TTA Puts Brakes On Federal Funding For Rail Project
Posted August 18, 2006 10:48 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Triangle Transit Authority said it believes a local rail system is necessary to keep up with growth and ease the congestion often seen on Interstate 40. Many have argued it will take at least some federal funding to make that a reality.
On Friday, the TTA announced it would not seek federal funding for the regional rail project, as had been planned next year, because it's too difficult to meet funding requirements without sacrificing the value of the project. A member of the TTA board said the agency is not abandoning rail, however.
"Doing nothing is not an option here," said Nina Szlosberg of the TTA's board of trustees. "We have tremendous need here in the Triangle, and just because we're not going to be moving forward this year with federal funds doesn't mean we're not going to get the job done."
"Certainly, it's a big disappointment to me, and I think many others in Raleigh who care about regional transit," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.
Meeker said he believes the move is a major setback and could delay the rail project by months or even years.
"I'm not aware of what the alternatives are for the federal funding," he said. "That was as much as half of the funding, or I guess 60 percent."
When asked if it was possible for the project to move forward without federal funding, Szlosberg said, "Of course. There are a million different ways to skin a cat."
The TTA said it will work directly with the community to create a transit system that meets Triangle needs and look for more local financial support. Others argued it will be difficult to make up the difference.
"My understanding is they've withdrawn the application because it was not likely to be approved, and that's the only reason I'm aware of," said Meeker.
"We are not going to skip a beat," said Szlosberg. "We are going to continue to move forward. I think you'll see in the next 60 days us really going out in the community and engaging in a community conversation about what to do next."
For now, the TTA said the decision will not affect funding or operation of any other transportation services, such as bus service.