The pending Senate bill to divert some N.C. Railroad funds to the state General Fund is a bad idea.
When I was elected to the N.C. Railroad board of directors, the tracks were so out of balance that the train could not go faster than 20 miles per hour on sections between LaGrange and Goldsboro or harmonic resonance would literally cause the train to rock off the track and fall over.
Now more than a decade after the expiration of the infamous 99-year lease with Norfolk Southern, the N.C. Railroad has been able to use those rent payments from the new lease to build a modern railroad that has allowed industries such as Spirit Aerosystems and Sanderson Farms to come to Kinston, as well as many other industries across the state. There is much left to do, particularly double tracking the line between Charlotte and Raleigh.
The rent receipts are too small to make a difference to the state General Fund, but they make a huge difference to construction and maintenance of one of North Carolina’s most valuable assets – its railroad. Just as highway funds should be used to build and maintain highways, railroad funds should be used to build and maintain railroads.