Cooper Appoints Pro-Toll Transpo Secretary

One of the things about a new administration is that it promises a fresh start.  New faces, new beginnings. Unfortunately that may not be the case with Governor Cooper’s new Secretary of Transportation.

Yesterday Cooper announced he had appointed Jim Trogdon as the new Secretary of Transportation. While Trogdon may be new to the position, he is a familiar face around NCDOT. He capped a 22-year transportation career with a four year stint as Chief Operating Officer before leaving to work for Atkins, a transportation consulting firm, in October 2013.

In early 2013, you may remember, our toll fight was just ramping up. We held our first public meeting in February of that year.  Our first encounter with Trogdon was at the end of that month when NCDOT held an “information session” about the I-77 toll project. They assembled several top guns to explain why this was a good project, headlined by Trogdon.

During that meeting and a prior interview, he stated (among other things) that money would not be available for general purpose lanes for at least 20 years; that a comparable general purpose lane project would cost $500 million; and that tolls would average $0.10- $0.15 per mile.  He doubted that a general purpose lane project would ever be ranked high enough to be funded.

In short, these were the typical pro-toll arguments we heard at the beginning of our fight, all of which have been subsequently debunked.

Perhaps no single point was further off than the $0.10 mile estimate, which equates to a ~$5 round trip.  He mentioned this even though their own internal estimates done six months earlier anticipated over $20 for a round trip, more than four times his stated estimate.

Shortly after that meeting we contacted him to question some of his comments. We received a stern email saying he “counted (us)  in the free lanes or no lanes advocacy group based on the misinfo I have already read and statements you have made similar to the ones you just forwarded to me.”  Ouch.

Back then, you may recall, public officials often accused us of “spreading misinformation.” We got used to it. But what really floored us was his statement that all additional interstate capacity should be toll lanes. Here is the quote (emphasis added):

My perspective on why express lanes should be how we add future capacity to all our interstates is founded on a strategic view of population growth and the reality of declining revenue over the next two to three decades with the status quo approach.

So there you have it. The new North Carolina Secretary of Transportation wants every new lane to be tolled.

We hope, of course, that the events of the last four years may have changed his mind. We hope, especially given the contract we are stuck with, that he would approach cancelling this project with an open mind.

We hope. But we’re obviously concerned.

Trogdon must be confirmed by the Senate.

16 Responses to Cooper Appoints Pro-Toll Transpo Secretary

  1. C Jones says:

    Very disappointed. I believe one of the reasons McCrory was defeated was because of the toll lanes. Are we now going to have more of the same?

    • Jim Cochran says:

      I agree 100% with you C Jones. I cannot understand why our elected officials cannot see the hardship this placed on our residence. Not to mention the fact that every elected official who supported the toll road has been voted out of office. I was in hopes someone would have the nerve, stand up and do the right thing. I hope we don’t have to wait until another election to send a message.

      • Kiek Grosch says:

        Oh not all were defeated. Don’t forget Toll Road Thom Tillis was a huge driving force in getting the I-77 Toll Road funded and awarded to the Spanish Conquistadors. Sure behind the scenes when serious questions arose, he pushed McCrory into signing so they couldn’t back out (ridiculous cancellation penalties) Thom was not only was not defeated but moved up to now serving in the US House of Representatives.
        I still say “follow the money.”

  2. Earl Mitchell says:

    This is not why we voted for you Roy Cooper!!!

  3. Don Campbell says:

    Roy Cooper you sure aren’t making a good start out of the gate. I promise you one thing when you do not represent the people’s wishes you can rest assure you will only be a one term Governor. I think the people in Mecklinburg , Iredell have spoken and do not want toll lanes on I 77 or any other interstate highway.

  4. Don Campbell says:

    I can see another one term Governor Mr Cooper

  5. Mike Jordan says:

    The losers in this project are the residents and businesses North of Charlotte. Watch the shift in the next 10-15 years, the economic impact of this decision is not even born.

  6. Randy Hatten says:

    This ‘appointment’ is definitely NOT going to work for the I -77 corridor, unless he has a ‘new religion’… Which I seriously doubt. Why would Copper do this to the people who elected him?

  7. Angela Carpenter says:

    Completely agree. Charlotte is among the fastest growing cities in the nation with an outrageously high car count on that stretch of I-77 from Lake Norman. This project has caused me to loose all hope that the involved NC politicians have any interest in the good of the people; rather they are serving their own pockets. Utterly disgusted.

  8. […] Governor Cooper’s second controversial appoint was Jim Trogdon as North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary. While much of Trogdon’s experience is within DOT (he retired as the department’s COO in 2013), the appointment might be viewed as a “finger in the eye” to the I-77 toll road opponents. […]

  9. […] Governor Cooper’s second controversial appointment was Jim Trogdon as North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary. While much of Trogdon’s experience is within DOT (he retired as the department’s COO in 2013), the appointment might be viewed as a “finger in the eye” to the I-77 toll road opponents. […]

  10. Chuck says:

    McCroy lost 30,000 votes due to the toll road. You got Cooper enjoy him. He approved the contract for the toll road

  11. Anthony says:

    Talk about “deplorable”… here’s a link that was posted by an anonymous career NCDOT employee earlier today on FB about Jim Trogden that ol Roy needs to see & read very carefully.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10210481574412211&set=gm.1860415514233156&type=3&theater

  12. Jim Bauman says:

    I trend Dem, so voting for Cooper was natural. However, I greatly admire all the LKN and Charlotte area voters that are Republican, but voted for Cooper because of McCrory’s unwillingness to cancel the Cintra contract. We’re there about 30K that switched their usual R votes to Cooper? Well, shouldn’t we start some sort of petition, asking Dem’s like me to do the same? Sign a petition, stating that if the contract is not cancelled, we will not vote for Cooper in the next election. If we could get 30K signatures, I think Cooper would respond. I like to think that Cooper’s evaluating the cost of cancellation vs letting Mobility Partners LLs go bankrupt; surely Cooper is aware that this issue is HOT.

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