County Will Talk Transit Sept. 3

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Wake County Commissioners will finally talk transit, but not in the way some people would guess.

At their regular meeting on Sept. 3, Commissioners will consider Commissioner Paul Coble’s plan to hire two groups of consultants that would create a new transit and transportation strategy.

Coble has previously refused to discuss a proposed transit plan created by Triangle Transit that would be funded by a countywide half-cent sales tax.

Coble suggested the new approach at the end of the Commissioners’ regular meeting Aug. 19. His comments weren’t specifically listed on the agenda and he spoke during the “other business” portion of the meeting.

Coble suggested hiring three national transit and transportation experts who would create a panel to answer a series of questions based on three components: feasibility, financial practicality and governance.

The panel would take the county’s needs, infrastructure and communities into account and offer an unbiased opinion, Coble said.

The recommendations from the panel would be used to create a Request for Proposal for a consulting company that would create and design a strategic transportation plan.

The three members of the panel would be chosen by outgoing County Manager David Cooke. When questioned by Commissioner Caroline Sullivan about the source of the funding for these consultants, Coble said that it would be a budgetary consideration and didn’t offer any specifics.

“I’m struggling to figure out where you’re going with this,” said Commissioner Betty Lou Ward. Ward questioned why Coble has decided to suddenly speak publicly about transit after nearly two years of refusing to discuss it.

He said that there has been very little outside input on the plan and that after speaking with his own experts, he said, these issues needed to be addressed.

Coble briefly suggested bringing in outside help during the Commissioners’ county retreat in February.

The next meeting will take place at 2 p.m. Sept. 3 in the board room of the Wake County Justice Center.

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