NCDOT sur­vey tar­gets peo­ple’s fu­ture needs

The Herald Sun - - Local - BY RICHARD STRADLING rs­tradling@new­sob­server.com

How will you (or your chil­dren or grand­chil­dren) get to work, run er­rands or visit friends over the next 30 years? Will you still be driv­ing your own car or truck, or will you switch to buses, trains, bi­cy­cles, scoot­ers or some new form of trans­porta­tion not yet in­vented?

The N.C. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion is ask­ing ques­tions like these in a pub­lic sur­vey as part of a two-year up­date of the long-range plan that guides how the state spends money on trans­porta­tion. NC Moves 2050, as the ef­fort is called, will look at the big pic­ture of how peo­ple live and get around and how that might change in the fu­ture, said Kerry Mor­row, the NCDOT en­gi­neer in charge of the statewide plan.

“What are peo­ple’s pri­or­i­ties – how do peo­ple en­vi­sion that they’re go­ing to move from point A to point B in the fu­ture,” Mor­row said in an in­ter­view. “What we are re­ally do­ing is try­ing to as­sess, in the year 2050, what our trans­porta­tion sys­tem is go­ing to need to look like to ad­dress our pop­u­la­tion and dif­fer­ent parts of the econ­omy to make sure we’re a com­pet­i­tive state.”

The sur­vey, at pub­licin­put.com/nc­moves, is the first of sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties the pub­lic will have to weigh in on the plan. At the NC Moves 2050 web­site, there’s also an in­ter­ac­tive map where peo­ple can leave sug­ges­tions and see what oth­ers have to say.

There will be an­other pub­lic sur­vey next spring, as well as a series of “civic din­ners” to bring to­gether groups of peo­ple for deeper con­ver­sa­tions. Bor­row­ing an idea used in other states, the din­ners will help NCDOT hear from harder-to-reach pop­u­la­tions, such as mil­len­ni­als and Span­ish speak­ers, Mor­row said.

NCDOT plan­ners are par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in peo­ple’s feel­ings about mass tran­sit, rideshar­ing or other ways of get­ting around that don’t in­volve driv­ing alone, Mor­row said.

“We want to know how much peo­ple think about al­ter­na­tive ways to get to places that are not nec­es­sar­ily com­mon­place to­day,” she said.

The plan also will draw on eco­nomic and de­mo­graphic data and trends as well as re­search by ex­perts on var­i­ous forms of

trans­porta­tion. NCDOT will use it all to cre­ate dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios for what trans­porta­tion in North Carolina might look like in the fu­ture. The fi­nal blue­print will not only guide state pol­icy but also be­come a ref­er­ence for air­ports, rail­roads, busi­nesses, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ers, lo­cal gov­ern­ments and fed­eral agen­cies.

WHAT PEO­PLE ARE SAY­ING

So far, some peo­ple are us­ing the in­ter­ac­tive map to share big ideas, such as build­ing an­other bridge over the Cape Fear River down­stream of Wilm­ing­ton or el­e­vat­ing In­ter­state 40 so it doesn’t get flooded af­ter hur­ri­canes. Oth­ers are point­ing out prob­lems in their neigh­bor­hoods.

Here’s some of what some peo­ple in the Tri­an­gle have writ­ten (all the com­ments are anony­mous):

Many state roads in Durham are for a pop­u­la­tion half Durham’s cur­rent size. With that pop­u­la­tion due to dou­ble, the roads will be over­crowded. In­vest­ment in ligh­trail that in­cludes the en­tire county and not just one route will help lessen the load on the ex­ist­ing roads.

Widen­ing roads isn’t a long-term so­lu­tion for con­ges­tion (see “in­duced de­mand”). We need to dra­mat­i­cally in­crease our high-ca­pac­ity tran­sit op­tions. I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of light and in­ter­city rail, but I also think that North Carolina needs to ex­plore lo­cal and in­ter­city bus, as well as im­prov­ing bike and pedes­trian in­fra­struc­ture. My gen­er­a­tion (Mil­len­ni­als) de­sires ur­ban liv­ing, and we’re in­creas­ingly mov­ing to down­town ar­eas. We don’t want to own cars if we don’t have to. High-ca­pac­ity tran­sit is the fu­ture of how we move around.

Light rail and more buses would be nice for Brier Creek/RDU area to con­nect with Raleigh and Durham.

Street name sig­nage in NC is not very good. Some in­ter­sec­tions have no street signs! The Baby­boomer gen­er­a­tion is go­ing to be­come “se­nior” driv­ers with de­clin­ing eye­sight, es­pe­cially at night. More vis­i­ble street name signs are needed as well as white bound­ary lines de­not­ing the right edge of the road.

Chatham County res­i­dents need more trans­porta­tion op­tions, in­clud­ing bet­ter tran­sit to Chapel Hill, RTP & Raleigh and safer bi­cy­cle & pedes­trian fa­cil­i­ties.

Falls of Neuse Road as well as Six Forks Road could use bet­ter sig­nal tim­ing to help fa­cil­i­tate rush hour traf­fic.

For more in­for­ma­tion about NC Moves 2050, go to www.ncdot.gov/ini­tia tives-poli­cies/Trans­porta tion/nc-2050-plan/.

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