This past Saturday we observed a Facebook discussion between Thom Tillis and his constituents about tolling I-77. We weren’t party to the discussion but added our observations and have edited for brevity. It still reads a bit long, but we hope it provides some insight into the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.
Tolls would be a huge tax burden on tens of thousands who work and live along 77. I can’t support that hidden tax but I guess it will raise tens of millions from taxpayers each year right?
Have you teleported to a parallel universe where we have funding for the project NOW or are you in this universe where we do…it’s just 20 years from now? Incidentally it will raise 10′s of millions in revenue from the non taxpayers who use it for “free” right now. If you think this is a liberal position, you really ought to check with Heritage, John Locke, and others who would disagree.
WI77: Not only are we giving our public right-of-way to a private company for their exclusive use, the taxpayer is making the down payment. Yet, a general purpose lane solution would cost less than that down payment. If we have money for the down payment, we have money for the GP solution. No parallel universes necessary.
Thom. Philosophically I am aligned with your thinking likely some 95% but have you ever lived in a city that has tolls? They are a slippery slope and a daily pain in the behind to people who work at places like Lowes and have to commute to an office 10 times per week. The toll tax also punishes them. Issue some bonds or find another way to make the $130 million available so taxpayers are not stuck with more daily taxes as they do to and from work or Uptown from Cornelius etc.
I’m with Thom on MORE than 95% but I, too, am totally opposed to toll roads. I’ve lived where toll roads are a way of life and bleed folks on fixed incomes or those just trying to get to work. One of the reasons I chose NC as my home over 20 years ago was SPECIFICALLY to STAY AWAY from toll roads!
I wish I could grab most of you on both sides by the collar and shake some sense into you all. This issue is dividing our party and could actually cause a tax-and-spend liberal like Hagen to squeak back into office! C’mon, folks.
I’m either naïve or just an optimist, but There MUST be another way forward other than toll roads, which inconvenience and punish taxpayers on a daily basis wherever they exist – and, once established they NEVER go away…
I would respectfully urge the formation of a good faith committee to find an acceptable alternative to toll roads, address legitimate traffic concerns — and restore harmony and unity among NC conservatives during this critical election cycle — so we can successfully deal with the myriad of other problems we face….
…I do like the idea of capturing revenue from those who pay little to no taxes but I don’t see them as the big revenue driver in HOT lanes. They are free to drive anytime they want and choose a time to use 77 when the “free” lanes are empty and can avoid any toll. The HOT lanes are punishing the commuters who drive to Lowe’s Corp 10x per week and to Bank of America in Uptown 10X per week when traffic is at it’s worse from 7AM-10AM and 3PM to 7PM. They have no choice and will be forced to spend hundreds of dollars in after tax monies each year just for the privelage of getting to work ontime where they use their gas that is taxed at 36 cents per gallon and a car that is slammed with an annual excise/property tax where they get slammed by another 35% tax on the money they earn each day. People in NC who make over 80K per year must be turing over more than 50% of thier earning to government each year after all is said and done. Let’s not hammer them any more with transponders, tolls and another massive daily tax that they can’t avoid if they want to keep working…. Again…I have your back 95% of the time but HOT lanes hurt far too many working people who are doing nothing more than trying to get to and from work each day to put food on the table for their kids and to afford college for them someday.
Perhaps one of the differences between your’s and my perspective is that I have been to every transportation division in the state. I have seen bridges that are patched, and traffic jams that would make I-77 look like something they would be happy with on many days. I’ve seen western counties that have been waiting for a four lane north/south connector (corridor K) for decades and, yes, I have lived first hand the problems with I-77. When I speak with all of these folks across the state, they all have one thing in common. They believe their need should be the #1 priority, and many of them are right. So how are we going to pay for it?
WI77: Wil Neumann, a State Representative from Gaston, decided to chime in:
The fact is there are between $60-80 Billion in road needs in NC. At the current rate it will take 60 years to meet those needs. I-77 has not been around that long. We traveled to Winston-Salem to visit my grandparents and took the 4 lane I-85 to Old 64 to W-S. Roads cost money and I agree with you I don’t like tolls but we need more suggestions on where the money will come from to build and maintain the roads since they are needed. The Transportation transition committee for Governor McCrory studied the issue very carefully and reported back to the Governor that we need more roads with the increasing population and that he needs to make it clear and say it loud that we don’t print money in NC and we need to find ways to improve our system of roads which are the 2nd most miles in the whole country with around 80,000 miles of state maintained roads. It is a big state.
I-77 through Lake Norman has been around nearly 40 years and has never been widened. For most people, that counts as long time. Vast stretches of I-85 have been widened, including through Salisbury and a $150M project adding lanes up to Concord. According to the FHWA, North Carolina has around 220K lane miles, ranking it 17th. Rep Neumann is confusing the miles of state-owned roads, where NC ranks second behind Texas. NCDOT is in the business of owning roads, making us a net source of federal roads funding.
Remember the Hot Lanes are optional – You make the choice to use them or not. If you have 3 or more people in the car then use of the HOT lane is free
Yes I understand the HOT lanes are “optional” but we who have studied the HOT model know that with the exisiting 2 “free lanes” (we actually aleady pay for with our gas tax) and the continued population growth to our area, it will be impossible to move on them during rush hours and workers/taxpayers will be forced into paying up to $1 per mile just to get to work. Look….it’s a huge tax increase and the workers who drive daily will be hurt the most. The do nothings have nowhere to be and can choose when they drive and are not in any hurry to get to work or a meeting on time. Expanding 77 should be a top priority for the state and those of us who live and work in the area are being manipulated and drained of yet more after tax income via the HOT lane tax.
Comparing HOT lanes and double taxation is like comparing apples and orangutans. The money from taxes would have to exist (it won’t for 15+ years) and the toll money would have to be more than you need and (excess) for them to be a valid comparison
Reality in the universe I live in: there is an estimated $20 BILLION dollar shortfall between current and project revenues and what we need to repair or replace hundreds of substandard bridges, maintain existing roads, AND build new capacity over the next 20 years. GOP majorities have capped the gas tax and cars are becoming more efficient and an increasing number are/will be running on alternative energy. How are we going to pay for that?
Do you understand how the majority of the toll road cost is funded and the funding mechanism from the federal government and state sources that constitute the “seed” funding? That is the problem with your comparison.
So (name redacted), I count you as a vote for delaying the improvement of I-77 for 15+ years…when we can pay for it, possibly. Think about how much earlier those workers will be getting up to go to work and from it in the meantime. I’ll leave it to the liberals to spend money we don’t have. Absent a viable solution to more funding (and not one has been offered in this thread), I cannot agree with your position which delays the road for 15+ years. It will be most harmful to those you seem to be concerned with and for the economic development of our region. All for now…
We are the largest city in the US without a completed outer belt and we are the largest city in NC with the worst roads yet we are one of the most taxed states. I would live to know where all the money goes. Not roads, schools. We keep sending our reps from the lake to help us here with our roads but yet all of you have your own agenda and I have yet to see what you or Jeff Tarte have done.
I can think of a few things: 1) Moving North Carolina from #44 to #17 in taxation burden through sales and income tax cuts 2) passing HB 817 which will accelerate road building across the state and move to a fairer formula 3) medical malpractice reform that has reduced lawsuits and malpractice insurance rates, 4) regulatory reform that has helped businesses remain in business, 5) tort reform, 6) expanding Charter School and other education options. To sum it up, we fulfilled every promise we made in 2010 and 2012 and North Carolina is better for it.
With regards to #2, then let’s rank a general purpose lane project according to the “fairer formula” and see where it falls. Absent this, Mr. Speaker, your claims of “15 years” and “no money” are unsubstantiated.