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 — — 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.


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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