Charlotte, NC

QC Roundup 11/16: How Biden's infrastructure impacts Charlotte, lawyer calls for federal CMS investigation and more

Collin Cunningham

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U.S. officials of multiple political persuasions gaze at President Joe Biden as he signs his historic $1.2T infrastructure bill on Monday.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Planes, trains, ports & broadband access. It might sound like we're riffing on the name of a beloved John Hughes movie, but those are just some of the North Carolina amenities set to see improvements following the passage of President Joe Biden's $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

This Tuesday roundup delves into the local impact of the investment plan, which is set to bring upgrades to public-use structures to Charlotte after Biden signed it yesterday. We'll tell you about the various improvements the bill will bring to readers, as well as the latest recommendation to investigate Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The Queen City has also named three streets that will be retitled as Charlotte continues to distance itself from the names of Confederate officials and Journey announced they haven't stopped believin' in Charlotte, scheduling a show for next year with two special guests.

Today is Tuesday, Nov. 16, and here's what every Queen City resident needs to know

1. Bipartisan infrastructure bill to bring improvements to transit, internet access, clean resources in NC

What happened: President Joe Biden signed his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law on Monday, allowing the federal government to begin doling out funds to states and cities across the U.S. Per WCNC, North Carolina and Charlotte are set to receive billions and millions of dollars, respectively, to complete projects that would improve the lives of residents, but an exact timeline for when the funds will be allocated is not available. Local governments will have to apply for some of the funding, though the Tar Heel State will be getting $911 million over the next five years for public transit work.

Spectrum News reports the infrastructure deal could be particularly helpful in a coastal state like North Carolina, where funds can be used to upgrade shipping ports and airports. The bill is also set to give states over $65 billion to improve residents' access to broadband, of which NC will get $100 million. It also includes $65 billion in funds to improve the American electric grid and $55 billion to better water infrastructure. North Carolina is expected to get $1 billion from that latter stack.

Why it matters: According to a White House press release in August, North Carolina has 1,460 bridges and over 3,611 miles of road that are in poor condition and unsafe due to a "systemic lack of investment." Repairs to those road structures would cost the state $7.6 billion, which the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act can provide. The act also hopes to grant broadband access to the more than 400,000 North Carolina residents who currently lack it, and residents will see their energy bills decrease due to a national $3.5 billion weatherization investment.

Biden has called his bill the single largest injection of public dollars into infrastructure in the history of the U.S. Flanked by Republicans and Democrats during the signing process, Biden referred to the bill as a "blue-collar blueprint" for rebuilding the country, adding that the deal showed that members of both parties can achieve progress through collaboration. The President has been trying to get the recovery bill passed since March.

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The bill could be used to upgrade the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, where major airlines have cut flights ahead of the holidays.(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

2. Students' attorney urges federal investigation into sexual assaults at CMS

What happened: The U.S. Department of Education may soon have its eyes on Charlotte's largest public school district after an attorney for students at Hawthorne Academy and Myers Park High School authored an email to the department's Office of Civil Rights. Attorney Laura Dunn said in her email that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has failed to enforce Title IX doctrines designed to protect gender equality, most recently when a 15-year-old Hawthorne student was suspended in October for reporting a sexual assault.

"In light of this growing public outrage, I would ask that OCR consider opening another compliance review that contemplates sanctions against CMS," Dunn stated in her email.

Why it matters: The Queen City Roundup has reported on sexual assaults at the CMS high schools multiple times over the past few weeks. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police department is conducting its own investigation into assaults at multiple buildings in the district, which is also grappling with increasing reports of student violence. If the OCR does levy a sanction against CMS under Title IX, it would be the first time the office has done so in its history.

While CMS Superintendent Earnest Wilson has been reluctant to offer comments on the situation, CMS Board of Education member Rhonda Cheek wrote on Facebook that she is frustrated by the school's handling of sexual assault reports.

3. Charlotte to rename 3 more streets over Confederate connections

What happened: Charlotteans used to driving on Aycock Lane, Jackson Avenue and Zebulon Avenue will have to familiarize themselves with three new street names after the city announced it would sooon ditch the old names because they reference Confederate leaders or supporters. Aycock — named for the 50th governor of North Carolina — will soon be Wall Street. Jackson Avenue will trade a reference to Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in for the innocuous Cross Trail Drive and the road named after Confederate officer Zebulon Baird Vance will be replaced by Yellowstone Drive.

Whit matters: This is the second time this year that the names of Charlotte roadways received a refresh, and three more are set to be renamed in the future. September saw Jefferson Davis Street become Druid Hills Way and Phifer Avenue emerged from its non-racist cocoon as Montford Point Street. Up next on the chopping block are Morrison Boulevard, Barringer Drive and Stonewall Street.

4. Journey bringing Toto and Billy Idol to Spectrum Center

What happened: Rock band Journey is coming to Spectrum Center in Uptown Charlotte on April 28, 2022, and they're bringing Toto and Billy Idol along for the Freedom Tour 2022. Charlotteans will find out how much they have to pay to bless the rains down in North Carolina at 10 a.m.on Friday when ticket sales begin.

Why it matters: Attendees will be able to see live performances of "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Africa" in the same evening. You might be able to catch those tracks in the same lineup on the radio, but odds are they'll never be in Charlotte together again. Toto guitarist Steve Lukather said in a press release that he and the band were "very honored and excited" to play alongside their "old and dear" friends and Journey guitarist Neal Schon promised that "the band is running on all 12 cylinders."

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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