Five hundred transportation and elected officials from across the state gathered to discuss North Carolina's transportation future.
Officials say they are determined to ease much of the gridlock on our roads. They say if North Carolina doesn't confront its "growing" pains now, we'll have to contend with "slowing" pains later on when big businesses leave as a result of bad transportation planning.
Some say the answer is a statewide passenger rail system which would connect local municipalities throughout the state, eventually linking up with a high speed rail system that connects most of the southeast.
"You can move more people in a train car than you can in an automobile," says Norris Tolson, North Carolina's transportation secretary. "The objective, of course, is to try to get cars off the road, but provide good safe convenient alternatives."
But the biggest challenge is money and trying to convincestate legislatorsthat moving in this direction is a good investment.
"The state needs to make a significant funding commitment to this issue," says Chapel Hill Mayor Rosemary Waldorf. "It's one of the most important challenges we have if we want to maintain quality of life."
Of course, before you convince legislators, you have to convince voters who ultimately pay the bills.
Many Triangle residents we spoke with say they would support a statewide train system even if it meant paying more in taxes.
"It will cut down on accidents," says Raleigh resident Gerald Goods. "Sure it will cost a little money now, but it will cost more later."
Officials say they also have to convince legislators on the federal level that transportation projects should be a major priority.
But they say the best way to get the job done is by starting in our own backyard, with our own projects and our own money.
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