In 2012, North Carolina’s transportation network faced an uncertain future. Decaying infrastructure had resulted in the 37th worst bridge safety rating and the 2nd highest fatality rating on non-Interstate rural roads of any state in the nation, while growing congestion meant North Carolina drivers spent an extra $6.5 billion annually in additional vehicle operating costs, lost time and wasted fuel. To make matters worse, elected leaders had cut and capped transportation revenues on numerous occasions and allowed transfers out of the Highway Fund to pay for non-transportation expenses.
Recognizing the looming transportation crisis, the North Carolina Chamber and our members agreed to focus on the transportation network – and funding it with a stable, reliable, recurring revenue source. In 2012, the NC Chamber Foundation commissioned a study, Diversifying Revenues to Improve Commerce and Economic Prosperity, which ultimately called for the passage of funding and efficiency reforms, like ending revenue transfers from the Highway Fund to the General Fund, and recommended 16 alternative sources of revenue to fund our transportation future. The NC Chamber followed that report up by pushing for long-term, sustainable solutions to the transportation crisis. Our advocacy and the support of our members ultimately encouraged elected leaders to pass Senate Bill 20 and House Bill 97, which included the first true long-term transportation funding reforms secured in North Carolina since 1989.
We’ve come a long way to protect our infrastructure future in North Carolina, but we’ve still got room to grow. There are currently more than ten million people living in North Carolina, and the population is expected to grow to 12 million, making North Carolina the seventh most populated state in the nation. This growth brings many opportunities, but it begs the question: Are we ready? To meet the demands of our fast-growing economy, sufficient physical infrastructure support remains a priority issue for North Carolina. Join the NC Chamber and other industry thought leaders as we discuss how economic growth, safety and quality of life improvements are interconnected and dependent on investments in transportation, water and sewer, energy and broadband. Together, let’s move the infrastructure discussion forward to keep growing good jobs and securing North Carolina’s future.