03/16/07 — Duplin gets first plan for roadways

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Duplin gets first plan for roadways

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 16, 2007 1:52 PM

With at least four strategic corridors running through the county, the Duplin Board of Commissioners finally received its first-ever comprehensive transportation plan.

Focusing on the county's highways, the plan, which was created by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Duplin County Transportation Planning Committee, is a 25- to 30-year projection of what the county's transportation needs are going to be, taking into account traffic volumes, road sizes and future growth.

"We're primarily looking at capacity issues," NCDOT transportation engineer Tammy Fontenot said, explaining that the projections were made based on historic use and growth patterns since 1980.

And, she continued, Duplin's not in bad shape.

"We don't look at maintenance or anything like that, but as far as capacity, it's not terrible," she said.

Still, there are several roads -- U.S. 40, N.C. 11 through Kenansville between N.C. 50 and N.C. 24, N.C. 41 east of Wallace and U.S. 117 between Magnolia and Rose Hill -- that are expected to be over capacity within the next 30 years, she said.

Of those, N.C. 41 and N.C. 11 are already at 80 percent capacity.

The goal now will be to use this report to begin trying to secure funding for those projects.

"This allows you to lobby for your projects," Ms. Fontenot explained. "This is the first step in getting the projects completed.

"It's really up to the county from this point on. Unless it's really an urgent need, DOT is not going to come to you and say let us pave this road for you."

The next step in the process is convincing DOT to place the roads on the seven-year transportation improvement plan and then working to find funding for those.

The N.C. 41 project is already on that list, but Ms. Fontenot said, improving and expanding N.C. 11 through Kenansville is probably the most urgent need.

"That, I think, will be the No. 1 project," she said.

But, Earl Brinkley, chairman of Duplin's transportation commitee, said that those needs could change depending on the county's success in bringing in new business and industry.

"Based on what we know today and can project today, this does address Duplin's needs, but if the county grows we'll have to come back and address it," he said. "This is the first time Duplin County has ever had a strategic transportation plan."

The plan likely will be updated every five years.

Public transportation plans were not included in the document because Duplin County has no fixed routes, Ms. Fontenot explained. Bicycle path plans also were not included because none exist within the county.

The document does look at the county's rail structure, but because the only identified needs were in the Wallace area and the town has its own strategic plan, they were not included in the county's. Pedestrian plans are still being examined.

The final product can be viewed online at www.ncdot.org/doh/preconstruct/tpb/planning/DuplinCO.html.