Gov. Pat McCrory made several appearances across the state Sept. 17, including a stop at the Asheville Airport, to unveil what he described as a “25-Year Vision for transportation in North Carolina.”
In WNC, the plan emphasizes upgrading U.S. Highway 74 to interstate standards from Asheville to Charlotte and onward to Wilmington. It also calls for generally “improving interstate connections” but doesn’t specifically include funding for an improved I26 connector that has long been sought by local officials. In addition, the plan calls for improving industrial freight railway in the region.
All told, the projects are estimated to cost between $94 billion and $123 billion by 2040, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. McCrory proposes to start paying for it with a a $1 billion to $1.5 billion revenue bond, according to the outlet.
As part of the plan’s roll out, the governor’s office released the following video and press release:
Governor Pat McCrory and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata are unveiling the Governor’s 25-Year Vision for transportation in North Carolina today with a cross-state tour that includes stops in Wilmington, Greenville, Winston-Salem and Asheville to detail the challenges faced by and solutions proposed for each of the state’s four major regions: coastal, eastern, central and western, as well as comprehensive solutions for the whole state.
“Transportation is the backbone of our state’s economy, and investing in transportation solutions will help expand opportunities and create jobs,” Governor McCrory said. “Companies want to invest where they know there is a strong vision for moving people and products and that is why we have made this strategic vision a priority.”
“We must have a well-connected, well-maintained and well-funded transportation system in place for North Carolina to continue to thrive,” Secretary Tata said. “This vision will provide a roadmap for long-term strategic investment that ensures we are making the most of our limited resources and proactively addressing the ever-growing demands on our state’s transportation infrastructure over the next quarter century.”
This 25-year vision builds on the foundation established by the Strategic Transportation Investments law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McCrory last summer. The law changes the way North Carolina funds and prioritizes major transportation projects, allowing the state to make the best possible use of its existing resources over a 10-year period.
While the new law is still in the implementation process, the N.C. Department of Transportation estimates that based on current data it will be able to fund more than twice the number of projects it could under the previous funding formula. The 25-year vision will take these efforts a step further to ensure that the state is maximizing its resources and fully leveraging its infrastructure over the longterm.
The vision does not include a list of specific projects, but rather provides high-level solutions for the state by laying out the future investments needed to help each region and North Carolina as a whole achieve their full potential.
The Coastal Solutions identified in the vision include:
Sustainable beach nourishment;
Improving highway connections;
Replacing aging bridges;
Stabilizing inlets; and
Transforming North Carolina’s ports.
The Eastern Solutions include:
Improving the highway connection to Hampton Roads;
Strengthening military connections;
Enhancing freight movement; and
Improving I-95 connections.
The Central Solutions include:
Relieving congestion for people and products;
Expanding mass transit options;
Enhancing access to inland ports;
Improving connectivity to logistics hubs; and
Supporting connections to privately developed megasites.
The Western Solutions include:
Improving interstate connections;
Strengthening highway connectivity from the mountains to the coast;
Improving intrastate connections; and
Enhancing industrial rail to support freight movement.
The Comprehensive Solutions identified to address transportation needs on a statewide level include:
Strengthening the maintenance of our existing facilities;
Improving our public transportation network including passenger rail;
Expanding bicycle and pedestrian networks statewide; and
Supporting greater broadband connectivity through existing right of way
In addition to identifying challenges and solutions, the vision also addresses the critical need for alternative funding solutions that will allow the state to close the growing gap between infrastructure needs and available funding, and invest in the strategic vision.
Alternative funding solutions identified in the vision include:
Optimizing public-private partnerships;
Reducing dependency on federal dollars;
Taking advantage of historically low interest rates and
Presenting targeted Revenue Recommendations to the General Assembly for action during the 2015 legislative session.
For more information and to view the Governor’s 25-Year Vision, visit www.ncvision25.gov.