Local News

Raleigh chasing federal stimulus money

Posted December 16, 2008 11:57 a.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2008 4:33 p.m. EST

— Mayor Charles Meeker said Tuesday that Raleigh will work hard in the coming months to grab its fair share of federal dollars for infrastructure projects under the stimulus package proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.

City officials have identified 44 projects that are far enough along in the design and permitting stage to be ready for construction in six to 12 months if federal funding were available, Meeker said.

"We are putting forward projects that are either unfunded or partially funded," he said. "We're not really sure how (the stimulus is) going to work, but we will have our projects ready. We have them ready to work, however the federal government wants to to fully participate in this stimulus program."

In addition to traditional road projects and the $226 million Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center downtown, the city's list include several "green" projects that could receive priority funding under the stimulus package, such as solar-powered LED lighting in downtown parking garages and municipal parks, solar-powered water heaters at Raleigh Fire Department stations and a large solar array at the city wastewater treatment plant that could generate up to 3 megawatts of electricity.

"I'm confident we will get some money," Meeker said. "The question is whether it will be a substantial amount that allows us to go ahead with eight to 10 projects and not just one or two."

City Manager Russell Allen and Angel Wright-Feldman, who works in Allen's office, will lobby congressmen David Price, Bob Etheridge and Brad Miller and new U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to ensure Raleigh gets its piece of the stimulus pie, Meeker said.

Raleigh's per capita amount of a $50 billion stimulus package would be $50 million, he said, noting that would be enough to create thousands of local jobs.

"The kinds of projects we're proposing will put people to work," he said.

City officials said they hope the federal money comes straight to them and isn't routed through the state. The money can be put to work more quickly and can't be diverted if it goes directly to cities and counties, they said.