Taft Jr. appointed to state transportation board
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Friday, October 12, 2018
A Greenville developer recently appointed to the North Carolina Board of Transportation traded the meeting room for floodwaters last month.
Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Thomas Taft Jr. to the board’s Division 2 seat in June. The 19-person board, which consists of five at-large members and one member from each of the state’s 14 transportation divisions, works with employees of the transportation department to set transportation priorities and decide which projects are funded.
Division 2 includes Pitt, Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Greene, Lenoir and Jones counties, all which were affected by Hurricane Florence.
“I saw it as a way to make an impact statewide, especially as it relates to economic development and the safety of the citizenry,” Taft said. He is a principal with Taft Family Ventures, which built The Boundary at West End and is currently building The Proximity which is bordered by 10th Street and Charles Boulevard.
Shortly after Hurricane Florence struck the state, Taft said he wanted to view the damage that had occurred in his division and the repair work that was underway.
“I had an opportunity to visit the guys in the field from the emergency operations center at the Global Transpark to the folks in the field in Lenoir and Jones counties,” Taft said.
He brought with him a barbecue dinner for 150 from Sam Jones BBQ for transportation personnel and emergency responders.
“The DOT and first responders on the front line were operating with very little sleep, no running water and eating MREs (meals ready to eat),” Taft said. “I was honored to be able to meet those guys and share their concerns with the board and the governor.”
Transportation officials estimate the state’s road system incurred $250 million in damage from Hurricane Florence. While repairs must be funded, Taft said he does not see it changing priorities on funding big budget projects.
“North Carolina has always been in the crosshairs of severe weather events and DOT was always prepared for those events,” he said.
Along with supporting repair efforts, Taft said his priorities are ensuring U.S. 264 receives interstate status and continuing efforts to improve pedestrian safety along East 10th Street in Greenville.
Taft also serves on the Greenville Board of Adjustment, East Carolina University Medical and Health Sciences Foundation Board of Directors and several industry councils.