The growing disconnect between transportation spending and performance underscores the need to bring real reform to a failed system. The facts speak for themselves:
• South Carolina’s overall road performance ranks 2nd nationally, while North Carolina ranks 31st.
• North Carolina has 2,365 structurally deficient bridges – worse than 37 other states.
• A recent $2.5 million, 400-plus page report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company concluded that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is too political. Also, the study concluded NCDOT managers waste time and priority construction projects are delayed.
• In 2007 alone, three transportation officials were convicted on public corruption charges.
A New Vision
Reforming North Carolina’s transportation system requires embracing a new vision – a vision for a 21st Century Good Roads State. To realize this vision, we need a transportation plan that will: prioritize, localize, streamline and reform.
Introduction – 21st Century Good Roads State
– Replace the state’s Equity Distribution Formula
– Distribute transportation funds based on congestion and road condition
– Make system safety and maintenance top priorities
– Expand cost-effective, efficient public transportation
– Shift more planning and taxation authority to counties
– Raise and distribute transportation revenues locally
– Recognize the unique needs of local areas and take advantage of local planning expertise
– Encourage counties to experiment and innovate
Streamline – Increase efficiency, eliminate waste and save taxpayers money
– Streamline the bureaucracy at NCDOT and eliminate political patronage
– Fund high priority projects first
– Reasonably limit environmental impact assessments to prevent construction delay
– Encourage public-private partnerships, and private investment with public oversight
– Improve traffic flow through continuous system upgrades and congestion pricing
– Give NCDOT employees a percentage of every dollar they save taxpayers
– Give project heads more authority, as well as more responsibility for success and failure
– Create more competitive and open bidding processes for transportation projects
– Reform the board of transportation by limiting the number of members to five and requiring specific expertise to serve on the board, bipartisan appointments, and full disclosure of campaign contributions
– Reduce or eliminate discretionary funds
– Punish ethics violations with fines and firing