RALEIGH: Tata discusess vehicle miles traveled tax - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

NCDOT's Tata discusess vehicle miles traveled tax

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates that 1.3 million people will move to the Triangle in the next 10 years. And more people mean more cars on the roads and more projects to help ease traffic congestion.

One of those projects is the new "Fortify" project.

"Fortify was something that I, as secretary, did not want to do until we had 540 completed," said DOT Secretary Tony Tata.

"Fortify" is the DOT's project to remove and replace an 11.5 mile stretch of roadway along the south side of the beltline. The hope was that the completed 540 loop would help give people an alternate route for traveling and help avoid some of the delays associated with the Fortify closures.

View: Fortify Map

"The engineers came back to me and said, ‘This is a safety issue' and 540 will not be completed before the three engineer reports came in and said, ‘This road is disintegrating under this pretty asphalt. The concrete is disintegrating'," said Tata.

That's why both the Fortify project and the completion of 540 are at the top of the DOT's to-do list, but they are not the only projects on the list. Tata says one of things that's a big deal is DMV reform, which some drivers are happy to hear about.

"I know the DMV has a really bad reputation of being kind of hell-like for people. And if they were more accommodating for people, people might not dread it as much," said Kelly Hince.

Some drivers say it's about customer service or, more precisely, the lack thereof.

"I think the DMV should change with the times that we're in and be a little more customer service savvy and a little more geared to the people they're serving," said William Monday.

And that's what Tata is hoping for, a more user friendly experience at DMV locations in the state.

"A greeter that comes up and you know, welcomes you and asks you what it is that you need accomplished today and then directs you to the right spot," said Tata.

Tata would also like a more common sense approach for their legislative agenda addressing the license needs of people who move here from another state.

"We would like to be able to accept your credentials and just issue you a license," Tata said. "If you can pass a real quick eye test or whatever, instead of assuming that just because you've moved from another state you've suddenly forgotten how to drive."

And with the possibility of extreme growth in the Triangle, it's hard not to discuss some form of mass transit.

"We think ultimately Raleigh Union Station will be a hub for some type of mass transit, whether it's busses or bus rapid transit or light rail or commuter rail, or any kind combination thereof," said Tata.

But traffic isn't just about vehicles anymore; it's also about fitting the needs of those who walk and bike to places.

With so many different projects in the works, one question remains, "who's footing the bill?"

Tata suggests a vehicle miles traveled, or a VMT tax, could help. A driver would pay a certain amount based on a yearly odometer reading. All the money is distributed according to the new strategic transportation investment law. Under the new law, money will be distributed to the 14 DOT divisions based on need, instead of equal amounts to each division.

Though drivers could see changes, the DOT hopes their plans will keep Triangle roadways moving and keep commuters content.

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