TTA To Seek Local Partners For Commuter-Rail Funding
Posted August 21, 2006 10:41 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Triangle Transit Authority says it needs "partners" for its proposed rail line now that the federal government is out of the funding picture.
Last week, the TTA announced it would not seek $475 million in federal funding because it is too difficult to meet funding requirements without sacrificing the value of the project.
The TTA will now go to local governments such as Raleigh for input on how to move forward with the 28-mile commuter rail that runs from Raleigh through the Research Triangle Park into Durham.
"The new direction is going to be a process, not a product, at this point, and the process is to go out and engage the region's leadership, its business, civic and political leadership and talk about the enormous transportation challenges we face," said Wib Gulley with the TTA.
Raleigh City Councilman Philip Isley has said too much public money has already been spent on the rail line.
"Scared is what I feel when I hear them say 'partner," Isley said. "When they're asking for a partnership with the city or a partnership with the community, it means we're going to be paying for it ourselves, and I don't think that's what this community wants to do right now."
The TTA has already spent nearly $150 million in tax dollars on design and buying property. With the organization poised to ask for more, Isley said potential sources of funding need to look back at how previous tax dollars were spent.
"Properties have been condemned, plans have been drawn and rewritten," Isley said. "Now, what in the world do we as a community have to show for the amount of money that's been spent?"
The TTA said, however, that the property it owns for proposed rail stations is a tremendous asset for its partners, and if those partners want to ask taxpayers for more to build the rail line, that works.
"If our region's leadership says we're going to choose a particular funding source and go to referendum on it, that's certainly fine with us," Gulley said.
The TTA plans to hold a series of meetings where the public will be asked for its input.