Despite all the warning signals—the surprising sanity in Sacramento that pulled the plug on California’s $77 million high speed rail project–not to mention the decline in transit ridership— mostly due to ride sharing services —-leaders at N.C. Central University, Durham Technical Community College and the Durham Housing Authority made sure to let everyone know what a boon the 18-mile, $3.3 billion Durham-Orange light rail line would be for the Bull City:

Durham Tech President Bill Ingram said light rail will lead to well-paying jobs in design, engineering and construction for which the college could train Durham and Orange County residents. The college’s new construction trades program works with Durham Public Schools students starting in 10th grade, he noted.

Mike Broadway of Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods) said it’s time for the historic Hayti community to “reap of some the benefits of Durham’s prosperity.”

“Something is owed to Durham’s relocated, exploited communities,” he said.

Henry McKoy, an instructor in the NCCU School of Business and a representative of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People said light rail could “bring back economic development that’s been missing for so long” around Fayette Place. That area also lies in a federal “opportunity zone,” which offers tax breaks to developers.

“We recognize the legacy of the Durham Freeway,” he said, adding, “It could create a platform not only for workers, but owners and entrepreneurs.”

Trains are due to start running in 2028—a lifetime away in technology terms. Yet apparently Durham is doubling down on this expensive and antiquated form of transportation. We know why–it’s part of the last-gasp effort to show that government needs to be involved in all aspects of the economy and our lives. Hopefully the 2020 presidential election will prove that this is indeed the last gasp.