No Surprise: CRTPO Approves Plan

Perhaps the biggest surprise last night was not Huntersville Commissioner Sarah McAulay voting “yes” for the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) that includes tolls, but that she made the motion to have it voted on in the first place.

Prior to the vote, in a trembling and angry voice she read part of an email she received that made rambling accusations regarding her landholdings and those of her family.   (For the record, the individual is NOT associated with Widen I-77.) Perhaps her introducing the motion- let alone voting for it- was her way of showing that particular individual a bit of comeuppance.

This follows a pattern of behavior for McAulay: she ascribes one or two misguided individuals who make outlandish or threatening remarks to the entire anti-toll movement. Then, her public comments and subsequent votes are such that she appears to act out of revenge.

To no one’s surprise, CRTPO voted to approve the TIP despite historic public opposition.  Charlotte Councilwoman Vi Lyles, whose vote counts for 46% of the total, stated that she was reflecting the wishes and historic support for toll lanes of the eleven member Charlotte City Council. This gave the false impression that Charlotte had voted on the topic (they had not) and that the Council’s support was unanimous. The support was not unanimous, as we explained here.

If there is a silver lining to this, it is that seven delegates voted against the TIP: Cornelius, Davidson, Fairview, Marvin, Pineville, Iredell County, and Mecklenburg County (via directed vote). Remember, with Charlotte holding a near-majority, almost every CRTPO vote is unanimous.

Davidson Commissioner Brian Jenest said that while he was in favor of the managed lanes concept he could not support this particular project. Cornelius Commissioner Woody Washam, who has long been on record saying he would vote no, said he was reflecting the wishes of his constituents and his town board (Washam got a directed vote at Monday’s Cornelius board meeting).

The most disappointing vote was Mooresville’s “yes” vote by Commissioner Eddie Dingler.  Apparently Dingler was directed by the board to do so by a 3-2 vote.  He was one of the two dissenting votes.  He did not make any comment during the discussion period.  Mooresville, at one the end of the toll lane project, stands to pay the highest tolls and suffer the greatest congestion. Perhaps recognizing this Mooresville residents had the third-most comments against the plan of any town.  Yet their town board (or at least a bare majority) ignored this.

CRTPO “yes” voters cited two main reasons for ignoring public sentiment and voting the way they did. First, the timing is such that they cannot change the TIP without jeopardizing federal funding. This raising the obvious question: if no changes can be made at this point, why go through the motions of a public comment period? The answer is because they are required to by federal law. But make no mistake about it: the public comment period was a charade, a perfunctory box-checking exercise that had no bearing in determining policy.

The second reason was because one project, however awful, is not cause enough for rejecting or jeopardizing all the rest.

What we saw last night was, in stark relief, an unaccountable bureaucracy at its unresponsive worst.  Clearly CRTPO is broken and must be fixed.  But that’s a battle for another day.

17 Responses to No Surprise: CRTPO Approves Plan

  1. Kirk Davis says:

    There is a simple solution to this issue. Everyone wants another lane why not just build it? Forget about the toll. Just build the third lane already. I moved to Charlote 3 years ago and it’s just childish how the fighting of this issue has continued to carry on. Just build the third lane and the bickering ends. It could have started years ago but instead a few people want to make money for themselves and hold it up. Enough already people.

    • Widen I-77 says:

      Kirk, one of our greatest frustrations is that it is so terribly difficult to get our government to do the right thing.

  2. Dianne Humphrey says:

    would like to know who voted for it in Mooresville! Sounds like someone has been bought by someone! If it were put to a vote in Mooresville, I am sure it would be an overwhelming NO!!

    • Danny Stewart says:

      Send him an email of your anger. I just did and think everyone else should as well.

      • Danny Stewart says:

        and here was the reply I received from Mooresville Commissioner Eddie Dingler:

        Wow thanks,
        Before you send out a smart reply email you need know who you’re talking to.There were two no votes on the Mooresville Council and I was one of them. But unfortunately I represented Mooresville at CARTPO. So in the world votes it passed 2-3… So I cary a yes vote … When you send out a email like this send it to someone that is not on the same team….

        Eddie Dingler
        Town of Mooresville..

  3. A Mooresvile Resident says:

    Seems to me we will be seeing some turnover on the Mooresville Commission come the next election. Remember, one reaps what they sow.

  4. Scott Mumma says:

    Hope the payoff was enough to cover you all when you’re voted out of office.

  5. Bill Zwerger says:

    This is whats wrong with government in this country. Government of the people, by the people, for the people does not exist in this day and age!

  6. Sharon Hudson says:

    I am one of the many observers who had the unpleasant experience of having to listen to the “McAulay rant”. I think it is unfair that we cannot call “time” on her as she seems to enjoy doing to us

    • Mel Morganstein says:

      Yes, I will NEVER forget the meeting when CRTPO was MUMPO and the autocratic chair, Sarah McAulay dictatorially cut off ALL comments by all citizens.
      Somebody straighten me out, please. Does McAulay and or her family own property that will bring them financial benefit from the state bribe of communities along I-77 or not? Was this email to poor Sarah an untrue accusation or what? Thanks.

  7. Jethro says:

    So anyone have any video of the bride of frankenstein’s (aka McAulay) rant? I’d love to see it. Hoping some of my comments/emails made the list!

    I’m sick of this touchy, feely junk that comes out of our gov’t officials. Gov’t should be cold and calculating. 99% of the decisions are common sense…just like all this cr– with 77. I’m so sick of all these politicians that love to pretend they’re some kind of martyrs.

    Granted there is a code of conduct that should be followed when it comes to proper political discourse. Still, I think in today’s political arena, we’ve hopped, skipped, and jumped well beyond that line. When the h— did it become some sort of mortal sin to call an idiot an idiot?! People should be 100% free to speak their minds.

  8. 77X Rider says:

    I stand by Davidson. Managed lanes can work, but this project’s design doesn’t make sense.

    If a market-based solution, why was Cintas the only proposal? Doesn’t seem very competitive.

    If helping transit, why no congestion-free access to Northcross or Gateway park and rides? Doesn’t seem wise to make buses sit in the same Huntersville traffic.

    If wanting the most toll-paying customers, why seal off access in the most congested sections? Seems commuters from Exit 25 or even from I-85 headed Uptown would be willing to pay to bypass congestion.

  9. Joe Starosciak says:

    I have not seen the majority of residents rally against something like the I77 toll lane in my whole life. The people of Charlotte and South Charlotte sit fat and happy with three lane minimums but many time 4 or 5 lanes in certain areas of 85 and 485 yet they feel people living north of Charlotte off I77 people should have to pay for the privilege of one extra lane. This is just greedy and no other excuse for it. No idea why one lonely commissioner from Huntersville and one from Mooresville would want to join this crowd

  10. Mark A. Kiser says:

    I had a chance today to speak with 10th District Congressman The Honorable Patrick McHenry at a townhall meeting in Conover, North Carolina. Not surprisingly, he feels this issue needs to be handled at the local level. He does feel our frustration, however, himself a traveller along I-77 and concerned about the impact this toll road decision will have on future economic growth in the region. What was surprising to me was the strong opposition to toll roads even as far away as Hickory and Conover. Business leaders were very much concerned about how travel along the I-40 & I-77 corridors will be impacted in the next ten to twenty years. We must continue to fight.

  11. Myrna Reilly says:

    I am hard pressed to recall a situation like this where the wishes of the majority are so ignored by so many in power! It doesn’t make sense on any level.

  12. Steve Marsh says:

    I have been concerned – even disturbed – by the way the Toll Lane project has moved through the political system. As a resident of Mooresville, I was dismayed that the Town Board instructed their representative, Eddie Dingler, to vote yes at the CRTPO meeting. The Mooresville Town Board did not vote on this issue at a public meeting so we will never know how each individual commissioner voted. The following is a Letter to the Editor of the Mooresville Tribune I wrote that was published Aug. 26.

    Maybe you were surprised as I was to see that the representative for the Town of Mooresville voted “yes” at the CRTPO meeting Wednesday August 19th. A vote to support DOT’s TIP (transportation improvements plan) that includes the Toll Lane project. Davidson voted “no”. So did Cornelius, Huntersville, and Mecklenburg County. Even Iredell County voted “no”. Yet Mooresville voted “yes”. If you want to read why Mooresville’s Board voted yes and read the comments of the Commissioners, don’t bother looking for the minutes of any Board meetings. This issue was not voted on in a public meeting. It was voted on out of public view and public comment. Perhaps votes held like this are legal but it is certainly not the kind of transparency most people expect of their Town Government. And, it makes me wonder how many other votes are taken out of the sight of the citizens of Mooresville.

  13. Mary Ann says:

    I am frustrated that they want to charge us tolls to widen I-77 and turn current bridges into diverging diamonds, but those bridges do not have the correct amount of lanes to support that concept. On I-85 in Cabarrus county, they built “all new” bridges at Poplar Tent and Hwy 73, and are widening the bridges at exit 58. Bridges at Concord Mills (#49), Afton Village (#54) are already wide enough if they convert them. 6 lane Diverging diamond bridges have made traffic patterns SO MUCH better at exits 52 & 55 on I-85. But Catawba Rd bridge over 77 at exit 28 is absolutely ridiculous. They won’t even widen our bridges and they want us to pay tolls. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander. IF they are going to make us pay tolls, why are they making I-85 pay tolls ?

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