Ex-DOT Chief Proposes $1.9B in Transit Funding

Posted February 21, 2008 6:22 p.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2008 10:57 p.m. EST

— A former North Carolina transportation secretary called Thursday for the creation of a $1.9 billion state fund to help finance mass transit programs in urban areas and ease traffic congestion.

Sam Hunt, a Burlington businessman who headed the state Department of Transportation in the mid-1990s and a member of the board of directors of the North Carolina Railroad Co., said the so-called "congestion relief fund" would cover a quarter of the costs of transit projects in the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte regions to cut down on highway traffic.

Most of the fund would finance mass transit and rail projects, said Hunt, who chairs a panel of the 21st Century Transportation Committee.

New local tax revenues – from a half-cent sales tax increase, for example – would be matched by state money under Hunt's plan. He gave no recommendation on how the state would finance its part of the fund, however.

Triangle Transit Authority General Manager David King called the proposal "right on target for the Triangle."

The 21st Century Transportation Committee is expected to ask the General Assembly this year for new highway and transportation funding, and Hunt said he wants his fund included in the options.