The Carolinas share more than a border. They share a lot of history. They share workers, who commute from one state to another each day.
And increasingly, they share problems with managing development, infrastructure and transportation. South Charlotte is booming, and so too are the towns just across the South Carolina line, like Indian Land and Fort Mill.
The only major division between the two areas is political. That’s why an upcoming event hosted by the advocacy group South Charlotte Partners is so fascinating.
In a rare cross-border collaboration, elected officials and planning staff from both North and South Carolina will gather at the Ballantyne Hotel on March 25 for a summit dedicated to making headway on transportation issues.
U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat representing Charlotte, and U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, a Rock Hill Republican, will sit on a panel together to discuss how the two states can collaborate on regional projects.
Both state’s DOT leaders will be in attendance. So will Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
The idea is for everyone to get together and hash-out solutions that make sense for both parties, and all the people stuck in between.
“This is not just a one time conversation,” said Victoria Nwasike, who leads South Charlotte Partners. “All parties can continue to collaborate and find ways to prioritize projects and funding to provide short term and long term relief from congestion in this area.”
There’s plenty of topics of common interest.
Charlotte is still pursuing toll lanes on I-77 south of Uptown , which would primarily affect commuters from South Carolina. Toll lanes are also in the works for I-485.
The Charlotte Area Transit System is also early in the planning process to bring the Blue Line light rail line down to Ballantyne and Pineville. There’s even been discussions that it could make it to South Carolina in collaboration with the Carolina Panthers.
There’s also a huge bottleneck in the few available roads getting people between south Charlotte and South Carolina.
Certainly, not all of these issues will be solved during a five-hour conference. But it might just prove that politicians in two parties and two states can work together.