Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited North Carolina to announce a significant bipartisan investment of $1 billion by the Biden administration to establish passenger rail service between Raleigh and Richmond, Virginia. This rare bipartisan initiative has garnered support from both Republican and Democratic politicians, with Sen. Thom Tillis praising the grant as a significant boost for economic development in the region.
The $1 billion grant, the largest ever received by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), is designated for designing and building passenger rail routes connecting Raleigh to Richmond. The rail network will extend connectivity to Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the Northeast Corridor. The comprehensive plans aim to enhance transit services, upgrade tracks, improve safety at railroad crossings, and lay the groundwork for a key section of the Southeast Corridor.
During the event at Raleigh Union Station, Buttigieg emphasized the generational nature of the undertaking, recognizing that it won’t be an overnight accomplishment but expressing confidence in its swift execution with the allocated funding. The White House projects that the rail system will significantly reduce travel time for passengers. Currently, the journey from Raleigh Union Station to Washington, D.C., takes about six hours, and the trip to New York City exceeds ten hours.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin described the initiative as a game-changer, emphasizing the positive impact on economic development and accessibility for both urban and rural areas. Buttigieg echoed the importance of passenger rail routes for small businesses and workers throughout the state, offering increased hiring accessibility and stimulating the local economy.
While the project is still years away from completion, Governor Roy Cooper highlighted North Carolina’s role as an epicenter of clean energy and emphasized the significance of public transportation in the state’s economic landscape. The $1.1 billion grant, focusing on rail infrastructure, aligns with the state’s commitment to sustainable and efficient transit systems.
In addition to the rail investment, Buttigieg joined Mayor Baldwin and other transportation officials for a bus ride along the newly established bus rapid transit corridor, marking another step in enhancing public transportation in the region. North Carolina’s bipartisan support for the initiative showcases a collaborative approach to addressing transportation challenges and fostering economic development.