Sad and disappointing best describes the ongoing revolving door between government and the private sector relative to the massive transportation projects impacting the North Mecklenburg region. See previous coverage of this stomach churning phenomena reported in these pages here, here, and here. With continued coziness between senior public officials and the consultants who are really driving these decisions, can any reasonable resident really believe they have our best interests at heart?
Here's another example from last month. Thanks to the reader who forwarded the below tidbit from NCDOT.
"Atkins is currently working on the NEPA analysis for conversion of the existing high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes along I-77 in Mecklenburg County. Two scenarios are currently being analyzed—one is a direct conversion of the existing HOV lanes, and a second would convert the existing lanes as well as add a second HOT lane in each direction. The limits of the project are I-77 from I-277 (Brookshire Freeway) to West Catawba Avenue (Exit 28). All work will be completed in the existing right-of-way.
Atkins has provided a variety of services for this project including threatened and endangered species assessments; a community impact assessment; an environmental justice analysis, noise impact, traffic operations, and air quality analyses. Our work to-date has also included development of alternatives, preliminary roadway and hydraulic design, a review of toll operations, and public involvement support."
These assessments comprise a critical piece of the approval phase of the project. It is also a piece that has come under scrutiny from the Southern Environmental Law Center. This is the same organization that stalled the Monroe Bypass with legal action over that project's environmental assessment.
One has to wonder if Atkins is beefing up its staff with a well connected employee in the event the project and their work faces a similar challenge?