Council preview: trains, broadband and phone books

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City councilors will get the final report on the proposed Union Station, which will serve train and bus services near the intersection of West and Hargett streets.

The report from the planning department will focus on next steps to make the proposal into a reality. It includes finding experts, either on staff or consultants, to raise state and federal money for the project.

In a memo to councilors (PDF), Planning Director Mitchell Silver writes that the city should team up with the Triangle Transit Authority to coordinate the design and construction of the state. The memo also says that the city should develop a public input plan and begin the preliminary engineering for the train tracks in and out of the new station.

Stimulus grant for broadband

The city is getting a $1.3 million grant to expand broadband access to low-income areas.

The grant, which is part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act aka the stimulus, will provide public wireless access for 27 areas in the city that are currently underserved when it comes to fast internet access. The grant will also subsidize almost 1,900 broadband internet connections to low-income homes.

The city will share the grant with the One Economy Corporation, which will be responsible for the actual implementation of the wireless and home internet connections. The grant pays for the city to hire one instructor to train 60 people age 14-21, and pay them a $500 stipend each, to go out and train their neighbors on how to take advantage of the new internet connection.

Phone books

Don’t like getting those two or three phone books every year? Well now the city says you shouldn’t have to get one if you don’t want to. Council’s law and public safety committee decided last week that people should be able to opt out of receiving the ubiquitous yellow and white books. If the city council gives the measure the final nod this week, city staff will figure out a way so people can say no to phone books. Whether or not a city-run opt out will actually work will likely take a couple years to know.


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