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Broken promises on I-485

Governor Bev Perdue is having trouble keeping a promise she made to Charlotte officials three months ago that she would get construction started on the last leg of I-485 by the end of the year. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: Governor Perdue made the promise in late February, and it couldn't have been more welcome news to local officials for whom the unfinished leg of I-485 is major sore spot. Days later, Perdue's new Secretary of Transportation, Gene Conti, told WFAE he was sure construction on the road would begin before year's end. "I'm confident we can get it started," said Conti. "I guess the only question in my mind is how quickly we can move it to completion. I don't want to create false expectations." So much for that. At a meeting of the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MUMPO, last night Conti told officials there's not a quote "magic pot of money" to finish 485. He said their best option is to use money they'd already set aside for another project like expanding I-85 or Independence Boulevard. "That is not acceptable and I will not support that," says Matthews Mayor Lee Myers. He's the chairman of MUMPO which includes elected officials from throughout the Charlotte region. "There are a lot of people - both homeowners, business people, commuters and other folks who are going to be adversely impacted if we delay even one day one of the major projects that have been identified for the swap of funding," says Myers. Conti promised to keep looking for the $220 million it will cost to complete I-485. Some money may come from other road projects that are less expensive now that construction costs are down. There may also be some excess stimulus money, but using that on I-485 would require a change in state law. Either way, Conti says construction crews are unlikely to start work on 485 this year, despite Perdue's promise. Next spring would be the earliest.