More Data Needed for Road Projects
Input on transportation issues gathered last year is a good start, but insufficient to formulate a countywide consensus, says a state transportation official.
On Wednesday, Frances Bisby presented to the Moore County Transportation Committee the findings from a series of "strings and ribbons" public meetings that were held in Moore County last year.
Bisby said participation was excellent, and the information gathered provided a good foundation, but that more was needed.
"We have a little work to do," she said.
The data identified several groups within the participants that are significant enough to "potentially skew the outcomes," Bisby said.
During the meetings, data was collected from multiple resources, public involvement forms, sign-in sheets, questionnaires, comment sheets, priorities tally sheets and maps.
The report is organize into seven major document sections and supporting appendices It can be found online at www.ncdot.gov/
The goals of the public meetings were to concentrate on transportation issues associated with the following roadway corridors and their adjacent communities:
n N.C. 24/27 near Carthage;
n N.C. 24/27 near Cameron;
n U.S. 1 through Southern Pines and Aberdeen;
n N.C. 73 and N.C. 211 near West End; and
n A proposed "western connector" that would link the county's western communities with amenities in the eastern part of the county.
A total of 479 unique participants - only 0.5 percent of Moore County's total population - participated. That small of a sample, Bisby said, can be sensitive to the scale effects of concentrated groups.
Among those were:
n 63 percent of responders listed household income greater than $70,000 per year;
n 93 percent of respondents were white;
n 44 percent of respondents reported living in Southern Pines; and
n 19 percent of total attendees provided addresses that fell within the boundaries the Walthour-Moss Foundation delineates as "Horse Country."
In the report, Bisby said the meetings should be considered a firm foundation to build on as the County's Comprehensive Transpor-tation Plan process goes forward. The meetings also provided a thorough and detailed profile of specific communities and demographics.
Bisby said there was one common theme that came from the data.
"Everyone here loves the rural aspect of community and wants to protect that," Bisby said.
The results weren't a shock to those who attended.
"If anything was a surprise, it was that the U.S. 1 feedback was as low as it was," said Chris Smithson, a Moore County Transportation Committee member and Southern Pines Town Council member.
During the run-up to the meetings last year, residents from Horse Country were very vocal because a possible bypass east of U.S. 1 would likely go through the Walthour-Moss Foundation, which is home to large stands of longleaf pines as well as numerous endangered plants and wildlife.
During the meetings, participants were given the opportunity to solve transportation problems and prioritize future improvements based on local perspective of perceived transportation needs. Seventy percent of the maps submitted offered improvement to U.S. 1 in the existing corridor, eschewing a bypass.
Eighty-three percent of maps submitted showed a new location solution for N.C. 24/27 in Carthage to be north of Carthage. On N.C. 24/27 in Cameron, 82 percent of maps had a new location solution south of Cameron. In regard to the "western connector" and West End, 58 percent of the maps submitted provided solutions that remained entirely on existing roadways off Hoffman and Roseland roads. The remaining solutions protected Foxfire Village and connected into the U.S. 1 corridor south of Aberdeen.
The Walthour-Moss Foundation received more protective priority stickers than any other local resource. Thirty-six percent of participants used one of their five stickers to protect foundation land. That is more than 7.5 times all other local churches, downtown areas and residential neighborhoods.
Stephen Later, an attorney and president of the Walthour-Moss Foundation, said he thinks the DOT got the message.
"Data was consistent with the passions we saw from residents in Horse Country and other parts of the county who value the natural areas of the county," Later said. "I think the DOT is well-aware of the strong feelings in many parts of Moore County to preserve parts of the county from unnecessary roads."
Resident Earl Ingram said he wants to preserve what we have now and hoped the committee will "avoid new roads on new locations and will stick to improvements of existing roads."
Bisby said gathering more data that is representative of the entire county, and not just one area, is key to moving forward with a countywide comprehensive transportation plan.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story