Duke Sucks: The Legal Planet March Madness Special

Why Is The University Killing Light Rail In The Research Triangle?

Like most people of intelligence and character, when it comes to NCAA basketball, I despise the Duke Blue Devils. As the precocious son of a good friend notes, “you can’t spell Blue Devil without evil.”  I acknowledge Mr. Mxyzptlk’s Mike Krzyzewski’s greatness as a basketball coach, but it’s too much to put up with garbage quotations like this:

“I don’t look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball.”

Oh please. Can I get the vomit bag now? And don’t get me started with, say, Ted Cruz look-alike Grayson Allen.

That being said, it has always been a little problematic to me. After all, Duke has an excellent reputation for its players actually going to class and graduating. Moreover, they were defeated by Michigan State, which for years employed and protected Larry Nassar.

Environmentalism to the rescue!

For years, GoTriangle, the Research Triangle’s transportation agency has been planning, and investing millions in, a projected 17.7 mile light rail line from Durham to Chapel Hill. This isn’t a basketball train: the Triangle is a remarkable region with horrible land use planning. Better transit would allow the region to begin to develop in a reasonable, environmentally-friendly way, helping people avoid brutal commutes on the I-40, and helping to preserve much of the area’s natural beauty.

But no:

All this came to a screeching halt on February 27, when Duke University officials said they would not sign a cooperative agreement. (The project required 11 partners to ink cooperative agreements; only Duke, Norfolk Southern, and the North Carolina Railroad Company, which manages a major rail corridor, remain unsigned.) A week later, Duke declined a request to participate in a mediated negotiation with GoTriangle, the region’s transportation authority.

Duke’s bombshell is likely to spell the end of the line for the project.
This is crucial because the light rail was supposed to run through parts of Duke’s campus. The University has yet to give any reasonable explanation for its position. All of a sudden, it raised concerns that it had had years to raise before; indeed, “in 2016, Duke officials signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to cooperate with GoTriangle. Duke raised no issues about the route during the environmental impact comment period in 2015 and 2016.” It didn’t raise issues about the magnetic rail, allegedly a problem for its hospital, until 2017. GoTriangle’s repeated attempts at compromise were met with a spiteful stomp that would have done Christian Laettner proud.
It isn’t clear now whether GoTriangle can resuscitate the project. It is truly shameful episode for a school that has had, well, its share of them over the years.
Thus, it is now a matter of Sound Environmental Policy, as well as basic ethics, that Duke Sucks.
It will not be missed this weekend in the Twin Cities. But that’s okay, because Mike Krzyzewski is a leader who just happens to coach basketball.

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