Consensus Needed for Plan
Consensus is among the principal goals of a comprehensive transportation plan (CTP).
If Moore County residents cannot reach consensus, then they can expect the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to make the decision for them.
The CTP process was outlined by NCDOT transportation engineer Frances Bisby Thursday when the Moore County Board of Commissioners hosted its periodic elected officials forum at the Senior Enrichment Center.
“This is going to affect Moore County for 20 to 50 years in the future,” said Commis-sioner Jimmy Melton, who made arrangements for the program.
Melton represents the board on matters relating to the NCDOT and transportation needs.
“This is a long, drawn-out process,” Melton said. “We’ll go into all corners of the county. We’ll get everybody’s answer, and they’ll be part of the solution. We’ll work as a team.”
Bisby identified the CTP as long-range and multi-modal, encompassing maps for bicycle and pedestrian trails and rail travel in addition to highways. She said it is a concept covering the community’s needs and wishes for the next 25 to 30 years but is not fiscally constrained. In other words, there is no funding allocated for specific projects that may be included in the plan.
“That’s because it’s a beginning — your ideas and vision,” Bisby said. “Is this really what you need? Is this the best use of the money? These are questions you’ll have to answer.”
Bisby said the goal of consensus would be approached through the use of the charette, a technique for consulting residents, officials and developers. The idea is to have everyone with a stake in the transportation plan to join the planning process in its earliest stages.
Focus areas where charettes are recommended include the Carthage area, the U.S. 1 freeway, a western connector for Pinehurst, Aberdeen, Pinebluff and Foxfire, the West End and Cameron areas.
“This is an opportunity for the citizens of Moore County to plan the future and make sure our county looks the way we want it to look,” said Melton of the charette concept.
Melton said that in the past, the transportation department mostly told the community where roads would be constructed or improved, but now the community will be involved in the planning.
“It is a big problem, but it is a big opportunity,” Melton said. “You will be part of the process and the solution.”
Tim Lea, chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, said everyone wants to see how a bypass of Carthage will work and also wants answers to questions about a bridge and bypass of Aberdeen and Southern Pines.
Under questioning by Lea, Carthage Mayor Tom Stewart said the N.C. 24-27 bypass of Carthage has been under discussion for many years.
“If we don’t reach consensus, what happens?” Lea asked. “Do we go to the bottom (of the list)?”
NCDOT engineer Travis Marshall replied, “Probably not the bottom of the list, but at some point we must make a decision. It’s good to have consensus.”
Lea said that NCDOT has been patient with Moore County, which has presented a variety of requests and made changes in those requests for many years.
“We need to find a way to reach consensus,” Lea said. “We need to find a way to work together. They (NCDOT) would rather not have to dictate to us.”
CTPs are now required by both federal and state law and can be used as a tool for local land-use planning. (The county’s planning department is already working on an updated land use plan.)
Among the benefits cited are protection of right of way for future facilities and reduction of the impact of environmental and social factors.
Bisby said that once a CTP is adopted, another benefit will be development of strategic highway corridors (SHC) to ensure the needed connectivity. This is worked out through cooperation of three state agencies, NCDOT, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Commerce.
Moore County already has two strategic highway corridors, U.S. 1, classified as a freeway, and N.C. 24-27, classified as an expressway.
U.S. 1, which runs from Florida to Maine, winds its way through military territory, horse country, Southern Pines and Aberdeen. N.C. 24-27, at 284 miles, is the longest such roadway in North Carolina, and Bisby called it “a very important roadway, not only in Moore County but in North Carolina.”
A freeway is defined as a high mobility, low access highway with 55-mph or greater speed limit, with a minimum of four lanes with median. No driveways or traffic signals are allowed. An expressway is high mobility and low access but speed limited to the 45 to 60 mph range. A few other differences set the two apart.
The SHC vision plan represents state policy and the CTP must remain consistent, Bisby said.
“We still have to get from A to B,” she explained.
County Planning Director Joey Raczkowski said local discussions have already been initiated with Rural Planning Organization officials as well as TARPO (Triangle Area RPO). Raczkowski added that although there is no rush, his department is ready to get started.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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