DOT chief: Wake County faces transportation 'crisis'

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DOT chief Anthony Foxx warns of a transportation crisis for Wake County.

United States Secretary of Transportation and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx is warning Wake County residents of the potential challenges ahead for the area. Wake is one of the fastest-growing areas of the country and it's putting stress on its infrastructure.

"You are at the epicenter of a national crisis in mobility," Foxx said.

Foxx spoke about the Beyond Traffic study that was done, which looked at growth on a national level. The study found in the next 30 years, the country's population will swell by 70 million people and the growth will be more pronounced in the Southeast.

"If you think the last 20-25 years has been like a tsunami, you just wait," Foxx said.

The county is looking to make major investments to public transportation. There are plans to add rapid bus transit and a commuter rail.

The rail line would stretch from Garner to RTP, with stops in downtown Raleigh, Cary and Morrisville. The focus would be on serving residents during rush hour.

County commissioners think the move is necessary for economic development.

"Cities that are really thriving today are the one who are attractive," said Wake Board of Commissioners Vice-Chair Sig Hutchinson. "(Mass transit) can save you money, it can increase your productivity."

Voters will ultimately decide whether to make these investments. A referendum will be on the November ballot asking resident to increase the sales tax by half a cent.

Wake estimates in one year, $78.5 million could be collected for its transit plan.

Foxx said he believes the plan is a good blueprint for a bustling area.

"As you're building a transit system, you're building a community," Foxx said.

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