Some state road projects lose out under new funding formula

Posted August 4, 2010

— Removing politics from state road projects means that some projects have been dropped from North Carolina's priority list under a new funding formula.

The state Department of Transportation has identified the need for 1,100 road and bridge projects over the next decade. The projects cost an estimated $45 billion combined, but the DOT expects to have only $9 billion during that period.

So, officials have created a formula that scores each project based on factors like traffic congestion and the condition of the roadway to prioritize them. Traditionally, political influence played a role in what road projects were completed in different parts of the state.

"We have the statewide tier, which is interstates. We also a regional tier, which is typically North Carolina and U.S. routes, and the sub-regional, which is secondary roads," said Wally Bowman, division engineer for the DOT. "As you work your way down through those tiers, I think you'll see higher priority by us on some of the higher-level tiers, and you'll see a higher priority by some of the local folks on some of the lower-level tiers."

Orange barrels / highway construction generic Funding formula removes politics from road projects

In the Triangle, some of the higher-ranked projects include work on Interstate 40 between the Interstate 440 Beltline and Johnston County, widening the Beltline from Wade Avenue to Walnut Street and building the so-called East End Connector in Durham.

Interstates 40, 85 and 95 also will get more money for maintenance, Bowman said, adding that local municipalities might have to pick up more of the cost for secondary roads.

"That doesn't mean we didn't rank some of the lower ones. We actually have Hillsborough Street at the Blue Ridge Road intersection – that needs to be an interchange with bridges going over – on our list, and it's funded in the current (priority list)," he said.

The DOT plans to spend a majority of its limited funding on existing roads rather than investing in new ones, Bowman said.


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  • whatelseisnew Aug 5, 2010

    They can obtain the needed money quite easily. What they start doing is to put every nickel of taxes collected from the automotive community into the roads and bridges. This is a broad based tax center. Car dealers; repair shops; tire shops; parts stores; retail sales of automotive products in all other retail venues like department stores. Taxes on rental cars. Taxes on insurance companies that insure motor vehicles. They will have tons of money. We would not need a formula at all; just a schedule.

  • Bendal1 Aug 5, 2010


    Uhhh, you do realize the state is split into 14 divisions for highway construction purposes, and each division gets roughly the same amount of money, right? So, if Division 10 (Charlotte and surrounding counties) spends its money on a couple of expensive interstate projects, well, they don't get more. Division 10 borrowed from other divisions to get I-485 started, now they are repaying that money, so they got what they wanted earlier.

    Division 5 (Wake and surrounding counties) did the same thing to get our portion of I-540 built and I-440 widened, plus some other projects. That's one reason why the southern half of I-540 is going to be tolled; no more money available.

    As for the unpaved dirt road, NCDOT requires property owners to donate the R/W to bring the road up to current standards. If even one refuses, the road isn't paved. Sorry about that.

  • EvilSithLord Aug 5, 2010

    I don't what the formula is, but in Durham County you can see (and feel) roads that are in desperate need for repairs or repave work. Meanwhile, others roads that seems in perfect or near perfect shape get repaved almost every year. I can mention some roads like TW Alexander and Miami Blvd (and the stretch of Miami Blvd between Alexander and Hwy 70), Fayetteville Road (near Woodcroft), etc. I am so curious to know Colonel Sander's formula for road constructions and repairs.

  • hi_i_am_wade Aug 5, 2010

    I can tell you how roads are funded in this state by this criteria:

    1) If the project is in Wake, Durham, Orange, or Johnston county, it gets a higher priority
    2) If the project is in Charlotte, Greensboro, or Winston-Salem, it gets a lower priority
    3) If the project is in an eastern county without a city of about 50,000 people or more, it gets a higher priority.
    4) All other counties, except those in #3 and #1 get a lower priority.

    As proof, consider I-485 in Charlotte which is 20 years behind schedule. Consider Greene county. Pitt county has Greenville, so it is cheated on the road money. I was just in Greenville and the roads are still inadequate. But many other eastern NC counties with no minor city are doing great. The roads in Western NC are terrible. Unless you live in the privileged few counties, your county's project isn't a high priority.

  • HanginTough Aug 5, 2010

    I live in Greene County NC and every road leading into and out of our county has been REPAVED! It is a state we have no money to pay teachers, state employess, LEOs but we can afford to hire people to hold up a STOP or SLOW sign, three men per truck and a whole other group of yahoos just standing around to fix some roads that did not need paving to begin all stinks to high heaven to me...also would like to know how many of those sign holders are actually legal!

  • TheDude abides... Aug 5, 2010

    IdoNOTliveindurham- How many houses/people are there on your dirt road?
    Where I come from, if it's only one house on the dirt road, it wont be paved just for them... on the state's dime...which makes sense.

  • pbjbeach Aug 4, 2010

    They will never evr get politics out of the road building business . as that the coporate instrest an the contractors are being allowed to contribute to politicians campaige funding an they aren't doing this out of the goodness of their hearts they are definetly looking down the road so to speak at a return on their investment in the funding of politican candiates that give the sway an influence as to what roads are built an where these roads that are built are located an not only that but the contractors are being allowd to have sway as to what state inspectors are allowed to be put on what highways projects for they do not want an highway inspector that is actually going to insist on the highway proejcts work being done accorsding to the ncdot state specficiation. for contractors view the ncdot state speceficiation an regulations an they definetly do not want any form of regulations place upon them . but they know what is expected of them in the way of compliance to the states specf

  • Bendal1 Aug 4, 2010

    The politics is not as obvious, but it's still there. The formula has so many variables in it that not even highway planners and designers know what all of them mean. Who sets the value of these variables? Why, local officials (politicians) do, by either telling their local engineers what to value them, or by pressuring DOT to rate the value higher.

    Some of the highest rated projects are either unfunded or so far in the future that their listing is pointless, too.

  • IdoNOTliveinDurham Aug 4, 2010

    Its still based on politics no matter what they say its either Politics at the State level for large projects or at the local level for the lower tier projects. I live on a State maintained single lane dirt road that we have been told was scheduled now for 8 years and its on nobodies project list. The State is pointing to the local government and the local government is pointing at the State level and we will roll into 2011 on a dirt State Road. Pathetic........