09/15/06 — Leaders: U.S. 70 project on track

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Leaders: U.S. 70 project on track

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on September 15, 2006 1:51 PM

Cooperation among the counties along U.S. 70 has led the highway's Corridor Commission to become more unified in its attempts to boost improvements to the highway, consultants said at a meeting Thursday.

Consultants working with the commission met with members of the Wayne County Transportation Committee to discuss the commission's short- and long-term goals.

Mike Rutkowski of the consulting firm Kimley-Horn said the counties involved with the commission have created "one vision and one voice" during the past five months. Although Wayne County officials initially led the push for improvements that would create a freeway from Clayton to the coast, Craven, Carteret, Jones and Lenoir counties are also lending their support, he said.

In the coming months, Rutkowski said, Kimley-Horn will be working with the counties to develop land-use control measures along the route of the proposed freeway. The goal is a stop-light free stretch of roadway that would give motorists a quick and easy route, officials have said. Each community along the route has options for protecting the corridor, such as creating an overlay district, access management and limiting stoplights along the existing corridor, Rutkowski pointed out.

Officials with the city of Goldsboro and Wayne County will meet Monday to discuss how both government bodies can work together to boost the project. Goldsboro City Council member Chuck Allen said that at Monday's meeting, Kimley-Horn representatives will explain every intersection of the U.S. 70 access management plan. The plan details each intersection of the current U.S. 70 bypass corridor and what construction can be done to transform it into a freeway that would permit vehicles to travel at 70 mph.

In other business, Department of Transportation District 4 engineer Ricky Greene said a sinkhole that damaged a portion of the highway near Cogdell's Pond west of Goldsboro should be fixed in six to eight weeks. Greene said he hopes some federal money will become available for the project. As work progresses, the eastbound lanes will be closed periodically, he said.

Also, David Wright, the vice president of Franklin Baking Co., requested that a new crosswalk be constructed across Grantham Street near the business to protect his employees crossing the roadway.

The company has about 700 employees, he said, many of whom park across the street from the bakery. Warning signs for drivers to be aware of pedestrian traffic are helpful, but more needs to be done, he said.

"I think it's just a matter of time until there's a serious accident," he said.

Wright asked that the highway department install a push-button crosswalk to halt traffic. Greene said state officials conducted a feasibility study and determined a crosswalk wasn't warranted, but he said that he and other engineers would consider other options to make the crossing safer.

If the company could afford it, Allen said, the company could build an overhead pedestrian crossing, which keeps employees safe and doesn't slow traffic.

A push-button crosswalk as Wright had requested would cost about $55,000 to install, District 3 engineer Tim Little said. But a brighter flashing light to warn motorists could cost only about $10,000 to install, he said.