CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina is set to receive billions of dollars in federal funds to improve infrastructure around the state. The bulk of the money is allocated towards roads, but money towards improving public transit has the second-highest dollar amount.
Charlotte could get millions of dollars from the federal infrastructure bill, but there are many steps to go before that happens.
The White House has not set an exact timeline on when the money will be disbursed. The Biden administration has tasked its surrogates to help states and local governments navigate and explain how the money will benefit individuals.
We do know local governments will have to apply for some funds from the state.
In a town hall setting among lawmakers regarding the infrastructure bill, U.S. Congresswoman Alma Adams, who represents North Carolina's 12th district, discussed how the money will roll out.
Her staff talked about how money for transportation projects will reach the state.
"The money will flow from the US Treasury to the NC Department of Transportation, who will work with localities to fund prioritized projects," Gordon Holzberg, a legislative assistant for Adams, said in response to a chat question. "Local counties and cities submit projects to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) to request funding."
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, STIP identifies transportation projects that will receive funding between 2020 and 2029. The state's website says it is made up of 1,718 projects, including 399 non-highway projects, in every county across the state.
Adams' townhall also revealed money will flow from the U.S. Treasury Department to North Carolina agencies.
Once the money eventually makes its way to the local level, people will start to see big changes to things like transportation.
Derric Edwards Jr. rides the Charlotte Area Transit buses at least five times a week and he has problems with their reliability.
“I would say they need to work on being on time, showing up on time -- being there," Edwards said.
Edwards uses public transportation to get to work like thousands of other people. The Charlotte Area Transit System has a finite number of buses, bus stops, and drivers, though. All of those factors impact when your bus shows up.
According to the CATS planning initiative Envision My Ride, the transit system wants to redesign the current bus system.
Current priorities include more frequent bus service, more direct bus service, more crosstown and suburb to suburb connections, and greater connectivity between different routes to improve transfer opportunities
Federal dollars on top of state and local dollars will help make projects like this become a reality quicker.
Congress will give each state a combined $89.9 billion for public transit like buses. North Carolina gets $911 million of that over five years.
Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, who was on the call with Congresswoman Adams, talked about how people could get involved with where the money goes.
"When we got our CARES Act allocation, that went directly to the city of Charlotte, we did organize efforts to put ambassadors in different locations to help people access that money,” Eiselt said.
The city hasn’t publicly announced any ambassadors or committees for the federal infrastructure money expected to come in. It does have a list of priorities for transportation improvements and this money gets municipalities like Charlotte one step closer to fixing them.
The White House also announced South Carolina is expected to get $366 million for its transportation improvements.