Hearing set on transportation plan

Published 8:50 pm Saturday, November 23, 2013

Washington’s City Council will conduct a public hearing on the Beaufort County Comprehensive Transportation Plan at 6 p.m. Dec. 9.
The plan, which identifies major transportation improvement projects needed during the next 25 to 30 years, was developed by the Mid-East Rural Planning Organization. Copies of the plan were not available for the council and mayor during the council’s meeting Monday night, but city staff will obtain copies for them.
The plan, at least for some council members, leaves something to be desired. Councilman Bobby Roberson isn’t happy the plan does not address Highland Drive.
“Highland Drive is a major-minor thoroughfare that connects the hospital area directly into the high school. It’s a dangerous situation in the mornings, particularly when you come out of Smallwood,” Roberson said. “The thing should be upgraded. I know why the state doesn’t want to do it because it’s a little complicated in its design because of the separation that goes down with the bridge. But having said that, that should be a high-priority project for us.”
Roberson also notes that, according to the city’s adopted thoroughfare plan, there should be an east-west connector that serves the Tree Shade residential area and area adjacent to Washington High School.
“I think it’s important for us to get an east-west connector off of (U.S. Highway) 264 to the Old Bath Highway. … I have a lot of other concerns about what we’ve got here,” Roberson said.
Mayor Archie Jennings asked other council members who have similar concerns to voice them to city staff so those concerns might be addressed when the council further explores the plan.
Councilman Mercer noted the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan has gone back and forth between upgrading Highland Drive or getting a throughway from U.S. Highway 264 to Slatestone Road (likely through Tree Shade).
“There are limitations to each of those,” he said.
A wetlands issue hangs over the proposed thoroughfare from U.S. 264 to Slatestone Road, he noted.
“The difficulty with Highland Drive, as you pointed at, is the wetlands at the bottom of the hill where the bridge is. So, there are limitations on both of those. We just need to get one of those back in the TIP,” Mercer said.
Roberson said the plan also should address the traffic-safety and waiting issues at the intersection of North Market and 15th streets.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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