Aberdeen Raises Concerns on U.S. 1 Options
The effect of improvements to U.S. 1 on local towns as part of a countywide transportation plan remains a concern for Aberdeen town officials.
Aberdeen leaders voiced those concerns with N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials during the board’s meeting Tuesday. Mayor Betsy Mofield and council member Jim Thomas did not attend the meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Robbie Farrell expressed concern that possible changes to U.S. 1 — no matter if that is turning the road into a limited access freeway or creating a bypass — would split Aberdeen and impact others.
“The towns are going to feel the brunt of it,” he said.
In recent months, NCDOT officials have reached out to Moore County residents and public officials in a effort to gather public input on highway needs and routing preferences. That information will be used by the Moore County Transportation Committee to develop a plan for future highway improvements.
Currently, Moore County has no such plan. During the meeting in Aberdeen, NCDOT officials stressed that without a plan, the county could be adversely affected when it comes to getting money for projects throughout the county.
On Tuesday, NCDOT officials said that without a plan, future projects within the county could be delayed or left unfunded.
Frances Bisby, a traffic engineer with NCDOT, also said there are no lines on maps for any roads at this point and that NCDOT is still gathering information.
“Part of my job is to get data collected,” Bisby said. “I’ve got to be able to look at all the alternatives, and you have to trust me. I’m not going to hit the things you don’t want me to, and it’s not going anywhere unless you all (Moore County) bless it.”
Bisby told the board that Moore County’s transportation infrastructure is vital to supporting expected growth, as well as public safety and well-being, economic development and statewide mobility.
The Moore County Transportation committee is made up of residents and elected officials. The plan calls for the committee to work with NCDOT, the Moore County Planning and Community Development Department and the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization to develop a vision plan reflecting the priorities of Moore County residents.
Among the roadways under consideration for improvements are U.S. 1, the N.C. 211/western connector and N.C. 24-47 near Carthage. Most of the needs stem from heavy traffic congestion along N.C. 211, N.C. 5, U.S. 1 and U.S. 15-501.
Some residents have said they believe the improvements — especially to U.S. 1 — would adversely affect businesses and natural areas, such as the Walthour-Moss Foundation in Southern Pines Horse Country.
Much of the input from the Aberdeen commissioners centered around U.S. 1 and other possible modes of travel, such as commuter rail, that would divert traffic from U.S. 1.
“I don’t see how anybody wants to see this (U.S. 1) as a 65-mph freeway,” Farrell said.
Bisby said something will have to be done to improve U.S. 1 to accommodate future growth.
Aberdeen Planning Director Kathy Liles said she realizes there are no easy answers.
“I’m in a little bit of panic, because any of the solutions that are proposed for the next 30 or 40 years aren’t going to come without pain for somebody,” she said.
In other business, the board set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Feb. 13 on a zoning code amendment to regulate the keeping of chickens. The meeting will be held at the Robert N. Page Municipal Building.
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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