Transportation planners are studying how roadways, transit and bicycle and pedestrian features could accommodate development in a growing area between Raleigh and Smithfield during the next 30 years.
The 570-square-mile study area that includes portions of southeast Wake County and western Johnston County is the latest to come under the microscope of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The group draws up long-range transportation plans to help guide local efforts for an area that includes Wake and parts of Franklin, Granville, Harnett and Johnston counties.
CAMPO expects to kick off its Southeast Area study in the coming weeks. The process will include meetings and workshops for residents who want to share their ideas about how the area should develop and how transportation infrastructure should keep up with a growing population.
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The Southeast Area plan is being developed in partnership with the state Department of Transportation and the Upper Coastal Plain Rural Planning Organization.
Eric Lamb, the city’s transportation planning manager, said the area is an important one for Raleigh. The city will be affected by how development occurs along Rock Quarry Road headed out of the city, which in turn will be guided by the route the state chooses for the 540 Outer Loop.
The area between Raleigh and Garner also could become a part of the city in time, so its development has important consequences, Lamb said.
Long-range plans overall can be helpful because groups like CAMPO act as a referee among autonomous municipalities, he added.
“These types of large-scale area efforts can be really helpful for identifying where there are conflicts in the local plans,” Lamb said.
The group already has completed area studies for the northeast and southwest portions of its coverage areas. The reports include recommendations for planning best practices and identifying hot spots, where safety, traffic flow or design are problems.
In the Northeast Area Study, which included part of Raleigh, the recommendations included redesigning the intersection of Buffaloe Road and I-540 and improving the intersection of Buffaloe and Forestville roads.
Alex Rickard, a senior transportation planner at CAMPO, said the group will set priorities for transportation projects based on its findings, a process that never is easy.
“That is something that every transportation planner can appreciate,” he said. “There are more transportation projects that are needed than there is money to go around.”