Highway to hell?

By: - December 13, 2007 12:02 pm

 Not that anyone expected a mere legislative study committee – even one with such a grand title as the "21st Century Transportation Committee" – to solve all of North Carolina's problems, but yesterday's meeting of the much ballyhooed group confirmed that it is still all about business as usual, i.e., roads, roads and more roads.

This was the third meeting of the study group and, once again, any discussion of alternatives like mass transit, light rail or improved development planning was either incidental or accidental.

This was particularly disappointing in light of this statement made by the committee's chair, Blue Cross Blue Shield honcho Brad Wilson, on Chris Fitzsimon's "News and Views" radio program:

I can assure you and your listeners that we are going to pay as much attention to issues of mass transit, light rail, walkable communities, land use planning, as we are quote highways. They're all important.     

Okay so maybe no one expects the entirety of the next three committee meetings to be devoted to real Twenty-first Century ideas as Wilson's promise implies, but it does seem that the group could've found a better "big ideas" person to hear from than the guy from the Florida Turnpike Authority who spoke yesterday.

According to the guy's presentation, the transportation future will be mostly a world of solo, ground-based, George Jetson-like 100 m.p.h. auto commuters negotiating an endless web of toll highways 24 hours a day (a web in which fees would be collected constantly via transponders in each vehicle). He even referred to automobiles as "road consumers."

Of course, there could be some hint of inspiration in this madness. If we don't get a handle (and soon) on our rapidly expanding degradation of the planet, many of us may need flying cars to stay dry.

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Rob Schofield
Rob Schofield

NC Newsline Editor Rob Schofield oversees day-to-day newsroom operations, authors and voices regular commentaries, and hosts the 'News & Views' weekly radio show/podcast.