Former mayor to lead transportation group
by Staff Writer
The commission lobbies local, state and federal leaders concerning transportation projects, most notably to mitigate congestion of Lake Norman’s portion of Interstate 77.
Gray said Thunberg’s guidance would give both road and rail projects the best chance of attracting funding for construction and maintenance.
The learning curve will be short for Thunberg, who already represents Mooresville on the Metropolitan Transit Commission, a board that sets long-range public transportation plans for the Charlotte Area Transit System.
He also serves on a task force charged with creating a financial plan for the commission’s next big push – the Red Line Regional Rail Project, an estimated $462 million in improvements to Norfolk Southern track designed to carry commuters and freight between Charlotte and Mooresville.
The project calls for a 25 percent contribution from the state, 25 percent from the Charlotte Area Transit System and a 50 percent local match split among the towns and counties along the rail.
Local funding would be generated through what’s called local value capture, which involves using anticipated revenues to finance the costs.
Iredell County Commissioners Stephen Johnson, Ken Robertson and Renee Griffith expressed concerns over the project’s cost, following a Nov. 21 presentation by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
“I am just past the point of being skeptical,” Chairman Johnson told transportation officials. “I’m darn near cynical about it.”
Johnson expressed skepticism that the project would improve air quality or reduce traffic congestion. He’s also concerned the rail would spur high-density residential development, prompting the need for more school construction.
“When it comes to the Red Line Regional Rail Project, I think that it’s imperative for all the elected officials to be as skeptical as they need to be and do as thorough of an analysis of the facts as they can do,” Thunberg said Tuesday, Nov. 29.