Out of last week’s planning retreat has grown a renewed emphasis on the part of Garner’s town council, to address the town’s continuing transportation needs.
That’s a good thing because there’s no easy way for a town of Garner’s size to capture the attention of large state entities like the Department of Transportation when the need is acute.
It takes a lot of time to navigate the system, and in DOT’s defense, they are dealing with more work than they have money and resources to complete every time someone comes to them with their hand out.
But Garner is growing and at a fairly rapid clip in this post-recession climate. Garner officials recognize several future needs and understand that value of getting in line early.
It remains to be seen if the town will be in line early enough to address its road and highway needs before they become overbearing.
But in today’s world, the path to the DOT pot of funding is a long, winding complex system that actually involves several different pots of money and several layers of bureacracy, depending on who creates a particular pot of money.
Some of it is controlled by federal officials. Some by the state. Still other funds are controlled by a quasi-governmental agency called CAMPO, or the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Garner is represented on that body, but the loudest voices come from Cary and Raleigh, not the Garners of the group. That means the town of Garner will have to play a game of you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours if it hopes to win support for funding its own needs.
Garner leaders will likely have to throw their support behind projects that mean little or nothing to the town in order to have that support reciprocated.
The town is fortunate on at least one account when it comes to meeting transportation needs. The southern loop of I-540, though it is currently mired in study, remains on the books and over the next few years, Garnerites will begin to see the benefit of that massive transportation project.
But for now, Garner leaders know not where that road will actually go and that makes planning for it a challenge.
In the meantime, other parts of Garner still have needs and Garner’s leaders are beginning to work to meet the needs they can.
That’s a forward-thinking attitude and, no matter how long it takes to actually get a road built or widened, it serves the townspeople well.