That there will be an economic impact of the Garden Parkway and Monroe Connector is not debatable. We can debate exactly how many jobs might be created. We can debate where those jobs might land. We can debate whether there might be environmental impacts.The fact that road and transportation infrastructure spurs economic development is evident throughout history. You donít need an economic study to tell you that transportation infrastructure projects are critical pieces of economic stimulus.
Consider the communities that rejected rail 100 years ago. They suffer to attract jobs and investment more than those communities that embraced rail. Similarly, those communities located on or near interstate highways are able to attract companies more readily. The common denominator is access to transportation. Businesses need that access to deliver their products to their customers.
History could repeat itself for Gaston County if we donít embrace this opportunity for greater connectivity. There is no connection between Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties from Wilkinson Boulevard to the Buster Boyd Bridge. Thatís 10 miles of river that serve as a barrier to commerce.
Ground was broken just last week on property at Charlotte Douglas International Airport to begin construction of a rail yard for Norfolk Southern.
Businesses will ship goods by air, rail and road to the airport and them ship them back out again by one of those modes. Another connection between Gaston and Mecklenburg County will create additional avenues for moving products in and out of the region.
We ask you to contemplate the growth patterns of our region. Mecklenburg County and all contiguous counties, except for Gaston, are experiencing growth. We contend the limited growth in Gaston County is primarily due to the limited transportation connections between Mecklenburg and Gaston County.
That growth is evident in Union County and the Monroe Connector is a critical component of infrastructure to affect the movement of goods through that part of our region. We certainly must weigh environmental impacts of transportation projects. However, the impact must be related to the economic benefit of the project.
There are people in our region opposed to toll roads. With dwindling revenue from the gas tax, the primary source of transportation funding, we must find other ways to fund projects. There are people in our region opposed to this particular toll road. With the sluggish growth in Gaston County, even before the recession, as compared with other counties in our region, we must increase connectivity to encourage opportunity in Gaston County.
We support the Garden Parkway and the Monroe Connector and encourage the completion of both projects.
Frank Emory, Chairman
Bob Morgan, President