Rep. Dana Bumgardner, a first-year Republican from Gaston County, has introduced legislation to scrap state plans to build the Garden Parkway, a $900 million toll road through Gaston County
“During the campaign, voters from both sides of (the) aisle overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to this needless road,” Bumgardner said in a news release. “This is not about political parties. This is about saving the taxpayers money and preserving people’s private properties from a pointless road.” (2/21/13 update: see Steve Harrison's story.)
Environmental groups and other Republican legislators have expressed a shared disdain for the Garden Parkway and other toll projects over the past year. The parkway, intended to alleviate Interstate 85 traffic west of Charlotte, was undermined by a state Department of Transportation study that predicted it would funnel jobs into neighboring South Carolina. Sen. Kathy Harrington, a Gaston County Republican who co-chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, won election by campaigning against the parkway.
Although tolls are collected from drivers, taxpayers also would help pay for these roads. Projected toll collections aren’t sufficient to repay what DOT must borrow to build and operate the toll road. Bumgardner's bill would cancel a promise by the General Assembly to spend $37 million a year to cover the expected gap between Garden Parkway project costs and toll collections.