Saturday, November 28, 2015

Feds taking comments on CRTPO...give 'em an ear full.

In the aftermath last week's "I77 Summit", the region's primary transportation planning body, the CRTPO, has become the center of attention when it comes to the I77 HOT lanes project.

The Governor is hiding behind the group, saying the only way he'll consider stopping the project is if the CRTPO tells him to do it.  The NCDOT is saying any newly constituted CRTPO body would not be able to reasonably decide the issue quickly because the body could have several new faces after this month's elections.  If any actionable item did come out of the "Summit", it was Rep Charles Jeter's stated intention to file a bill to reduce Charlotte's influence in the CRTPO when the Legislature reconvenes for its short session next year.  The Charlotte Observer has even recognized that the City's decision to skip the summit looks bad and jeopardizes the legitimacy its current setup as a decision making body.

Charlotte has long used its weighted voting power to effectively make decisions in all but unilateral fashion for the entire region.  As we said in this story here back in 2013, Charlotte often acts like the playground bully effectively saying "we'll take our ball and go home if we don't get our way".

Frankly, there has been little that individuals can do about that setup.  That is, up until now. is encouraging the public to send the below email (or any respectful email of your choosing) to the Federal Department of Transportation before December 15.  The quadrennial review period for the CRTPO is currently underway at the Federal level and the DOT is taking comments.

Send your email to and let the Feds know how the current setup is effectively allowing Charlotte to milk the surrounding region while not allowing the surrounding region an effective mechanism to stop it - or at least to be treated fairly.

Sample email below...

Subject: CRTPO Public Involvement Process

Dear Ms. Barren-
The CRTPO is in need of reform. During the past several years they have minimized or ignored public input. With a very lop-sided voting structure, one city benefits greatly while the needs of the other towns and the region are ignored.
For example:

  • During the July 2015 public comment period, CRTPO received over 700 individual comments opposing the P3.0 TIP.  CRTPO approved the TIP citing, among other reasons, the fact that the TIP had to be approved quickly or they risked losing federal allocation in October.  Therefore, the public comment period was moot.

  • While developing the P4.0 project list, CRTPO received over 250 public comments urging adoption.  At their September 16, 2015 meeting, CRTPO took the extremely unusual step of postponing approval. In direct opposition to public comments, CRTPO subsequently removed a project from the list and approved the list at their next meeting.

  • On May 23, 2013 CRTPO (then MUMPO) Chairwoman Sarah MacAulay unilaterallydenied all citizens the opportunity to comment during the public comment period. Eighteen had signed up to speak on the controversial I-77 private toll project.

  • At their December 12, 2013 CRTPO meeting, TCC staff recommended against including a public comment period for TCC meetings.  CRTPO accepted this recommendation. A public comment period for TCC meetings does not exist.

  • The public comment period policy for MUMPO meetings used to be three minutes per person and ten minutes per group. CRTPO revised this to limit the public comment period to twenty minutes total, regardless of the number of speakers or groups.
  • Groups wishing to make a formal presentation must notify CRTPO ten days in advance.

  • Mr. Ned Curran serves as an alternate delegate for NCDOT Divisions 10 & 12. Curran is also Chairman of the NCDOT Board and CEO of Bissel, a major land developer and property manager in South Charlotte. On August 19, 2015, Curran voted for the P3.0 TIP as the Division 12 delegate. I believe it is a conflict of interest for a major land developer to decide road and transportation improvement projects.

  • Ms. Sarah McAulay serves as Chair of CRTPO. On August 19, 2015, McAulay introduced a motion to approve the P3.0 TIP which includes seven Huntersville projects. McAulay owns or co-owns three properties with direct frontage to at least one or more of the projects and six properties in close proximity to one or more projects.  I believe it is aconflict of interest for a CRTPO member to decide road improvement projects from which they may directly benefit.
These comprise serious flaws in the CRTPO’s planning process, have seriously eroded public trust and fail to serve the public interest. Per 23 U.S.C. (i)(5) and 49 U.S.C. 1607 I am therefore requesting you reject CRTPO’s certification until substantial reforms are completed.




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