07/11/08 — U.S. 70 Corridor Commission seeks state recognition

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U.S. 70 Corridor Commission seeks state recognition

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 11, 2008 1:45 PM

Becoming sanctioned by North Carolina as an official state commission would be a significant step in the development of the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission, its members said Thursday.

Meeting at the Wayne County Public Schools Central Office, commission members agreed to work toward that recognition. The commission consists of elected and administrative officials from counties along the U.S. 70 corridor from Johnston County to the coast.

Commission Chairman and Carteret County Commissioner Tom Steepy said, "It is significant to become an official commission. We would be the first that I know of. We could be a blueprint for others.

Wayne County Commissioner Atlas Price Jr., who is also a commission member, said it is important for members to maintain relationships with state Department of Transportation officials and that members should attend DOT meetings whenever possible.

"It is important to maintain those relationships," Price said. "It is not to put pressure on them particularly, but so we can be seen enough so they won't forget who we are."

"It is good to be seen there so they know you are concerned," said Wayne County Manager Lee Smith, who is also on the commission.

Steepy said gaining state recognition would enable the commission to become a "filter for all of the projects up and down the corridor."

Steepy said as an official state commission, "We wouldn't tell anyone what they could do."

Rather, its members would work to help show people how to make progress and to help ensure small projects do not have an adverse impact on U.S. 70.

Steepy said it is important for the commission to meet with legislators and legislative candidates who live along the U.S. 70 corridor.

"The more recognition, the more clout," he said.

As a sanctioned group, the commission would work with DOT and Kimley-Horn and Associates, the consulting firm working with the commission, he said.

Price noted that General Assembly members "come and go."

"As a commission we would stay recognized and not get kicked out (with the changes)," he said. "It would strengthen and bring credibility to the group."

The commission's next meeting will be held Sept. 11 in Lenoir County.