Foxx Calls for Transportation Investment

Feb. 19, 2015

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined Feb. 19 by Congressman G.K. Butterfield and Durham Mayor William V. “Bill” Bell at an event in downtown Durham to highlight the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project and the benefits that increased investment in transportation and infrastructure would bring to communities across the country. The Secretary’s visit is part of a four-day, five state bus tour, The GROW AMERICA Express, highlighting the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.

“Projects like the Durham-Orange Light Rail Line will connect Americans to opportunity by improving access to jobs and education while helping to spur economic development in growing communities like Durham, Chapel Hill and across the country,” said Secretary Foxx. “I’m traveling throughout the Southeast this week to highlight projects like this one that show if we invest in a 21st century transportation system, we can grow jobs and the economy – and create a brighter tomorrow for future generations.”

The planned 17.1-mile light rail line would connect the City of Durham and the Town of Chapel Hill, providing a critical link between two central business districts, as well as large medical facilities and universities that serve as major employers for the region.

Triangle Transit is currently conducting planning and environmental review activities for the light rail line. The agency expects to seek $910.3 million in federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant Program toward the estimated total project cost of $1.8 billion.

“This new light rail line will make a huge difference for thousands of students and residents traveling to the renowned medical, educational and cultural institutions in the region,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “We need Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that will make more projects like these a reality.”

On February 2, the Obama Administration announced a plan to address the infrastructure deficit with a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal, building on the the GROW AMERICA Act, which the Administration first released last year.  The plan makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century.

The need for these investments is clear. Earlier this month, U.S. DOT released a landmark study, “Beyond Traffic” that looked at the trends and choices facing American transportation over the next three decades. These included a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system that’s facing more frequent extreme weather events. A key takeaway of the study was that we need keep investing in transportation for the sake of future generations, and the proposals included in GROW AMERICA would allow us to do just that.

According to the study, Durham resides within the Piedmont Atlantic megaregion which is projected to experience a 78 percent increase in population growth between 2010 and 2050.

The GROW AMERICA Express will include visits to universities, manufacturers, bridges, freight facilities, and highway projects in an effort to raise awareness of America’s infrastructure deficit. Secretary Foxx will visit with students, business leaders, transportation stakeholders, and community residents, to discuss the projects that work, projects that are needed, and to ask them to commit to standing up for a future with an American transportation system that is second-to-none.