North Carolina governor offers 'road map' for the future

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/7/2014

The long-term plan to identify and pay for needed transportation work in North Carolina could include a variety of funding sources, including public-private partnerships.

Gov. Pat McCrory and state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata recently unveiled the governor’s 25-year transportation plan. The plan includes priorities for the state as a whole, as well as the state’s coastal, eastern, central and western regions.

“Transportation is the backbone of our state’s economy, and investing in transportation solutions will help expand opportunities and create jobs,” McCrory said in prepared remarks.

McCrory said the state’s new transportation funding formula approved during the 2013 regular session will aid decision making on priority projects.

The 10-year, $16 billion transportation funding model calls for putting available resources to the state’s greatest priorities. Specifically, it sets up three tiers of projects for spreading state and federal transportation dollars.

Potential projects will be ranked on a scoring system, with the highest rated projects getting priority.

Tata said the 25-year “vision for transportation” should allow the state to complete about 360 transportation projects.

“This vision will provide a road map for long-term strategic investment that ensures we are making the most of our limited resources,” Tata said.

The new plan doesn’t include a list of specific projects but priorities for each region are available.

Coastal projects are expected to include work to improve highway connections, replace aging bridges and transforming ports. Projects in eastern Carolina include improving the highway connection to Hampton Roads, improving freight movement, and improving Interstate 95 connections.

Central Carolina projects highlighted include efforts to relieve congestion and improve access to inland ports. Projects in western Carolina include improvements to interstate and intrastate connections, and enhancing industrial rail to support freight movement.

Also covered in the long-term plan is the potential for alternative funding to help the state close the gap between needs and available funding. One option identified is public-private partnerships.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has communicated with the McCrory administration about professional drivers’ concerns on tolling. The Association has 4,200 members from North Carolina.

OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek said the Association supports investing in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, but tolling is not the solution to address deficiencies in the existing network.

“If additional revenue is needed, increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable and appropriate option, as long as the generated revenue is used for its intended purpose,” Matousek said.

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