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Cornelius News

New transportation task force will look for finance options

Aug. 11. By Dave Vieser. Just in case anyone needed to be reminded, road improvements and growth are the major topics of concern in Cornelius so far this election year. This certainly was exemplified on Monday July 17. That was the  same night that applicant Drew Thigpen withdrew his rezoning application for a multi-structure Cornelius Business Park on Bailey Road, town commissioners added three more members to the town’s Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) and Mayor Woody Washam formed his own transportation task force.


Prior to the regular July 17 Town Board meeting, the TAB met with the commissioners and unveiled their top-priority projects for the town. In summary, the TAB identified three major corridors, all east-west in nature, within which the most important improvements are needed. The corridors are Bailey Road, Westmoreland Road and West Catawba Avenue.

They urged both the board and the NCDOT to prioritize the various projects planned for those corridors.

Immediately after this, Mayor Woody Washam announced the formation of his new transportation task force.

“The purpose will be to investigate how to more quickly move critical town road projects forward within the town. It’s a follow-up to the good work and recommendations from the already established Transportation Advisory Board,” he said.

The task force includes influential citizens:

• Robert Carney – Former executive director of Mooresville EDC and Cabarrus EDC, IT exec

• Keith Eicher – Former chair of Cornelius Planning Board

• Matt Gallagher – Owner, Blue Heel Developers

• Carroll Gray – Former CEO of Charlotte Chamber

• Mike Griffin – Griffin Brothers Companies

• Joe Hannah – Kimsley Horne (Transportation Engineer)

• Dr. Mike Miltich – retired physician and former Chairman of CRTPO

• Richard Pappas – Financial Executive with FNB

• Lou Raymond – Transportation engineer and chair of the  Transportation Advisory Board

• Greg Wessling – Executive with The Lake Norman Co., former Lowes executive, chair of Cain Center for the Arts

• Commissioner Colin Furcht

• Commissioner Denis Bilodeau

Jim Engel

Another point of view

Bilodeau, who is running against Washam for mayor, said it will be difficult to get all these people together.


“While this task force includes an impressive roster, coordinating 14 busy schedules seems destined to bring delays,” Bilodeau said. “Our town manager and finance director with assistance from the Local Government Commission, consultants familiar with available municipal options could quickly bring these options to a panel of our town’s best financial experts.

Does the town need both boards? Depends with whom you speak. Mayor Washam had met with the TAB several months ago and asked them to develop transportation priorities without considering costs. “I will focus on the funding, you focus on the priorities,” he old the TAB at the time.

“I expect this to be a fast-moving, efficient, and powerful group that will make a quick difference, both politically and technically, in moving the needle forward in this critical challenge,” Washam stated. “I am thankful for the leaders that have stepped forward to serve on this Task Force, and that the other North Mecklenburg Mayors have agreed to support this effort on a regional level. Transportation needs in Cornelius are a top priority for our citizens.”

Bilodeau, however, said one committee is enough: “Rather than add a second transportation committee, let TAB pursue the cost of options and prepare for citizen feedback. The clock is ticking, costs are rising, citizens are looking for action not political delays.”

Meanwhile, efforts have been made to change the weighted voting system at the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization. Members now believe they will need impartial legal advice to determine how changes can be made, so all modifications are on hold.