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Money Needed to Help Ease Triangle Traffic May Come from Taxpayers

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WAKE COUNTY — The answer to relieving traffic in the Triangle could come from your wallet. One group says funding is lagging far behind Triangle road needs.

If you think the Triangle is starting to get a handle on road needs, think about this: over the next 20 years the Triangle faces a $1.6 billion shortfall in funding for proposed road projects.

Members of the Regional Transportation Alliance, a public-private partnership formed to promote transportation solutions, face a traffic jam of trouble.

"The existing revenue stream is just woefully inadequate," says alliance member Mark Ahrendsen. "It simply will not address the transportation needs of this region. So they've recognized that, really, two things are needed."

First, more money for more transportation projects, including mass transit, from the state is needed. Second, the group sees the need for more money from new local revenue streams, possibly raised by a merged, Triangle-wide metropolitan planning organization.

How would a regional organization raise more money for road building and transportation solutions?

The idea of toll roads, a gas tax, and a sales tax have all been discussed. A half-cent sales tax appears to have the most potential. But these ideas would have to win the approval of thestate legislaturebefore they could go into effect.

Under the current revenue flow, major roads, like Interstate 40, do not flow at all during peak commuter hours.

"Unless we do something, that picture is not going to improve. Traffic is going to continue to be a problem," says Harvey Schmitt of theGreater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. "We really need to begin to work together. We can't expect the federal government or the state government to come in and solve our problems."

It looks like some of the people stuck in traffic could get stuck with some of the bill to get things rolling again.


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