Thursday, February 04, 2010

Revamp of transportation planning? (Or, toss the dwarfs?)

TRYON, N.C. - During council discussion about transportation, Mayor Anthony Foxx mentioned a key issue: Among the many challenges to finding federal funding for Charlotte-area transportation projects - streets, roads and mass transit alike - is that the feds are looking closely at how well a region is supporting regional transportation planning.

And the Charlotte region plans its transportation regionally about as well as I can dunk a basketball. Is there any other large metro region with more different "metropolitan planning organizations" - aka, the state-established way to plan transportation? Charlotte region transportation is split among 4 or 5 MPOs and two Rural Planning Organizations. Just one small example of the ridiculousity: The Lake Norman area is considered a Rural Planning Organization and not part of the Charlotte metro transportaton planning.

I've ranted about this previously. Small hope in the offing? At least the mayor and other transportation officials are talking about it. And MPOs must be reconstituted after every census. And NCDOT chief Gene Conti is actually paying attention to Charlotte. NCDOT now has a staffer with an office on the 8th floor of the Char-Meck Govt Center.

If you'd like to know a bit more about the unbelievable insanity of transportation planning in the greater Charlotte region, read this piece from early January - you have to go to the very end to read about what "sounds like a bizarre camaraderie of dwarfs: MUMPO, GUAMPO, CRMPO, GHMPO and RFATS (in the Disney version he'd be the chubby, clumsy one). Let us not forget LNRPO and RRRPO (the small but snarling pirate dwarf?)."


Anonymous said...

Do not become a comedian.

Rob said...

I don't agree with her much but the dwarf comment is funny...

JAT said...

Mary, do you think the current system is an accident? Or on purpose?

I know my answer.

Mary Newsom said...

Good question, JAT. Current system likely was set up long before Charlotte became such a dominant city and before anyone in NC govt had any idea about the regional nature of any large metro area.

That said, the fact that it continues to exist is almost certainly due to places such as Gaston County, Cabarrus County, Salisbury, etc., etc., not wanting to be merged into a huge Charlotte-focused transpl planning group, where their share of state/fed money would likely be less. They'd also lose political and financial clout. I wonder if Sen. David Hoyle's (D-Gaston) retirement will make a difference.
How's come you're not here in Tryon?

Anonymous said...

I remember that post and have always wondered why we have this problem. I think I have an answer.

I hate to sound crass, but the outer edges of this area are very small-minded. Some of the "I hate Charlotte" mindset that has dominated Raleigh for the past 3,000 years is also prevelant in the counties around Mecklenburg.

But really - our transit "corridors" are useless as they currently exist. These lines hould be from Rock Hill to Concord, Gastonia to Monroe and Uptown to Statesville. I-485 should have been built in York, Lancaster, Union, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln and Gaston counties.

Your points about the outlying areas losing shares of money and political clout are perfect examples of politicians that do not give the slightest damn about their duties or the people at large. They care ONLY about their next elections, period. As long as that is the case, this situation will never change.

JAT said...

Short answer, no.

The current system exists because it minimizes any official responsibility for any single action while maximizing the opportunities for hidden, unseen lobbying. As such it is absolutely the perfect form of transportation planning for a kleptocracy like North Carolina. Factor in the influence of criminals like Jim Black and his various co-conspirators and we have precisely the transportation plans we deserve.

And if the Charlotte city council really wants me to eyeball their "retreat," they are welcome to have it in my basement. I make awesome guac and quesadillas. I'll even feed reporters.

Oh, and beer.

Rebecca said...

In light of the uproar created by Rahm calling the democrats "F'ing retards", (which he meant as a term of endearment I'm sure) I am surpised that noone has come out to defend the dwarfs.

consultant said...

Toss the alphabet soup agencies.

Whatever you have in North Carolina, be glad you don't have Atlanta's version.

The Georgia Dept. of Transportation-GDOT-is a soviet style bureaucracy that answers to NO ONE. As one critic put it, they're a bunch of 3rd rate engineers.

You can draw a straight line from the chaos of getting around metro Atlanta to GDOT.

Now, GDOT is mad because they're broke. The Bush/Cheney/Paulson/Geithner Ponzi economy has gone over the cliff, and with it the tax/gas receipts to fund their over the top "road" projects.

You ever been inside GDOT? The place is loaded with rural, tater eatin', Palin lovin', Republicants who love to cook up road projects for the road building contractors. Lots of back scratchin' and tater eatin' up in that building.

The result is metro Atlanta's roads are a mess. GDOT is anti anything urban. Actually I think stupidity plays a role in here to a large degree. Which may explain some of road design in our area.

Anyway, be glad you don't have GDOT.

Hey Mary, they probably make you work on a PC at the paper. Hopefully you have a Mac for personal use.