City Council expected to schedule 15th Street hearing
Published 6:15 pm Friday, November 11, 2016
Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, is scheduled to discuss setting a public hearing on the proposed 15th Street improvement project.
The project has generates some controversy, with some residents and business owners along the proposed project route opposing the plan presented several months ago by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
At its Sept. 12 meeting, the council — accepting the Planning Board’s recommendation to do so — voted unanimously for the city to notify affected people and businesses about the proposed project and conduct a meeting concerning the project details. A date and time for that meeting was not been set then. 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.
In August, 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 —
http://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.
At the Sept. 12 council meeting, 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.
During its meeting in late September, the Planning Board decided it wanted a representative from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to discuss the proposed 15th Street project, including any recent modifications to the project, with the City Council instead of the board.
Board member D. Howell Miller said then he hopes DOT will replace the proposed medians with the middle turn lane along the project corridor. Miller believes the switch would help alleviate flooding in the project corridor, saying medians act as dams that slow floodwaters from receding. Fellow board member Jane Alligood concurred, saying, “I want someone to convince me that they’re going to control water before they put anymore impervious surfaces on 15th Street.”
Glenn Moore, a city planner, told the board the proposed project includes drainage components.
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.