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DOT Hopes

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The Department of Transportation has been wracked with scandal lately. Thursday, the Board of Transportation met in Pinehurst, trying to get the department back on track.
PINEHURST — The North Carolina Department of Transportation has hit a few potholes inthe road recently. Transportation Board members are hoping to travela little more smoothly in 1998.

A couple of board members resigned following reports they abused theirpositions, 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 aftermonths 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-regularplace.

The DOT is meeting at the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club -- apicturesque golfing paradise, usuallypacked with people hitting the links. The state Board of Transportationchose Pinehurst as the spot for their monthly meeting, but they decidednot to play golf during this stay. They are worried about their image.

The department has reason to worry about image. Leaders have beenbombarded by allegations of approving road projects forpolitical reasons and personal favors.

Most board members admit thatsomething's wrong. The board's Lyndo Tippett admits that theTransportation Departmenthas had some problems.

Governor Hunt has chastised the department and the board for the way they'veapproved 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 toannounce new policy changes.

Jack Poole is a newcomer to the board, appointed by House Speaker HaroldBrubaker. He says that board members are working to correct its internalwrongs.

Governor Hunt denies any wrongdoing in requesting another look at thatWilson County bridge project. He says he was only responding to thecomplaints of neighbors, who Hunt thought were being mistreated. Construction on the bridge is scheduled to start in the nextfew months.

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