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New Transit Needs New Revenue, Says Charlotte Mayor

Clodfelter_StateoftheCity.jpg
Ben Bradford
/
WFAE

The City of Charlotte will need to come up with more money for transit projects, Mayor Dan Clodfelter announced during his State of the City speech Tuesday morning. The city has proposed future extension of the street car and possible rail and bus lines to the north and southeast. But Clodfelter says the state won’t support those projects as it has in the past.

For the city’s flagship transit project, the Blue Line light rail and its current extension north to UNC Charlotte, the city has directly paid for only about a quarter of the funding. The rest comes from federal grants and state funding.

But Clodfelter says both sources are in jeopardy, noting during his speech “the apparent withdrawal of state support and potential limitations on future federal funding.”

He didn’t give any specifics about why he expects a withdrawal, but it has been clear since tax revenues fell during the recession that everyone—city, state, and federal government—would have billions of dollars less to work with than they expected for future projects. By the time the Blue Line Extension finishes, the city estimates current funding will only pay for maintaining what it’s already built.

If the city wants to, for instance, build a new line from Uptown to Mooresville, it will need to find new revenue. After the speech, Clodfelter suggested some possible ways to find it, while noting he didn’t want to be too specific before the City Council began discussions.

He mentioned South Carolina's regional funding program. “They had a local revenue stream that was specially identified for specific transportation projects,” the mayor said. “Everyone bought into it, everyone backed it.”