by Sam Hieb
The Charlotte City Council has has delayed a vote on a $50 million contract to begin preliminary work on a new light rail line until results from the proposed arts-and-parks sales tax hike on tomorrow’s ballot are known.
Should the sales tax hike pass, it would make it problematic for the council to pitch its own sales tax hike to help fund the new rail line–the “Silver Line”–which would connect Belmont in Gaston County and Charlotte Douglas International Airport through uptown and down to Matthews at a cost of $6-$8 billion.
But again comes the “buffet of options” from CATS chief executive John Lewis, which include private-public partnerships, taking on debt (surprise) and making Gaston and Union counties pitch in for the privilege of having a light rail line running across their borders.
But the money quote comes from Council member Dimple Ajmera and really illustrates many politicians’ attitudes (unfortunately) toward light rail. According to the Observer Ajmera pointed out “that council regularly approves beginning work on capital projects before knowing their full costs,” adding in her own words how it “is important that we show the commitment to transportation because if we’re worried about just $50 million, we might as well say that we’re not going to do the line because it’s going to cost billions of dollars to do this.”
There you have it.