Throughout our state’s history, great governors have built roads. Regardless of who wins the governor’s race next week, the fact is that North Carolina needs to build some roads and improve others. Building and updating our road system isn’t a partisan issue.
It’s probably one issue that Republicans and Democrats can agree upon because both political parties understand that investing in our infrastructure with surface roads is good for our economy, good for job creation and good for small businesses from Manteo to Murphy.
Right after the election, I want to work with our Department of Transportation and our governor to develop a road funding plan including discussions of a major road and highway bond package to be considered by voters in 2018.
This past March, North Carolina voters overwhelmingly endorsed the Connect NC Bond Plan that provided $2 billion in capital funding for our state parks, our community colleges and our university system. These critical investments will help our state institutions catch up with needed improvements and new buildings that will serve our citizens for the next 50 years.
The voters were enthusiastic in their support because they understood the need and realized the state had the debt capacity to finance the bond without raising taxes.
Now is the time to begin working on a transportation bond plan that will provide essential funding on new road projects like I-495 from Raleigh to Norfolk, which will provide interstate access to a deep water port. We need to fix and improve I-95 from border to border. We need to finish the 73-74 corridor through the Piedmont region of the state and we need to expand I-77 from Charlotte to Statesville.
We also need to look at a super-freeway along the US-64 and NC-49 corridor connecting Charlotte and Raleigh. Opening this corridor will provide economic development opportunities along the southern central Piedmont of the state and will be an important roadway for our state’s growth for the next generation.
I believe we need to be bold and visionary in our plans for future roads and highways in our state. The needs are great and we have the financial capacity to fund a significant bond without having to raise income taxes or the sales tax. At a recent House Transportation Oversight Committee meeting in Raleigh, DOT officials told legislators the current need for road investments in the state was in excess of $50 billion.
So you see, there is an abundant need to improve our highway system and a pay-as-you-go plan won’t solve the problem. Investing in our roads isn’t partisan. It is a North Carolina tradition and I look forward to getting to work on finding the right solution so voters can a plan to embrace it in the 2018 election cycle.
State Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, is chairman of the Main Street Democrats Caucus.