Bush Proposal Could Bring More Money to Charlotte Roads
The Bush Administration's top transportation official stopped in Charlotte this morning promoting a reform plan that would streamline funding for roads and let major metropolitan areas, like the Queen City, tap the money directly. Charlotte officials have long complained the state process for funding roads shortchanges them, because it doesn't take congestion into account. A proposal from the Bush administration would let cities Charlotte's size pull money directly from federal coffers, instead of passing it through state transportation agencies. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters pitched the idea to Charlotte business and government leaders in a private breakfast meeting, then briefed the press. "We think today cities are very sophisticated, county commissions are very sophisticated," said Peters. "They have the ability to decide where and how to spend this money. And taking it through federal processes and state processes is really, today, we feel, unnecessary." Charlotte Chamber CEO Bob Morgan says the plan could solve many of the region's road woes, but "the devil is in the details." "If what comes out of Washington is 180 degrees different from where the state government is, then the result may be negligible at the end of the day," said Morgan. Without changes to the state system, Morgan says Charlotte may end up penalized for money it receives directly from the federal government. North Carolina lawmakers will consider revising the state system in January. Congress is unlikely to give serious consideration to the Bush Administration's proposal until next year.