Bribes for Tolls?

payupThere’s been quite a public uproar about toll roads being established in the Charlotte area.  Yet, government officials in the areas most affected by the proposed tolls are enthusiastically backing the idea of toll roads.  Why would they be so unabashed in their support of something that clearly has quite a few of their constituents riled up?  WSOC-TV in Charlotte thinks they may be on to the answer: 

Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties could receive up to $200 million for proposed toll lanes on Interstate 77.

Some local officials are again raising red flags about the project.

“This $200 million incentive is really just a bad faith effort I think to try to generate political support,” said Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy.

Gilroy said crucial details about that bonus will not be revealed until after the deal is done, including the bonus amount, which road projects will receive the money or how transportation leaders will determine their priority.

Gilroy is concerned bonus money will not ease issues in Cornelius, like building a new Exit 27 at Westmoreland Road.

“It will undoubtedly (go) to infrastructure really around Charlotte, not in north Mecklenburg,” Gilroy said.

[…]

Check out this post for more information about the split among North Mecklenburg local officials on the proposed toll roads. It sounds like local politicos are already huddling:

Talks got underway about bonus money counties will get for adding toll lanes on Interstate 77.
 
Experts said many people are against toll lanes, so the state offered $150 million as an incentive for areas to accept them.

[…]

Mecklenburg and Iredell counties will get the money for agreeing to add toll lanes on I-77.
                               
Planners are working to develop a process for allocating the dollars.
 
“The reality is there will be lots more requests for money than there is money available and so you need a way to prioritize that and you need to be open with people about how you’re doing so,” said transportation planner Bill Coxe.

[…[

Planners decided to postpone a decision on the process until next month, but approved putting out a call for projects to get a list of road projects to be considered for funding.

So, sign on to the concept of toll roads, and you get millions more worth of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY to play with.  We thought this HOT lane concept was all about saving money for the taxpayers.  So, we’re up to the taxpayer contribution to construction PLUS this $150 million, um, “incentive.”

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