I-26 Questions Remain


From the AC-T today:

Construction of a new I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange on the southwestern side of the city would begin in fiscal year 2021 and run through FY 2024, according to the proposed long-range plan released by the state Department of Transportation earlier this month.

Work on a new crossing of the French Broad River would start in FY 2024 and continue beyond FY 2025.

The plan shows no funding over the next 11 years for the third component of the I-26 Connector, a proposed widening of Interstate 240 through West Asheville.

Heads up, Asheville City Council. Don’t fall for this:

A project’s benefit/cost can be improved if funding is provided during the project submission phase through local entity contributions or tolling approved by the local planning organization. In addition, a bonus allocation of up to 50% will be returned to the contributing area for a subsequent project scored through STI.

Rep. Nathan Ramsey was out promoting a local sales tax earlier this year:

“State Rep. Nathan Ramsey, R-Farview, interjected, “On the local component, the community has the possibility to put local dollars into these projects. . . . For instance, Buncombe County has the authority to enact sales tax to raise the score. What we’re told from Raleigh is this will score pretty well, but we won’t know ‘til the scores are released.”

Just so’s you know.


  1. Yeah, a sucker game they’ve set up.

  2. Not coincidentally, Rep. Nathan Ramsey co-sponsored the very bill that enabled all this:

    “The Department may revise highway project selection ratings based on local government funding initiatives and capital construction funding directly attributable to highway toll revenue.”

    Get it? Agree to tax your local constituents, OR agree to make them pay tolls for 50 years to some foreign conglomerate. OR watch your desperately-needed interstate infrastructure go unbuilt while the City up the road gets theirs. Which City will blink first in the new Screw-Your-Neighbor era of highway construction?

    And the real beauty of it is that the GOP-controlled government in Raleigh gets to crow about cutting taxes, while forcing the mostly-Democratic-controlled cities to contemplate either raising taxes, or face criticism that they didn’t do what it takes to get their infrastructure built. Genius.

    I’m so glad Nathan and Pat McCrory acted to “take the politics out” of these decisions…

  3. In case you think I’m pulling that out of thin air, I think it’s happening already:

    “Critics such as Mac Swicegood, though, say the city’s energies would be much better spent on things such as updating a transportation infrastructure that can make or break Western North Carolina’s economic future.

    “We’ve got more important things to do in spending taxpayer dollars,” said Swicegood, a local real estate appraiser.”

    That’s Nathan Ramsey ally and CIBO member Mac Swicegood from an AC-T article by Joel Burgess about the City of Asheville’s sustainability program. Despite the fact that further down the story, it becomes clear that the program is saving taxpayer money, they gave Mr. Swicegood ink to suggest the opposite:

    “Regardless, Swicegood said, the money and energy would be better spent on projects such as rerouting and widening the tangle of interstates around Asheville. Efficient roads will be crucial to bringing new businesses and jobs to the area, he said.

    “You need to get on board deciding whether you want to spend $4.8 million trying to get the light bill under control in City Hall — or $4.8 million to help people get good paying jobs to help pay the bills and pay taxes.”

    At first, I had to wonder at this apparent non-sequitor. Local tax dollars would be better spent on paying for the I-26 interstate connector than on energy efficiency that saves taxpayers millions over the years? Paying for interstate highways are a State and Federal responsibility. When I realized who Mr. Swicegood was, and looked more into the “local entity contribution” aspect of Nathan Ramsey’s legislation, however, it makes perfect sense.

    Listen for more of this over the coming months and years: “The City of Asheville is once again failing us by by not sending taxpayer funds to Raleigh to help bring the I-26 connector project home.”