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DOT playing favorites? Some think so

Posted December 23, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Are state leaders playing favorites when it comes to allocating funding for highway projects in some cities?

A Charlotte transportation official and a Wake County commissioner seem to think so.

I-295 Fayetteville funding unfair, transportation official says

In a Dec. 5 letter to President-elect Obama, R. Lee Myers, chairman of the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization, asks the incoming administration to freeze all federal funding to North Carolina for highway projects, saying an investigation into the state's Board of Transportation and transportation officials is needed.

Myers accuses Department of Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett and Democratic majority leader Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, of showing favoritism in a recent decision to allocate $275 million in funding over the next six years for the future Interstate 295 outer loop in Fayetteville.

Both Tippett and Rand are from the Fayetteville area.

In comparison, Charlotte received $104 million over the next six years for the Interstate 485 loop, and Raleigh received $5 million for the Interstate 540/N.C. Highway 540 loop.

I-295 is projected to have about 30,000 vehicles per day traveling on it by 2020, Myers said.

Traffic on the completed portion of I-485, is "unbelievably congested" at 120,000 vehicles a day, Myers said. The uncompleted portion, he said, is projected to have approximately 130,000 vehicles a day by 2030.

Myers said the decision is political and, although legal, is far from being a "systematic distribution of funding."

"The failure to require a more just and fair system is the fault of the North Carolina Legislature," Myers writes. "However, insofar as federal funding is concerned, this is your opportunity to bring about a significant change in the way the federal government does business."

Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan agrees.

"We've got to start prioritizing in this type of economic situation we're in now," Bryan said. "I have no idea of their personal involvement in this. That's a decision by the Board of Transportation. Whatever the case is, I think the public can figure it out for themselves."

Rand denies any favoritism, saying funding has been distributed fairly.

Through 2008, I-485 received $1.05 billion, and I-540 received $757 million. I-295 received $66 million.

"When you look where the money's spent, it's obvious we haven't taken advantage of the situation in any improper way," Rand said. "It's obvious we waited in line."

To complete Raleigh's loop, the DOT says toll roads are necessary.

DOT says that because of Fort Bragg's growth, Fayetteville needs and deserves the funding.

"It's going to challenge our schools, challenge every bit of infrastructure we have, and highways are a huge part of that," Rand said.

It's unclear how Obama will respond.

As for the state's new administration, Governor-elect Beverly Perdue says one of her top priorities is to transform the Board of Transportation.

"I do not want them approving individual roads," Perdue said. "I want to depoliticize how roads and bridges and maintenance is done in the state."

51 Comments

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  • manofjustice Dec 24, 2008

    Charlotte needs more strip bars. That would help with the funding of highways.

  • jeffthompson Dec 24, 2008

    And as far as taxes being pumped into the stae...I bet Mecklenburg County puts more money in than Wake & Cumberland cobined.

    I am not bashing Fayetteville or Raleigh (my hometown) by any means...you guys just have NO idea of the traffic problems we have here...and YES I drive in Raleighs traffic...bad but can not even rival Charlotte's...not even close.

    Happy Holidays EVERYONE!

    Be BLESSED :)

  • jeffthompson Dec 24, 2008

    Southrnarchitect...

    Charlotte has a greater population of Raleigh & Fayetteville put together. When was the last time you drove in Charlotte. I-485 is dead stop Mon-Fri from about 330pm - 7pm and backed up for at least 7 miles or more.

    It only makes sense that Charlotte get more money...much larger...much greater in population...but at least we have our Light Rail started & 1st line open....but traffic here is still HELL!

    I grew up in Raleigh and TRUST me when I tell you that the good ole boys in Eastern NC have ALWAYS ruled the highway funding in the Eastern part of the state.

    There is NO reason that Raleigh should have 2 Loops/Beltines (440 & 540) when it has about 1/2 the population of Charlotte and ours will not be finished until 2015.

    You say Fayetteville is growing...in 2007 Charlotte, NC was the 2nd fastest growing city in the US...8,000 per month moved to the metro area...that is averaging 2,000 people a week. :)

  • gt Dec 24, 2008

    You think you've seen wrongdoing, visit our website:
    www.ahoskiebypass.com
    They're going to spend over $200 million to four lane a rarely traveled road here in rural northeast NC.
    We formed a citizens group to fight the project and could use help. I found a way that they could build the road without tearing down a lot of homes, but they are going to build this political pork project where they can give sweetheart deals to their friends. They have to have dirt to build the road, so it is going through some of the best farmland in the state. It is a complete waste of taxpayer money. I want to make clear that we are not fighting the good people at NC DOT. Its employees are outstanding. The problem is leadership. To waste millions of dollars on an unneeded road is stupid. We have a petition with close to 5,000 names.....our opposition to the project is well known at DOT.....yet, this project continues.

  • frosty Dec 24, 2008

    One reason Fayetteville's I-295 has such low travel figures is because not enough of it is finished to be really useful. When more of it is completed use will go way up. Fayetteville has no good way to get from the east to the west of town particularly for comercial traffic.

  • southrnarchitect Dec 24, 2008

    jeffthompson you are right and I would like to respond to you: 1) Yes currently Fayetteville's Bypass carries 9,000 cars a day and just 1 part of I-485 in South Charlotte carries over 150,000 cars a day. But Fayetteville's population is increasing and we do not have the roads to handle the increase in population. 2)Charlotte's population is probably 5 times or more than Fayetteville's or anywhere else in the state. 3)Its all about common sense. YES Fayetteville deserves money like all other cities...but Charlotte has waited FAR longer for money than ANY cith in Eastern NC. Happy Holiday & be BLESSED!:) - In the Past decade road construction monies have been as follows: a)Charlotte has received over $1.08 billion; b)Raleigh has received $760 million; c) Fayetteville $66 million -so my question is how has Charlotte waited FAR longer for money than ANY city in Eastern NC - give me a break - Charlotte $934 million more than Fayetteville and Raleigh $694 million more than Faytteville

  • jeffthompson Dec 24, 2008

    Its all about common sense. Fayetteville's Bypass carries 9,000 cars a day and just 1 part of I-485 in South Charlotte carries over 150,000 cars a day. Charlotte's population is probably 5 times or more than Fayetteville. Its all about common sense. YES Fayetteville deserves money like all other cities...but Charlotte has waited FAR longer for money than ANY cith in Eastern NC. Happy Holiday & be BLESSED! :)

  • pbjbeach Dec 24, 2008

    NEVERSURRENDER

    When the state is allowing contractors to be paid for non-speceficiation workin the road building process two an three times this is the reasoning behind the enormoruse cost for these highway projects to be completed.

  • southrnarchitect Dec 24, 2008

    hi_i_am_wade - yes I go to Charlotte all the time related to work and I am also graduate of UNC Charlotte so I am up to the college all the time mine is not for pure pleasure. I get around in Charlotte just fine. You should try to get around Fayetteville. I-485 is may be decades behind 20+ years while try I-295 that is over 50 years behind schedule and if everyone in Raleigh and Charlotte have there way it will be almost 100 years behind schedule when and if it gets completed. I say when and if because no matter how you look at it Raleigh and Charlotte will continue to grow and so will Fayetteville but the people of those cities will always put their needs above those of anyone else in the state because that think they are better than everyone else and they shoudl always be first because they are the large areas in the state.

  • nobama Dec 24, 2008

    This is the kind of Chicago style Blagojevich-Obama pay for play system that we don't need in North Carolina. Charlotte and Raleigh deserve money for highways just as much as Fayetteville.

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