DOT Rethinks Selection Process for Funding

When Charlotte's new light rail line opened, it vastly exceeded anticipated ridership figures. As the city plans an extension of the system, the federal government is revising how it distributes funding to avoid making the same mistake again.

"Now, as the city plans the second phase of its light-rail project, a three-car, 11-mile extension of the existing line from Uptown into northeast Charlotte, it also must retrofit the existing track to carry the longer trains. That means not only buying more rail cars, but also lengthening platforms and boosting power distribution. Estimated price tag of the retrofits: an additional $67 million.

The Obama administration has taken notice, vowing to prevent what happened here from happening again. DOT is in the early stages of what it has dubbed its "livability" initiative, a comprehensive rewrite of the nation's transportation strategy that includes an overhaul of how road and transit projects are picked to receive federal funding."

By including economic development opportunities and environmental considerations in the selection process for federal funding, the DOT is hoping to get the right amount of funding to projects in order to ensure their success.

Full Story: A Southern Success Story for Public Transportation Offers Lessons in Livability

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