North Carolina’s Transit Future: Connecting people to opportunities
How will you (or your children or grandchildren) get to work, run errands or visit friends over the next 30 years? Will you still be driving your own car or truck, or will you switch to buses, trains, bicycles, scooters or some new form of transportation not yet invented?
The N.C. Department of Transportation is asking questions like these in a public survey as part of a two-year update of the long-range plan that guides how the state spends money on transportation. NC Moves 2050, as the effort is called, will look at the big picture of how people live and get around and how that might change in the future, said Kerry Morrow, the NCDOT engineer in charge of the statewide plan.
“What are people’s priorities — how do people envision that they’re going to move from point A to point B in the future,” Morrow said in an interview. “What we are really doing is trying to assess, in the year 2050, what our transportation system is going to need to look like to address our population and different parts of the economy to make sure we’re a competitive state.”
The survey, which can be found at publicinput.com/ncmoves, is the first of several opportunities the public will have to weigh in on the plan. At the NC Moves 2050 website, there’s also an interactive map where people can leave suggestions and see what others have to say.
There will be another public survey next spring, as well as a series of “civic dinners” to bring together groups of people for deeper conversations. Borrowing an idea used in other states, the dinners will help NCDOT hear from harder-to-reach populations, such as millennials and Spanish speakers, Morrow said.
NCDOT planners are particularly interested in people’s feelings about mass transit, ridesharing or other ways of getting around that don’t involve driving alone, Morrow said.
“We want to know how much people think about alternative ways to get places that are not necessarily commonplace today,” she said.
The plan also will draw on economic and demographic data and trends as well as research by experts on various forms of transportation. NCDOT will use it all to create different scenarios for what transportation in North Carolina might look like in the future. The final blueprint will not only guide state policy but also become a reference for airports, railroads, businesses, economic developers, local governments and federal agencies.
What people are saying
So far, some people are using the interactive map to share big ideas, such as building another bridge over the Cape Fear River downstream of Wilmington or elevating Interstate 40 so it doesn’t get flooded after hurricanes. Others are pointing out problems in their neighborhoods.
Here’s some of what some people in the Triangle have written (all the comments are anonymous):
▪ Many state roads in Durham are for a population half Durham’s current size. With that population due to double, the roads will be overcrowded. Investment in lightrail that includes the entire county and not just one route will help lessen the load on the existing roads.
▪ Widening roads isn’t a long-term solution for congestion (see “induced demand”). We need to dramatically increase our high-capacity transit options. I’m particularly fond of light and intercity rail, but I also think that North Carolina needs to explore local and intercity bus, as well as improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure. My generation (Millennials) desires urban living, and we’re increasingly moving to downtown areas. We don’t want to own cars if we don’t have to. High-capacity transit is the future of how we move around.
▪ Light rail and more buses would be nice for Brier Creek/RDU area to connect with Raleigh and Durham.
▪ Street name signage in NC is not very good. Some intersections have no street signs! The Babyboomer generation is going to become “senior” drivers with declining eyesight, especially at night. More visible street name signs are needed as well as white boundary lines denoting the right edge of the road.
▪ Chatham County residents need more transportation options, including better transit to Chapel Hill, RTP & Raleigh and safer bicycle & pedestrian facilities.
▪ Falls of Neuse Road as well as Six Forks Road could use better signal timing to help facilitate rush hour traffic.
For more information about NC Moves 2050, go to www.ncdot.gov/initiatives-policies/Transportation/nc-2050-plan/.