BY SEN. VICKIE SAWYER

I too get stuck in traffic, shake my head in disgust as I see another rezoning for apartment buildings and worry about where the money will come from to build all the new school
buildings. Since starting my time in the N.C. Senate, I have explored every conceivable option available to help our area control growth and quickly build more roads. Absent a magic wand,
the solutions take a long time. In fact, too much time for this impatient person.

Many folks contact my office and ask questions, especially about traffic. It isn’t always an easy conversation explaining the perfect storm that hit our area a few years ago. The N.C. Department of Transportation overspent its budget by $748 million, causing a work stoppage. The ripple effect of that is being felt today and will be for many years to come. Projects like the Highway 150 widening in Mooresville were put on hold while NCDOT tried to put the pieces back together. COVID-19 caused further delays in the court processing land transfers and inflation has taken a wrecking ball to our economy.

Without understanding the true landscape of the complex structure of road construction, some folks whose intentions are self-promotion will recklessly draw conclusions based on assumptions. Then they report their manufactured opinions veiled as facts. In a look-at-me world, some town criers intentionally mislead others in their selfish journey of getting more likes on their social media feed by creating anger at the expense of the collective good of us all.

Let’s take the issue of a mortarium. If the Town of Mooresville issues a mortarium based on road construction then the town must by law be responsible to fix the traffic issues. Highway 150 is already funded by the NCDOT and set for construction. The town simply doesn’t have the finances for that project. Quick napkin math estimates that the town would have to raise everyone’s taxes at least by 250 to 300 percent to generate the needed funds, which would only result in delaying the project further.

Contrary to what has been reported by others, the Town of Cornelius did not issue a moratorium. Their board passed a resolution saying they will be reviewing their land use plan to better align growth with the needs of their community.

My role as the co-chair for Transportation in the N.C. Senate is quite simple. My responsibility is to set policy for the NCDOT and to direct money for them to complete the projects. As a state
senator, I have no say in when or where the roads are constructed. Road construction is under the responsibility of the governor as outlined by law set forth by the General Assembly in June
of 2013 with House Bill 817. The S.T.I.P. is a 10-year construction plan that was formed to take the politics out of road construction. Many of us long-term North Carolinians remember the
beautiful roads being constructed to the beaches while the Charlotte area was choked by traffic congestion.

Let’s not be all doom and gloom and take a moment to celebrate a few successes. Our area has never had this much attention from Raleigh. We have built a wonderful working relationship
with the NCDOT Board Members and Transportation secretary who all know our focus is on transportation improvement in our area. The NCDOT hosted a town hall that detailed badly
needed road improvement projects and took questions from attendees. The agency has accelerated right-of-way purchase and utility movement to build our roads faster. Stop lights
are being installed at dangerous intersection. In advance of construction, NCDOT will be widening Highway 150 east bound near Morrison Plantation and will be expanding the interchange
at Lake Norman High School in early 2023.

Another huge success for our state was a recently enacted budget provision that was initiated by NC Ten. I formed this bipartisan work group to formulate solutions to help get more funding
to NCDOT to build roads and to modernize the gas tax in a growing electric vehicle world. This group celebrated its first success by the transfer of sales tax to the transportation budget. In
just a few years, at no additional cost to the taxpayer, we will have $628 million more per cycle in the transportation budget. This one provision allowed for NCDOT to rework their S.T.I.P. and reprogram projects that were cut from the schedule, like Exit 38 on I-77 at Cornelius Road in Mooresville.

There is no silver bullet to address the rapid growth of Iredell County, specifically in the southern end. It’s easy to snipe on social media about voting local leaders out based on a misguided and ill-informed understanding of what’s allowed by state statute in North Carolina.

Trust me if the solution was as easy as some would like to believe, I’d have worked to get it done years ago. The biggest complaints that come to my office, and I know come to the offices of our municipal and county leaders, is about traffic. The idea that we simply refuse to implement solutions doesn’t pass the smell test. I have and will continue to work to address the traffic and infrastructure issues that face our community. These issues, while obvious, aren’t simple to solve. Be careful of anyone who tries to sell you otherwise.

Sen. Vickie Sawyer represents the 34th District.

9 thoughts on “Viewpoint: A moratorium on new development will not solve traffic issues in southern Iredell County

  1. Well said, Vickie. I hear misinformation from from uninformed people all the time. Developers do not create demand; they meet demand. Fortunately, we live in a place where many from around the Country want to come and enjoy too. When they come they create demand that has to be met. More rooftops mean more of everything else. Moratoriums and artificial measurements to stop growth will cause disproportionate value increases and make properties less affordable. It’s the old I’ve got what I want, now you can stop building.

    • Totally disagree with you John Kindley. It’s the BUILD AND THEY WILL COME that is taking place in Mooresville.

  2. I thought the moratorium was for unbridled rampant development without addressing infrastructure issues such as transportation. My mistake.

  3. Well, like it or not, the moratorium WILL be a partial solution. Like a leak in the water line, you have to start somewhere to try to make an effort to at least slow the progression of damage. It only takes “common sense” to see & realize all the building on every square inch the developers are doing IS CREATING MORE problems!!

    • Totally agree. You MUST start somewhere in addressing this long overdue uncontrolled residential growth. ALL Town of Mooresville leadership and Iredell County Planning Board members have failed Mooresville residents in controlling new development for at least the past 20 years. Growth is good but it should be in congruence with the immediate next door neighbor. Once that rule was violated 20 years ago, growth became out of control. Time to REFOCUS and make Immediate change for the future.

  4. Sen. Sawyer says: “Be careful of anyone who tries to sell you otherwise” in reference to traffic problems being difficult to solve.

    I say, be careful of any politician who tries to sell you the idea that a moratorium will not improve the problems caused by out of control development. The issue is complicated, but elected officials need to be held accountable for this mess. Claiming a moratorium on development won’t have any impact traffic is way beyond my ability to reason why that would be true.🤔

  5. A moratorium may not solve the traffic issue, but it certainly won’t hurt it. Goodness knows further development without matching infrastructure upgrading will only exacerbate the problem. I’m really tired of the “Let us build now, and we promise we’ll take care of the ensuing traffic-school-etc. problems later” attitude from people in charge who should know better.

  6. I wonder how the law is worded that states the county would be liable for the road construction if said county institutes a moratorium. Any lawyers read up on this statute and can explain?

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