Former NC govs to state lawmakers: Take the rail money

Current North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, has caught flak for supporting high-speed rail. Some observers have said could make her vulnerable for re-election in 2012.

Republican state lawmakers have tried to pass legislation that would require Perdue to reject $545 million the federal government has offered the state to increase the speed of trains between Charlotte and Washington, D.C. But the former Tar Heel governors said those efforts were misguided.

"The $545 million federal grant the state won enables the state to add double tracks, straighten curves, add passing sidings and eliminate dangerous road crossings. This enhances safety and further reduces travel times for rail patrons," they said.

"The rail program creates jobs - thousands in the next few years," the governors continued. "It is a much-needed injection of new business for the state's engineering and construction firms, so hard hit by the recession.

"The federal dollars are essential for making that vision a reality," the governor's article concluded. "We urge the General Assembly not to create roadblocks that will keep that bright transportation future from benefiting our state."

North Carolina received the second highest rail award from the federal economic stimulus, trailing only Florida's since-rejected $2.4 billion. GOP governors there, Ohio and Wisconsin have made shows of rejecting federal money to build railways in their states.