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State Senators Hear Your Comments About the D.O.T.

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RALEIGH — There's been increased attention on the North Carolina Department of Transportation recently. Scandals and controversy continue to plague the department. On Wednesday, state senators held a meeting to hear what taxpayers have to say about it all.

Three weeks ago, the N.C.D.O.T. got a new secretary. Taking over a department plagued by controversy, Norris Tolson pledged to listen to the people.

Two days later, trouble at the D.O.T. prompted Governor Hunt to sign an executive order, giving the state more power to investigate ethics violations and conflicts of interest. Wednesday, the people had their say. Leslie Brewer of Friends of Forsyth County let her thoughts be known.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "Radical reform of the whole department will be necessary to restore complete faith of the citizens of this state, in a department whose arrogant abuse of power has been allowed and tolerated in the past."

There were strong words for a troubled department -- trouble that no one, including Secretary Tolson was trying to conceal.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "I cannot fix the problems that existed before I got here. I can only fix them going forward and that's my commitment to this committee.

A controversial bridge project in Wilson, an airport paving plan that had critics crying foul -- it adds up to frustrated taxpayers, like Nat Mud of the North Carolina Conservation Council. "There are many examples that have been provided in the last several months of how individuals use the boards' processes to their end to influence decisions for their own profits."

The Governor has given Tolson 45 days to start making changes. Tolson says, during that time, he'll hold town meetings from the mountains to the coast, giving folks a chance to air their grievances. "I strongly believe that the Department of Transportation is not mine, it's not the Legislature's, it's the citizens of North Carolina's department."

Some people offered proposals to make the D.O.T. better, including abolishing the Board of Transportation. An audit of the D.O.T. and the board begins Monday.

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Betsy Sykes, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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