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Mayor Foxx out

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With Anthony Foxx out, Charlotte transportation issues loom large

Many of the fiercest political fights of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s time in office have centered on transportation – and most of those fights remain unresolved.

With Foxx leaving the mayor’s office at the end of his term, Charlotte still has a host of transportation issues to deal with – ranging from who should control Charlotte Douglas International Airport to how to pay for the proposed streetcar line.

Some of the issues will play out over the next few months. But how much influence a lame duck mayor will have is an open question.

Foxx has been fighting a bill in the state legislature to transfer ownership and control of Charlotte’s airport from the City Council to a new, regional airport authority. The city opposes the bill, which has already been passed by the N.C. Senate and is working its way through the House.

Foxx and his allies contend that the city has done a good job managing Charlotte Douglas International and have helped it grow to the eighth-busiest airport in the country. But Foxx’s critics say the mayor and City Council have meddled too much in the airport’s affairs and could drive up costs for airport tenants.

The House is expected to wait for the city’s study to finish on May 1 before voting on the airport authority bill.

The issue that drew some of fiercest criticism against Foxx is the proposed streetcar line. The mayor’s insistence that the $119 million line be paid for with property taxes helped scuttle the city’s nearly $1 billion capital improvement plan last year.

Foxx will likely push for the streetcar’s inclusion in a new city budget, which the City Council is expected to finalize in coming months.

The city is also considering options for funding the Lynx Blue Rail beyond current plans to extend it to UNC Charlotte, as well as commuter rail running to the north. Those projects, part of the city’s 2030 transit plan, will be detailed in a report later this month from the Metropolitan Transit Commission Working Group.

Foxx’s message Friday hinted at the uncertainty that remains. “We have no capacity to complete the plan beyond the light rail extension to UNC Charlotte – no commuter rail to the north, no streetcars to the east and west or to the airport,” he wrote in announcing he wouldn’t run for another term.

Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo
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