Local Politics

State looks to shift road maintenance to cities

Posted April 20, 2009

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— State officials are trying to free themselves of billions of dollars in road maintenance projects by shifting the burden to cities and counties across North Carolina.

Three bills pending in the General Assembly would make cities and counties responsible for maintaining thousands of miles of roads now handled by the state Department of Transportation.

Road maintenance, road paving generic Raleigh upset over road-funding proposal

"Most cities, frankly, do a better job of maintaining their local city streets than we do," said Calvin Leggett, manager of program development for the DOT. "Things like neighborhood streets (and) cul-de-sacs, we don't spend a lot of money maintaining those, but it does divert our focus from the arterial routes and highways we need to be maintaining."

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, who co-sponsored Senate Bill 758, said the effort isn't a way to trim state spending in the face of a projected $3 billion budget deficit. Rather, he said, it's a way to even the playing field between state and local government.

"It would allow the state to focus on bigger projects," Rucho said, citing interstates and urban loop highways.

Wake County spokeswoman Sarah Williamson said the county doesn't even have a public works department to handle road maintenance if it had to assume responsibility for area roads from the state.

Together with Senate Bill 1001 and House Bill 881, Rucho's bill would add 180 miles of roadway to the 997 miles already maintained by Raleigh street crews. Mayor Charles Meeker said he doesn't like the added responsibility without any guarantee of extra state money to help pay for paving and pothole repair.

"Cities and counties across North Carolina are concerned that these thoroughfares will be transferred to them without funds for maintenance," Meeker said. "The city does not have extra money any more than another city or county across the state does. If this responsibility is passed on without adequate funds, that would be a major problem for us."

The Raleigh City Council is expected to vote on a resolution Tuesday to oppose the bills. 

Proponents of the change said the current road-maintenance system puts too much pressure on the state and needs to be fixed.

"It's a case where everyone's having budget complaints – the city's having shortfalls, (and) we're having shortfalls. There's really not enough money for anyone to do what they would like to do," Leggett said.

"We're collapsing on top of ourselves," Rucho said. "Doing nothing is not an option."

15 Comments

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  • donnied1952 Apr 21, 2009

    You all know that NOTHING is free in this world....What this means is the State will move this responsibility to others, and require them to get the funding for this....the "BILLIONS" of dollars they refer to will now be a NEW TAX that the cities, or counties will hit you with! This is a NEW TRICK people!!!! Don't fall for it!
    NCcarguy

    You are absolutely correct. And everyone knows that once they start a new tax, it never goes away. They will never reduce the state tax, and now they will increase the local government taxes.
    We, local Joe Tax Payer, pays to build the roads, pays to maintain the roads, and now will soon even pay additional money, just to ride on the toll road. We get to pay for that one two or three times.
    There is no chance for the reg.working person to get ahead. Anyone beleiving the bunk in this article really needs to get an update on politics and how things really happen in the world. If you are not wealthy, you will barely survive the next 5 years

  • NeverSurrender Apr 21, 2009

    "Do they really think we're this stupid?"

    Apparently. They've been generally right as we keep sending the same nitwits back...

    "Where are the cities going to get the money to do this"

    It's called an unfunded mandate. They dumped 15% of Medicaid on the counties (which has just done wonders for *their* budgets) with no reimbursement in sight. They totally got away with it.

    Why would they change tactics when the current one works *SO* well in the face of an ignorant electorate?

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Apr 21, 2009

    what are they complaining about? if they pass their own tax increase regardless of citizen support or non-support (think water rates in Raleigh), they'll have some extra money, will it go to roads or salaries... hmmmmmm

  • killerkestrel Apr 21, 2009

    Subdivisions already are reviewed by the county, city (even outside city limits) and NCDOT.

    Cities usually have to maintain the roads in areas they annex. If NCDOT maintained, the city usually tries to take over the roads to get more Powell Bill funds. But the cities still have to supplement their road maintenance with other funds.

    NCDOT wants to get rid of roads since they don't have enough funds. Then the counties and cities would be forced to raise taxes.

    Overall, it is a BAD idea. Instead of about 100 NCDOT yards across the state, each county would have to create a maintenance yard, hire folks, and get equipment. So now you would have twice as many maintenance yards. More beauracracy! Instead of folks being on a private, city, or state road, now you would add county roads to the mix. Cut NCDOT yards, worsen response to wrecks on major roads. And what about maintenance standards? Down the drain. It doesn't work well in Virginia, won't work well here.

  • Bendal1 Apr 21, 2009

    I grew up in TN where the counties handled the rural roads and the towns handled the ones inside their limits. The poorer they were, the worse the roads were maintained. No guardrail, narrow bridges, unsafe shoulders, etc, were all common, and it was easy to tell where the county lines were by where the resurfacing stopped and the potholes started.

    This is a terrible idea for all the reasons given already. Counties don't have the infrastructure set up for maintaining roads, most cities don't either (or it's too small), and thinking the gas tax would be split 100+ ways among the counties is hilarious. It would never happen; NCDOT would argue the gas tax money is for major roads and would fight to keep every penny of it, so property and local gas taxes would go up to cover these new expenses.

  • Adelinthe Apr 21, 2009

    Do they really think we're this stupid?

    Where are the cities going to get the money to do this and what's going to happen to the STATE equipment that's just going to be sitting idle?

    What a bunch of baloney!

    And it angers me to think they think we're this daft.

    God bless.

    RB

  • Methuselah Apr 21, 2009

    "Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, who co-sponsored Senate Bill 758, said the effort isn't a way to trim state spending in the face of a projected $3 billion budget deficit. Rather, he said, it's a way to even the playing field between state and local government."

    Right... and where in the bill does it say anything about transferring road maintenance funds to the cities and counties for doing this work? Nowhere. That sure sounds like a budget-trimming idea to me. It will end up costing taxpayers more in the long run because every city/county will have to set up its own road maintenance department or expand the existing one, with the associated bureaucracy.

    This is nothing more than the state government trying to shirk it responsibilities, get a stealth funding increase, and raise our taxes without taking the blame.

  • slick rick da troll whisperer Apr 21, 2009

    the state better have concurrent plans to reduce taxes.

  • RonnieR Apr 21, 2009

    Mancy, they are still considered a public vehicular area and those laws that apply to PVAs are enforceable, such as DUI, C&R etc. Speeding does not, as you stated.

  • Nancy Apr 21, 2009

    Subdivision roads belong to the subdivision until such time that they meet state or county criteria, then they are taken over and maintained by such entities (state or county). Otherwise they are private roads and as such do not get protection from speeders etc.

    Our subdivision roads were finally taken over by the county after they approved the drainage areas etc. It's a formality, no money changed hands.

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