Mecklenburg commissioners – and voters – ought to pay close attention to the goings-on in Raleigh Tuesday.
That’s when a Senate committee headed by Matthews Republican Bob Rucho is slated to take up bills that would affect the makeup – and the balance of power – on the Greensboro City Council and Wake’s county commission.
The bills, authored by Sen. Trudy Wade of Greensboro and Sen. Chad Barefoot of Wake County, respectively, took people back in their districts by surprise.
Both are designed to give Republicans greater influence on strongly Democratic bodies in deep-blue voting regions.
Charlotte Democrats worry their GOP colleagues might have similar ideas. Mecklenburg commissioner Bill James hopes so. He suggests they cut two at-large seats from his board, leaving Republicans with three of seven seats instead of the current three of nine.
Giving adequate representation to minority groups – in this case, Republicans – is generally a worthy goal.
But if Mecklenburg’s GOP voters are underrepresented, as James claims, the full commission and legislative delegation should talk about it. A sneak-attack bill that catches everyone off guard seems a highly unproductive way of going forward.
Just look at how well that approach worked with the attempted takeover of Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Not so fast on I-485
A transportation committee voted Thursday against turning a vacant, paved traffic lane into a carpool lane to relieve traffic woes in south Charlotte. The lane will become a toll lane on I-485 in about five years, and federal law forbids turning it into an all-purpose traffic lane before then.
The Observer’s Steve Harrison reports that the Technical Coordinating Committee decided that an estimated $1 million cost of turning the lane into a carpool lane wasn’t worth the traffic savings – about six seconds per car, according to the state.
Not so fast. Before the full committee of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization endorses the committee vote later this month, officials here should press for some questions to be answered:
Would it really cost $1 million to turn an already paved stretch of highway into a carpool lane? How much of that includes costs the state is going to bear anyway for the toll lane completion, such as environmental or other studies? And finally, six seconds? Harrison reports that figure is an average of all cars in all lanes at rush hour. Drivers using the car pool lane would save much more time.
Perhaps a car pool lane isn’t worth the cost. But Charlotte officials, including City Council members, should make sure before resigning drivers to years of looking at a potentially useful – but empty – lane.