City to host meeting for 15th Street project
Published 5:24 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Residents, property owners and business owners along a section of 15th Street will have an opportunity to learn more about a proposed project, which is somewhat controversial, to change the configuration of that street section.
Accepting the Planning Board’s recommendation, the Washington City Council, during its meeting Monday, voted unanimously for the city to notify those people about the proposed project and conduct a meeting concerning the project details. A date and time for that meeting has not been set. At a previous council meeting and a previous board meeting, several people expressed concerns with the project as proposed. The concerns center mainly on traffic medians, which opponents contend with hinder traffic flow to some businesses and impede economic development.
Last month, the North Carolina Department of Transportation conducted an informational meeting about the project, which calls for converting the existing multi-lane road into a four-lane, raised median divided road. The project is designed to improve overall traffic flow and traffic safety. Preliminary project designs are on the project website — www.ncdot.gov/projects/publicmeetings — for public review and comment. The project also includes median breaks for left turns as traffic volumes warrant. U-turn locations will be provided at several locations.
City Manager Bobby Roberson told the council his office has received “numerous complaints” about the proposed $16 million project. Mayor Mac Hodges and council members said they’d like for DOT — in light of those complaints — to take another look at the proposed project.
“That whole program needs to be readdressed,” Councilman Doug Mercer said, adding he spent a couple of hours reviewing the plans recently. The councilman said the proposed project, in his opinion, would result in traffic being impeded in specific areas along the project corridor. “It needs a great deal more thought than it’s had. At this point in time, I would suggest that we tell DOT that we’re just not satisfied with it.”
Roberson suggested the city provide DOT with an itemized list of its concerns with the project.
DOT spokesmen have said the project’s goal is to reduce the number of vehicles crashes on 15th Street. Crashes on the western section of the project corridor occur about three times more frequently than crashes on similar roads in other areas of the state, according to DOT figures.