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Charlotte's transit plan at risk amid city, state, federal disagreement

Disagreement at different levels of government could derail the city's future transit projects.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city's massive $13.5-billion transit plan is facing more obstacles: State and federal lawmakers.

"It's a comprehensive transportation network, that we're trying to build," Charlotte city councilman Malcolm Graham said.

In 2020, the Charlotte MOVES task force, whose members were appointed by the mayor, released a sweeping transit and transportation plan that included an east-west silver light rail line, commuter rail to north Mecklenburg County, greenways, bike lanes and more.  

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"When I think about transit, I think about roads; I think about light rail; I think about some sidewalks and greenways," Graham said.

Since 2000, action on the transit plan has stalled. The mayor's task force suggested a 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for the plan, which requires the approval of state lawmakers and eventually voters.  

Recently, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore suggested the General Assembly would support a plan focused on expanding roads and interstates, but seemed skeptical about other aspects of the plan.

"When it comes to transportation, we talk about capacity and lanes," Moore said. "Those things. Not bike lanes."

The position puts Moore at odds with many city leaders who say the transit plan is intended to reduce Charlotte's dependence on cars and roads.

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In addition to state approval, the plan also requires federal funding. Congresswoman Alma Adams is supportive of the city's plan and expressed concern over Moore's statement.

"I'm very disappointed in Speaker Moore, and the approach that he wants to take," Rep. Alma Adams said.

If approved by the General Assembly, a 1-cent sales tax increase would then end up on the ballot for voters to decide.

Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. 
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