We pointed out here yesterday that Raleigh's Mayor Meeker wasn't exactly being meek in throwing down his City of Oaks spending wishlist for much-anticipated Federal infrastructure investment dollars expected from the Obama administration.
Yesterday's N&O didn't have a peep out of Durham officials, but Ray Gronberg's back in the funnies today with news that state officials have both the NC 540/Triangle Expressway and DATA bus service in mind for dollars.
The H-S notes that the NCDOT has been assembling a wishlist of over $6 billion in transportation projects that could become the short-list for dollars from Capitol Hill early in the Obama administration; the President-elect has signalled an interest in funding projects that are ready to go and lack only cash to start (as opposed to those still undergoing environmental reviews or design work, for instance.)
Gronberg's reporting notes a proposed $32.5 million for public transit service, two-thirds of which would be for DATA service. We haven't seen the numbers on which that's based, but that would seem to cover a substantial amount of the short-range transit plan wishlist currently under review by the agency.
The $9 million specifically for buses, for instance, would represent a little less than twice the new vehicle acquisition budget proposed in the short-range plan, suggesting an accelerated retirement of DATA's turbocharger-plagued fleet, a faster expansion to shorter headways, or some combination.
The downtown circulator and three years' worth of funding for fare-free service also appear on the wishlist.
For the roadgeeks out there, the southern loop of NC 540's $918 million pricetag is on the list, too, representing one-fifth of the NCDOT's statewide list. Presumably including the Triangle Expressway link to NC 147 as well, this project was scheduled to start construction as a toll road this fall until a collapsed municipal bond market felled the N.C. Turnpike Authority's attempt to float financing.
City manager Tom Bonfield noted that Durham's city administration is working with local government associations on similar exercise to find ready-but-unfunded projects that could move up the wishlist.