07/26/09 — Bypass spawns talk of other projects

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Bypass spawns talk of other projects

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 26, 2009 2:00 AM

The limited highway funding that is expected to be available over the next 25 years probably will be just enough to complete the U.S. 70 bypass in its entirety, state highway officials say.

In lieu of that, a handful of smaller projects could be built, they noted.

That has led some local leaders to look at advocating for smaller, more cost-effective projects, said consultant Mike Rutkowski of Kimley-Horn.

Basically, take roads like Berkeley Boulevard, New Hope Road and a portion of U.S. 117 and "clean them up," he said.

It was during a recent series of long-range transportation public workshops that Rutkowski and members of the Goldsboro Metropolitan Planning Organization sought the public's input on road projects.

Rutkowski said the public appears to have a better understanding of the projects and the limited funding.

Elected officials also have talked about looking at other funding avenues if they want to move ahead on other projects, he said.

"The state is not getting enough revenues from the gas tax (for road projects)," he said.

Rutkowksi said he was pleased by the public turnout at the workshops and comments, particularly about land use planning.

The preliminary results of those sessions have been posted on the Goldsboro and county Web site over the past two weeks for public response. The review period ends this Friday.

For those who were unable to attend the workshop or who missed commenting during the initial two-week review, it is "OK, you will get another chance," Rutkowksi said.

"We are on a tight schedule," he said, referring to the bypass project. "The two-week review period ends Friday and the first set of revisions, then it will go back to the public for 30 days."

A few comments have been received, he said.

While the proposed U.S. 117 South was the focus for many people at the two workshops, Rutkowski there had been "very little" comment on the U.S. 70 bypass so far during the review session.

During the workshops a number of people complained that the proposed route had been approved with no fanfare and that they had been left in the dark.

MPO member David Quick responded that all of the meetings were advertised, but that very few people had attended them.

"I think what we found was the way it (U.S. 117) was handled (during the workshop) people were told they couldn't change the adopted route," Rutkowski said. "However, they were told that it can be talked about and revisited and that alternate routes would be included (in the plan).

"I think that appeased a lot of people. They were still not happy, but they realized that it is not a done deal."

Rutkowski said he has been pleased about comments about land use planing. For the most part those comments have focused on the U.S. 70 Bypass and Wayne Memorial Drive interchange. Rutkowski said he would like to see all of the interchanges get that same level of attention.

During the final workshop held earlier this month, Rutkowski presented an example of what could happen at the U.S. 70/Wayne Memorial Drive interchange with healthy growth, a vibrant support community of sustainable commercial and residential growth .

The other option would be the uncontrolled growth that is evident in the area at the Interstate 40 and NC 42 interchange at Clayton.

"It is a great example of what not to do," he said.

Planning Board member and Commissioner Steve Keen was so impressed by the concept that at the Planning Board's last meeting he suggested that Rutkowski be invited to a future board meeting.

Rutkowski said he would not be able to attend the board's August meeting, but that we would welcome joint meetings with the Planning Board and commissioners.

Keen has long been a proponent of protecting the new U.S. 70 interchanges in order to help promote orderly growth and generate retail sales that in turn generate sales tax revenues.