Friday, November 21, 2008

Fundraise. Promise. Elect. Repeat.

"Our state's transportation dollars are distributed according to a simple formula: where the most powerful politicians live is where we will build roads. The rest of the state, meanwhile, is left begging for new construction. This is not to say that Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, our military families, and Eastern North Carolina communities don't deserve good roads. Of course they do. The entire state, however, would benefit from a vision for road construction that is strategic and based on future needs, not aimed at the next election and maintaining maximum power for Democrats. If Bev Perdue is really interested in changing this system instead of perpetuating it, she should stand up to cronyism and make her voice heard. As long as we have a broken political system in Raleigh, we will have a broken transportation system statewide." Linda Daves, NCGOP Chairman

Road chief's hometown gets millions

By Mark Johnson
The News & Observer
November 21, 2008

RALEIGH - The N.C. Board of Transportation is pumping $270 million in road money into Fayetteville, the hometown of Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett and of a key legislative ally, weeks before Tippett leaves office.

At meetings in October and November, the board approved the money for work on a highway loop around Fayetteville, as road money has been drying up and cash for loops around the state's other cities has been delayed.

The funding comes in the waning weeks of the terms of Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat, and Tippett, his appointee. Tippett is also a close friend of Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat who pushed for the loop money.

The move has officials in other cities up in arms.

"I don't know what their personal roles are," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said, "but I know what the end result is."

Meeker, also a Democrat, said highway money has flowed to Fayetteville in recent years as most large cities in the state have received little.

Rep. Becky Carney, a Charlotte Democrat and a co-chairwoman of a legislative committee that oversees transportation, said approval of the Fayetteville project leapfrogs the state's larger cities and drains a large portion of the money available for the entire state.

"That would be a travesty," Carney said, "if the bulk of our loop money went for one project." …

Nancy Dunn, a transportation board member from Winston-Salem, said clear decision-making steps should be established. "There should be some known process on how the money is allocated on loops," she said.

Construction was supposed to start this year on a 12-mile section of Raleigh's Outer Loop, I-540, in western Wake County. In 2005, the transportation department postponed construction by at least four years and said it might take until 2030 to finish the entire loop.

Last year, Charlotte's unfinished I-485 loop was pushed back by two years and now isn't expected to be completed for a decade.

But Fayetteville's loop was kept on schedule. The first leg opened three years ago and is handling about 9,000 cars a day. The southern leg of Charlotte's loop handles 120,000 cars a day. …