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Election 2012: North Carolina governor candidates talk transportation
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

North Carolina residents can cast ballots in about 10 days for various elected officials, including a new governor. The candidates competing for outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue’s position have weighed in on transportation issues in the lead-up to Election Day.

The two major party candidates vying to replace her are Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Walter Dalton. Among the issues that will confront the next governor is how to address funding needs to pay for road upgrades, specifically Interstate 95.

Early this year the North Carolina Department of Transportation held a series of public meeting to discuss proposed improvements to the state’s 182-mile portion of the interstate.

According to the agency’s preferred design for I-95, the roadway would be widened and reconstructed in phases using tolls.

McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, said during a debate earlier this month that he does not support charging tolls to access I-95.

“I think the toll road idea is very poor. To try to put tolls on a road that has been there for years is a mistake,” McCrory said.

Instead, he is touting the creation of a 25-year transportation and infrastructure plan that would connect all portions of the state. He did not offer insight for how the work would be completed.

Dalton, the state’s lieutenant governor, has also indicated a desire to avoid tolling existing roads. During the Oct. 16 debate he referred to it as “a last resort.”

For new work, however, Dalton said “we need to look at public-private partnerships ... to move our projects along.”

Discussing transportation efficiencies, Dalton said that he would like to consolidate the state DOT’s existing 14 operating districts. Instead, he said he would prefer that transportation planning unfold “more regionally.”

McCrory is calling for a review and reform of the state’s transportation funding formula.

“Investing in infrastructure is key if we are going to grow this economy, enable commerce and make sure industries like trucking remain strong,” McCrory previously said in remarks to a group of North Carolina truckers.

Both candidates said they would cap the fuel tax rate because of concerns about the high price of fuel in the state. In North Carolina, the fuel tax is composed of a flat rate and a wholesale component. It is adjusted twice annually based on wholesale prices.

“I would cap the gas tax,” Dalton said during the Oct. 16 debate.

“We both agree that the gas tax should be capped, and it’s good we have agreement,” McCrory responded.

For more 2012 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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