A new transportation plan put forward by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory will make it “almost impossible to find money for passenger trains, sidewalks, bicycles and regional transit,” according to the Raleigh News Observer.
McCrory’s Strategic Mobility Formula will clear the way for more spending on the state’s highway system, designating about 40 percent of the state’s transportation money for projects of statewide importance (big highways, airports and freight rail only). Another 30 percent will be divided between seven regions of the state. Projects eligible for this smaller pot of money would include “second-tier” highways and ferries, but no transit and no Amtrak, reports the News Observer’s “Road Worrier” Bruce Siceloff.
Siceloff adds that the governor’s plan might torpedo a rail “triangle” between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill:
It creates new barriers that appear likely to kill prospects for money to build greenways or upgrade Amtrak service.
Also in jeopardy are Triangle plans – endorsed by Durham and Orange residents who have voted to increase their local sales taxes – for light-rail lines and rush-hour commuter trains that could eventually reach beyond the region as far as Greensboro and Goldsboro.
McCrory — who helped secure funds for Charlotte’s Lynx light rail system when he served as mayor — has also obstructed the city’s streetcar plans.
It’s something of a mystery why McCrory has become such a dogged transit opponent. Jeff Wood at the Overhead Wire speculates that there are greater political rewards for McCrory in supporting sprawl, since certain individuals stand to profit from some $3 billion in road projects for the Charlotte region, and big-ticket transit projects are seen as competition.
According to the News Observer, state legislators will vote on McCrory’s plan “in the next week or so.”