Feds: CRTPO is A-OK

If a federal board reviewed the public input process of an organization that just ignored a thousand written public comments, do you think they would find any problems?


That’s what just happened when the Federal Highway Authority (FHWA) reviewed the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO).

According to federal law, every four years Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) like CRTPO have to be certified on their transportation planning process. Part of that certification includes how effective the MPO is in incorporating public input.

You may recall last December we asked you to provide input to the Feds, and over 500 of you emailed them a form letter (or variants). The report came out yesterday. Like most government reports, it’s written in a formal, stilted kind of prose.

We thought we would cut through the clutter and imagine an honest conversation between you- a mere peasant- and the Feds.

It would go something like this:

Peasant: In the space of two months CRTPO ignored over a thousand written public comments regarding their transportation plan, but you guys still re-certified them. What’s up with that?

Fed: Actually we did more than re-certify; we commended them.

Peasant: What!?

Fed: Yeah, we commended them for creating a few new committees. We especially like the Unified Planning Work Program. Among other things, it allows them to plan for unplanned things. That’s the kind of innovative thinking we’re looking for in government.

Peasant: Innovative thinking like private toll lanes?

Fed: Toll lanes were not part of our review.

Peasant: But what about the thousand comments they ignored?

Fed: Huh? What? I was texting.

Peasant: One of the complaints was the CRTPO Chairwoman shut down a public comment period in violation of MPO by-laws.

Fed: Yeah, well, CRTPO told us the crowd became unruly and they had to call for security.

Peasant: You know she first told eighteen strangers they were part of a group and limited them to ten minutes total. Then she eliminated the public comment period altogether. Don’t you think CRTPO should have listened to the public comments? It would’ve taken less than an hour.

Fed: Man this autocorrect is a pain.

Peasant: Isn’t CRTPO required to listen to the public and incorporate their input into the transportation plan?

Fed: I want you to look me straight in the eye and tell me the truth: are you currently under the influence of a controlled substance?

Peasant: Well, what about Ned Curran voting on CRTPO? He’s Chairman of the NCDOT Board and he’s a major land developer. Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

Fed: Regulations CFR 450.306 and CFR 450.310(d) require a TMA to consist of LOE’s within the MPA.

Peasant: Uhh, in English?

Fed: It means we’ve passed enough laws to allow a major land developer to vote on road projects where he develops land.

Peasant: What about Chair Sarah McAulay? She voted for a plan that included three road projects where she owns frontage property. Isn’t that an ethics issue?

Fed: If you believe there is an ethics violation you should contact NCDOT. The Chairman of the Board will know what to do.

Peasant: Did you recommend CRTPO change anything?

Fed: We think they should hire more people.

Peasant: For?

Fed: Can we talk about streetcars?

Peasant: Seriously… any other changes?

Fed: We think they should create a Citizen’s Advisory Group.

Peasant: Why? If they ignored a thousand written comments what makes you think they’ll listen to a half-dozen verbal ones?

Fed: Next question.

Peasant: Has any MPO in the history of the Federal Highway Administration ever failed one of your certification reviews?

Fed: Look, I’ve really enjoyed our little chat, but we’ve got a bureaucracy to run. I’ll see you in four years.



7 Responses to Feds: CRTPO is A-OK

  1. Pattie Marshall says:

    Bravo Kurt….how many of us spent our evening educating Ms. Barren of the goings on in this area…I have to wonder is this just a NC thing? Or nationwide? Since she’s with the Feds I think I answered my own question….

  2. Jay Privette says:

    If any of our founding fathers read this series of events I think they would comment this is the sort of thing that lead them to take matters into their own hands. History has shown it generally takes about 200 years for a ruling class to become so entrenched and out of touch that it needs to be cleansed.

  3. Darryl Bost says:

    Amen, and this gets to the heart of why thinking, informed citizens are so fed up they are voting in mass for the Donald. The Washington establishment might get what they deserve, for once.

  4. William Sykes says:

    We knew this was coming in when the Fed’s showed up, but didn’t expect the unmitigated gall that this rebuke has shown.

  5. Michael Krueger says:

    Where is the media in this? Politicians usually dislike negative press. Pressure is needed!!

  6. Bain Black says:

    Ms. Barren works where? Oh, uh, Raleigh…..right. She is the federal person that ensures our state is following fed guidelines, right? Well, I am glad that she had a helper from Atlanta the night she traveled to Charlotte. Goodness knows she needed help to whip out such a timely, wonderful and revealing report to re-certify CRTPO. I hope to see her again in 4 years; that will be about the time Mobility Partners declares Bankruptcy, or they sell their remaining 50% equity just before the balloon interest payment is due! Thanks for being so attentive, Ms. Barren. And thanks for commending our CRTPO for not listening to citizens. It is good to know that someone like Sarah McAulay knows how to handle an unruly crowd.

    • lucinda m heavlin says:

      Who is Ms. Barren, Which Department in Raleigh
      does Ms. Barren work for? You did not mention which department in Raleigh in your comment. Thanks, lucinda

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