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What’s Up With Wake County’s New Transit Plan

What’s Up With Wake County’s New Transit Plan

Wake County has a massive population, growing by an estimated 64 people per day. Many of us are used to the long commutes, heavy traffic, and frustration associated with said growing population. However, in November, Wake County voters were heard and the Wake County Transit Plan was approved! The Wake County Transit Plan isn’t news to any Triangle residents.

If you’re unfamiliar with the plan, here’s a quick summary of the Wake County Transit Plan.

  • Build a frequent “Bus Rapid Transit” network in high-traffic areas that will incorporate dedicated bus lanes, level boarding platforms, and other enhanced features that will improve the speed and quality of service.
  • Create a brand-new commuter rail line that will utilize preexisting tracks to provide a backbone of passenger train service across the county, thereby enabling people to completely avoid daily road traffic congestion.
  • Expand the frequent network (which is every 15 minutes) from 17 miles to 83 miles. All service will be be expanded to 19 hours a day.
  • Provide triple the current bus service in just the first few years, connecting each town in the county.

According to Wake Transit, the implementation of this plan could take more than one million miles of travel off our roads every single day. How? By offering people attractive alternatives to driving. More than 50 percent of homes and 70 percent of jobs will be within half a mile of a transit stop across Wake County. Talk about efficiency!

GoTransit discusses its key role in transforming Triangle transit. Check out what’s in store.

In November 2016, Wake County voters agreed to raise the county’s sales tax rate by a half-percent in order to fund the $2.3 billion Wake County Transit Plan. What will that mean locally? The local sales tax rate will increase from 6.75 percent to 7.25 percent beginning in April 2017. Then, in December 2016, the Wake County Board of Commissioners officially authorized two key sources of financial support for the Wake County Transit Plan. They are: a $3.00 increase in the Regional Transit Authority Registration Tax as well as a new $7.00 Wake County Vehicle Registration Tax. These two local funding sources are in addition to the half percent increase of local sales and use tax referendum.

Wake County Transit Plan Update

It’s been months since December, so what’s going on with the Wake County Transit Plan?

In February, the GoTriangle Board of Trustees approved the $3.00 increase to the Annual Motor Vehicle Tax in Wake County. This is one of the key funds for the Wake County Transit Plan, and is especially important for the bus services. Annual Motor Vehicle Tax will help pay for tripling of bus service, four Bus Rapid Transit Corridors and Commuter Rail service connecting Garner, Raleigh, Cary, RTP and Durham.

April 1st saw the tax go into effect within Wake County. The investment into better public transportation began, which is to say the tax voted on in November came into effect.

“Wake County has more than a million residents. That number is growing by an estimated 450 people every week,” says Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sig Hutchinson. “Projects funded through the Wake County Transit Plan will make commuting options more frequent, reliable and easier to use. We are thrilled to see this investment begin to take shape. We look forward to the enhancements it promises for the community.”

So, what’s coming up next? How will these developments begin to take in the Triangle and Wake County?

Change is on the Horizon

This summer, the other key funding sources will come into effect. This means the $7.00 Wake County vehicle registration tax will begin, as well as an $8.00 regional registration tax. The regional registration tax increases by $3.00 from the original $5.00 in August, 2017.

Tax isn’t the only thing on the horizon for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Other selected project proposals include:

  • Expanding Monday through Friday service frequency to every 15 minutes for the GoRaleigh 7 route. Also, expanding Sunday service on all existing routes.
  • Expanding mid-day service frequency for GoCary routes 3, 4, 5 and 6 and adding Sunday service on all existing routes.
  • Increasing frequency to every 30 minutes on GoTriangle route 100 between Raleigh, Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Research Triangle Park.
  • Increasing frequency, days of operation and hours of service on GoTriangle route 300 between Cary and Raleigh.
  • Significantly increasing door-to-door service for rural residents through
  • Continuing express bus routes to Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.

What Residents Are Saying

Some of the change brought on by the Wake County Transit Plan is already affecting surrounding Wake County communities like Fuquay Varina.

“For residents who do not have direct access to personal transportation, this service has filled their transportation void by providing a low-cost, efficient transportation service,” says Town of Fuquay-Varina’s Economic Development Director, Jim Seymour. “For those residents who do have access to a personal transportation and want to reduce their transportation out-of-pocket costs, this service has reduced typical transportation costs—travel time, operating costs and parking facility costs. For some households, it offers the opportunity to lower the cost of vehicle ownership by transitioning from a two-vehicle to one-vehicle household.”

If you’re looking to learn more about the Wake County Transit Plan and associated projects, there are many resources to check out.

Real Estate Experts

For more information about the Wake County Transit Plan, you can visit their website or Facebook page. For more information about living, working, and commuting in Wake County, contact Real Estate Experts at 919-813-6449. With our local expertise, we can help you make the best decision for you or your family as you become residents of Wake County or the Triangle area.

If you are interested in learning about the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Raleigh and other properties in the greater Triangle area, visit us online.  Call us today at 919-813-6449 or e-mail us at
[email protected] for additional information.  We can’t wait to welcome you to your new home.

 

 

Wake County Transit Plan Update

Wake County Transit Plan Update

Wake County Transit Plan

Photo courtesy of waketransit.com.

In response to ever-increasing traffic congestion, Wake County voters agreed on November 8 to raise the county’s sales tax rate by a half-cent to help fund the $2.3 billion Wake County  Transit Plan. The local sales tax rate increase, from 6.75 percent to 7.25 percent, will begin in April 2017. GoTriangle, a regional transportation authority and provider, is in charge of levying the new tax.

On December 5, the Wake County Board of Commissioners officially authorized two key funding sources for the Wake County Transit Plan: a $3 increase in the Regional Transit Authority Registration Tax and a new $7 Wake County Vehicle Registration Tax. These local funding sources are in addition to the one-half percent local sales and use tax referendum.

Bus Service

The plan has been designed to better connect the Research Triangle Region and provide citizens with reliable, accessible, affordable public transportation. The plan will increase bus service; improve access between colleges, medical centers, RDU Airport, downtowns, and residential areas; and operate routes every 30 to 60 minutes.

The first phase of implementation of the transit plan will begin in the next year or so. The plan will include 30-minute bus service at stops in Cary, Morrisville, Research Triangle Park, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and the Wake Tech Community College campus between Garner and Fuquay-Varina.

Hourly bus service will be provided at stops in Apex, Garner, Knightdale, and Wake Forest. Rolesville, Wendell, Zebulon, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs will also have hourly bus service, but only during weekday rush hours.

According to John Tallmadge, director of regional services development at Go Triangle, new buses will be ordered next summer and will arrive from the manufacturer 12 to 18 months later. “We will be looking at opportunities to extend service on routes later into the night and for more hours on weekends,” said Tallmadge. “We’ll also be considering providing more frequent service on some routes during the middle of the day or on weekends.”

Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is another component of the plan. BRT provides dedicated bus lanes on local roads, so bus operators can bypass traffic and keep their routes on schedule. Initially, the plan will construct approximately 20 miles of BRT-related infrastructure improvements, including New Bern Avenue between Raleigh Boulevard and WakeMed; Capital Boulevard between Peace Street and the Wake Forest Road intersection; South Wilmington Street towards Garner; and Western Boulevard between Raleigh and Cary.

Commuter Rail Transit

The plan also calls for the implementation of Commuter Rail Transit (CRT). CRT will utilize existing railroad tracks to provide passenger service that allows riders to relax or work on their way to key destinations. The initial plan is to have 37 miles of CRT in place from Garner to downtown Raleigh, N.C. State University, Cary, Morrisville, and the Research Triangle Park, continuing to Durham. During peak hours, there would be up to eight trips running in each direction; during midday and evening hours, there would be one or two trips running in each direction.

In addition, the plan will expand funding to the current Transportation and Rural Access (TRACS) demand-response system that serves the elderly and disabled throughout Wake County.

We at Real Estate Experts are excited about the prospect of new and improved transportation options in the Research Triangle Region, and look forward to seeing how the Wake Transit Plan will improve the quality of life for all of us!

Where’s the Best Place to Live in North Carolina?

Where’s the Best Place to Live in North Carolina?

Best place to live in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of downtowncary.org.

Money magazine recently named Cary, North Carolina as the best place to live in North Carolina, and the 37th  best place to live in the US.  “Cary offers a solid school system, safe streets, healthy job opportunities – plus 39 greenway trails and a massive nature preserve,” according to Money.

The Town of Cary

SAS Headquarters in Cary, North Carolina

Photo courtesy of sas.com.

The Town of Cary provides the benefits of small-town living with the perks of a thriving metropolis. The town has a median population of 155,227, which has grown approximately 64 percent since 2000.  Cary is situated between Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, offering easy access to the Raleigh Durham International Airport, NC State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Employers in Cary

Cary is home to major employers such as SAS, Fidelity, Verizon, MetLife, and Relias Learning, among others. According to Money magazine, jobs in Cary are expected to increase at a rate of 11.3% over the next five years.  Cary residents who commute to work in Raleigh or RTP can look forward to commute times that may be cut in half, thanks to passing the Wake Transportation Bond earlier this month.

Downtown Cary

Downtown Cary North Carolina

Image courtesy of the Town of Cary.

Downtown Cary North Carolina

Photo courtesy of The Cary.

Downtown Cary is in the midst of several major revitalization projects: the Academy Street streetscape, upgrading underground utilities and adding new benches. Cary is also working on a $5 million downtown park.

“You can start to see, but the cool part is that you can start to feel it,” said Ted Boyd, Cary’s downtown development manager. “Especially in the evenings people are walking and strolling around downtown and sitting outside grabbing a bite to eat.”

Cary Parks and Greenway

Cary also has amazing parks and outdoor spaces, with a total of 35 parks and 82 miles of greenway.  Recently, Cary was awarded the National Gold Medal Grand Plaque Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.  According to Doug McRainey, Cary’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, the quality of the Parks Department is a reflection of one of Cary’s major priorities. “It’s the extensiveness of our programs, our well-designed facilities and our many unique features,” for example, the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, Koka Booth Amphitheater and WakeMed Soccer Park (home of the Carolina Railhawks).
“One thing people universally praise about Cary is the quality of our parks,” McRainey said. “Cary and its citizens embrace quality of life and the town makes an investment in that system.” Living in Cary is also safe and affordable, with median home prices of $319,000 and average property taxes of $3,168. All of these things are what makes Cary the best place to live in North Carolina.
There is so much more to say about Cary, and we would love to tell you all about it!  Visit Real Estate Expert’s web site to learn about the best neighborhoods in Cary NC.
Give us a call at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected] to find out more about living in Cary, and visit our website to view current homes for sale in the area.
Wake County Transit Plan: What Voters Need to Know

Wake County Transit Plan: What Voters Need to Know

As Wake County continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, Wake County citizens, along with government, university, and private sector leaders have responded by proposing a modern public transportation plan that will be on the ballot November 8. Here is what you need to know about the Wake County Transit Plan before you head out to vote.

Anyone who drives in Wake County has encountered frustrating traffic congestion and long commutes on our highways on a daily basis. As a result, most everyone agrees that something must be done to address the growing traffic congestion, and building more roads can’t be the only answer. Are you wary of using public transportation? If so, remember, there are many citizens who will choose to do so, meaning less traffic congestion on a daily basis and more time for you at work or home. According to Wake Transit, its implementation could take more than one million miles of travel off of our roads every day by offering people attractive alternatives to driving. More than 50% of homes and 70% of jobs will be within half a mile of a transit stop across Wake County.

The 10-year Wake County Transit Plan will: 

  • Provide triple the current bus service in just the first few years, connecting each town in the county.
  • Build a frequent “Bus Rapid Transit” network in high-traffic areas that will incorporate dedicated bus lanes, level boarding platforms, and other enhanced features that will improve the speed and quality of service.
  • Create a brand-new commuter rail line that will utilize preexisting tracks to provide a backbone of passenger train service across the county, thereby enabling people to completely avoid daily road traffic congestion.
  • Expand the frequent network (which is every 15 minutes) from 17 miles to 83 miles. All service will be be expanded to 19 hours a day.

Wake County Transit Plan

The Wake County Transit Plan has been in development for more than a year, with input from Wake County citizens and representatives from local universities, hospitals, businesses, every Wake County municipality, civic groups, and the Wake County Public School System.

Wake County government conducted hundreds of community listening sessions, received thousands of survey responses, polled current transit riders, and advertised the Plan’s development to hundreds of thousands of residents. With the help of world-renowned transportation expert Jarrett Walker, Wake County ultimately developed a comprehensive transit plan. Finally, on June 6, 2016, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plan and place it on the ballot this election.

The 10-year plan is conservatively projected to cost $2.3 billion. The transit plan is designed to be funded through a combination of local, state, and federal dollars, as well as farebox revenue. The main funding source for the transit plan is the local half-cent sales tax (on the ballot November 8), which would provide a dedicated, locally-controlled funding source to help pay for the approved transit plan and is needed to help secure federal and state funds. The sales tax, which will not apply to food, medicine, or housing, will come in part from tourists and other visitors, which will decrease the overall portion paid by Wake residents.

For more information about the Wake County Transit Plan, you can visit their website or Facebook page. For more information about living, working, and commuting in Wake County, contact Real Estate Experts at 919-813-6449.

Traditional Schools Make a Comeback in Wake County

Traditional Schools Make a Comeback in Wake County

heiwa_elementary_school_18

In response to slower-than-expected growth and a shortage of traditional calendar seats, the Wake County School Board is considering transitioning more and more multi-track year-round schools to a traditional calendar. In year-round schools, students attend school all 12 months of the year, with three-week breaks throughout the year. Traditional schools open in late August and end by early June, with summer breaks of 10 weeks or more.

Wake County had a large expansion of multi-track schools between 2007 and 2009. At that time, the district was projected to continue growing by 5,000 students a year. Year-round schools were advantageous because they save on the cost of building new schools by accommodating more students per building. But slower growth during the recession, opposition from some parents, and a lawsuit kept many of the year-round schools below their projected enrollments. Wake ultimately won the lawsuit in 2009 saying it didn’t need to get parental consent to send children to year-round schools.

Today, many of Wake County’s 37 year-round schools have empty seats, while families are complaining about a shortage of traditional school seats. As Wake has transitioned more year-round schools to a traditional calendar, the school district initiated a study of the year-round program, and found that the majority of traditional-calendar elementary and middle schools were over capacity. Additionally, the majority of year-round schools were under capacity.

Wake County parents have been vocal both for and against the year-round calendar. Some parents claim that Wake has already cut back too much on year-round schools (Wake has 14 fewer year-round schools this year than it has in 2009). Others have threatened to pull their kids out of traditional schools should they be changed to a year-round schedule. In addition, only one year-round school was part of the building program funded by a bond referendum voted on in 2013; the others were traditional calendar schools.

Currently, Wake County’s student assignment staff is recommending that River Bend Elementary in Raleigh make the switch to a traditional calendar next year. Student assignment staff will also make suggestions for changes to Track 4 year-round schools in 2018 and multi-track year-round schools in 2019.

The school board is also discussing the option of no longer offering a year-round school to every family, but to continue offering every family assigned to a year-round school the option to apply to a traditional calendar school. But the board won’t be making any decision regarding this until it receives more data from school staff. According to Wake County School Board Chairman Tom Benton, “We don’t have a preconceived idea of where we want to go. We’re not convinced we’re getting the efficiencies that people want us to have out of our multi-track year-rounds. We are interested in simplifying calendar options.”

For more information about Wake County schools, visit our website. If you have questions about schools in Wake County or other districts around the Research Triangle Region, contact us today at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected].

 

North Carolina School Report Cards: Wake County

North Carolina School Report Cards: Wake County

North Carolina School Report Cards

North Carolina schools have received their 2015-2016 School Report Cards, which provide school performance grades and data on student achievement, school safety and technology, teacher quality, and more.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts Real Estate Experts will publish covering North Carolina School Report Card results for school districts throughout Triangle.

According to Wake County Schools’ Report Card data, more students are passing state exams and graduating from high school this year. For the 2015-16 school year, the percentage of Wake County students that passed state exams in math, reading, and science rose to 67.9 percent from 66.8 percent the previous school year. Wake County Schools are well above the NC statewide proficiency rate of 58.3 percent.

Other encouraging news: the district’s graduation rate rose a full percentage point to 87.1 percent (compared to the statewide graduation rate of 85.8 percent). Half of Wake County Schools’ 26 high schools have a graduation rate above 90 percent, and 18 high schools’ graduation rates increased in 2015-16. Two Raleigh high schools, Sanderson and Enloe, had the highest jumps in graduation. Sanderson’s graduation rate rose 7.7 percentage points to 89.1 percent, while Enloe’s graduation rate rose 7.5 percentage points to 89 percent.At Raleigh’s Sanderson High School, 89 percent of seniors are graduating. “We’re addressing this issue really at the ninth-grade level and not really just taking a look at the seniors,” said Sanderson Principal Dr. Greg Decker. “We’re trying to be much more proactive than reactive.”

img-merrill-300x171

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill.

“Our graduation rate continues moving in the right direction, thanks to the hard work and perseverance of our teachers, staff, students, and parents,” said Wake Superintendent Jim Merrill. “As educators, we know the work is never finished. So we have recommitted ourselves to building on this progress as we continue to close in on our goal that, by 2020, we will annually graduate at least 95 percent of our students, ready for higher education or a career.”

Wake County also saw advancement in the number of schools meeting academic growth targets on state exams, with 68 percent meeting or exceeding growth expectations, up from 61 percent last year. According to Report Card data, Wake saw improvement on school performance letter grades, as well. Ten Wake County Public Schools received an A+, eight received an A, 66 received a B, 68 received a C, 14 received a D, and one an F.

Wake County schools that received an A include Apex High, Brassfield Elementary, Cedar Fork Elementary, Davis Drive Elementary, Davis Drive Middle, Green Hope Elementary, Green Hope High, Highcroft Elementary, Holly Grove Elementary, Holly Springs High, Jones Dairy Elementary, Leesville Road High, Lufkin Road Middle, Mills Park Elementary, Mills Park Middle, Morrisville Elementary, Panther Creek High, and Sycamore Creek Elementary.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series, which will cover the Charter School Report Cards.

You can also search the comprehensive database provided on our website to see the grades schools received over the last three years and whether the school exceeded, met or did not meet its expected academic growth.

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