Taxpayers question Raleigh project spending

July 2, 2008 4:58:19 AM PDT
Some taxpayers in Raleigh are wondering why city leaders are spending so much money on the arts, while delaying road projects that would benefit thousands of people each day.The focus of big city spending lately has been all around the new convention center, developing the Raleigh plaza and doubling the amount of money given to the symphony.

Some feel that money may be better spent on roadways, like widening Poole Road, Old Wake Forest, Rock Quarry, Leesville, Buck Jones and Mitchell Mill Roads.

"Poole Road does get backed up from time to time," Commuter Tabia Megginson said.

And improving Wade Avenue, Lake Wheeler, Sandy Forks and Jones Franklin Roads.

"Very compact traffic and the lanes are hard. People with all their big trucks are having trouble with their lane control and it's just really tight driving up and down that road," Commuter Karen Lindsay said.

Plans to widen those roads and improve several others are being delayed by at least a year.

While Tuesday the city council voted to move forward with plans to redevelop the plaza next to the new convention center.

It also committed $80,000 to the design of an amphitheater and the land for it.

Monday, the city said it's doubling the money it gives the symphony.

"The symphony has been in downtown for over 30 years and is a great asset. The funding by the city each year is now $200,000 a year instead of $100,000. The road projects is $120 million, so it's a different scale and actually we are seeing somewhat less traffic now because of high gas prices so actually it's a good time to re-evaluate whether all of those projects are really needed and whether they are needed right now," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Mayor Meeker says traffic is down 5 to 6 percent because of high gas prices while the symphony is a big money maker for the city.

"I think we really, really, really do need the arts in Raleigh we need it not just for to bring more business into the area but really for our children," Megginson said.

"It would be great to have both but that road is a dangerous road and needs some adjusting. The quicker the better," Lindsay added.

Improving roads means raising taxes, something the city council tried to limit this year with the economy.

City leaders point out that downtown projects will hopefully bring in more money.


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