Statewide: Triangle region, January 2015

 In 2015-01
Down the line

It’s not easy getting three counties and 17 municipalities to cooperate, but that’s the task of Triangle Transit, the Durham-based agency in charge of plotting regional transportation initiatives and strategy. By most standards, CEO and General Manager David King has been successful. In eight years at the helm, he has expanded service, doubled ridership to 1.7 million and spearheaded the passage of a half-cent sales tax in Orange and Durham counties to finance a planned light-rail line there. King, 68, will step down by May — or sooner if Triangle Transit’s board can find a replacement. His successor will be tasked with mapping transit options for a region that is rapidly growing. “You can’t wait until a tsunami of growth happens before you do anything,” King says. Between the 2010 census and a July 2013 survey, the Raleigh-Cary metro population surged 7%, to about 1.2 million, the 11th-fastest growth rate in the country. The Durham-Chapel Hill metro grew 5.2%, to nearly 534,600. The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia region, which had an estimated 1.9 million people in 2013, opened a 9.6-mile light-rail line in 2007. King says it’s a good time to retire for the second time: He had worked for the N.C. Department of Transportation more than 30 years. The light-rail project is still in the planning phase and is years away from breaking ground. Consultants are drafting a Wake County transportation plan that is expected to be unveiled in June. It could include a referendum on a half-cent sales-tax hike for transit projects such as light rail. With Raleigh and Durham attracting more downtown residents, and Research Triangle Park adding housing, new approaches for mass transit may be on track.



Briefs

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARKGlaxo-SmithKline will eliminate 900 research and development jobs by year-end in a corporate restructuring. About half of the affected workers will be offered jobs in a business unit the London-based drugmaker plans to form with Waltham, Mass.-based Parexel, and some may be offered jobs at other GSK locations. GSK employs about 5,350 in the state.

CHAPEL HILLFred Eshelman will donate $100 million to UNC Chapel Hill’s pharmacy school, the largest individual gift in university history. The school was named for Eshelman in 2008. He founded Wilmington-based Pharmaceutical Product Development in 1985 and Morrisville-based Furiex Pharmaceuticals in 2010. They were sold for a combined $5 billion.

RALEIGHHighwoods Properties will develop a $200 million headquarters building in Nashville, Tenn., for Bridgestone Americas, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Bridgestone. Construction on the 30-story, 514,000- square-foot building is expected to be finished in 2017. The real-estate investment trust, based here, also acquired a 246,000-square-foot office building in Orlando, Fla., for about $68.3 million.

DURHAM — Los Angeles-based Mandalay Digital Group plans to acquire Appia, which helps companies market their mobile apps, for about $75 million, including debt. Founded here in 2008, Appia has annual revenue of about $30 million.

GARNEROverland Contracting will move its headquarters here from Conyers, Ga., and add 89 jobs with an average salary of $83,146 — higher than Wake County’s $48,524 — over three years. The engineering company will receive up to $70,000 from the state if it meets job and investment targets.

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