Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Expert: Build roads where people are

Just a week or so ago, Observer reporter Mark Johnson and News & Observer reporter Bruce Siceloff wrote a long piece about the inequities in road funding for Charlotte and other N.C. cities. They reiterated what most elected officials in Charlotte know - that the city's transportation needs are disproportionately underfunded by the N.C. Department of Transportation. Mecklenburg County ranked 89th out of 100 N.C. counties in the number of state dollars for road construction and maintenance on a per-person basis.

Today, a N.C. Justice Center expert added his voice to a push to address such inequities in testimony before the N.C. legislature's Joint Transportation Committee. According to a news release from the Justice Center, Dr. Stephen Jackson said changing the funding priorities is essential to dealing with the state's road needs effectively, especially easing traffic congestion.

We can build infrastructure that meets the challenge of the future, said Jackson of the N.C. Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center. But to do so requires bold steps to empower local governments and forward-thinking initiatives to send transportation funds where most people live. "Building better roads and road networks in our urban areas is necessary, but can't solve the problem alone," said Jackson. "To combat sprawl, we also must build better public transportation, encourage more compact growth, and change our funding priorities."

One prime example of why changing those funding priorities is necessary: urban congestion is a major problem in North Carolina, while traffic in rural areas is stagnant. Instead of mandating roads in places fewer and fewer people are driving, Jackson said, we should change the formula which currently guides where new roads are built.
He urged adoption of a new formula that encourages building where the people are - allocating funds mostly based on population.

Perhaps the most bold of Jackson's prescriptions, the news release said, is to enhance local responsibility for transportation needs, which would empower local communities and relieve some of state government's burdens. Reducing state responsibility in some avenues would enable policymakers to focus on the major roads that form the backbone of the road network and carry the most traffic.

North Carolina should give counties and municipalities new revenue powers, said Jackson, which could include a local gas tax, vehicle utility fees, or transportation impact fees. Revenue should also be used for maintenance and operations as well as construction, he said.


Larry said...

"To combat sprawl, we also must build better public transportation, encourage more compact growth, and change our funding priorities."

This is why this is on the Charlotte Observer's Website. It appears they are trying to help the roads situation but as you can see they are pushing the same ole O agenda.

Jeff said...

Just about everyone on the left AND the right agrees funding priorities need to be changed so that roads go where the people (and thus traffic) are.

Public transportation creates jobs, stimulates the economy, reduces traffic, decreases pollution, boosts local business, and helps us reduce reliance on foreign oil. If that's "the O agenda," then sign me (and most other Americans) up.

Larry said...

Yes Jeff we have had more than enough focus on the Urban Mass Transit for the last few years and you (and the majority of us) have seen where it has led us.

So if as you say it creates what ever and what ever then what is wrong with our bus system?

Did you know it costs us 36 dollars of subsidized tax dollars each way on the light rail per rider and 3.75 subsidized dollars each way on the bus. Of course then the people pay their fares each way.

Raleigh can do it for only 1.75 tax subsidized dollars each way.

Oh and how much stuff, food, construction material and the like do you think comes to uptown on rail. Zero. It is all on the roads. So if the O agenda is on and has been on mass transit then apparently you have not noticed or maybe did not understand the cost and ramifications.

www.CharlotteLightRail.com "Let Us Take You For A Ride!"