More than two dozen North Carolina projects, costing nearly $111 million, are included in a new congressional transportation package.
The $547 billion, five-year surface transportation reauthorization package passed a U.S. House committee Thursday. The Invest in America Act includes $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety, $109 billion for transit and $95 billion for passenger and freight rail. The package is funded by the Highway Trust Fund and will distribute most of its money to North Carolina and other states based on formulas.
But members of Congress were able to request funding for specific projects in their districts — a return to earmarks — this year in the House. As a result, the bill includes money for specific projects in addition to its other spending.
The most expensive item for North Carolina is $9 million for a paratransit facility in Raleigh.
The facility will house transit administration, operations and vehicle maintenance for both Wake County and the City of Raleigh’s Access programs, according to a letter of support from Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin to Rep. Deborah Ross, who requested the project. All told it is expected to cost $30 million.
The Access program provides transportation to senior citizens, people with disabilities and vulnerable rural residents, Baldwin wrote.
The least expensive request was for $208,000 for an Airport Boulevard sidewalk project in Morrisville.
Two $8 million projects in Charlotte are also included: transitioning the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) bus fleet to electric batteries and street lighting on the 10% of Charlotte streets that account for all of the serious injuries and fatal crashes.
The bill would fund 29 North Carolina projects in all.
“While inclusion in the House proposal is just the first step in securing this funding, these projects represent the innovative approaches needed to update our transportation systems and give constituents more choices to safely travel,” said Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, in a statement.
Republicans and Democrats
All five Democrats in the North Carolina delegation — Ross, Price, G.K. Butterfield, Kathy Manning and Alma Adams — had some of their requested projects included in the bill. So did two Republicans, David Rouzer of Wilmington, whose lone request was included, and Madison Cawthorn in the state’s far-western corner.
“Aging infrastructure is in dire need of improvement. Communities across America have been neglected for far too long and in need of funding for projects that will bring about economic revitalization, especially here in North Carolina,” Butterfield said in a statement. “Projects like the ones in my district will benefit our communities and help revitalize and strengthen our local economies.”
The other six members of the delegation, all Republicans, did not submit requests. Some have expressed opposition to the program.
Rep. Ted Budd, who is running for U.S. Senate in 2022, led a letter opposing the return of earmarks in March. Rep. Dan Bishop also signed onto the letter. Rep. Richard Hudson is “staunchly opposed” to earmarks, according to his website.
Reps. Greg Murphy, Patrick McHenry and Virginia Foxx also did not make any requests.
In 2007, McHenry, a critic of earmarks, had his request for a single one denied by the House, the only request rejected. Foxx was opposed to earmarks in 2010, the same year that House Republicans banned the practice.
There were 2,383 earmarks — or member designated projects, as they are now called — requested, including 1,778 from Democratic members and 605 from Republican members, according to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
About half of the member-designated projects (1,473) made it into the original bill.
Of the normal 435 members of the House (some seats are vacant at the moment), 319 submitted requests, including 214 Democrats and 105 Republicans.
The bill is separate from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure request — the American Jobs Plan. Members of Congress were able to submit proposals for funding of projects in their district for an infrastructure bill as well.
Black Creek Greenway
Bus Replacement Funding for Triangle Transit Systems
Transit Bus Stop Improvements
CATS Battery Electric Bus Fleet Transition
Streetlighting on High Injury Network
US 74/NC 108 Interchange
Bryant Bridge North/Goose Creek West Trail
Duke Beltline Trail
Fuquay-Varina Townwide ITS/Signal System
Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway, Phase 2
Electric buses and charging infrastructure
Greenville Bridge Repair and Replacement
South Tar River Greenway
High Point Heritage Greenway— Phase 1
Avent Ferry Road Realignment
B–5871 Replace Bridge no. 628 Over Lake Lure 5250. Dam and Broad River
Jonathan Creek Safety Project
EB–5753 Baldwin Avenue Sidewalk Project
Airport Boulevard Sidewalk
Hanging Dog Bridge
US 19/129 Road Improvements
N. Fork Coweeta Creek Bridge Replacement
GoRaleigh/GoWake Coordinated ADA Paratransit Facility
Downtown Pedestrian Bridge
Military Cutoff Road (US 17)/Eastwood Road (US 74) Interchange (Drysdale Drive Extension)
Pender Street Pedestrian Improvement, Infrastructure Repair, and Resurfacing
RIDE- Rural Microtransit
Silas Creek Parkway Sidewalk
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