03/14/04 — Study says Goldsboro residents want better public transit

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Study says Goldsboro residents want better public transit

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 14, 2004 2:10 AM

Consultants studying Goldsboro's future transportation needs say that, so far, public transit is the top concern.

Members of the city's Transportation Planning Oversight Committee heard an update on the study Thursday from the Kimley-Horne consulting firm. The goal is to map out the city's transportation needs through 2030. The committee is a citizen-based advisory board that meets monthly to work on the study and the long range transportation plan.

Kimley-Horne has held one of several workshops designed to get public comments. Seventeen people attended the February workshop, and the next one is scheduled for May.

Mike Rutowski, an engineer with Kimley-Horne, said that public transit issues dominated the feedback from both the public workshop and surveys done among the committee members.

"We had good input from a variety of individuals," Rutowski said. "Overall, travel is perceived as pretty good in Goldsboro, though there are some congested corridors."

Those areas include Wayne Memorial Drive, Royall Avenue, Berkeley Boulevard, New Hope Road at Central Heights Road and Ash Street between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.

The workshop participants said additional transit services were needed in Goldsboro, such as passenger rail service to Wilmington, Raleigh and Morehead City.

Citizens also called for bigger and better buses and that they be operated longer hours.

The Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority is getting ready to buy two larger buses, City Manager Richard Slozak said.

Dave Quick, a member of local transportation committees, asked Slozak if the buses could operate past 6 p.m.

"At the public hearing, there was more interest in bus routes and bus service, than in roads," Quick said. "People have been learning to depend on the bus, others would be interested in using the bus, but it closes the door on some people when it shuts down earlier."

Quick suggested that the Gateway bus system study extending the hours when it's redoing the routes.

Slozak said the system's 12-hour schedule was considered normal operating hours for buses. "I don't know how much of a demand there is. But we will look at it."

He added that the bus authority has decided not to make any route changes until the board hires a new operator to run the system.

"The bus system is being really utilized," he said. "We have over 92,000 riding the bus a year."

Lou Cook, village administrator for Walnut Creek, said that one woman at the workshop spoke about the difficulty of getting into downtown Goldsboro from U.S. 70.

The city's Transportation Planning Oversight Committee, which is working with the consulting firm on the study, has developed the following preliminary goals and objectives, based on survey results and the public workshop:

*Improve landscaping along multi-lane roads and on medians.

*Reduce congestion on major roads.

*Slow traffic on residential streets.

*Update land-use and transportation plans and have them complement each other.

*Lobby for passenger rail service.

*Increase the number of bus riders and improve conditions for them by adding shelters and other amenities.

*Build bicycle lanes and trails to connect with schools, parks and community centers.

*Promote pedestrian-friendly streets by connecting sidewalks and controlling traffic.

*Improve access to downtown Goldsboro from U.S. 70.