North Carolina’s transportation system is going to face funding challenges as the population changes and technology grows, according to transportation officials.

The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Transportation Luncheon Tuesday at the Goldsboro Event Center to hear Goldsboro Mayor Chuck Allen; Marc Finlayson, chairman of NC Go, a transportation advocacy group; and Tony Lathrop, an at-large member of the N.C. Board of Transportation, talk about the future of transportation.

People in Goldsboro and most eastern North Carolina cities who spend their commutes dodging potholes and complaining about road conditions may not see it get much better until a funding solution is discovered.

However, Goldsboro is moving ahead with some large transportation projects over the next three to four years, including a $21 million improvement to U.S. 117 from the U.S. 70 Bypass at North William Street to the new U.S. 70. Work is scheduled to begin March 2020, Allen said.

The project should be completed in about two and a half years.

Another major project set for next year is the realignment of Central Heights Road at Berkeley Boulevard with improved intersections, and the extension of Oak Forest Road from Gateway Drive to Central Heights Road and Fallin Boulevard from Berkeley Boulevard to Central Heights Road, Allen said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2020 and will be completed in two years.

Work on Wayne Memorial Drive improvements from New Hope Road to U.S. 70 Bypass is scheduled to begin March 2021 with a two-year completion timeline and includes a 23-inch raised grass median, completion of the multi-use path along New Hope Road and sidewalks on both sides of Wayne Memorial Drive, according to a DOT report.

Berkeley Road improvements from New Hope Road to Saulston Road will extend a left turn lane on New Hope Road. The project will also realign Hood Swamp Road at Berkeley Boulevard and add sidewalks on the east side of Berkeley Boulevard from New Hope Road to Dollar General.

Construction is scheduled for March 2023 and should be complete in three years, according to a DOT report.

In June 2020, work is scheduled to begin on improvements for East Ash Street from Berkeley Boulevard to U.S. 70 with a median dividing the roadway and three round-a-bouts at Malloy Street, Oak Forest Road and Meadow Road. Meadow Road also will be realigned and sidewalks installed on both sides of Ash Street, DOT reports show.

Allen said regionalism is a huge factor and the only way Goldsboro is going to meet its transportation infrastructure needs.

Transportation problems are the main concerns of mayors in all cities because without a good transportation system goods stop moving, he said.

Finlayson, chairman of NC Go, which is dedicated solely to transportation, said one of the biggest challenges we are facing is how to fund the transportation system.

Although the population is growing in North Carolina, people are driving less; millennials are using Uber and Lyft and share rides to get where they are going. Electronic, automated vehicles and drones making deliveries are all changing transportation paradigms, Finlayson said.

Lathrop added, “While we are not despairing,” he said, “we are anticipating there will be a lot fewer cars in the future. We’re going to have to be nimble. It’s a real challenge.”