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Cornelius News

LKN Regional Transportation Commission rear-ended by Commissioner Dave Gilroy

LKN Regional Transportation Commission rear-ended by Commissioner Dave Gilroy

Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy


By Dave Vieser. At the Cornelius Town Board Meeting of April 20, all of the commissioners, including veteran Commissioner Dave Gilroy, unanimously approved a five-year contract renewal between the town and the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission (LNTC). The agreement called for the town to give LNTC $21,000 annually in order to help the commission address, work with, and advocate for transportation matters that impact the four member jurisdictions of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and Mooresville.

Less than six weeks later, some local officials are apparently questioning the wisdom of that decision. “We need LNTC leadership capable of independent thinking,” said Gilroy. “In the past, LNTC has defaulted to echoing NCDOT talking points and has aided and abetted what will be the crime of the century against our community if I-77 tolls go forward.”

When asked why he voted for the resolution in April, Gilroy said “because I’m very hopeful that Woody Washam, as our lead at LNTC, is turning things around there.” Washam is a town commissioner and mayor pro tem.

LNTC was founded in November 2009 and meets monthly at rotating town hall venues, to discuss a wide variety of transportation issues. Each town board assigns one or more members to be on the commission.



“With regard to the I-77 toll lanes, LNTC should have been far more proactive and creative, especially concerning other sources of funding, such as the governor’s recently announced bond package,” said Washam.

Washam, though, is not ready to put the brakes on the LNTC. “The benefits of regional and cooperative transportation planning efforts and benefits that Cornelius and the entire region receive are worth the small amount of funding we provide to the organization,” Washam said.

LNTC’s Executive Director Bill Thunberg defends the commission’s actions. “Since we began six years ago, the commission has participated in many critical highway and transit planning and decision-making processes, while providing answers and education to elected officials. We have also provided opportunities for public involvement and participation that otherwise would not have occurred,” he said.

Thunberg said the commission’s most recent transportation summit in fall of 2014 attracted over 400 attendees from both sides of Lake Norman.



Nevertheless, LNTC sustained a direct shot at the Cornelius Town Board meeting June 1, when Kurt Naas, head of the Widen I-77 anti-toll group — who was seeking town financial support for a lawsuit against the toll lanes — suggested that the town should take the $21,000 dedicated to LNTC and apply it to their legal action instead.

Town officials took his plea under advisement and plan to discuss the request in closed session.

There’s no way of knowing where the unrest about the commission will land, but as the toll lane project gets closer to reality, local officials are clearly getting restless. “I’m not at all interested in the LNTC simply rubber-stamping NCDOT suggestions and recommendations within our region. The four towns and two counties, with the help and cooperation of NCDOT, must all work together to better control and direct our transportation destiny in this critical, fast growing region of the state. It’s a big challenge that cannot fail” Washam said.

On that last point, Thunberg agrees. “As this region starts to see more projects and continued population growth, the role of the LNTC becomes even more important.”