Taking the Politics Out of Road Building in North Carolina

A Charlotte Observer article oreported on the changes in North Carolina transportation organization.

Following through on a reform pledge made during her campaign last year, after two of her political backers were forced to resign from the transportation board, Gov. Beverly Perdue announced details of her plan to remove the Board of Transportation — whose members are appointed to represent different parts of the state — from its old job of deciding where each road is built.

NC Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti (fomerly Secretary of Economic Development in Maryland and Assistant Secretary at USDOT in the Clinton Administration) made a few significant points about the plan:

Instead of voting on each project, as in the past, the board will set policy and evaluate DOT performance in new quarterly and annual reviews.

DOT spending will be based on objective evidence rather than on political clout.

A lot of people around the state thought [in the past] that if you got on the board of transportation, that meant you could deliver projects to your area,” Conti said. “And we’re changing that.”

“So it’s not just because so-and-so wants this project in the plan,” Conti said. “It’s what the traffic forecast is, and what are the safety issues. It’s done in a public process, not by somebody sneaking it into the plan somewhere along the way.”

This plan is trying to remove the local “earmarks” that members of the transportation board push and instill some common sense to transportation planning in North Carolina.