JLF Piedmont Triad Blog

Gov. McCrory: The big question

Given his history as mayor of Charlotte, you have to wonder —-or at least I do —whether or not Gov-elect Pat McCrory will lobby for state funding for a multibillion-dollar rail transit plan in the Triangle:

“If they meet the same criteria that I asked for when I was mayor of Charlotte regarding federal match, and also if they meet the ridership potential, and the right land use, I will be working with my secretary [of transportation] to support those types of efforts,” McCrory said during a news conference to name his final three cabinet secretaries.

“But regardless of where you put roads or transit, they have to meet certain criteria before they have my support, and, I assume, the support of the Department of Transportation,” McCrory said.

As a Raleigh native who spends a fair amount of time in the Triangle, I’d say there’s no way the area can support such a rail system. But don’t listen to me, not that you would anyway:

“I suppose his words are cautious,” said David Hartgen, emeritus professor of transportation studies at UNC Charlotte. He is author of a study concluding that the Triangle project would not reduce vehicle congestion or travel time, the very benefits supporters tout in seeking the outlay needed to fund the project.

“He’s not saying no, he’s not saying yes. I think that’s an appropriate thing at this point” since the governor-elect does not have a study before him to analyze, Hartgen said.

“Regional travel is growing so rapidly the only solution is to increase highway capacity,” Hartgen said. “We can’t go back to a mode of travel that is twice as slow.”

Then there’s the federal government, which Hartgen says has established new criteria for transit projects, including “cost-effectiveness, local support, and economic development.” The Triangle’s project, in his opinion, “does not score as well as other proposals nationally.”

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