide three mayoral terms is enough.

She is also, it's worth noting, a member of the TTA board and a proponent of the rail project--unlike Meeker, who's rarely mentioned the subject in his four-plus years to date.

Szlosberg says she's considering running, but only if Meeker doesn't. If he does, she'll be with him once again. And Meeker says he won't make up his mind for a few months.

Would Meeker have a chance against Dole? At first blush, you might not think so, given Liddy's star power and Meeker's lack thereof. Since winning her senate seat in 2002, however, Dole's put her energies into national Republican politics, including as the current head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, while neglecting--the critics say--her duties to North Carolina. Not to mention she hasn't lived here in 40 years.

Meeker, meanwhile, is the pro-business mayor of the booming state capital city and a determined centrist popular with moderates of both parties.

If, by 2008, North Carolina is ready to return to its old tradition of one Republican and one Democratic senator, Dole could be vulnerable, and the squeaky clean Meeker a very viable alternative.

For more on Meeker-Dole and Szlosberg's link to the late Isabella Cannon, Raleigh's only woman mayor, visit our blog at www.indyweekblogs.com/citizen. And if you've got a better idea than the HA! Corridor--how hard can that be to beat?--send it to rjgeary@mac.com.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Citizen

  • John Kane's preposterous parking deck proposal

    John Kane's preposterous parking deck proposal

    Tax cuts for Raleigh's rich?
    • Aug 15, 2007
  • Transfer in the House

    Transfer in the House

    The transfer-tax option is signed into law the same week former House Speaker Jim Black goes to prison. Coincidence? No.
    • Aug 8, 2007
  • CACs languish in limbo

    CACs languish in limbo

    Hardy Watkins, longtime head of Raleigh's Community Services Department, is puzzled over why, even as Raleigh's population tripled, "civic activism has declined for some reason."
    • Jul 25, 2007
  • More »

Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Thanks to both of you for your stories. The legend of Kidd Brewer lives on, and so does his hill …

by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on Mountaintopping on Kidd's Hill in Raleigh (Citizen)

Hello there...i have a funny story regarding Kidd. He and Frankie and many more football lovers were attending an after …

by bebenjohn on Mountaintopping on Kidd's Hill in Raleigh (Citizen)

Let me try commenting on this blog...again. My comment from last week has mysteriously disappeared with not explanation from Bob …

by mbrock49 on Greg Poole’s Dix is great. His TIF financing plan isn’t. (Citizen)

Mr. Geary's words fail to depict Mrs. Moye-Stallings and fall far short of the realization of her abilities. Those who …

by DWalrus on Dismissing dismissive language, welcoming disabilities advocacy (Citizen)

The city hasn't responded to "urgent needs" from parts of the city, Southeast Raleigh in particular, for decades. Instead, they've …

by ncwebguy on John Kane's preposterous parking deck proposal (Citizen)


Thanks to both of you for your stories. The legend of Kidd Brewer lives on, and so does his hill …

by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on Mountaintopping on Kidd's Hill in Raleigh (Citizen)

Hello there...i have a funny story regarding Kidd. He and Frankie and many more football lovers were attending an after …

by bebenjohn on Mountaintopping on Kidd's Hill in Raleigh (Citizen)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation