Will tolerating crazy pay off? In one arena, anyway, let’s hope it does. Transportation secretary Tata’s new plan is a much-needed corrective to the rural favoritism that has left downtown Raleigh’s roads like gravel and sparsely populated areas’ like giant cities’ without the wear and tear.

Raleigh was ten residents away from being the fastest-growing city in America last decade, and Charlotte came in fourth. Congestion rose in turn: The typical Raleighite wastes twenty-three hours per year commuting, and the average Charlottean loses an entire working week. This is a significant problem, as too much time in the car is correlated with lost time, wasted fuel, and worse public health. Yet a patronage-oriented transportation board has steered too many projects toward economically declining parts of the state. With our economy facing structural challenges, it is time to facilitate-not impede–the efficiencies that are won by clustering workers and businesses together. Transportation should enable innovation.

The Administration’s proposal plants the seed of a healthy new transportation strategy for our state. But to help it bloom, Democrats need to go further. As cliched as it sounds, we need to promote alternatives to auto-based commuting–inter-city bus routes are a promising option. We could also offer X-prizes to cities or towns that develop efficient transit plans. At any rate, improving transportation is the right way to win business investment. What corporate executive wants to endure Atlanta’s two-hour peak-time commute?

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