Feds' rail money could slow down in NC House bill

Posted March 29, 2011

— North Carolina's new slice of money from the federal government to improve Piedmont passenger train service could be pushed back under legislation being considered by state lawmakers.

The House Transportation Committee scheduled debate Tuesday on a measure that would bar the state Department of Transportation from accepting federal funds for a high-speed rail project without permission by the General Assembly.

The requirement could make it more difficult for state DOT to spend $461 million in federal grants announced last week to cut time between Raleigh and Charlotte by building new tracks and eliminating highway crossings.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ric Killian of Charlotte said he's worried the state will be left with a big annual bill to operate the service. At least three other states have rejected similar high-speed money.

Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, said she believes high-speed rail is needed, especially with commuters paying more to put gas in their vehicles.

"We have got to continue moving forward progressively with mass transit in this state," she said.

DOT spokeswoman Nicole Meister said the agency would seek bids for contracts for tracks, bridges and trains.

Some of the work has ready started, including renovation of several train stations on the route, Meister said. A third daily trip between Raleigh and Charlotte also has been added.

Unless Killian's bill passes, the project, which is expected to create nearly 5,000 jobs, should be completed by 2017.


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  • notmyrealnameeither Mar 30, 2011

    Rejecting this money is just stupid.

    Not only will the work improve the facilities of our publicly-owned railroad, it will improve the passenger and freight capabilities. Passengers will not be stranded for hours, waiting for a freight (or another Amtrak) to clear the single track in front of them. The same for freight.

    The short-term jobs are OK. If 4800 jobs are created in construction, those people will have money in their pockets to spend elsewhere, so there is some small benefit. But the long-term benefits of the improvements are why it's worthwhile.

    As for maintenance, I don't doubt it will cost us something, just as ANY infrastructure improvement. Most of the cost seems to be maintenance and fuel for the added passenger runs. The DOT's Operating summary suggests there will be $10-15 million a year for fuel, repair, parts, etc. But new revenues from added service will easily cover those expenses.

    With roads and airports at capacity, making a better railroad just makes sense.

  • delilahk2000 Mar 30, 2011


  • blackdog Mar 29, 2011

    If there was any reason to speak against the rail program.. the rail companies would be protesting it. But, the right wing is simply speaking against ANYTHING coming from this administration, to try to make themselves appear favorable. In other words, this is campaigning.

  • Alex25 Mar 29, 2011

    "Sorry about the next one for at least a little while until a few more people realize what the party of Fear, Hate, Ignorance, and Greed is all about."

    Or rather the party of Freedom, Accountability, Responsibility and Incentives. Govts can do none these very well. But belief in big Govts (libs) indicates a belief in low standards - "anything goes" mindset.

  • geosol Mar 29, 2011

    Good thing the current crop of right wing nut cases weren't around in the past when we built up our nation's infrastructure to pave the way for economic progress, safety, and convenience. Of course, there was no Rush, or Glenn Beck or anyone else without any responsibility around to tell them what to think back then, either. Whew!!! Our generation should thank the Lord for that! Sorry about the next one for at least a little while until a few more people realize what the party of Fear, Hate, Ignorance, and Greed is all about.

  • Alex25 Mar 29, 2011

    The ONLY thing a Govt Stimulus stimulates is: Govt.

    Not the Taxpayers...or private biz.

  • Alex25 Mar 29, 2011

    This is NOT taxpayer friendly......HELLO

    Where is the market demand..??

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 29, 2011

    We're not getting a god return on investment for the $461 million dollars.

    $461 million dollars to cut 13 minutes off of the trip from Raleigh to Charlotte.

    Not a good return on our investment.

  • boylan99 Mar 29, 2011

    Blackdog - Just because it is/was called a "stimulus bill" does not make it so. Read what was in it and you'll see how most of it had nothing to do with stimulating the economy.

  • whatusay Mar 29, 2011

    blackdog, If this rail system is not self sustaining (and it won't be) taxes will be raised on citizens. This rail system will not be beneficial to most citizens of NC who are not close enough to Charlotte or Raleigh. Why tax everone for the benefit of a few? Ridiculous. At present the Trainway or Greyhound Bus is the best deal and most can use it. We don't need a stupid train that only saves 10 minutes.