City seeking feedback on 15th Street project

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Residents, property owners and others along the proposed 15th Street improvement project corridor will have an opportunity to voice their views on the project at a hearing next month.

During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council set the hearing for 6 p.m. Dec. 8. The council wants input from those who would be affected by the project. City Manager Bobby Roberson said he wants the North Carolina Department of Transportation to have a representative at the hearing so DOT better understands how those people feel about the proposed $16 million project that runs from Carolina Avenue (U.S. Highway 17 business) to John Small Avenue (U.S. Highway 264) near Vidant Beaufort Hospital.

“I have met with NCDOT about some of the public comments that we’ve had concerning the 15th Street improvements,” Roberson told the council, adding that people along the proposed project corridor will be notified by the city about the hearing.

The project has generated some controversy, with some residents and business owners along the proposed project route opposing the plan presented several months ago by DOT. At a previous council meeting and a Planning 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 — — 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.

Roberson said residents’ concerns have caught the attention of DOT. “They have modified two major components. The first one is the separated median that was in front of the Rich Co. real estate and 15th (Street) and (U.S.) 17 (business) has been removed. … There’s one thing that was pulled out on 12th (Street) where it intersects with (U.S.) 264. They had reduced one of the lanes down, and they’ve actually added that back,” Roberson said. “So, they are listening to the public comments about what we need to do on 15th Street.”

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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