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Meeker To Continue Pushing For Road Project Funding

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh's mayor says that the city, as well as the Triangle, was shortchanged on road-building funds, but the North Carolina Department of Transportation says that is not the case.

The Neuse River Bridge at Falls Dam was built in 1938, and it shows. With massive growth in Wakefield and North Raleigh, the bridge gets a lot more traffic than it was designed to sustain.

Mayor Charles Meeker pulled in federal grants and pledged city bond money to replace the bridge. All that was needed to complete the package was $2.6 million from the state.

"But there are no state funds -- none at all -- even though it's a state thoroughfare, and the state should really pay for all of it," Meeker said. "It's a very unfair situation."

Replacing the bridge was Raleigh's top priority in its state-funding request, but the DOT included no funding for the bridge in its seven-year spending plan.

"The citizens of North Raleigh are right," Meeker said. "Not only is it congested, it's also a public safety hazard and something needs to be done about it now -- not in five or 10 years -- and the state needs to go ahead and match these funds and stop playing around."

The DOT's chief financial officer, Mark Foster, said money is not flowing as rapidly as everyone would like.

"We're faced with about a $30 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next 15 to 20 years," Foster said. "That's going to impact everybody around the state."

Foster said the Triangle received more than its share of road-building funds in the last seven-year plan. The Triangle has lost about $300 million that has been spread across the state.

Meeker said he will continue to negotiate; the DOT said that is a good idea.

"The door is never closed because every year we look around the state at our transportation priorities -- and those priorities do shift," Foster said.

The mayor said he was also upset the DOT did not fund a synchronization project for Raleigh's traffic light system. One DOT board member said there still may be a way to fund the signal upgrade.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
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