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Certain railroad grants could be blocked if legislation passes

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The General Assembly could block certain future federal railroad grants offered to North Carolina in a bill given initial House approval.

The House voted 67-50 on Tuesday to make the Legislature's approval of federal grants a prerequisite before they could be accepted when state matching funds or annual project maintenance exceeds $5 million, with exceptions. The state Department of Transportation would have to consult a legislative commission when it surpassed $3 million.

An earlier version would have applied to $460 million already awarded to DOT to improve passenger service between Charlotte and Raleigh. Bill sponsor Rep. Ric Killian of Charlotte backed off that idea, but he said lawmakers should still have a say over future awards in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Opponents say the requirement would discourage rail improvements.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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