Ex-DOT Chief: Change Highway Funding Formula

Posted May 1, 2007 6:20 p.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2007 9:24 p.m. EDT

— 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.