Mar 082009
 

M
ore than 2300 years ago, the Chinese philosopher Xun Zi said, “The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere.” Union County’s transportation policy has been on such path.

For years, Union County government and municipalities have spoken with many voices, oblivious to the needs of their neighboring communities, suspicious of back-room deals and unwilling to work together for the greater good. As a result of the squabbling, the citizens have paid the price and we can’t afford it anymore.

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The long anticipated Monroe Bypass has by and large robbed Union County of other projects as monies trickled in to fund the Bypass, $180 million before it was spirited away, more likely to further fund I-485 leaving Union taxpayers with a toll road instead. Meanwhile, Old Monroe Road improvements wait and Providence Road gets four lanes to Rea Road rather than to Waxhaw, as it should have been.

This past week, the Board of Commissioners formed(1) a new county-wide committee called the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) to satisfy the desire to increase citizen input on road projects, provide a communication conduit among the transportation board members in an effort to foster consensus among all the governments, hopefully to maximize the county’s voice with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and associated organizations.

The TAB will consist of 21 representatives, one chosen by each municipality, most likely to be their MUMPO (Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization) members, five members drawn from unincorporated Union County, a representative from the Union County Chamber of Commerce, a representative from the Union County Public Schools and a member representing parks and greenways.
The County Commissioners who serve as MUMPO and RPO (Rural Transportation Planning Organization) representatives will function as facilitators. Included will be towns without MUMPO representation that in the past has had no voice in road issues.

To assist and guide transportation board in setting priorities and technical issues is the MUMPO Technical Coordination Committee (TCC), which consists of staff planners from the two counties and larger area municipalities.

Pardon the buzzword, but in this case the TAB will for the first time foster a synergy between the various representatives, where Union County will speak with unified voice – we hope.

It’s pretty dry isn’t it, government committees typically are, but as the level of traffic and our needs continues to increase, the importance of a committee like the TAB is magnified. Citizens need to get involved.

Road Czar

The only element missing in my view from the Transportation Advisory Board is the employing of an in-house transportation planner/administrator, a road czar if you will. Someone whose job it will be will have an intimidate knowledge of all the ongoing and future road projects and the professional expertise to assist the municipalities with their thoroughfare plans and to prevent surprises in the future like the Cuthbertson Road bridge closing.

The recent bureaucratic gamesmanship by the County Manager to keep a ‘lid’ on the bridge issue so the effected citizens would remain in the dark is the primary reason I’d also recommend that the ‘road czar’ be independently employed by contributions from the Transportation Advisory Board members. It will be money well spent and a service to taxpayers countywide.

To quote Lewis Carol, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Isn’t it about time Union County stopped and asked people for direction?

  1. The vote was 3-2, Commissioners Baucom & Mills chose to vote in the minority []

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  2 Responses to “Out of the Ditch: County launches a new Transportation Committee”

  1. When all the people of Union County are represented on such boards, they function just fine. When only part of them are represented catastrophies follow. When Mumpo only represented the metropolitan suburbs of Union county and the rest was represented by the T.R.I.P. commission we did well. When the TRIP was disbanded, Mumpo was expanded as far as Wingate and the rest of the county was forced to join the RPO with two other counties things went to hell in a handbasket. I see this as a step in the right direction. Reducing the influence of the Chamber of Commerce is helping the future of Union County.

  2. Mark D,

    Once again you are talking your book. Since you are a career government planner, you think the solution to every problem is more government planning.

    It’s like the hammer seeing everything in the world as a nail.

    I’m curious, why do you think that every facet of human life must be planned and controlled by a central organization with the power of the police to enforce their wisdom?

    Do you really think so little of your fellow humans that you think they are unable to accomplish anything unless professional bureaucrats give them a plan beforehand? (and charge them handsomely for that plan, of course)

    That, of course, is the exact goal that the communist USSR had. Central planning by lifetime bureaucrats was the solution to everything, and would ensure a utopia.

    The dream still lives on, of course, in North Korea and Cuba. What’s their living standard again?

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