North Carolina DOT: Aging roads are priority

| 9/7/2004

North Carolina will spend less on new highways but more on maintenance, upgrades, mass transit and technology under a 25-year plan by the state Board of Transportation.

The board approved the long-range plan Sept. 2. The plan represents a significant shift in priorities within the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The share of state highway spending for new road projects will be cut from a recent 45 percent to 26 percent, The Associated Press reported.

The plan contains guidelines and spending targets to turn these recent trends into long-term policy.

It also promotes a new approach to easing congestion with the development of “strategic highway corridors.” It doesn’t endorse specific projects, The Raleigh News and Observer reported.

Planners with NCDOT say the state faces a shortfall of nearly $30 billion in highway funding over the next 25 years. They estimate it would take $84 billion to meet the state’s transportation needs, including $66 billion for highway construction and upkeep. The state expects to have only $55 billion, primarily from state fuel and highway use taxes, vehicle fees and federal aid.

The plan urges state leaders to find more money for roads and other transportation expenses, but it does not recommend specific tax increases or other funding sources.