Mayors request infrastructure project money

The N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition has submitted its request for money from the federal and state governments for infrastructure projects. I’ve mapped the requests made for the town of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. No requests were made by Hillsborough.

See the raw Chapel Hill data here. See the full spreadsheet of requests here.

View Larger Map

Also posted on my blog at


Total votes: 237


Thank you so much for putting this information together, Andrew!

I'm struck by the very different approaches taken to making this list by Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Chapel Hill has a very comprehensive list, and Carrboro went minimalist. It's too bad Carrboro didn't ask for library money as well as support for joint efforts like transit. What I wish both towns had asked for was improved pedestrian signalling systems.

We were asked to submit projects that are "shovel ready" - ie that can break ground in 120 days, so some of the things you mention would not qualify (eg library).Incidentally, I imagine Hillsborough is pursuing economic stimulus funds somehow, but they are not part of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition.

I'm unfamiliar with the customary procedure here, but are there indications of priorities in the submission?  The range of cost is wide, as is the range of possible priorities in the estimation of community and governement.  In addition, with specific reference to requests relating to the bus system: if there's a request to increase the number of buses on the MLK route, why isn't there some provision for the abysmal provision of sheltered stops fed by sidewalks and marked crosswalks?  Is this a function of the 120-day limitation?

Thank you. Do you know if the counties can play in any reindeer games?

My definition of Infrastructure has always implied very basic systems in place: power, water & sewer, Internet access and phone service.  So I'm surprised to see such wish-list items as a library for Carrboro and sheltered bus stops for Chapel Hill mentioned here.  Quality-of-life provisions don't qualify as infrastructural necessities in my book.  Let's wait for some other wallet to open.    

There are 38,000 households in the Triangle that do not have an automobile, mostly because they cannot afford one.  I meet many of these people on the bus.  I can tell you from numerous firsthand conversations and my own experiences that sheltered bus stops feel rather basic on rainy days in January as you wait for the bus on the way to and from work.    

Not entirely sure why a skateboard park or batting cages are more a matter of infrastructure than providing passengers with safe access (e.g., sidewalks and crossings)  to the increased number of buses. 

I'd be greatly embarrassed if federal or state funds were used for most of these projects.

NC has traditionally been on the losing end of federal government support.  We tend to pay more in federal taxes than we get back from the federal government.  Now, of course, I'd prefer to see federal support increased for social programs that have been cut over the Bush years but if there is going to be money specifically dedicated to public works programs that can provide a local economic stimulus I'd like to see NC get, at the very least, it's fair (proportional) share so that we can dedicate our own state and local resources to some of those pressing social needs.

"And Why is That?"Because it's completely embarrassing that someone in South Dakota or Wilson would be forced to pay for our "infrastructure", regardless of whether or not we've been on the losing end of that bargain in the past. This is silly Keynesian pork

Some of this stuff represents "want" not "need".

  • The economic crisis is national, if not global
  • The revenue source is undeniably national
  • The exercise at hand is "to show cities' ability to deploy the stimulus money
    quickly on important local infrastructure projects," per the Rocky Mount
  • The labor pool and business opportunities are national.  Nobody is excluding Orange County businesses from Alamance projects.

Compared to other municipalities (which used complete sentences), Carrboro's list is both short and terse:

$   407,000.00 Sidewalks$ 3,000,000.00 Firesubstation$    45,000.00 Adams Tract Pedestrian Bridge

Fayetteville, for example, proposed a longer and more verbose list including a photovoltaic installation and hybrid vehicles for the fire, transit, sanitation and public safety departments. I don't know if our brevity is to be attributed to succinctness, jadedness (the state is going to commandeer the money for highway projects anyway), or a strategy that we may finally get those sidewalks if our list is brief, humble and to the point.

Is this the federal economic incentive proposed by the Obama administration? If so, isn't the purpose jobs creation? It's not clear to me that any of these projects will create many new jobs in Orange County.

I think the jobs are supposed to come from the construction of these projects. The main example I hear nationally of projects that are supposed to stimulate the economy is roads, I think these local proposals are much better than just laying asphalt for the sake of hiring someone.

Based on my experience in Facilities Services at UNC, the trades/construction workers that I know come from Alamance, Chatham, Durham, even Person counties. Very few live in Orange (where I assume they can't afford to live). So would construction projects in Orange County stimulate the Orange County economy by creating jobs for residents of other counties?

1. Lots of people in Orange County do work in construction and similar "blue collar" jobs, although they are probably disproportionately living in the county.2. I have a feeling that most of the surrounding counties need the jobs even more than we do, and I'm happy to support employment for our neighbors, which helps our economy both directly and indirectly. Plus we still get the benefit of the infrastructure.

Thr last OC State of the Local Economy report identified that in 2007, we had some 2,300 construction workers.  Additionally, we have few firms that would get tier 1 construction contracts and many would be hard pressed to get the sub jobss.  Thus, most of those working of the projects would be from elsewhere, and maily out of state.I think that the County and municipalities would benefit from having projects completed but not see very much of the money going to local businesses or residents.  When you move through the campus, just look at the signs identifying those with the construction contracts.

That's what I thought Fred. Can the towns stipulate that a certain percentage of workers/managers have to come from the local community?Short-term employment like this just doesn't seem like viable economic development to me. But I certainly understand wanting to give people jobs, no matter where they live or how long the employment lasts.

1) It is a national economic stimulus that Obama is trying to create, so exactly where the jobs are created is not the primary consideration for him, I assume.2) The federal constitution prohibits governments from discriminating among contract bidders based on where in the US the business is based - eg you cannot have a "North-Carolina-contractors-only" clause.  That rule would also prohibit requiring local employees for the same reason.  Someone who is more of an expert in Constitutional Law could explain this better than I. 

Earlier, the intent seemed to be creating green jobs.The U.S. Conference of Mayors' report, MainStreet Economic Recovery, lists an estimated number of jobs that each project would generate for some, but not all of the projects.  Unfortunately, while that report includes Charlotte, Durham and Fayetteville, it does not include Chapel Hill and Carrboro.Durham's Minor League Museum ($20M), which drew the attention from CNN's pork hunters, is listed as "100" jobs. That project is not listed in the reference cited in the original post of thisthread.

Okay, I take back what I said about sheltered bus stops.  Anything that encourages ridership is worth funding.  I do stand by my general observation, however; infrastructure is bare essentials, not merely nice to have.  Most members of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition can tell you which housing development threatens to break the camel's back from an infrastructural standpoint.   And isn't it cool that Carrboro has a Metropolitan Mayor?  

The Wikipedia article presents an interesting discussion on the changing definition of infrastructure. The bare essentials would be critical infracture.

I think it is very cool that Carrboro recognizes the value of working with the Metro Coalition, despite it's relatively small population.   I hope more of our smaller communities throughout the state will recognize the value of working with their larger neighbors/regional partners in the same fashion  Carrboro has.   

.....however the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition is a part of the NC League of Municipalities. It is that League of Municipalities that helps keep North Carolina in the dark ages with regard to forced annexation and eminent domain.

however the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition is a part of the NC League of Municipalities. It is that League of Municipalities that helps keep North Carolina in the dark ages with regard to forced annexation and eminent domain.

Wait, doesn't the US Government that would be appropriating the funds fight illegal wars? Don't take their money. 

....I don't want them taking my money.

I'm not sure what you mean about being in the dark ages with respect to eminent domain.  As for involuntary annexation, I think the progressive community is deeply divided on the question.  You are right that the NCLM has some very reactionary positions, but they mostly have to do with employee rights and tort reform.

......participation in the "friend of the court" brief on the Kelo decision based on their attorney Ellis Hankins says it well. Eminent domain in the name of economic development is flat out contrary to the values and principles this county was founded on and harkens back to feudal states.Not only that. It is a well known fact that North Carolina’s constitution has the weakest property rights protections in the country. It is the only state in the country that does not have an express constitutional provision that limits the taking of private property for a public use with just compensation.In 1996 the NC legislatures bill [H1965] to institute this provision to limit the taking of private property for a public use was defeated due to the lobbying efforts of the NCLM.This is the reason North Carolina is in the dark ages with respect to eminent doman.

I guess.  But eminent domain is a valid and beneficial doctrine for lots of purposes.  The fact that it has been used unwisely by some governments somewhere in America doesn't really discredit the idea generally.  I agree it is not generally appropriate to use eminent domain the way it was used in Kelo.The lack of a "just compensation" clause in the NC Constitution is a red-herring.  The US Constitution requires it and NC governments are governed by the US Constitution.  In any case, NCLM is organized to protect the powers of local government, so we can't be surprised to see them do their job - even if we sometimes sharply disagree with their position (eg. regarding contributory negligence, the rights of public employees etc.)Also, note that while the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition is closely affiliated with NCLM, it is NOT a part of the NCLM as a post above suggested.  MMC is housed at the NCLM at present but they are separate organizations and could disentangle themselves in the future - although I don't actually foresee that happening.

49 out of 50 states see the need and NC is the lone state that sees that it is not needed. Emenent domain language is not in the 49 other state constitutions for window dressing and is often times more narrowly focused and specific than the 14th amendment. Having it a state law also allows people to challenge condemnations at the state level without going to federal court. This argument should not be dismissed as a red herring.How can the NCLM say that they are organized to protect (protection from whom?) local government and conveniently forget that local government is supposed to represent and protect the people's interests? Talk about a narrow special interest in sheep's clothing. It would be very hard to disengage since many members serve in both organizations. I don't see any cross purposes that would cause the disengagement anyway. I just think they are dead wrong about eminent domain (and probably other things) and were very wrong to lobby against the people for the defeat of NC1925. NC1925 passed the house unanimously and was greatly watered down. IMO the NCLM charter needs a good examination and possible scrubbing.

"allows people to challenge condemnations at the state level "  NC has lots of state statutes about condemnation and you can challlenge a condemnation in state court in a couple of different ways.  All I am saying is that ultimately your property rights are protected by the US Constitution, even if NC adopted some really bad laws on condemnation.A lot of people in NC government view economic development as paramount.  Hence the NCLM brief in the Kelo case.  I agree with you about Kelo, but NCLM's position probably does actually reflect the feelings of most local elected officials in NC (sad to say).  Likewise NCLM's other problematic positions as mentioned above.

....that the word "but" was an acronym for "Behold the Underlying Truth". It is intended to contradict the words used just before.Property rights are not protected by the US Constitution and SCOTUS Kelo decision proved that as a fact. Let me draw the picture for you again; in the recent example of the airport authority, eminent domain and the archaic laws in the state of North Carolina are a significant part of what feeds the underlying outrage and suspicion. You know by General Statute that as a "municipality" it was possible that the airport authority has annexation powers as well as condemnation? The way I read GS 160A (again, I am not a lawyer) is that the airport authority, as a municipality would have had the power to annex land even across the Orange County line in other counties, *but* there is the statement of the bill that the airport must be located in Orange County that (I think) undermines this provision of GS 160A. My point here is that even with the good intentions of some legislators writing Byzantine and seemingly ambiguous provisions around general statutes makes it harder for average people to have a basic understanding of the laws being written and how they might be affected. In turn, this impedes trust their elected representatives. So, in addition to being archaic, roundly criticized and outside of the laws adopted by every other state, they run counter to the peoples interests by making the law more complex and less understandable.The parallel abuses of annexation and condemnation in North Carolina are legendary (just a simple google search) These abuses are supported whole heartedly by the NCLM which serves the municipalities who in turn, are supposed to be serving the people, not themselves and developers.Bottom line; I would not be proud of an association with the NCLM in any way-shape-or-form.

I am certain that EVERY state in the USA would approve of the legality of taking property by eminent domain for the purpose of establishing airports.  That said, some states would probably go about it differently from North Carolina.  The NCGA has set up an airport authority in OC that will have emminent domain authority without any oversight from local elected officials.  I am sure we both agree: That is a bad idea in several ways.  But I would bet that lots of states do just the same thing.  In fact, I suppose that most major airports in America were built in pretty much the same manner (except usually with more local government input).Incidentally, that has nothing at all to do with Kelo.  In Kelo, eminent domain was used to take land for the construction of a private real estate development - totally inappropriate in my mind, but very different from the proposal to use eminent domain for building a government owned and operated transportation project.  I don't support this particular transportation project and I don't support the lack of oversight from elected officials.  But ultimately I think eminent domain can appropriately be used for government transportation projects - indeed I think that is why and how eminent domain was first invented.  And in fact, I don't think you would be able to drive your car to work without that self-same historical use of eminent domain.

 ....beating a dead horse, the argument is being made that the airport is "economic development" by Bill Faison and by Brad Broadwell. Local businesses owners partially paid for a "working paper" funded primarily by the UNC board of trustees. I assert that these facts puts the airport squarely in the realm of economic development and therefore has everything to do with the Kelo decision.Your suggestion that I oppose eminent domain categorically is not true. I do not object to road widening, schools. public transportation or the like. I object to it for so called "economic development" and that is one place where NCLM and I disagree. Another is the inclusion of just compensation in the state law.That is what I said in the beginning, maintained all along and I maintain that position now. 

A municipal airport is a governmental function and in all states would be a permissible use of eminent domain. Mark Chilton is 100% correct on that. The Kelo case has absolutely nothing to do with airports.  The fact that the airport is being pitched as economic development is no different than building a highway or a water line or a sewer line for economic development. 

Tony, you and I are probably the only ones following this discussion at this point, but I appreciate you sticking with it.  We are getting to the bottom of it.UNC et al. may consider the proposed airport a benefit to economic development, but it is pretty different from the Kelo case - in Kelo they were building a privately owned hotel, as I recall.  Anyway, I think we agree on bottom: Eminent domain is a power that should be used extraordinarily sparingly and only when other reasonable solutions do not exist.  The proposed Orange County airport is not such a situation.

Mainly because I am trying hard to understand TBlake's thinking and how it will later translate in dealing with the actions to come in re. the airport authority, their decisions and site selection.  Of course, I'm still puzzled by his response to my saying that HWA is a revenue generating activity of the UNC at Chapel Hill because it sells fuel, hanger space and tie-downs.  Of course, generating revenue does not mean that one generates more revenues than the expenses.

......don't be intentionally thick, it doesn't become you. You know I was referring to HWA as a line item on the larger UNC budget and that it was a money losing operation. You are just upset because I called you pedantic. Get over it.WRT my thinking, don't hurt your pedantic, one track mind trying to understand. It does not translate. It was not intended to. If you bother to read, the example was of the confusion the arcaic state of the emenent domain and annexation laws in North Carolina cause.

read what you wrote and wrote. I think your words were clear. Glad you now get it. example Fred. Responding to other posts with questions, trying to increase my understanding and I admit, I enjoy the discourse. You, OTOH seem to enjoy sniping without adding anything to the conversation. I think you are smarter than that, but I could be wrong :)If you are "following" then you understand the context. Unfortunately your posts are displaying the fact that you are not "following".

use the right terminology.  A budget is a plan; it does not show profit and loss.  You wrote in that other thread, "Nope, the airport is NOT a revenue generating operation."  (Submitted by TBlake on Sat, 11/22/2008 - 3:41pm.) That's just factually wrong.  It generates revenues but not enough to cover total expenses.  But even when also Terri pointed it out to you how the state lays out budget categories, you next replied: OK FredSubmitted by TBlake on Sat, 11/22/2008 - 3:48pm. If you insist. It generated negative revenue.That indicated to me that you still didn't get it.  If I add nothing to the conversation, exercise your right to ignore what I post, but don't keep trying to pass, as you have done time after time, false information as fact.

Again, I was speaking of IGX in the context of a line item on the larger UNC budget. My point was that IGX was not a money making operation. I think even you understood that point and if you insist on fixating on the minutia in your pedantic little world, then OK you are right. Does that make you feel better? Merry Christmas.BTW, you were a bully in school weren’t you?


But it's very clear that you still do not get it or understanding the term "revenue generating activity," so I will leave you to believe what you will.  Attack me all you want; I take it just for what it is - words without meaning.


You changed the subject Fred. It is all about you isn't it?

I have never looked at the HW operational budget, but I know the facilities are classified as receipt-supported, aka revenue generating, which as Fred says is not the same as profit making. It does mean they have to pursue activities that generate sufficient revenues to pay their operational costs as opposed to other buildings/functions that receive state allocations. As with all things, there are exceptions. The state/university does pay a portioin of the operational fees on some receipt-supported facilities, like the Dean Dome, because they serve some educational or research purposes. Since a portion of the activities at HW comes from AHEC or a state-service, I suspect they are one of those exceptions. But the majority of their funds, for utilities, maintenance, and other operational costs, must come from non-state sources.

The manager of the Horace Williams Airport reports to Ms. Carolyn W. Elfland, Assoc Vice Chancellor for Campus Services.  Campus Services also includes Carolina Copy, Carolina Dining Services, Carolina Inn, Energy Services, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities Services, Trademark Licensing, Public Safety, Printing Services, Student Services, and UNC One Card.The ones that are revenue generating are designated as such because their management is tasked with the goal of doing just that – bring in the dollars.  When I first got involved with HWA, I didn’t understand why they were in with this set of activities, and then it became clearer.  In addition to AHEC Air Operations, the Flying Club was based there and they and other users bought fuel.  Plane owners also leased hanger space and tie downs.  As there were no maintenance facilities, the opportunities for generating other revenue were limited.  Then Chancellor Moeser terminated the relationship with the Flying Club and there was even less revenue coming in.  As their fuel prices became higher than other airports in the area, that aspect of the operation showed even less revenue.  Since some other aspect of UNC’s budget has to cover the expenses for HWA that the current revenues don’t, it should be pretty clear why UNC might think having a well-used Orange County General Aviation facility (and people willing to pay to use it) offers more possibilities for this happening than having AHEC at RDU.  So ask: where can you generate the needed revenue?  And that’s why it's not minutia; it matters.

reports to Ms. Carolyn W. Elfland,

I remember when every holiday season someone added an "L" to the Efland I-85 exit season to make it Elfland, like you could get off and see Santa's workshop.  It's Carolyn Efland.

But I think it's a great idea for the town to change it's name to Elfland for the holiday season.

my bad in assuming it was Carolyn Efland, but people really did paint over the Efland exit sign to Elfland each holiday season.



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