Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New roads chief wades into old fight

North Carolina Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, in Charlotte Wednesday afternoon, offered his thoughts on the much-maligned equity formula that distributes highway dollars.

"There is evidence that it’s helped rural NC develop faster," said Conti, speaking to the Charlotte Regional Alliance for Transportation. "In a high-growth area, the resources haven’t been there that were desired and necessary."

Conti even suggested a way for the equity formula to be tweaked. Currently 25 percent of highway funds are for "intrastate miles" that need to be improved. That generally favors rural areas.

Conti said when the system is 90 percent complete, those funds will expire, and would be divvied up by other ways, including population. That would help Charlotte.

He suggested changing that threshold to, say, 70 percent or 80 percent. That day would arrive much sooner.

(Conti also stressed that urban areas such as Charlotte benefit from the urban loop fund, which has built almost all of Interstate 485. Rural counties can't tap into those funds.)

Conti's opinion is just that - an opinion. Any change would be made by the General Assembly, and rural legislators will fight to keep the stautus quo.

But the comments were nonetheless surprising. In 18 months covering transportation, I never heard the former secretary, Lyndo Tippett, question the formula.


Anonymous said...

That's because Lyndo Tippett was a deceitful old hack from Tinytown, N.C.

JAT said...

I wasn't aware Lyndo Tippett was still at large.

Meanwhile, the only real fix for The Formula will be the post-10 redistricting which sends more of the knuckle-walkers back home.