Florida, Military Give Advice to State Transportation Committee

Posted December 12, 2007 6:19 a.m. EST
Updated December 12, 2007 11:43 p.m. EST

— The 21st Century Transportation Committee met Wednesday to discuss Triangle traffic and discussed a range of issues that boiled down to one essential issue: how to pay for new roads and fix bridges.

The committee, made up of elected officials, engineers and business people, is charged with finding solutions to transportation issues.

A representative from Florida explained how that state's Turnpike Authority focused on highway design and used different methods to fund transportation resources, including tolls.

Military officials said the closure of bases in other areas means the populations around North Carolina's bases will increase significantly. Officials estimated that in the next four years, 40,000 new people will make their home in the Fort Bragg area and 60,000 will settle in and around Jacksonville.

Committee members said those numbers will help them look at ways transportation can support that growth.

Several transportation advocates pointed to four factors stressing the transportation system and its funding – population growth, inflation costs that add millions of dollars to delayed construction projects, stagnant revenue and more people traveling more miles.

The group is also looking at how to relieve the state's most congested roads.

"It's scary," said Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines. "You certainly look at Charlotte, and that could be another L.A. Certainly, the Raleigh-Durham area (could be) another Washington-Baltimore corridor."

Several groups claim the state will be $65 billion behind in transportation funding over the next 25 years.

The group will draft a report to give to lawmakers this spring. Wednesday was the committee's third meeting.