NC Department Of Transportation Won’t Give Local Governments More Input On Project Planning

Nov 8, 2013

The State Board of Transportation reiterated on Thursday its decision to lower local governments' voice on spending state transportation dollars.

Credit Dave DeWitt

The 19-member board voted unanimously to split localites' input on projects with the analysis of state transportation engineers who oversee the department's 14 divisions, said chairman Ned Curran. 

“I just can’t accept that one party has better knowledge than the division engineer because this is what division engineers do for a living,” Curran said.

A law proposed and passed by the state legislature this year, called the Strategic Mobility Formula, said the Department of Transportation's analysis would account for 70 percent of the decision on regional projects and 50 percent on local projects. Local input -- including views from metropolitan planning organizations and elected officials -- would account for the remaining 30 and 50 percent.

The transportation board later said the analysis of the department's engineers overseeing each division should account for half of the local input. In an Oct. 3 letter to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition protested the move, and recommended department engineers be weighed as 10 percent of the local input.

"The citizens really want to have a voice in what happens with our roads,” said Jill Swain, mayor of the Town of Huntersvillein Mecklenburg County. “Having a seat at the table really helps us do our planning so we can figure out how we're going to recruit economic development, how we're going to plan for the growth, how we're going to move people from the rural areas to our municipalities for the jobs, and vice-versa.”