Maintain Your Independence: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Statewide ‘Booze It & Lose It’ Campaign UnderwayCHERRY POINT – The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program has a new weapon in its arsenal in the war against impaired driving during the Independence Day holiday – window chalk.
“As a show of solidarity during the campaign, which runs today through July 5, drivers are being asked to write the message (hashtag) #KeysFreeNC in window chalk on their vehicles to help encourage fellow North Carolinians to leave the keys behind if they are going to be drinking,” said NCGHSP director Mark Ezzell.
Drunk driving is historically high during the week leading up the Fourth of July, though previous community efforts are making an impact.
Last July 1-7, for instance, North Carolina experienced an 11 percent decrease in fatalities from the year prior.
To help encourage that downward trend, NCGHSP teamed up with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to kick-off the annual statewide ‘Operation Firecracker’ ‘Booze It & Lose It’ enhanced enforcement campaign.
As part of the campaign, teams of MCASCP military, lawenforcement, firefighters and first responders used roadside message boards to encourage safe, sober driving. More than 500 law enforcement agencies around the state are also increasing their presence this week and sharing these simple messages throughout their communities and online: This Drive-Through is to Remind You to Drive Sober this 4th of July. Booze It & Lose It. Don’t Drink and Drive. App your ride. Don’t Drink and Drive. Call a friend. Don’t Drink and Drive. Take public transportation. Don’t Drink and Drive. Take a cab. Don’t Drink and Drive. Show your support #KeysFreeNC This year, amidst COVID-19, it’s unclear if impaired driving over the holiday weekend will plague our roadways.
But what is clear is that leaders statewide are concerned about the implications impaired driving will have on our state, particularly this upcoming holiday.
The video includes messages of support from the NCGHSP’s director, Mark Ezzell, as well as Mikel Huber, Base Commander Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes and his office, Pastor M. Luther Hill, who serves as the Clinton Chapel AME ZION Church and the chaplain of the New Bern Police Department, and First Lady Kristen Cooper.
For those who have a social media platform, show NCGHSP how you are celebrating safely. Mention @NCGHSP on Facebook and tag @NC_GHSP on Twitter and Instagram with #KeysFreeNC and #NCGHSP to show that you are celebrating safely.
LAKE LURE – A section of U.S. 64/74A in Rutherford County has been repaired, repaved and reopened after heavy rains damaged the area on May 19. N.C. Department of Transportation crews removed debris from the stream and a culvert at the intersection with Rock Branch Road, about 6.5 miles east of Lake Lure. Crews also cut and removed an undermined portion of asphalt on the highway and added a new stone base before repaving the final surface on Monday.
A complete and accurate census count is incredibly important. The census shapes how billions of dollars in federal funding are distributed, how congressional seats are apportioned, and how communities plan for their future residents. So, if you haven’t done so, please fill out your Census form online, by phone or send it in by mail. If you did not get a form in the mail, go here:
my2020census.gov and select the link that says, “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.” It is located below the Census ID login field.
Culvert fails on U.S. 64/74A forcing driver detour
LAKE LURE – Heavy rains from spring storms contributed to a culvert collapsing under U.S. 64/74A in Rutherford County on Tuesday. N.C. Department of Transportation officials placed safety barricades at the site about 6.5 miles east of Lake Lure where the road is undermined and impassable. The detour for westbound traffic utilizes Rainbow Rapids Road, Freeman Town Road and Bills Creek Road. The eastbound detour directs traffic in the opposite order of roads starting with Bills Creek about 1.5 miles outside town limits. The detour adds 10-15 minutes to a commute. NCDOT crews will evaluate the damage once water recedes, then develop a construction plan and timeframe for completion. Crews may begin working in the area as early as next week. Motorists are encouraged to plan extra time for the detour into their driver, and to obey all posted signs including detours.
RALEIGH – Sharp decline in revenue has resulted in the N.C. Department of Transportation falling below the statutorily mandated cash floor of $293 million. According to state law, once the department falls below the cash floor, the department can no longer enter into new contracts that spend money on transportation projects.
“Never in the history of NCDOT has there been such an immediate and sustained decline in revenues,” said Eric Boyette, Transportation Secretary. “We need revenue to begin putting people back to work across North Carolina.”
The NCDOT is fully funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and Division of Motor Vehicles fees. The drop in revenue from these sources due to COVID-19 will result in more than $300 million in lost revenue for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. An additional shortfall of more than $370 million is projected for FY21.
The North Carolina general statutes restrict the department’s ability to enter into agreements that obligate additional funds for transportation projects until cash on hand is above the statutory cash floor, as certified on the last day of the month.
What NCDOT CAN do while below the cash floor:
Continue active projects
Maintain existing infrastructure with existing supplies and staff
Pay incoming invoices from private sector companies as long as funds exist
Continue operating DMV functions
Respond to emergency situations (with existing staff and materials)
Hire new employees for critical, safety-related positions or DMV functions
What NCDOT CANNOT do while below the cash floor:
Negotiate right of way purchases on projects not underway
Purchase additional equipment, supplies or services for transportation projects unless obligated to make such a purchase in an existing contract
Award new construction, engineering or repair contracts
Actions NCDOT is taking:
Laid off nearly half of all temporary employees and embedded consultants
Suspended most programs
Hiring freeze (except for positions impacting public safety)
Canceled contract for passenger ferry
Developing a department-wide plan to furlough employees (plan not yet completed)
Evaluating programs and areas for cuts
At this time, the NCDOT does not know when the cash reserves will be above the cash floor. The department must continue meeting existing obligations and pay invoices for work completed or currently underway. For the department to begin reinstating suspended projects and programs, NCDOT would need revenue replacement to compensate for COVID-19 losses for FY20 and FY21.