Minorities Weigh In on Road Plans
Residents from Moore County’s traditionally black communities finally got a chance to weigh in on proposed transportation projects.
The opportunity came more than two months after a group of November meetings hosted by the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the Moore County Transportation Committee, the Moore County Planning and Community Development Department and the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization.
About 30 residents representing many of Moore County’s traditionally black communities participated in the exercise Saturday at the Aberdeen Recreation Station.
The group focused on identifying churches, homes, cemeteries and other locations that didn’t always appear on the maps as places needing protection.
“What was important to us was our home, our community, our churches, our schools, the doctor’s office and the hospital,” said Diane McAllister of the Midway community.
Ruby Pattishaw of Cameron added: “All we did was try to figure out where this road (N.C. 24/27) could go and have the least impact on the smallest number of people.”
Before the meeting, Frances Bisby, a transportation engineer for NCDOT who is spearheading the agency’s public outreach initiative for the Comprehen-sive Transport-ation Plan (CTP), apologized to attendees.
She said she utilized traditional methods such as newspapers, radio and even websites to notify Moore Countians of the November meeting, but soon found out she had missed some communities.
“When we got to the charrettes (public input sessions), I learned I did not reach all the communities, and that includes yours,” Bisby said. “And that’s why I’m here.”
The meeting occurred at the request of the community, according to Midway representatives. It was was part of Midway’s monthly meeting.
Bisby stressed the preliminary nature of the charrettes, which are geared toward learning about the community and determining corridors of study to help determine the best transportation plan for the future.
“Where we are now is to make sure everyone has an equal chance, equal input.”
According to NCDOT, the need for the projects is to ease congestion along N.C. 2, N.C. 5, U.S. 1 and U.S. 15-501.
The projects include a proposed U.S. 1 bypass and improvements to N.C. 24/27 and the N.C. 211 bypass/western connector. They will be included in a CTP being developed for the county that will reflect the priorities of residents and elected officials.
Some residents have said they don’t want any changes to U.S. 1. They have said that a possible bypass could essentially divide Aberdeen in two and run through the Walthour-Moss Foundation, which is home to large stands of longleaf pines as well as numerous endangered plants and wildlife.
Others have opposed alternative proposals for changes to the current U.S. 1, which they say would isolate businesses along the highway by limiting access on and off the road.
“There never was a plan adopted,” Bisby told the group during her presentation. “There is no plan — no idea that goes through the Walthour-Moss Foundation.
“But we have to figure out where we are going to put the (U.S. 1) freeway. If you want to leave it where it is, that has a lot of impacts.”
Maurice Hol-land Jr. was among a group that offered a less impactful solution to the traffic issues on U.S. 1.
“If you build a freeway with limited access, there would be more corridor available on 15-501,” Holland said. “Also, it would take away issues that have brought up the controversy.”
He and his group proposed steering traffic down U.S. 15-501 to N.C. 73, and then widening that road.
“You could go all the way down 15-501 to Highway 73,” Holland said. “You could look at four-laning Highway 73 to West End. And once you get to West End, you have N.C. 211, which is already in the process of being four-laned. You can go back to Hoffman Road, and you’d have a way to get to U.S. 1 to get to Richmond County. Or N.C. 73 out toward Jackson Springs would be another way to get to 73/74 and U.S. 220.
“Our table thought that those are some routes that haven’t been talked about, but that really need to be brought to the forefront.”
Bisby said the citizen input has provided a clear picture of all the different things that Moore County residents want protected.
“The piece that I am is missing is, how do we accommodate what is coming?” she said.
Bisby said she will continue her community outreach and to try and move forward.
“We are going to take a bit of a respite from trying to come to the perfect answer,” she said. “Try to drop back and really look at the analysis, build the traffic-demand model, find out where the deficiencies really are, and then try to look at how we are going to solve that specific problem.”
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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