06/05/09 — Residents speak out about transportation concerns

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Residents speak out about transportation concerns

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 5, 2009 1:46 PM

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Mike Picus, right, of Goldsboro makes his point to consultant Mike Rutkowski of the consulting firm of Kimley-Horn Thursday night during a transportation workshop.

Rebecca Bevell of Mar Mac was among the people at Thursday night's long-range transportation planning workshop who were concerned about how a proposed extension of Interstate 795 through southern Wayne County would affect their property.

Ms. Bevell left with questions and concerns still remaining, but said she felt that at least someone had listened to them.

Attendance at the meeting, which was sponsored by the Goldsboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, was a far cry from the first such workshop held several months ago. Only a handful of people attended that session. About 70 people were on hand for Thursday's meeting at the Wayne County Public Library.

About half of those in attendance wanted to know more about I-795 and to complain about lost property and property values. The other half spoke on a hodge-podge of road issues, including the need for a four-lane highway connecting Goldsboro and Greenville.

Maps outlining road plans were posted on the auditorium walls and spread across seven tables for breakout sessions at which people were encouraged to complete a survey of road needs and to mark the maps.

"I am worried about the bypass for 117 (I-795), where they are going to locate it, because it affects my home and my residential property," Ms. Bevell said . "I still have a lot of questions because under the plan that is presently on the map my property, I only have about 50 feet for a front yard, and they are going to take about 20 feet of it I was told about a year ago. So that puts the boundary right underneath my bedroom window.

"I am concerned about that and I am also concerned the property values have fallen. I have maintained the home for 38 years and now I feel kind of like someone has jerked the rug from underneath me because I have put a lot into it and have put a lot of pride in my home and I am very comfortable there. I don't feel like the future is as stable as I would like to have it. I feel there are a lot of questions that haven't been answered tonight."

She added, "They very been very good (tonight) and have allowed us to vent and they have listened. I will say that. How far it is going to go I have a concern for that."

Ms. Bevell, who lives in the Scott Hill subdivision off U.S. 13 South, said she had wanted to sell her home but that its value has decreased.

"I don't see any possibility of doing that because my property value has dropped so low. I have maintained the property, but the value has fallen. I am retired now and just not comfortable with the fact I do not have the property value that I did have. Of course, the housing market is not good right now either."

Ms. Bevell said that after being been told her property would not be purchased by the state, she had been forced to do her own research since no other information was available.

"I don't feel like all of the facts were presented as they should have," she said.

Consultant Mike Rutkowksi of Kimley-Horn, who conducted the meeting, agreed.

"I think some of the issues she is faced with is that some of these studies were done years ago without public notification, without public collaboration," he said. "I think this (public gathering) is unique to Goldsboro and the community in that we want to hear from them and we want to give them an opportunity to vent or talk about issues.

"I think once we do that we have a more credible plan and something that can be implemented and not surprise folks to hear about it two or three years later, which is happening with the U.S. 117 corridor."

Rutkowksi said he was "very pleasantly surprised" at the turnout.

"We had a good, healthy cross section of people who wanted talk about roadway projects and multi-modal, a contingency that wanted to talk about U.S. 117 and I think that brought out a lot of folks across the board.

"I think the ads, the news articles were well publicized and I think they (public) had a better understanding of what we were going to talk about."

During his brief presentation Rutkowksi told audience members their time would not be wasted and that the information and concerns gathered would be compiled and brought back to another meeting within the next two months.

"We will take the information, we had representatives at most tables, combine it," he said. "There is a lot of information on the maps. Some will require sending people out to the field to look at new connections or ideas, some will be policy issues that need to be discussed at the city and county levels.

"We will take the ideas and look at things that make sense, questions the ones that don't. Hopefully we will create recommendations and improvements that we can report back in about a month to a month and a half. By the end of July we will be back here."

Using a PowerPoint presentation, Rutkowksi noted how Goldsboro's city streets were laid out on a grid while today's development creates traffic problems because of connectivity issues.

"We have not done a good job of ensuring connectivity," he said. "The city already has a bypass, but it has not been protected and now another bypass is having to be built."

Why plan now he asked? For one thing, the U.S. 70 Bypass has been on the books for 30 years. The projects require a long time to become a reality, he said.

At present, money is an issue and the trend is to look at smaller projects where there is more "bang for the buck," he said.

"We need to do a better job of planning, fewer driveways. Particularly, we need to look at areas around interchanges to protect them for the next 20 years so there will not be a need to build even another bypass."

David Quick, who represents the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce on the MPO, told the audience that the public had been a no show at transportation planning sessions five years ago.

"We ignored Patetown Road and over the past five years growth has exploded in that area, but now it is too late to do anything, the development is right up to the pavement," Quick said.

There is, he said, a need for people to be involved to help ensure that another road is not overlooked.

Rutkowksi pointed out that the proposed U.S. 117 is unfunded. He reminded the audience that the MPO has no zoning authority, but that "somebody needs to protect the corridor."

One man in the audience said the road would come through his back yard and that when the map came out his property values dropped.

Quick pointed out that it could be 30 to 40 years before anything is done with the road.

"I am still stuck with it," the man responded.

Henry and Louise Jinnette, who live near the library, said they had came to the meeting because of their interest in the greater Goldsboro community.

"When are they going to fix Royall Avenue?" Jinnette said prior to the meeting. "It needs to be four-laned all of the way from New Hope Road to George Street."

He called the area where Royall Avenue crosses Berkeley Boulevard the "biggest mess in Wayne County."

"If you go to Arby's you cannot get out and make a left turn," he said. "Even in the middle of the day when there is no traffic there is a traffic jam there. Royall Avenue is top priority with me. I see in the future a four-laned or five-laned road that would be Main Street for Goldsboro."