02/12/13 — Metropolitan Planning Organization to discuss U.S. 117

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Metropolitan Planning Organization to discuss U.S. 117

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 12, 2013 1:46 PM

Progress on a study to determine what is needed to have U.S. 117 South upgraded to a freeway, or even as the extension of Interstate 795, will be discussed Thursday morning by the Goldsboro Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The MPO's staff-level Technical Communicating Committee will meet at 9 a.m. followed by the decision-making Technical Advisory Committee at 10 a.m.

The meetings are open to the public and will be held in the upstairs anteroom at Historic City Hall.

The three-month study was conducted by the Eastern Carolina Regional Planning Organization to look at the existing U.S. 117 from U.S. 13 south of Goldsboro to Interstate 40 in Duplin County.

The goal was to identify what improvements would be necessary to upgrade the road to at least freeway status, or possibly as I-795 South.

As envisioned an upgraded U.S. 117 would not have driveways or at-grade intersections -- only overpasses and interchanges.

Alex Rickard, Eastern Carolina RPO planning director, will brief the MPO on the study.

During the MPO's August session, Rickard said that the plan was to start at I-40 in Duplin County and move north while looking at how far apart interchanges would be, what roads would be overpasses, what roads would be closed off completely, what additional improvements would be necessary and whether secondary roads or service roads would be needed to ensure motorists can get to those interchanges and across the highway if it the highway is upgraded to a freeway.

Data collected during the study was to include crash information, traffic counts, existing land use, future land use (if available) and any proposed transportation projects.

Upgrading the highway also was a key component of Mount Olive's Comprehensive Transportation Plan. The town, with assistance from the state, has been working on the study for nearly two years.

The final draft of the plan has been presented to the town and Wayne County commissioners and has entered the public review and comment section of the planning process.

The Mount Olive plan proposes closing at-grade intersections on U.S. 117 at Lee's Country Club Road, Old Smith Chapel Road and West Main Street where the state already has closed the median to through traffic on West Main Street.

Already in progress is a study by Department of Transportation to replace the U.S. 117/O'Berry Road at-grade intersection at Dudley with an interchange. Doing so would eliminate the only traffic light on U.S. 117 between U.S. 13 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds and I-40 in Duplin County.

A second part of that project would be to close the median at Country Club Road and U.S. 117 just north of Mount Olive.

But the town's comprehensive transportation planning committee wants to see an interchange there extending Country Club Road east to the Old Mount Olive Highway.

In other business Thursday, the MPO will:

* Consider a resolution adopting revisions to the 2012-2020 Transportation Improvement Program

* Have a presentation of the final draft of the Goldsboro Urbanized Area Study, and consider a request that it recommend approval by both City Council and Wayne County commissioners.

* Consider a resolution to participate in the MPO/RPO Coalition

* Draft revisions to the 2014-2020 State Transportation Improvement Program

* Consider approval of the draft program of work that sets forth what MPO hopes to accomplish.