From Gene Conti, N.C. secretary of transportation:
When Gov. Bev Perdue appointed me to NCDOT, she gave me clear instructions – take politics out of how we plan and fund transportation projects, find new ways to fund critical needs and run NCDOT more like a business. We accepted that challenge and I am proud to say we have made great progress in each area.
Our greatest accomplishment has not been a road, bridge or railway —it has been changing the WAY we do business. Today, board members set policies and hold us accountable for delivering on them. Today, NCDOT has a nationally recognized project ranking system called Prioritization. This system was developed through extensive local collaboration and removes politics from transportation planning. It is data-driven and scores projects on their merit so our limited funding can be directed to the highest scoring projects first. Today, we award more contracts to private sector companies than ever – stimulating our economy and building the foundation for future growth. We are also leaner and more efficient with the smallest employment in years, even while our state has added thousands of residents.
During the Perdue administration, we have utilized new funding tools to stretch our limited dollars. I-485 in Charlotte will soon be completed thanks to the use of design/build/finance. We created a new funding tool for large projects of statewide significance – the Mobility Fund. Utilizing this new tool in combination with a federal grant and traditional funding, we are replacing the Yadkin River Bridge and widening I-85 in that corridor.
We forged new and deeper relationships with our partners around the state and have worked hard to be open and transparent in all we do. We completed the second Oak Island Bridge, opened the state’s first toll road, and moved the Winston-Salem beltway forward after 15 years of delay while accelerating other loop projects across the state.
Highways are not alone in our list of accomplishments. Working with our partners, we have funded rail expansions and upgrades and lead the nation in passenger ridership growth. Together with Charlotte and USDOT we will extend the successful Blue Line light rail system. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities statewide have also been expanded to meet the growing needs of our changing population. We have a more effective DMV, new leadership in aviation and new aerospace industry facilities, and a ferry division that serves with honor and pride.
None of these would have happened without strong leadership, defined goals and an exceptional team of dedicated employees.
Transportation is critical to every North Carolinian’s way of life and to the quality of this place we all call home. Everyone deserves access to jobs, schools, health care, recreation and a solid transportation system makes that possible. I am proud of the work NCDOT has accomplished over these four years. Moving forward, the next administration will face challenges such as repetitive and costly litigation that halts or slows down critical projects and revenues based on fuel taxes that no longer support our needs. The foundation of innovation, transparency and accountability we have created will enable our next governor and his team to keep our state on the cutting edge of infrastructure and logistics. The people of our great state deserve nothing less.