09/15/10 — Planning Board wants closer look at DOT's priorities list for U.S. 70

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Planning Board wants closer look at DOT's priorities list for U.S. 70

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 15, 2010 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Planning Board's Tuesday night meeting was a flashback to more than a year ago when complaints about a lack of communication and questions of who has transportation planning responsibility sparked contention between the board and the Goldsboro Metropolitan Planing Organization.

The latest round of board complaints centered on a priority list for safety improvements on U.S. 70 -- only one of which actually falls within the county's jurisdiction. All of the others lie within the city of Goldsboro.

County commissioners discussed, but took no action on, the list at their Sept. 7. meeting. Commissioner Steve Keen, who also serves on the Planning Board, asked commissioners to send the list to the Planning Board. No such action was taken.

Keen told Planning Board members he had been surprised when he opened his meeting packet and did not have the priority list information.

"I felt like the Planning Board needs to have ownership of anything to do with planning in the county," Keen said. "I have the minutes and you don't and that bothers me."

"I don't know what the priority list is," said Planning Board member Chris Cox who, along with Keen, initiated the original complaint more than a year ago.

"When it comes to transportation issues, communications have always been a problem," Cox said.

Board member Mike Aycock said he read about the list in the newspaper.

The list was commissioned by the state Department of Transpor-tation and is based on safety issues.

The top priority, the Grantham Street ramps and closing access to Florida Street and the ramp to the state Highway Patrol station, have been completed.

Other priorities are:

* Installing a median reverse leftover concurrent with driveway consolidation and parking circulation improvement near Wilber's Barbecue.

* Installing directional mainline leftover at Ebenezer Road/Capps Bridge.

* Installing new finding/directional signs and possibly a dedicated right turn prior to the intersection with William Street.

* Closing eastbound access to the service road east of William Street.

* Closing westbound access to the service road near the hotel site just east of the Pizza Inn on U.S. 70 West. Complementing that closure would be installation of a westbound dedicated deceleration lane to access the service road at the Pizza Inn.

Keen said roads have value to the economy and that the Planning Board needs to be aware of what is going on to be in a better position to respond to issues.

He expressed concern that commissioners would act on the list at their meeting next week without any input from the Planning Board.

Chairman Jo Ann Summerlin asked board members if they wanted to make a motion to ask County Planning Director Connie Price to ask commissioners to further delay action until the Planning Board could study the list.

No motion was made. Aycock said if commissioners had something they wanted the Planning Board to do that they would send a message.

"I asked (if we) could give it to the Planing Board," Keen said.

Price told the board that while there had been some "back-and-forth" discussion by commissioners that no motions had been made -- including to tell him there was a need to bring the issue before the Planning Board.

"I wasn't sure what to do with it. That is why I did not bring it," he said.

Price then noted that all of the priorities, save Ebenezer Road/Capps Bridge, were inside the city limits.

As he did at the commissioners' meeting, Keen said he was concerned about closing the eastbound access to the service road. Doing so cuts off access to the back side of the shopping center on Wayne Memorial Drive, he said.

It also would send all of the traffic up to the Wayne Memorial Drive interchange.

Board member David Quick agreed that 99 percent of the items on the list fell under the purview of the city and MPO.

"It is beyond the scope of this board, taking on that," he said. "They don't try to get into your business of approving plats and maps."

Quick said he did not want to see the Planning Board getting involved in that area. He said that transportation planning is "well-covered" by the MPO, RPO (Rural Planning Organization) and the Wayne County Transportation Committee.

He noted that Price is chairman of the MPO Technical Coordinating Committee (staff) and that the county is well-represented on the MPO.

Quick added that he has been well-satisfied with those organizations, which advertise their meetings, which are open to the public.

He said he could not understand anyone saying they were surprised or blindsided about what the organizations do because they make the information available for people willing to look at it.

"You can't spoon feed everybody," he said.

Keen disagreed that transportation was beyond the scope of the Planning Board's responsibilities. The board's duties, as defined by the county, include that responsibility, he said.

"The Planning Board has to know what is going on," he said. "If there are groups making decisions, we need to know."

Quick said the Planning Board would never be "senior" to those groups and reiterated that Price could provide the information or that the board could attend the meetings and look at meeting minutes.

Keen said he had never said that it would be senior.

Keen passed out a copy of a Lenoir County study that examined the economic impact of the county's major highways. Keen has pushed for such a study in Wayne County.

Cox said he had tried for three years and had been "shot down" every time for a study of the new U.S. 70 Bypass interchanges.

"We tried to set up hearings and did not get the money," he said.

He said efforts also had been shut down to get U.S. 70 Corridor Commission officials to make a presentation of the study they had done on the interchanges.

Quick said lack of money was the reason those efforts had been turned down. Also, the study was just a general conceptual one of what might could be developed at an interchange, he said.

In response to questioning by Cox. Price indicated that he could get a copy of the PowerPoint presentation on the interchange study for the board to review.