Posted January 8, 1998
PINEHURST — The North Carolina Department of Transportation has hit a few potholes in the road recently. Transportation Board members are hoping to travel a little more smoothly in 1998.
A couple of board members resigned following reports they abused their positions, and now Secretary Garland Garrett's job may be on the line.
Many people in the Department of Transportation are on pins and needles. Governor Hunt is expected to make some changes in the next few days after months of controversy about DOT spending decisions.
The Board of Transportation has been at the center of that controversy. On Thursday, board members held a regular meeting in a not-so-regular place.
The DOT is meeting at the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club -- a picturesque golfing paradise, usually packed with people hitting the links. The state Board of Transportation chose Pinehurst as the spot for their monthly meeting, but they decided not to play golf during this stay. They are worried about their image.
The department has reason to worry about image. Leaders have been bombarded by allegations of approving road projects for political reasons and personal favors.
Most board members admit that something's wrong. The board's Lyndo Tippett admits that the Transportation Department has had some problems.
Governor Hunt has chastised the department and the board for the way they've approved roads. Now, Hunt is under fire for pushing for a new bridge, located just four miles from his farm in Wilson County.
The $7 million bridge project was originally rejected by DOT engineers. But, after the Governor's request, it was back on the priority list. This comes as the Transportation Board waits for Governor Hunt to announce new policy changes.
Jack Poole is a newcomer to the board, appointed by House Speaker Harold Brubaker. He says that board members are working to correct its internal wrongs.
Governor Hunt denies any wrongdoing in requesting another look at that Wilson County bridge project. He says he was only responding to the complaints of neighbors, who Hunt thought were being mistreated. Construction on the bridge is scheduled to start in the next few months.