Wednesday, May 15, 2013

H267 - George Orwell comes to Raleigh

Today, the General Assembly added insult to injury for those opposed to tolling I-77 via HOT lanes.  Once again this regards House Bill 267 - the bill which mysteriously changed names and intent during last week's House Transportation Committee. See Tuesday's post for the original story - NC House Hides from Voting on Toll Roads in North Carolina...Government Transparency is a Casualty.

The insult comes in the form of the Fiscal Note added to the bill today - Wednesday, May 15th.  Here's the selected excerpt from the note that applies to this local project...

"Based on current law, this bill applies to the project selected under S.L. 2012-104, which the DOT has determined will be used to construct high occupancy tolling (HOT) lanes on I-77.

The I-77 toll project is expected to open to traffic in FY2017 and current plans have the toll revenues paying for related upgrades to existing lanes and constructing new portions of the highway that will not be tolled to replace the affected existing lanes, as required in Section 1(a)(2). Eliminating the language on lines 22-23 in Section 1 (a)(3) and adding the restriction to limit the use of toll revenues to increase capacity will cause DOT to shift funds from another project for these impacted sections of I-77. It is not known how many sections will be impacted or the cost that will need to be shifted."

The reference to S.L. 2012-104 is likely a typo that should read S.L 2012-184.  A call is in to the Fiscal Research Division to verify, but since 104 refers to Deannexation and 184 is the law that authorizes a pilot Public Private Partnership DOT project that is almost certainly the case.

The reason this is such a slap at voters in North Mecklenburg is that when H267 was initially filed as a measure requiring a General Assembly vote on toll projects, local pols were downright adamant that H267 would not apply to I-77.

In an Orwellian move straight out of Nineteen Eighty-Four, a bill that had nothing to do with I-77 HOT Lanes now has everything to do with I-77 Hot Lanes.

This is our government.

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