The statewide business community relies on a strong transportation network to efficiently move goods and services in and out of the state marketplace. With federal legislation supporting long-term investments to the U.S. transportation network delayed by Congressional inaction, NC Chamber president and CEO Lew Ebert penned an op-ed that ran in the Asheville Citizen Times last week to encourage Congress to prioritize our nation’s transportation infrastructure. In the op-ed, Lew detailed the jarring link between the political gridlock in Washington on long-term transportation funding reform and the poor condition of our nation’s rural roadways, as revealed in a recent report from the national transportation research group TRIP.
“It’s time for North Carolina to tell Congress to take seriously the need to fix our rural roads – and all of our transportation infrastructure,” Lew stated in the op-ed. “No more delays, no more excuses.” According to the TRIP report, North Carolina’s rural roads and bridges are some of the hardest hit by federal inaction; in 2013, non-interstate rural roads in our state had the 14th highest fatality rate nationally, while in 2014 we had the 13th highest proportion of structurally-deficient rural bridges. Those figures translate to a rural traffic fatality rate that is three and a half times higher than on other roads in North Carolina. For a state on a fast track to growth like ours, that gap between the safety of rural roads and the rest of our transportation network is, quite simply, unacceptable.
Next week, the NC Chamber will echo Lew’s call for Congressional action on transportation with a joint letter to our state’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives. While the U.S. Senate has showed a willingness to advance a multi-year transportation bill in 2015, the House chose instead not to take up that legislation. The NC Chamber urges you – the engaged business community of North Carolina – to add your organization’s name to the twenty businesses and economic development groups that have already joined this call for Congress to tackle the transportation issue now, before it is too late. In order to secure a diversified, stable and economically efficient revenue model to meet North Carolina’s long-term transportation needs, the aligned business community simply cannot afford to wait.
Contact Jake Cashion, government affairs director with the North Carolina Chamber, to have your organization’s name added to the growing list. And visit www.nccantaffordtowait.com to see what else we have been working on in 2015 to protect our state’s transportation future.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber