Transportation Secretary Gene Conti's Visit Part II:
The secretary also talked about how his department is no longer just the "highway" department. He's also focusing on transit and even bike trails. Of the federal stimulus money coming North Carolina's way, $735 million will go to roads and bridges and $103 million to transit ($70 million of that to urban transit). He's also looking at going after even more federal money that would come with coordinating projects with other states, including Virginia and South Carolina.
If you're worried about the disrepair of the state's roads and bridges, Conti said we might come to a time when we have to say we'll build no new capacity until we can keep what we have in good shape.
Are we there yet?
Conti also mentioned something else that might hamstring the state's road-building ability: air quality. He said Charlotte is in danger of having a moratorium on road construction because of its poor air quality. He envisions the Triangle having to wrestle with the same issue.
In Conti's opinion, the worst stretch of I-95 is the one between Benson and Fayetteville. His department is starting a 15-month study of I-95 in the hopes of coming up with an upgrade plan that makes sense. Yes, that might include tolls.
Because of the way North Carolina sets up road construction and maintenance, Conti's job is nearly unique among the states. North Carolina is second only to Texas in miles of state-maintained roads.
But given our love of loops around here, the most interesting thing Conti said was that there ain't going to be any more loops (or completion of loops) for a long, long time.
Take a listen.