State legislator seeks funding to repair access road to his condo

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJuly 7, 2014 

Jim Fulghum

— State Rep. Jim Fulghum wants to use General Assembly discretionary road funding to fix a potholed service road that leads to his Glenwood Avenue condominium.

In a 6-2 vote Tuesday, the Raleigh City Council voiced support for Fulghum’s plan, which includes city-funded maintenance, though two council members were concerned that the city has more pressing needs for state transportation money.

The council’s resolution says the service road – which parallels Glenwood near Oberlin Road – is “in dire need of rehabilitation for safety, function and appearance reasons.” The road is also the main entrance to the Gardens on Glenwood condominiums, where Fulghum lives and serves on the homeowners association board.

Fulghum, a Raleigh Republican, withdrew from his campaign for state Senate on Thursday, citing a serious illness. He could not be reached for comment.

City Councilman Wayne Maiorano said he brought up the resolution – which also backs funding for a new crosswalk on Honeycutt Road at a Methodist church – “in the spirit of cooperation and recognizing that there is an immediate benefit to our citizens in these two locations.”

While the resolution wasn’t on Tuesday’s advance agenda and hadn’t been previously discussed, Maiorano called for an immediate vote because the legislature could adjourn soon.

But Councilman Russ Stephenson, who voted no, said the issue needed further study. He said the resolution arrived in “an unusual fashion and an unusual 11th-hour rush.”

“I’m not sure how this one rose to the top of a list that was handed to Councilor Maiorano,” he said. “Where are there other crosswalks that may be more or equally important for the state to step in? I’d like to propose that we not rush into this.”

And Councilman Thomas Crowder took issue with the provision that Raleigh maintain the Glenwood Avenue service road after upgrades are completed. The service road is currently state-maintained.

“I’m not sure I see the benefit other than paving (Fulghum’s) driveway into his units,” Crowder said. “That’s a small stretch of road, and I think the representative can take care of that without us having to take care of the road. We have a lot of short funding right now for taking care of our streets.”

Public Works Director Carl Dawson said maintainance costs would be low because “it’s less than 1,000 feet of street” and the city could offset the expense with state funds.

The city council’s resolution doesn’t indicate how much state funding will be needed for the two projects. But it’s described as “discretionary funds” controlled by House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger.

While most N.C. Department of Transportation projects are closely vetted by engineers and ranked in priority order, legislators have access to millions in discretionary funds. That money is often spent on projects that don’t rank high enough for traditional funding. The funding has faced criticism for years that it primarily goes to lawmakers’ pet projects.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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