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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., March 13, 1998. Interview C-0328-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Trying to keep politics out of road-building

Holshouser avers that for the most part, he managed to keep political wheeling and dealing out of his efforts at road-building, but worries that those elements of the process that have gone wrong have been unfairly amplified by the media.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., March 13, 1998. Interview C-0328-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK FLEER:
Well in fact there will be somebody some people who would argue that it is impossible to take politics out of road building.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Well I think it is to some extent. I used politics there in the sense of that generic kind of politics. I am not so certain that the local guy sitting down in Podunk county can see the needs of his county and who really needs the most roads maybe better than all the engineers and the roads with traffic counts and stuff. There are just so many examples of abuse of doing it that way. The comfort in the scientific method, using traffic counts, the number of houses there were there, it is a dead end road or not, the comfort in that is that you know there is not an abuse in that for the most part. It may have some casualties along the way that shouldn't be. But it is not nearly as much potential there as it is on the other side for abuse.
JACK FLEER:
So when you say you take it in the larger generic sense you are not talking about partisan politics so much but you are talking about people trying to influence decisions on a personal basis.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Yes because if Joe Jones who is here and his Republican friend is on the DOT board, or this Democrat has his Democrat friend or to make an easy case it may not even be a friend, it may just be somebody you know casually or don't even know at all, and in particular if they had been a financial supporter of the governor who happens to be in the office at the time, there is potential for the public to get skewed a little bit. I kind of think we have seen some examples of that recently. I think the papers are taking small percentages of the projects that have been done wrong probably and made it seem like half of them have been done wrong. And I think they have done the government and the DOT board a serious disservice and I think they have beat on some professionals unfairly. That is not good for how people view government people.