Alliance News December 2, 2021

“World class cities deserve world class transit” | Vice President in Charlotte to tout transit, infrastructure

Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hopped on buses and took a tour of the Charlotte Area Transit System Bus and Light Rail Garage as part of a visit to Charlotte’s South End Thursday.

The Vice President and Transportation Secretary were in Charlotte to demonstrate how the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) will upgrade our nation’s infrastructure and create jobs in North Carolina.

“World class cities like Charlotte deserve world class transit systems,” Vice President Harris said Thursday as the crowd of about 100 onlookers erupted in applause.

North Carolina, which currently has more than 3,000 miles of highway in “poor” condition, is slated to receive $7.2 billion from the federal package for roads and highways over the next 5 years; $910 million for public transit; plus hundreds of millions for bridges, clean water and broadband. 

“We will make the largest ever investment in public transit,” Harris said.

Harris thanked the North Carolina lawmakers from both parties who supported the measure: Sen. Thom Tillis, Sen. Richard Burr, and Rep. Alma Adams. 

“Because of their work, because of our work together, America is moving again,” Harris said.

Buttigieg praised the efforts in Charlotte to upgrade transit systems, replace outdated buses and add more electric buses to the fleet.

“This is a city that has a great track record with partnering with the federal government to invest in public transportation,” Buttigieg said. “Investing to make it more convenient and quicker and easier to get around by transit pays dividends.”

The lawmakers agreed more investment is needed now to meet the growing needs of regions like Charlotte’s. According to research compiled by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, the area is expected to grow 50% by 2050, going from about 3 million to 4.5 million people.

To provide additional investment in transit and transportation, the CLT Alliance is leading an effort to support the Transformational Mobility Network (TMN), which is set to be the largest economic development project in North Carolina’s history, if approved.

 TMN encompasses several modes of transportation such as bus and rapid transit, sidewalks, greenways, highways, roads, commuter rail, light rail and streetcar. To help fund the improvements, the CLT Alliance is advocating for a 1 penny sales tax increase on the ballot for voters to approve.

The CLT Alliance is working with the City of Charlotte and the Mecklenburg County towns towards an agreement on the projects that would be made possible if the sales tax increase is approved by voters.

Members of the CLT Alliance senior leadership team were in attendance at the transportation tour Thursday.

“We are both honored and thrilled to have Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and our own N.C. Congresswoman Rep. Alma Adams here to highlight the importance of infrastructure to the Charlotte Region and the rest of the country,” said Kelly O’Brien, Chief Advocacy and Strategy Officer at the CLT Alliance. “A smart investment in infrastructure now positions the region to be competitive and addresses growth, allows us to attract and retain top talent and businesses, improves quality of life, and paves the way for a prosperous tomorrow.”

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