Editorial – Don’t forget Yadkin Bridge
Gov. Bev Perdue unveiled an innovative funding plan for the completion of Charlotte’s I-485 outer-belt project Monday, one that involves public and private financing. Let’s hope she has luck coming up with a solution soon for the Yadkin River Bridge.
The beltway project will draw financing from a federal loan program, the state’s Highway Trust Fund and private contractors, who will be letting the state pay them for their work over time. The contractors would design, build and finance their portions. State officials estimate the cost to be $50 million, which the state would pay back over 10 years.
Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who ran unsuccessfully against Perdue for governor last year, has often complained that Raleigh ó read, “Perdue” ó hasn’t done enough to funnel federal and state transportation money to the Queen City. Monday Perdue finally came up with her answer to that lament.
“We’re going to do more for less. That’s big to me because we’ve got a lot of needs in North Carolina,” Perdue said. “And we’re going to do it faster. Faster is important to the people in the Charlotte metro area and it’s also important to the people in the state of North Carolina.”
So Charlotte’s problem is solved. And the state has received $735 million in stimulus funds for other highway projects around the state. As project lists are released, though, the I-85 bridge over the Yadkin has been conspicuously absent. The state submitted a grant application for $300 million in “discretionary grant” stimulus funds in July. Now we’re in a waiting mode. There’s some fear that this opportunity to get federal funds could pass the Yadkin bridge by. Then DOT officials will return to their earlier suggestion, a toll road. That is not acceptable for such a major transportation artery. Keep pushing, governor.