CHARLOTTE – In yet another sign of North Carolina’s metropolitan population centers doing their best impressions of other urban center’s expensive failures the Charlotte City Council approved a $50 million contract Tuesday to start the 26-mile Silver Line light rail project the Queen City has obliviously saddled itself with. True to form, the first $50 million for this tried and true liberal boondoggle was merely a drop in the bucket compared to the official estimated costs of $3 billion to $4 billion dollars and they have no idea how they’re going to pay for it.
From the Charlotte Observer:
“[…] The council voted 8-2 to approve the contract with engineering firm WSP USA for preliminary design and environmental work on the line. Republicans Ed Driggs and Tariq Bokhari, who have been most vocal in challenging the project’s finances, voted no. […]
City Council had been expected to vote on the contract on Oct. 28, but the vote was delayed amid questions over the line’s ultimate cost and how it would be paid for. The delay also allowed city officials to first learn the results of last week’s referendum on raising the local sales tax to pay for arts programming and parks. […]”
That sales tax increase to pay for yet more examples of liberal urban planning was rejected by voters. Yet the council is still moving forward blindly into a massive amount of debt to build what amounts to an indefinite liability that never offers the benefit as advertised. To expect such a project’s costs to remain within the original estimates is to ignore governments’ massive trend of underestimating the costs of large scale “investments” by a lot. Just ask Californians how their light rail disaster is working out for them.
While some council members have the sense to urge caution against moving forward with such large debt obligations without clear financing or project plans, other are content to head down the debt track like a runaway train. Meanwhile, the brunt of whatever horrible mult-billion dollar wreck lies ahead will be taken by the city’s taxpayers.
Giving even more intriguing context to the mission to have their own boondoggle, proponents of the silver line argue that it’s mission is to desegregate the city and “bridging equity gaps,” tell tale language of a expensive public works project propelled by social justice activists.
“[…] Democrats cast the project as a critical part — getting low-income residents to work reliably and cheaply — of the council’s commitments to growing jobs and expanding affordable housing options.
Mayor Vi Lyles noted that residents of eastern Charlotte often face long commutes to work.
“We’re going to do this together,” Lyles told the council after the vote. “We can’t go south and north (on the existing Blue Line) and ignore the east and west.”
Democrat Braxton Winston added that “a commitment to giving people an option from the east side of the city to the west side is a matter of desegregating our city. … A commitment to building a public transit system is a commitment to bridging equity gaps.” […]”
While the city’s existing Blue Line has relatively high federal match funding for operation, any new transit lines are expected to get much lower federal kickbacks, making the Silver Line a likely money pit. It’s still the early innings, but it looks like the Queen City will be paying a King’s ransom in entertaining their woke central planning desires.