As U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx was landing at RDU on Monday afternoon, he could see the congestion from the sky.
"It was an insane amount of traffic," Foxx told a crowd of around two hundred people gathered in a conference room at the Raleigh Convention Center for a forum hosted by WakeUp Wake County that evening. "We're finding this all over America, where our infrastructure is not adequate for the growth we're going to have, but you here in Raleigh and Wake County have a very particular set of challenges."
Foxx, like U.S. Representative David Price, who spoke before him, emphasized that Wake's $2.3 billion transit plan, which will be on the November ballot, will be crucial to managing growth in the region. Wake's population grew by 43.5 percent from 2000 to 2012, and the county expects to have a population of two million by 2054.
"The secret is out about this area," said Foxx, the former mayor of Charlotte. "You have four seasons; you've got lush trees. I've heard there's some pretty good college basketball around here. There's not a lot not to like about this area, and that's not going away."
Foxx praised the motto WakeUp Wake County has adopted to spread the word about the transit plan: "moving us all forward." The "all" part is especially important, Foxx said.
"As you begin to build options for this region, listen to each other, and, if you're doing it well, it's going to [lead to] some difficult conversations as you try to negotiate your way through solving the mobility challenges," Foxx said. "But don't run away from it because, as you're building a new transit system, you're also building a community."