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Raleigh Leaders Call for Audit of DOT Funding

Posted November 28, 2006

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— The Raleigh City Council is expected to submit a formal request within a month for a state audit of the Department of Transportation.

City leaders, including Mayor Charles Meeker, say that with an estimated 35,000 additional vehicles on Wake County roads this year, the current formula for funding road-construction projects is not being fairly applied.

“It doesn't appear we are getting very much at all,” Meeker said.

Current projects, leaders say, keep getting delayed. For example, widening Glenwood Avenue near Duraleigh Road, expanding Interstate 440 near Wade Avenue to six lanes and extending Tryon Road to Rock Quarry Road are all examples of delayed projects.

In a new Transportation Improvement Program, DOT funded only environmental studies for some projects for which the city asked. Funding requests for other projects are denied altogether.

"There aren't any projects, construction projects, in Raleigh and Wake County, and that simply doesn't make sense since we are paying $100 million a year in gas taxes," Meeker said Monday.

Part of the reason is that under state law, gas tax collected in Wake County does not all stay in Wake County for road projects.

The DOT cannot corroborate Meeker's $100 million assertion, but did admit Wake County will get less funding over the next five years because the county received more than other municipalities in years when road projects in rural areas were not ready for construction.

"Wake and Durham borrowed from other areas," said DOT Chief Financial Officer Mark Foster. "They forget they got 50 percent more in equity fund projects than any other division in the state. And based on the law and formula, they have to pay back the amount of excess they used in the past."

Foster said that by 2012, Wake County would be back on schedule.

Although few funds are available for construction, the city does report some state progress on a few high-profile projects, including signal system upgrades and the Falls of Neuse corridor improvements.
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