Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican, was the only Triangle senator who did not sign on to co-sponsor local-option transit sales tax legislation that will come to the Senate floor today. But when the votes are taken, Hunt will join other Wake, Durham and Orange senators to vote Yes.
The Triangle needs the money to build good bus and rail transit service, he says.
“We have major congestion on certain corridors right now,” Hunt said this morning. “I’m no expert, but I think the rail would do a great deal to relieve that congestion.
But he adds: Before local voters and commissioners actually consider hiking the local sales tax by a half penny, we need to make sure the money would be spent on a good transit plan.
Recalling that Triangle Transit’s rail plan was shot down in 2006 for lack of ridership (and lack of local fiscal support), Hunt wants plenty of expert input on how we beef up bus service and where we build the first rail lines.
Perhaps, he said, there would be plenty of riders for a proposed light rail line from Spring Forest Road in North Raleigh through downtown to N.C. State University in West Raleigh.
“That could very well work," Hunt said. "But I’d like for somebody else to tell me it’ll work before we spend a gazillion dollars putting it on the ground.”
Sen. David Rouzer, who represents neighboring Johnston County, plans to vote No.