I thought I was in the Twilight Zone this morning when I read this editorial in the News and Observer cautioning against selling land that has been acquired to support long term transit planning.
Linking fast-growing Wake, Durham and Orange counties and beyond with fast, cheap (and less-polluting) mass transit realistically is a when, not an if. But the only revenue now set aside for a system is a 5 percent tax on car rentals.
From its start in 1998, the tax has raised far less than expected or hoped for -- just $7 million last year, for a project whose total cost has been put at $810 million. Yet state Sen. Neal Hunt of Raleigh, for one, says collection of the tax probably should be halted until a new plan is adopted. He also suggests that the authority sell some of the land it has bought for rail stops and development around them.
This land wasn't acquired on a whim, and it shouldn't be resold unless it's clearly no longer needed. Further, the TTA will improve its chances for federal help with a new proposal if it has a substantial pot of money in the bank.
Can you believe it? An actual opinion! Of course, the paper goes on to soften its stand with this breathtaking equivocation -- "unless it's clearly no longer needed." Exactly what world would you be living in to reach the conclusion that land acquired for strategic transportation planning would be "clearly no longer needed"?
Ah well, at least they're trying.