By Karen Cimino Wilson
Concord city officials want taxpayers to know the city has not given Lowe’s Motor Speedway or owner Bruton Smith one penny of the $30 million in tax incentives it offered in 2007 in exchange for road improvements near the speedway.
But Concord will kick in $1.5 million to help pay for improvements to Morehead Road, which is located to the south of Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to help with the project, which was awarded $3.5 million in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in March.
The federal funding would not pay for the entire proposed $5.3 million project. The federal money would pay for widening and moving a three-quarter-mile stretch of Morehead Road away from the speedway’s southern edge, making more room for vendor trailers along the speedway property.
It would not pay for a side road that moves vehicles and pedestrians under Morehead Road during speedway events. It also cut out fencing to reduce the number of pedestrians crossing Morehead and funnel them toward to entrances to the speedway. And the federal money also removed plans to widen the entire road to four lanes and add sidewalks.
Concord’s $1.5 million contribution to the project adds all but the sidewalk plans back into the project, said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett.
“We think it will improve traffic flow for everybody,” Padgett said.
The city’s $1.5 million contribution to the Morehead project will be paid for using the $500,000 annual landfill host fee paid by Allied Waste to the City of Concord. Allied Waste trucks use Morehead Road to access the landfill so it’s a fitting use of the money, Padgett said.
Concord City Council member Jim Ramseur made the motion to rescind the city’s original $30 million offer to Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials. The total incentive package — including contributions from Cabarrus County and the state — would have been $80 million spread over a 40-year period.
“This is my way of letting everybody know that, that is not a contract that is out there anymore,” Ramseur said. “Nothing was ever expended toward that.”
Ramseur said he supported spending the $1.5 million to improve the project because it will improve traffic congestion all year.
“It’s just a good fit to be able to expand that project into something that is better for our folks and for the people coming into town, too,” Ramseur said.
Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials could not be reached for comment.
• Contact Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.