House and Senate Republican leaders agreed Monday that the state should not contribute more than $500,000 to any light-rail project.
That provision in the newly released state budget could be a lethal blow to the planned 17-mile Durham-Orange light rail line, projected to cost as much as $1.6 billion.
I don’t expect many are surprised by this, but it’s clearly not good news for people hoping to improve the transportation infrastructure in Durham and Chapel Hill.
Of course, light rail is a long way off, and I’ll be curious to see whether this will have any practical impact on the project in the near term. We were already looking at over a decade for the line to be finished, and there’s a lot of planning to be done before any construction even begins. A budget passed in 2015 may not hold much relevance in five or ten years, and it’s impossible to guess how the NC political landscape might shift in the interim.