Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sign Em Up for a North Corridor

While the libertarians in Charlotte are still whining because they got destroyed in the election, the city is moving on. Charlotte allocated $30 million dollars for engineering studies for entrance into the FTA New Starts Program. Now it is great to report that but I'm starting to wonder what is going to happen with the program now that a lot more cities are seeking expansions. A lot of cities are going to be seeking funding for multiple lines now that they have starters which makes me think that the program better change soon to accommodate the natural increase, before we even start to talk about increasing it.

CATS plans to periodically assess how it stands with the FTA as it proceeds with the two-year engineering study. The council approved a $9.5 million payment to STV Monday, enough for the first phase of the study.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory stressed that the engineering contract is structured so there are "outs" if the initial engineering reports aren't favorable.

He also cautioned that even if ridership numbers appear to meet federal requirements, "we'll be in competition with a lot of other cities."

I'm worried now after the Dulles issue that the FTA will just string cities along. It's also annoying that cities are worried about competing with other cities for such a small piece of transit pie. You could spend $30 million (seems like a lot of money) and do everything right and get rejected for being a dollar over an arbitrary cost measure. Which by the way is based on ridership numbers that have seemed a little low lately. It's ridiculous that it has become a competition of cost rather than creating a quality transit system. It seems to me that we should be working together to reduce our dependence on foreign oil with a multitude of solutions. Charlotte's first rail line, which has been about 3,000 riders a day over projections, has been a success but local planners are worried after what happened to the Dulles line. Apparently the initial rejection (It's now paused) of that line has greater implications than we thought, but we can hope the next administration is better about transit and funding it. From the T&I hearing, looks like we might have a shot.


Dave said...

It just seems to me that these cities should all wait to submit for funding until after the election... sad but otherwise you're just wasting time and money right now.

Jay Heikes said...

It is the lightrail extension in the Northeast corridor that recieved the approval for 30 million and will seek federal funding. CATS is building comuter rail in the North Corridor which definatly will not meet the cost effectiveness requirement.

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe the correct thing to do is to work out the timing: submit at the earliest date such that the project will be considered by the next administration. (Which is significantly before the next administration actually gets into power, and indeed significantly before the November election.)