By Dave Vieser . As per usual, the Lake Norman Transportation Commission will be skipping its July meeting, but when members reconvene in August, it may also have a whole new look and some new members. Meetings have been ongoing for the past several months to form a new LNTC with some different members, after both Cornelius and Huntersville pulled out, taking their funding with them.
The draft memorandum of understanding which has been circulating would have a clear Iredell County flavor including original members Davidson and Mooresville, plus Troutman, Statesville and Iredell County.
Unlike the previous LNTC, which received $20,000 from each of the four town members, the new commission would receive different amounts of money from the various members. Cornelius and Huntersville have bailed out.
Regional coordination around transportation issues is “90 percent town managers, assistant managers and board members” simply doing their job rather than setting up separate organizations, explained Cornelius Town Commissioner Dave Gilroy.
“The original LNTC had an important mission to support regional transportation, especially as it pertained to the I 77 toll lanes, but they failed so miserably when it counted most,” he said. The LNTC was largely silent during the toll lane debacle, despite local boards and commissions voting to cancel the toll contract. The LNTC also tried to bring the Red Line commuter rail to Lake Norman, but failed to check in with Norfolk Southern around using their tracks.
“The original LNTC had an important mission to support regional transportation, especially as it pertained to the I 77 toll lanes, but they failed so miserably when it counted most”
– Dave Gilroy, Cornelius Town Commissioner
Cornelius Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam said Cornelius and Huntersville plan to establish a transportation collaborative between the towns—and “hopefully” Davidson—to discuss priorities that can benefit North Mecklenburg.
Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla said their intent has always been to continue working with their neighbors on regional transportation issues. “We feel this can be accomplished without an additional paid staff person by elected officials and respective transportation staff personnel meeting regularly most likely prior to CRTPO monthly meetings. Whether or not this is a formalized group or just an ad hoc monthly meeting has yet to be determined,” Aneralla said.
It appears the recast LNTC will hold open monthly meetings.
Statesville spokeswoman Nancy Davis said the county seat will chip in $10,000 to help fund the LNTC each year. Mooresville Town Manager N. Erskine Smith said Race City will join in with Davidson, Iredell County, Troutman and Statesville as well. “These entities haven’t adopted a new MOU yet, nor have they determined the financial contribution of each party,” he said.
Regional transportation planning is important. Governing bodies that join in have more clout than those that go it alone, especially when there’s a transportation element in the room like Charlotte, which dominates Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning meetings.
All of this is music to the ears of LNTC Executive Director Bill Thunberg. “I continue to believe that the LNTC is a valuable regional collaboration model. I hope Huntersville and Cornelius become involved with it later on. That kind of collaboration is so important and something we should all be doing,” said Thunberg, a former mayor of Mooresville.