Local News

Federal Government Will Not Fund Triangle Rail

Posted December 15, 2005 10:36 a.m. EST

— The future for the

Triangle Transit Authority Rail Project

doesn't look bright, according to one state leader.

State Rep. Russell Capps, a Wake County Republican, told WRAL that he received a phone call from NCGOP Chairman Ferrell Blount Wednesday indicating the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) rejected funding for the commuter rail.

The TTA confirmed the news late Wednesday, but said the decision did not mean the rail project had been derailed for good.

"I'm confident that this region will have a heck of a transportation and traffic mess, much less, an economic development problem if we don't take the steps now to provide for mobility in the future, and regional rail has got to be one of those steps," said Wib Gulley, general counsel for the TTA.

Capps said the project didn't meet current or previous standards. State and local governments were counting on federal dollars to fund more than half the project.

While Capps believes the project will not go anywhere, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says there are still alternatives.

Meeker hadn't heard any news about the funding, but says if it's true the state may be able to receive a year to year allocation. It would set the project back and take longer to complete, but Meeker says other rail projects have successfully gone that route.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Sen. Richard Burr, and Rep. David Price did not return WRAL's phone calls.

The FTA would not directly answer WRAL's question about the funding, instead the office released a brief statement saying, "The status and ratings of all projects in the 2007 New Starts Report will be released in early February once the review process is complete."

The TTA's Web site puts construction costs at $631 million -- a 2004 estimate -- and indicates that 60 percent of the funding would come from federal dollars.

The TTA was designed to provide service to travel destinations in the Triangle.