North Carolina High Speed Rail Debate
CHARLOTTE, NC- North Carolina could lose over $500 million in federal grants for high speed rail connecting Charlotte to Raleigh and beyond.
Representative Ric Killian, a Charlotte republican, is behind a bill to block the funding.
"My philosophy simply and always has been ... roads first. Let's maintain the system that we have. Let's complete the construction problems that we have," said Killian.
In a statement to City Council, he wrote, "The cumulative cost to operate and maintain the system will exceed the $520 million in federal funds within 20 years, and grow to $731 million by 2037."
Costs he says should be spent elsewhere.
"We rank number 31 in the nation in the worst congestion right here on 485. We can't fix that problem if we're going to continue to spend money that doesn't add value to our citizen's lives," said Killian.
Representative Killian says it's not worth it. He says spending $545 million to shorten the travel time from Charlotte to Raleigh by 13 minutes will only obligate tax payers and hinder the development of the North Carolina Railroad Company. City council members are against Killian’s bill.
"It will create jobs, it will create public safety, it will help the environment. Why can we not invest in what we need?" said Nancy Carter, District 5 Council member.
City Council members will consider a resolution to tell Raleigh where Charlotte stands on the funding.
"What it [federal stimulus money] will do is build bridges we need for the light rail as well. It will create public safety… safer crossing... it will help economic development along that line," said Carter.
The high speed rail plans include over 4,000 much-needed jobs in the state.