Editorial: Rural areas left out of roads plan

May. 10, 2013 @ 01:31 AM

The headline sent along with the weekly column by John Hood of Raleigh’s conservative John Locke Foundation was, “Conservative case for spending more,” on the topic of highway spending.

The “more” spending that Hood proposes would do no good for rural areas because it would come in the form of toll roads for high-capacity traffic, i.e. cities. Toll roads might, in fact, be one of the better solutions for relieving congestion within urban areas because the cost would be borne entirely by people within the region needing those roads.

In theory, toll roads in urban areas could free up tax money for rural counties. But Hood also advocates Gov. Pat McCrory’s approach of changing from the current regional allocations to a system that would lock in 40 percent of funding for “statewide priorities” and would leave just 20 percent of funding to be split among districts for local priorities (rural legislators on a House committee tentatively got that increased to 30 percent on Tuesday). Under that proposal, toll revenue would free no tax money for use elsewhere, only ensure that urban areas have plenty of money while everyone else waits.

As with McCrory’s proposal, Hood’s is a city resident’s idea of a solution to a statewide problem, reducing rural needs to afterthoughts.