State finds additional $45 million
When July 1 comes around, there will be an additional $45 million available for one road project in North Carolina, with Union and Mecklenberg counties in the running. In 2010, the state created what’s known as the “Mobility Fund”, another funding method for road projects, with the money designated for items with either a regional or statewide significance. Last year, the General Assembly modified the project, setting aside a designated amount of $45 million for fiscal year 2013 and $58 million annually, starting in fiscal year 2014. Also, individual towns can now submit suggestions to the Department of Transportation.
“A municipality can submit a project, but it has to be ready for construction in five years,” NCDOT Division 10 engineer Barry Moose said, adding that they would still need support from other towns. “The more regional buy-in we get, the better chance we have of getting the money.”
Each region has to submit a project to NCDOT by the end of February. Speaking at the Wednesday, Jan. 18 meeting of the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization, Moose for suggestions from the group as to what projects they want to take priority. Members from the Charlotte delegation highlighted the widening of Independence Blvd., while others discussed a widening project of I-85 near Cabarrus County.
“(Widening) Independence would be my top choice,” Charlotte city council representative David Howard said. “That’s the only way we’ll do it in my lifetime.”
Indian Trail, Monroe and Wingate representatives were absent. Because the deadline for projects is before the next scheduled MUMPO meeting in March, Moose said he would work with the group’s Technical Coordinating Committee, made up of the various engineers and planning staff members from the area, to come up with a recommendation. Then he and TCC chairman Bill Coxe would meet with MUMPO chair Ted Biggers and vice chair Lynda Paxton to submit that recommendation, get approval and draft a letter to NCDOT.
The projects will be ranked based on regional benefit, cost and how much each would improve traffic flow in the area, Moose said.
The Technical Coordinating Committee meets Feb. 2 to discuss possible recommendations at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.