I once asked Pat McCrory regarding I-77 tolls to take his famous stupid hat off. It seems instead they are sprouting more quickly than MAGA hats at the RNC.
This debacle of a project started under Gov. Bev Perdue. After three towns and two counties passed resolutions asking for the project to be canceled (when the cost was $25 million), Gov. McCrory instead moved the final contract signing up a week. Gov. Roy Cooper was elected after insinuating he would cancel the contract, and as of today we are still where we started on Election Day.
The NC legislature has gone out of its way to put up roadblocks to cancellation or any other serious changes. Current law mandates this project be treated like any other road looking for funding via the Strategic Transportation Investments process, yet this project isn’t like any other road. It is a square problem being forced through a round solution. It is time for the governor’s office and legislative leadership, Democrats and Republicans, to drop the political posturing and see this problem for what it really is: not a road problem but a logistics and economic development roadblock that will cost Piedmont NC billions over the next 50 years.
Our southern competitors, especially South Carolina, are not only laughing at our stupidity but making hay out of our state’s suicidal plans to strangle manufacturing and freight transport. Imagine you’re a major manufacturer looking to locate in the Carolinas. Your choices are an area where you cannot get raw materials to your plant nor your finished product out because the only interstate available hasn’t had capacity increased in 40 years and is contracted for no increase over the next 50. Or you could locate along the I-26 corridor in South Carolina where the road is being widened, has a spur being built to gain direct access to the deepest port on the East coast and is already home to BMW, Michelin, Mercedes Benz and many others.
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South Carolina must continually slap its head in disbelief at how much effort North Carolina puts into protecting an interstate project that is designed to maintain congestion for five decades. South Carolina has widened its roads to take advantage of our airport, yet we can’t do the same thing to take advantage of its port.
I am looking for leadership in any party or any office in Raleigh who will have the political good sense and personal wherewithal to step off the merry-go-round of I-77 stupidity and admit perhaps they haven’t seen the forest for the trees and work with us to pull this failed exercise of political obfuscation out of the weeds and fix it. Let’s admit it was an error, cut our losses and get back to being a leader in the Southeast in logistics and manufacturing.
I still hold out hope of finding a useful person or group in Raleigh within this pile of political excrement. Like the little boy found in the barn stall digging through the mountain of horse manure, I am hoping to find the pony.