A cluster of historically controversial transportation measures face quick action in the legislature today or tomorrow, including:
* A ban on hand-held cell phone use for commercial truckers;
* Exemptions from highway weight limits in some circumstances for some trucks hauling concrete and other goods; and
* An order blocking state Department of Transportation plans to build raised center medians on parts of three roads where some residents or businesses have complained: Falls of Neuse Road in North Raleigh, U.S. 70 in Kinston, and U.S. 64 in Asheboro.
[Correction 1:15pm Wednesday: The original post said the legislative action items also included a cap on the state gas tax. That was an error, based on erroneous information published on the General Assembly's website. There is no proposal on the legislative calendar today regarding the gas tax.]
The changes were added Tuesday in the House Transportation Committee to Senate Bill 750, which was drafted originally as a limited measure to keep some highway bidding information private until project contracts were awarded.
Its new title is "Transportation Omnibus Act."
The highway median bans were sought by Republican Reps. Harold J. Brubaker of Asheboro, Stephen A. LaRoque of Kinston and Marilyn Avila of North Raleigh.
Avila came to the aid of North Raleigh residents who have fought city and DOT engineers for years over details of a project, now under way, to widen 1.3 miles of Falls of Neuse Road. At her request, the House Transportation Committee added a provision barring DOT from spending money or doing work to put a median on Falls of Neuse between Raven Ridge Road and Lowery Farm Lane "that in any way limits, reduces, blocks, or by any other means reducs the current level of ingress and egress to Falls of Neuse Road."
It's not clear whether this language would actually make a difference on the Falls of Neuse project -- which is being built by the City of Raleigh, not DOT, and not with DOT funds.
In committee discussion, Avila cited a tussle between DOT engineers and North Raleigh residents who argued unsuccessfully to kill the median and to have traffic signals added at two intersections on Falls of Neuse Road.
Earlier this year, a state licensing board investigated a DOT charge that David N. Cox of North Raleigh had illegally practiced engineering without being licensed to do so. The board threw out the charge after Cox refused to tell investigators who had written the group's report on traffic signals.