The state Senate quietly ignored one of the big items in Gov. Bev Perdue's proposed budget for 2010-11: $94.6 million for a new Mobility Fund that would help fix the I-85 Yadkin River bridge-and-bottleneck now and fix other unspecified transportation problems later.
Perdue had proposed to divert $22 million this year, and more in future years, from the dwindling yearly transfer from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund. And she wanted to produce another $74.6 million a year in new money by hiking some DMV fees -- mostly by increasing everybody's car registration fee from $28 to $35.
None of this was included in the budget moving through the state Senate this week.
Some transportation and urban advocates had cheered the idea, arguing that any increase in transportation spending was welcome.
But the Mobility Fund was vaguely explained from the start, and the ideas for how to spend it varied widely from one side of the capital to the other. Stephen Jackson offered a skeptical take on Perdue's Mobility Fund in a post on The Progressive Pulse, the NC Policy Watch blog:
Grandiose names aside, lets call this fund what it is. Its an ad hoc response to get the I-85 bridge over the Yadkin River built because the hoped-for federal stimulus money never came through. It is policy-making on-the-run and the executive’s creation of it reveals more about the deep problems with road and bridge funding in this state than anything else.
Actually, NCDOT is moving ahead now with other money to build the Yadkin River replacement bridge itself. But Perdue and her NCDOT were looking for money to double the width of I-85 for six miles near and mostly north of the Yadkin.
They're still looking.