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Mayor Meeker’s Triangle Transit Authority has been having a bit of trouble with its buses. The TTA runs an express bus everyday from Chapel Hill to Raleigh. According to the News and Observer the bus has been plagued by a series of mechanical failures. The air-conditioning goes out, one morning ten minutes after it left Chapel Hill the bus had to stop so a mechanic could come out and repair a chairlift, and on three hot August afternoons when the TTA bus reached a hill on I-40 it couldn’t make the climb. None of this is earth-shaking news and the newspaper also reports the express buses are popular with riders. But you do have to wonder what would have happened if the Mayor had succeeded in giving these folks an $810 million railroad to operate!

The TTA does seem to be efficient when it comes to exercising the right of eminent domain. The John Locke Foundation just published a white paper: Riding the Eminent Domain Rail: Triangle Transit Authority is North Carolina’s Case Study in Eminent Domain Abuse. The foundation reports, “Even after it was clear the TTA was not going to secure federal funding for the rail system, TTA continued to seize private property of Triangle residents.” It adds, now, as the TTA searches for a new mission it “is considering a public/private partnership with a commercial developer…to develop the land it has taken.” So the TTA used its power of eminent domain to take someone’s home or business or land to build a train line – but now it may be used to build a strip mall, instead.

The Locke Foundation calls on the TTA to return the land to the people they seized it from (at the price paid plus interest). That sounds reasonable. Will Mayor Meeker and the TTA’s Board agree?

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