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Ex-DOT Chief: Change Highway Funding Formula

Posted May 1, 2007

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— A former state transportation secretary called Tuesday for changing North Carolina's highway-funding formula, which doles out money equally to all areas of the state, regardless of traffic.

Changing the formula would get more money to areas experiencing dramatic growth and needing new and expanded highways to keep up, former Department of Transportation chief Jim Harrington told people attending the N.C. Spin Transportation Forum.

"The main issue is to get transportation funding in order and then allocate the funds in accordance with where the most traffic is, where the real needs are," Harrington said.

Wake County's representative to the state Board of Transportation said transportation troubles cannot be solved without new sources of money.

"(We could be) charging people by the vehicle-miles that they travel," DOT board member Nina Szlosberg said. "I do think this type of pay-as-you-go approach might be something we will look at in the future."

The conference, which attracted business and government leaders, also featured a discussion of toll roads, with opinions split on the issue of drivers paying for new roads, and a question about Gov. Mike Easley's leadership.

Easley's detractors said he's pulled more money out of the state Highway Trust Fund for general expenditures than any other governor.

"Gov. Easley has demonstrated a complete lack of interest in the state's transportation program," Harrington said.

But Easley's supporters said he's restored more money to the trust fund than any other governor.

"To say that Gov. Easley hasn't been leading on transportation isn't telling the whole story," Szlosberg said.

35 Comments

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  • madth May 2, 2007

    why don't the democrats in the state legislature and the poor excuse for a govenor easley quit stealing the money from the highway fund. it had plenty of money for projects and road improvement when gov. martin left office. toll roads are a joke in this area and so is taxing the miles driven. what a bunch of incompetant boobs we've elected.

  • just my2cents May 2, 2007

    Remember, do some research on the candidate you plan to vote for before electing him to office. I just thank God Easley is gone this go 'round. And what is it about him restoring more money to the trust fund? He stole my retirement funds!

  • cm64 May 2, 2007

    It's a shame how developers have been allowed to build at almost every interection along the new 540 in Wake. Makes me wonder who this road really benifits. In the meanwhile, the young people from rural counties are leaving for the metros and not returning. Huge shoping palaces along the Triangles glittering wide highways draw people from all over the state. Who is benifitting? Wake, Durham, ect.,. Take a look at the east. The main 4- way highways through there are for Trianglites to reach the beaches. Parts of US 17 got put on hold for the Wake "developer loop". Now that it's time to pay back, they are screaming and want to change the formula. Should one part of NC prosper or all parts?

  • Slip Kid May 2, 2007

    A) Pay more attention to who you vote for.
    B) NC needs to change the 'formula' for spending. Evenly distributed means great roads where we don't need them (think I-85 to Charlotte) and not enough and POORLY maintained roads where there is greater need.
    C) If we continue the current trend of relying on government to manage our every need, you WILL BE DISAPPOINTED (and it'll be expensive).
    D) Pay attention for whom you vote.

  • BlarneyStone May 2, 2007

    If you go to the rural counties, we have some wonderfully paved roads. It makes no sense why in the metro areas the roads suck. This state needs to divy out the money by population and usage- that equal money for every county is just stupid. Almost as asanine as the governor being allowed to dip into the highway trust fund.

  • twobits May 2, 2007

    If they feel they must have another tax, I support toll roads AS AN ALTERNATIVE to the yearly mileage tax. I would PREFER NOT to add another tax, as I'm sure anyone would say. If they have a surplus like they're talking now, I don't see why they need more taxes either.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy May 2, 2007

    Toll Roads are just ANOTHER tax!!! Get rid of the corrupt Jim Blacks, and others in our government, and that would get us started in the right direction.....of coourse, until they figure out how to line their pockets!

  • twobits May 2, 2007

    NC already taxes us to death to own a vehicle, between the gas tax and the yearly property tax. Charging me yearly for miles I drive?? How can they justifiy charging me for miles that may have been driven out of state? Last year I drove at least 8,000 miles out of state. I will support toll roads as an alternative, and I encourage all of you to speak out to your representatives that that is the better solution.

  • beachboater May 2, 2007

    We are already on a "pay as you go" plan. You pay highway tax everytime you visit the gas pump.

    Until we have all children leave the hospital and go directly to school, our governor will want more funds for education. And after that happens, Mr. Easley will want more funds for class size reduction.

    The legislature should reach down and grab some intestinal fortitude to pass a law prohibiting the invasion of the highway trust fund for general fund expenditures.

  • kaecee May 2, 2007

    I can assure you that government and DOT officials are not looking to the people on wral.com for answers. We all have ideas on what can be done but complaining about it here will not solve any problems. We pay taxes on gasoline, yet we still sit in traffic and hit potholes driving down the streets. After many years, NC finally got lotto. They say it's the education lotto. Still NC has underpaid teachers and Wake County is fighting for their kids to have summer vacations. What is really going on with the government and where is our money going? Perhaps, as taxpayers, we should ask for better explanation or itemization of where our tax dollars are being spent per fiscal year.

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