RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — Raleigh’s latest city budget proposal was presented to City Council on Tuesday, totaling $1.26 billion.
It includes $80 million in funding for bus rapid transit (BRT) projects, and another $7.8 million for affordable housing. The budget also earmarks $11.8 million in housing assistance programs.
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Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said the issues Raleigh faces with housing and transportation need to be approached in tandem.
“The focus on bus rapid transit is really important because that will help feed what I hope will be regional rail one day. So that all ties together — tying our region together is critical, especially when you think about commuting times,” Baldwin said.
Advocacy group Wake Up Wake County said it’s vital the city expand public transportation to areas where much of its workforce now live.
“That’s how they’re going to get to work. That’s how our grocery stores get staffed. That’s how our libraries and our schools get staffed. That’s how our services get run,” said the group’s Executive Director, Nathan Spencer.
Mayor Baldwin said expansion of BRT in corridors east, west and south are a step in that process. Construction on the city’s New Bern corridor is expected to begin in the near future, while the budget mentioned the implementation of the Southern corridor with service to Garner.
“The federal government is encouraging us to move forward with these types of projects. When we see success on New Bern, we’ll continue to see success elsewhere,” Baldwin said.
There’s also an increased focus on making sure the commuters who ride those lines can afford to live in the community.
“We’re not going to build our way out of this thing,” Spencer said. “This is not an issue of if we have $1,000,000,000 in the budget, can we build enough housing? It’s not going to work that way.”
Wake Up Wake County is pushing for rezoning, and new multi-unit housing developments in residential communities — also known as “Missing Middle” housing.
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Baldwin acknowledged that new developments can be unwelcome for some, but said it’s incumbent on Raleigh’s residents to accept change amid the metro’s population explosion.
“We are a changing, growing city and change is hard. And some people don’t like change. But the fact of the matter is we all have to accept some form of change.”
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