What direction are we headed?
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat
“–so long as I get somewhere” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
I’m sure many of us feel like Alice. Stuck in the congestion of I-77, if we wait long enough, we’ll get to our destination. The promise of express lanes to expedite our travel seemed like a solution months ago given the option of HOT lanes or no widening of I-77 at all. The leaders of the chamber of commerce felt the former option was the only option.
There are times looking back on this issue, I feel like our elected leaders…and yes…the business leaders too, including me, struggled with the right road to our funding. How do you get “there” when you don’t know where “there” is?
As I write this, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has joined other business and citizen voices in calling for the cancellation of the contract between NCDOT and I-77 Mobility Partners. It is an action on our part brought about by the groundswell of residents, small business owners and chamber of commerce members who saw the direction we were headed and said that is not the direction we need to go.
The Lake Norman area is unique. The Interstate which runs through the heart of our lake communities, yet is the common bond uniting our region, makes us different than other cities and towns in North Carolina. I-77 is a local road. It is how we get from one community to the next. We may live in Huntersville, work in Cornelius, go to church in Davidson, and shop in Mooresville – but for many of us, we use I-77 to get there.
Tolling and Public – Private Partnerships may well be the means to fund road improvement projects in other areas of the state. That said, it’s not the best option for Lake Norman.
It doesn’t take a Cheshire Cat to figure out that not any old road will do. The path we were headed down was the wrong road. It was bad for the citizens living here. It was bad for business. More importantly, it was bad for the legacy we leave to our children – those who will inherit the results of our decisions today.
I sincerely hope we change the direction of this dialogue, and more importantly take a different direction in our actions. I’m not sure if we will be successful or not. I simply know now, and I think I’ve always known, we have to try. We have a responsibility to the next generation of Lake Norman citizens and we dare not fail in our task.
W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE IOM