Transportation Secretary Lindo Tippett (D-Cumberland) recently got a letter from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) inquiring as to why the Yadkin River Bridge project — which bottlenecks I-85 near Salisbury — hasn’t been upgraded as has been promised for years. Tippett claims it’s inflation that keeps this project (and others) from being built.
But Secretary Tippett and his good buddy N.C. Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand (D-Cumberland) are happy with the status quo. Not only do projects, rather mysteriously, get done more quickly down east, the Equity Formula directly benefits eastern N.C. (not least their home town of Fayetteville) because it allocates resources based on factors other than vehicle usage and maintenance needs.
Senator Rand and Secretary Tippett also enjoy a special relationship that probably helps explain why transportation dollars get pumped down east — away from where construction projects are actually needed, and towards constituents who have kept these two in power for years. Indeed, Secretary Tippett admits at a 2005 Fayetteville loop ribbon-cutting that "approximately $1.2 billion is allocated for loop projects
in the final 2006-2012 State Transportation Improvement Program for
loop projects, including $258 million for the Fayetteville Loop, which
is more than any other loop in the state." (Emphasis mine.)
That’s right, Secretary. Charlotte’s loop, which was started in 1989 and is still not complete, suffers because of the accelerated Fayetteville loop that was started in 2003. I’ll leave our readers to contemplate the reasons for this.