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NC Democrats Propose Investments Towards Accessible, Affordable Transportation

Source: WRAL

North Carolina Democrats are proposing a new shift in how the state’s transportation department prioritizes its spending. Traditionally, the N.C. Department of Transportation spends approximately $5 billion a year on creating and maintaining car and truck transportation systems across the state. 

State Democrats have introduced bills in both chambers, titled the Transportation for the Future Act, that would shift the transportation department’s priority from car and truck transportation systems to projects that would improve local communities’ transportation.

“We would stop prioritizing endless expansion of highways at the expense of all other modes of transportation,” Sen. Graig Meyer of Orange County said at a press conference. “North Carolina currently dedicates 94% of our transportation funding to highways. And this act lifts the current artificial limitations that we have in place on rail, transit, bike and pedestrian facilities.”

This shift of priorities is nothing new, as last year, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a 30-year plan that eliminated certain highway projects in favor of localized investments towards such as bike lanes, crosswalks, and sidewalks. 

According to the board, the decision to prioritize local transportation systems supported its goals of eliminating fatal crashes, reducing carbon emissions, and increasing access to affordable transportation. 

State Democrats are hoping to do the same on a statewide level, as highways and roads across the state only work best for rural and suburban areas but aren’t a good fit for urban areas that want alternatives, according to Leonardo Williams, a Durham City Council member who is in support of the bills. 

“We can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach to transit and getting people around,” Williams added. “Urban areas are evolving, so our needs are evolving.”

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