It’s never good to see North Carolina grouped among the worst states in the nation in a competitive ranking. Unfortunately, a recent 24/7 Wall St. ranking had North Carolina as one of 15 “states that are falling apart.” The ranking details how each state’s roads in poor condition, deficient bridges, dams at risk and highway spending stacks up against the rest. While there is certainly more that must be done in North Carolina to improve our transportation infrastructure, this ranking doesn’t tell the whole story.
In 2015, the NC Chamber helped secure the passage of the first long-term transportation reform funding bill since the 1980s, amounting to more than one billion dollars in additional transportation revenue. Since that time, North Carolina has invested in numerous infrastructure projects across the state to ensure our transportation networks are safe and ready to accommodate the state’s rapid growth. Other states are now looking to the changes implemented in North Carolina as a guide to crafting their infrastructure investment plans. Just this week, I was in Missouri presenting our “NC Can’t Afford to Wait” campaign to the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force, which is charged with finding solutions to funding the state’s transportation infrastructure needs.
The 24/7 Wall St. ranking uses 2015 numbers, failing to take into account the many improvements that are already underway. This ranking does, however, support the appeals we made in 2015 and those that we continue to make today in favor of more infrastructure improvements. As detailed by the TRIP report, Keeping North Carolina Mobile: Progress and Challenges in Providing an Efficient, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will only have funds available for 17 percent of the needed transportation projects and our state’s transportation funding relies heavily on the motor fuels tax, also known as the gas tax, which makes funding volatile and unsustainable. While North Carolina’s leaders have started taking steps to better the state’s infrastructure, we must continue diversifying revenue streams and pursuing a long-term plan in order to be competitive.
There’s no doubt that North Carolina must build upon the infrastructure investments made in 2015. With the state’s competitive future hanging in the balance, it is imperative that our state’s leaders prioritize, maintain and fund a long-term transportation infrastructure plan that diversifies revenue. This ranking is another reminder that we cannot take our foot off of the gas when it comes to improving North Carolina’s transportation infrastructure.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber