Local News

Commuter Rail Discussion Turns To Artwork

Posted September 10, 2003

— Many local motorists are tired of sitting in traffic going to or home from work. Some commuters are so fed up that they are ready to take the train.

Consider this, people who drive to work average 39 hours a year commuting -- nearly an entire work week.

But not everyone is convinced that a commuter rail line is the answer here. But even though the decision is up in the air, planners hope to reach agreement on artwork, of all things.

Discussion of a commuter rail line puts hundreds of thousands of dollars up for debate. It is going to cost $800 million to get a commuter rail line on track in the Triangle.

The effort has come a long way to get trains running from Durham to downtown Raleigh and eventually to North Raleigh. But there is still a long way to go.

"We have our local money already; we have our state money," the Triangle Transit Authority's Don Carnell said. "A year from now, hopefully, we will have our federal money as well."

The application process to land half the cost, $400 million, from Uncle Sam, will take at least a year. But the


is not letting that stop the train.

The TTA is asking the public to help it select artwork for the proposed rail stations. The TTA has budgeted $800,000.

"Some cities, like Los Angeles and others that have opened stations in recent times, have spent considerably more for their artwork," Carnell said. "But we feel like, and our Board of Trustees feels like, this is an appropriate amount."

According to the TTA, the time is right because it wants the art to blend with the design of rail stops like the planned station at Hargett and West in downtown Raleigh.

The overall plan has its critics. Those critics say the art in transit does not paint a pretty picture.

"Now they want to put art in all these places at the cost of $800,000 to the taxpayers at a time when we don't have money to do the essential things," said Rep. Russell Capps, R-Wake County. "It's just a disgrace."

So, art has its critics. Commuter rail has its critics. It is now up to the federal government to settle if the tracks and the artwork will ever come together.


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