A portion of the state’s first modern toll road, the Triangle Parkway, will open to traffic after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning.Starting Jan. 3, 2012, tolls will be collected electronically along the Triangle Parkway – a 3.4-mile stretch from Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 147 in Durham County to Interstate 540 in Wake County – and the existing portion of N.C. Highway 540 between N.C. Highways 54 and 55.
We pay the highest gas taxes in the Southeast (and what is it, something like the 9th highest in the nation?) and we can’t even pave a road. The story isn’t that we’re getting North Carolina’s first toll road. The story is the utter fiscal mismanagement that has led to obscene taxes AND WE STILL CAN’T BUILD A ROAD WITHOUT A TOLL.
Why won’t the media ever bother to remind anybody where the money goes? Jim Hunt squandered a lot of money paving roads for his cronies. But at least Ol’ Jimbo actually paved some roads with the money the state collects for road construction and maintenance. It was Mike Easley (found to be corrupt and now facing discipline from the state bar) who ended the gas tax money being reserved for roads and instead used it to make sure his precious pet projects didn’t have to be defunded.
To deal with a state economy reeling from the combination of the dot-com bust and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Easley raided various funds in February 2002, seizing $1 billion to help cover a mounting deficit. Included in those funds was $80 million from the Highway Trust Fund.
Two men who helped create the Highway Trust Fund in the late 1980s, former Transportation Secretary Jim Harrington and former state Sen. W.D. Goldston, an Alamance County Democrat, sued over the move, saying money raised through gas taxes that goes into the trust fund is earmarked for specific highway projects.
And from the same article… less you think that Bev is any better…
Gov. Beverly Perdue twice took money from other funds last spring to help pay state bills amid a deficit, including the lottery reserve fund, the Clean Water Trust Fund and the public school building and textbook funds.
And the General Assembly:
All three appellate judges agreed that a legislative transfer of $125 million from the Highway Trust Fund in 2002 was constitutional.
And so now here we sit with a turnpike commission and toll roads. All because the politicians that run North Carolina impose heavy taxes on us for a legitimate purpose and then pull a bait and switch to fund their pet projects every time. Every. Single. Time.
I know that the NC GOP doesn’t read this blog. But if I was in charge, abolishment of the Turnpike Commission and toll roads would be at the top of my agenda. The GOP – if it wants to win (and I haven’t seen any evidence of that…) – needs to educate the people about how they’re being ripped off by these political funding bait and switch scams.
I hope everybody remembers:
- The state lottery was to fund education and wouldn’t just replace school funding in the general fund (which all pretense of that has now been dropped)
- The bonds for higher education would be paid for with projected surpluses (how is that working out? What? The UNC system schools keep hiking tuition at an obscene rate?? I sure would hate it if UNC had to cut back on their Women’s Studies and Social Justice programs…)
And while I’m ranting I would like to remind the world that it really isn’t that hard to see this kind of stuff coming from a mile away.