State News

Counties could get transit funds in House bill

Posted March 11, 2009 2:40 p.m. EDT
Updated March 12, 2009 12:27 a.m. EDT

— Sales taxes or vehicle registration fees could be raised in all of North Carolina's 100 counties to pay for public transportation projects in legislation that cleared a House panel.

The bill approved Wednesday by the House Transportation Committee would allow halfpenny sales-tax increases in five urban counties and quarter-cent increases in 94 other counties if approved by local voters.

Proceeds could be used as matching money for a proposed state fund for public transit grants. The bill is supported by environmental and transportation advocates as a way to reduce traffic congestion and build more walkable areas.

“Conventional wisdom in the transit business is that people will walk a quarter to a half a mile to get to transit and if they do that, they're not going to have to use their car,” Triangle Transit general manager David King said.

Raleigh's population grew 3 percent last year, to 385,507, according to an estimate released last month. With more people expected, city leaders are looking for eco-friendly ways to manage the growth.

“We believe we've oversupplied on the suburban, single-family homes that you drive to and we're seeing across the country the markets now asking for more compact, walkable communities," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said.

The measure has a long way to go. It next goes to the House Finance Committee.