The 2016 Transportation Infrastructure Summit took place Friday, March 4, at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge. This year's theme, "Today, Tomorrow, Together," convened hundreds of business and public sector leaders who addressed the path forward for Charlotte’s transportation future.
Transportation and infrastructure is crucial to the Charlotte region’s economy. Charlotte began as a village at the crossroads of two trading paths. And a strategic location has continued to help the economy grow. Today, Charlotte finds itself within a two-hour flight or 24-hour truck drive of more than half the nation’s population. With 137,000 people employed in the logistics, transportation and distribution sectors, developments in transportation and infrastructure have deep ripple effects throughout our region.
The summit began with an opening address from Dr. Catherine Ross, Director of the Center for Quality Growth & Regional Development at Georgia Tech. Ross is an internationally recognized expert on transportation systems planning who discussed the future of Charlotte’s transportation and its strategic location within the piedmont-atlantic megaregion to build economic wealth by connecting goods, products and people along the 1-85 corridor.
Dr. Ross then moderated a discussion with local transportation leaders including Brent Cagle, Director of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport; John Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of the Charlotte Area Transit System; and Danny Pleasant, Director of the Charlotte Department of Transportation. The panel focused on the future of our city’s transportation and how to strategically remain competitive while keeping up with our population boom. Technology emerged as a vital part of the conversation as all three transportation leaders discussed the emergence of technology and applications (apps) to provide better customer service and delivery, while capturing data and analytics that improve efficiencies.
As the audience heard from local transportation leaders, a continued focus on strategic planning and connectivity within a broader comprehensive plan emerged. That broader vision was laid out clearly as attendees heard from North Carolina Secretary of Transportation, Nick Tennyson and North Carolina Board of Transportation Chairman, Ned Curran. The two discussed North Carolina’s Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) Law, which improves statewide mobility, regional impact and division needs with transportation planning and development. The law helps to address the continued transportation challenges that result from our states increased population and decreased revenue, but it’s clear that alternative financing strategies must be part of the state’s strategic plan. STI funding available during FY 2016-2025 is $14 Billion, and the STI funding request is over $70 Billion. With that significant gap in needs and resources, public private partnerships have a critical role to play in maintaining and improving our transportation infrastructure.
Participants heard more about public private partnerships and successful projects from around the country from our next panel. Natalie English, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at the Charlotte Chamber moderated a discussion with Bob Poole, Director of Transportation Policy at the Reason Foundation and Doug Koelemay, Director at the Virginia Office of Public Private Partnerships. The panel debunked funding and efficiency myths related to public private partnerships. Bob Poole shared managed lanes data with the audience around the significant risk transfer from the tax payer to the private firm, the maintenance long term assurances, and the private firm’s incentive to design projects in a way that minimizes life-cycle cost, not initial cost. Natalie English concluded the panel discussion with an emphasis on our city’s need to continue supporting ‘all of the above strategies’ that provide flexibility in planning and financing our transportation infrastructure.
The summit ended with keynote speaker, Gregory Nadeau, Federal Highway Administrator with the United States Department of Transportation. Administrator Nadeau continued the theme of connectivity, technology, strategic location and safety as key points of emphasis for Charlotte’s transportation future.
8 - 8:10 a.m. Summit Chair Opening Remarks Rick Sanderson, 2016 Transportation Infrastructure Summit Chair Program Director, Transportation, AECOM View bio >> View presentation >>
Welcome - Charlotte Mayor, Jennifer Roberts
8:10 – 8:40 a.m. Opening Address - The Future of our Region Charlotte Megaregion – Catherine Ross, Director, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Tech View bio >> View presentation >>
8:40 – 9:40 a.m. Charlotte 2050 Panel – The Future of our City Brent Cagle, Director, Charlotte Douglas International Airport View bio >> John Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Area Transit System View bio >> View presentation >> Danny Pleasant, Director, Charlotte Department Of Transportation View bio >> Moderator: Catherine Ross, Director, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Tech
9:40 a.m. – 10 a.m. Break
10 – 10:30 a.m. NCDOT Vision - The Future of our State Transportation Strategy Nicholas Tennyson, Secretary, North Carolina Department of Transportation View bio >> Ned Curran, Board Chairman, North Carolina Department of Transportation View bio >> View presentation >>
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. The Future of our Roads Robert (Bob) Poole, Director, Transportation Policy, The Reason Foundation View bio >> View presentation >> Doug Koelemay, Virginia Office of Public Private Partnerships View bio >> Moderator: Natalie English, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce View bio >>
11:35 a.m. – 12 p.m. Keynote Address Gregory Nadeau, Administrator, Federal Highway Administration View bio >>
12 p.m. Closing Remarks and Adjourn Rick Sanderson, 2016 Transportation Infrastructure Summit Chair Program Director, Transportation, AECOM>