The good news is that North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) construction projects that are underway are scheduled be completed.
The bad news is that many NCDOT projects planned for the area will be delayed.
That was the information presented to the Greensboro Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (GUAMPO) at its monthly meeting Wednesday, May 13. The GUAMPO board approved delaying the planned construction projects.
The good news means that projects like the completion of the urban loop around Greensboro should not be delayed by the current and projected future NCDOT funding problems.
Before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, NCDOT was already facing tough budget issues. A recent report from the North Carolina auditor said that the NCDOT had overspent its budget by $742 million. The North Carolina legislature in 2019 voted to allocate an additional $220 million to the NCDOT.
But that was before Gov. Roy Cooper closed the state down in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The NCDOT is largely funded by a gas tax, and with people not commuting to work or school, not going to bars or restaurants or on trips or vacations, the streets and roads of the state have been fairly empty, which means gas sales and gas sales tax collections are way down.
From March 30 to May 8, just about the only place you could legally travel was to the grocery store, and even if people drove all over town looking for a store with toilet paper, it didn’t come close to making up for all the travel that normal lives used to entail.
The legislature agreed to allocate $300 million in federal CARES Act money to NCDOT, but there was some question if that would be an allowable expenditure.
The projects that were scheduled to start this year and put on hold until 2022 include the Air Harbor Road and Lake Brandt Road intersection, the Lowdermilk Street Sykes Avenue and Pine Street intersection and one project at the Piedmont Triad International Airport, while another airport project was delayed to 2024.
A number of other projects scheduled to start from 2021 to 2026 were also delayed by two years or more.