Skip to main content

Will Charlotte stop complaining about I-485 now?

Both the Triad and Triangle Business Journals last week published stories on the amount of funding for highway loops throughout the state of North Carolina. And when you look at the details, Charlotte doesn't have much to complain about.

In fact, Charlotte has the greatest percentage of their loop miles completed or funded within the state. At 93 %, or 68.4 of nearly 74 miles proposed, Charlotte is well ahead of other cities like Raleigh or Greensboro and miles beyond Durham, Asheville, or Winston-Salem which show zero miles funded/completed. (See figure at right.)

For years, residents and political leaders in the Charlotte area has complained about the lack of urgency in Raleigh to complete their loop. The reality of the chart shows that Charlotte is way ahead of any city within the state.

The root cause for the infighting between North Carolina cities for limited highway funds can be traced to the variety of funding mechanisms for transportation projects within the state. The Highway Trust Fund - which was created in 1989 - was slated to build loop projects throughout the state. Sadly over the years, Governor's and the State Assembly have raided the trust fund to balance the state budget. These raids have pushed back the funding availability on a number of projects that were ready to go over the past ten years.

Also, the state's 'equity formula', also enacted into law by the General Assembly in 1989, has been perhaps the biggest influence on how and more importantly where highway funds get spent. The equity formula requires - "that State Transportation Improvement Program funds be distributed equitably among regions of the state. Monetary distribution is based 50 percent on the population of a region, 25 percent on the number of miles of intrastate highways left to complete in a region and the remaining 25 percent is distributed equally among the regions for the STIP".

Though Urban Loop's are exempt from the formula, money for loop can come from these funds. In recent years, growth in the metropolitan areas has far outpaced rural areas; however, the equity formula has required that money be spent on rural highway projects. Leaders in Charlotte, and other cities, have complained about how rural projects are first in line - while needed projects in their city get kicked further down the line.

NC Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti has begun to shift the focus of NCDOT on needs vs. the various funding formulas. The NCDOT has begun to work on designing a new work stream that will focus on projects that can and will be done in a five year period vs. shuffling around projects on and off the funding lists.

Will that stop Charlotte residents complaining about the completion of Interstate 485? Of course not. The chart and accompanying stories show how competitive it is within North Carolina for limited highway funds. And that's something that won't change - no matter what the funding formula(s) or sources are.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Adam, do you have any idea if the equity formula will be modified or dropped in the next few years? With rural areas losing clout in the state government to the more urbanized Piedmont, and the larger number of discontented voters voicing their concerns in the Piedmont, it seems likely to me that NCDOT and/or the General Assembly will want to alter this some way soon. That would be a shame for our rural areas of course, particularly in the east and west, but as an urbanite in the Triangle, I frankly think it needs to happen, as right now the major metropolitan areas just are not getting what they need if they want to continue to boom transportation-wise this century. Your thoughts?
Adam said…
Great comment! I had to make a blog post about it!

http://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-thoughts-on-nc-transportation-equity.html

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 38

California State Route 38 is a fifty-nine-mile State Highway located entirety in San Bernardino County and a component of the Rim of the World Highway.  California State Route 38 begins at California State Route 18 at Bear Valley Dam of the San Bernardino Mountains and follows an easterly course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.  California State Route 38 briefly multiplexes California State Route 18 near Baldwin Lake and branches east towards the 8,443-foot-high Onyx Summit.  From Onyx Summit the routing of California State Route 38 reverses course following a largely westward path through the San Bernardino Mountains towards a terminus at Interstate 10 in Redlands.   Pictured as the blog cover is California State Route 38 at Onyx Summit the day it opened to traffic on August 12th, 1961.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 38 California State Route 38 (CA 38) is generally considered to be the back way through the San Bernardino Mountains to Big Bear Lake of Bear Valley

I went to Buc-ee's and came away unimpressed

Buc-ee's, the Texas-sized gas station and convenience store that started in Texas, has been expanding its territory.  New locations have sprung up in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.  Construction is underway, or plans are in place for even larger stations in Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Colorado . For nearly four decades, Buc-ee's was a Texas-only novelty.  The first location opened in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1982, and another four stores opened over the next decade.  In 2000, Buc-ee's began its Texas-sized growth by adding over 20 new stores - mainly around Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Austin/San Antonio areas.   Each store was built larger - with more gas pumps, amenities, and offerings.  The store became well-known for its clean bathrooms, fresh-cut brisket sandwiches, and wall of beef jerky.  Texans and visitors from all around would take road trips to visit new stores or get their Buc-ee's fix.   Buc-ee's has billboards advertising thei

The original alignment of California State Route 33 in Firebaugh

Firebaugh is a city located on the San Joaquin River of western Fresno County.  Firebaugh is one of the oldest American communities in San Joaquin Valley having been settled as the location of Firebaugh's Ferry in 1854.  Traditionally Firebaugh has been served by California State Route 33 which was one of the original Sign State Routes announced during August 1934.  In modern times California State Route 33 is aligned through Firebaugh on N Street.  Originally California State Route 33 headed southbound passed through Firebaugh via; N Street, 8th Street, O Street, 12th Street, Nees Avenue and Washoe Avenue.  The blog cover depicts early California State Route 33 near Firebaugh crossing over a one-lane canal bridge.  The image below is from the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Fresno County which depicts the original alignment of California State Route 33 in Firebaugh. Part 1; the history of California State Route 33 in Firebaugh The community of Firebaugh is named in honor of Andr