The NC Department of Transportation is in the midst of a financial crisis with news changing almost daily. The news was first reported publicly on August 13th, although our office had been hearing reports from DOT insiders in the days leading up to the breaking story.
To date, the financial meltdown has forced the NCDOT to lay off hundreds of workers and delay more than half of the pending roadway projects across the state. Reports differ but at present, it appears that the department has laid off or reduced their contractor workforce by 500-900 people, and with an additional 1,000+ more possible in the coming weeks.
In addition, on August 30, 2019, R. W. Lewis, the Chief Operating Officer of the DOT issued a mandate to Tim Little, Chief Engineer for the DOT to temporarily suspend “preliminary engineering” on approximately 900 projects. This represents more than half of the 1,700 pending projects across the State of North Carolina.
The DOT is currently attributing the financial crisis to unexpected recovery efforts from Hurricane Florence and Michael, rockslides, snowstorms isolated flash floods and settlement expenses related to the Map Act litigation, which our firm has been engaged in for more than 5 years now. We are somewhat skeptical of these reasons, however, and instead believe that much of this crisis has occurred due to the decentralization of engineering work at the DOT that has occurred in recent years. It is our hope that this current crisis will be a lesson learned and that the DOT and the NC Legislature develop a better process for managing project engineering and expenditures in a fiscally responsible manner.
The NC Board of Transportation met on September 5, 2019 and has released the final version of the 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), which reflects the delays and suspensions of projects across the state. At 848 pages, the document is a bit unwieldy, but it is searchable by project number, name, county or other text information. If you have specific questions about a project that affects property owned by you, give our office a call, and we will be happy to explain the NC STIP information to you.
The eminent domain lawyers of Henson Fuerst represent property owners across the State of North Carolina in land condemnation matters. For more information, visit our website at www.nclandlawyer.com or call us at (919) 781-1107.