Good news…and bad news

Memphis has evidently shelved plans to install light rail running from downtown to the airport and connecting the region’s three largest employment centers.  Cost was the issue–$4 million in annual subsidy + $50 million-$122 million (quite a wide range) for construction over seven years.

I have to say that in the grand scheme of capital projects, that doesn’t seem like all that much money to me, especially in a city with a $590 million plus general fund and $190 million in capital improvement projects.  Besides, if the city were to get creative and use something like a “tax increment financing” district to capture revenue from new development along the rail line, that money spent building and subsidizing the line could ultimately get offset.

At any rate, I hope Memphis City Council reconsiders.  It seems like a reasonably priced starter line for a city that already has bus and frequent trolley service and the potential for greater transit usage.

Good news is that Florida will be getting solid federal funding to develop high-speed intercity rail to compete with drivers, with trains going perhaps twice as fast as cars could go…with no traffic.

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One response to “Good news…and bad news

  1. Politically speaking, it’s not the best time for municipalities to take on large capital projects — or commit themselves to other long-term annual expenditures.

    Maybe when the economy gets a little better. But I do like the TIF idea — I think Atlanta’s using that in their Beltline project.

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