by Brian Balfour
Senior Vice President of Research, John Locke Foundation
The bad news for North Carolina’s Department of Transportation (NCDOT) continues.
A May 2020 audit found that NCDOT overspent by $742 million in the fiscal year ending June 30 ,2019 because of poor budgeting and oversight.
More recently, a follow-up audit released earlier this month concluded that NCCOT “is still at risk for exceeding its Spending Plan in future periods because it has not implemented the Office of the State Auditor’s (OSA) recommendations.”
Now news comes out that NCDOT has planned projects that will have cost overruns of $7 billion from 2024 to 2033.
“The project cost increases revealed over the last few months stem from a routine re-estimation that came during a global pandemic that upset supply chains, raising material costs, and roiled labor markets, raising those costs as well. Real estate prices in North Carolina are going up, too, boosting the costs DOT expects to pay in the coming years to buy property to build or widen roads,” according to WRAL.
NCDOT officials point to a “revenue problem.” A commission issued a report in January that included several revenue changes, including tax hikes, more toll roads, and a pilot program charging drivers by the mile.
The commission’s report included some worthy recommendations but fell far short of a thorough analysis of NCDOT’s problems.
Toward that end, in May of this year the Locke Foundation released a report aimed at reviewing and reforming the priorities of NCDOT.
The report, authored by long-time transportation expert Randal O’Toole, not only addresses better revenue alternatives, but also how to more efficiently allocate those funds as well as opportunities to improve traffic congestion and safety. The report should serve as a valuable resource for legislators and NCDOT officials searching for answers.