OPINION. Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation introduced California and the United States to his concept of managed lanes as a way to address congestion in urban centers like Los Angeles. The links (after signature block) to LA Times articles from 2013 and 2015 offer an update on how that is progressing. If you read the articles, you will see the lanes going from underutilization to overutilization. Sounds good right – they work! These are publically owned lanes to manage congestion and optimize thru-put in a city of over 12 million people. The LA leaders are desperate. LA is out of capacity to widen with any lanes and must resort to managed lanes to offer a very expensive path thru the LA congestion for non-HOV vehicles. The managed lanes work because there are no other options and people are willing to pay over a $1.50 a mile to avoid the pain!
Charlotte is not LA nor will we be in this century. But we are needlessly promoting LA type congestion with the introduction of the least efficient and most expensive privatized managed lane concept along a critical Charlotte transportation corridor. If you have taken the time to understand the competing interests of the private toll operator and the public environment within which they operate, you will see the dysfunctional relationship the current plan creates and how the Charlotte P3 HOT lane plan will make congestion worse along the corridor. They will make us like LA if we continue with this plan.
Unlike LA, we have capacity to widen Charlotte’s main north/south corridor (I77) with general purpose lanes and plan for the future using managed lanes for HOV and bus rapid transit. This additional capacity and flexibility will be important to the I77 corridor between Mooresville and the SC line. It will be important to the future economy of the Charlotte region to find an alternative to the privatized toll lanes on I77.
Lake Norman businesses and governments now understand the negative impact of the privatized toll lanes and are overwhelmingly opposed to them. Next week, business and property owners will be in Raleigh to lobby legislators to stop the I77 toll project and promote an alternative solution. They are not there to be difficult. They are there to prevent a terrible blunder from being imposed on Lake Norman and Charlotte.
Why didn’t Lake Norman do it sooner? Leadership guided by a faulty dilemma? I continue to believe people like Mr. Curran, Sen. Tillis, Sec. Tata, Gov. McCrory, Vi Lyles, Sarah McAuley, and a host of others have bought into Mr. Poole’s LA concept and are applying it inappropriately to Charlotte and now do not feel they can back out of this 50 year experiment. It is irresponsible not to back out of a bad decision that will so adversely impact our region.
Help support the Lake Norman effort to find another solution. It is not just about Lake Norman – it is about Charlotte’s future.
Winegardner is a member of the WidenI-77.org anti-toll organization