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NCDOT initiates US 64 - NC 49 corridor study

Posted Friday, January 23, 2004

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has initiated a comprehensive study to develop a plan for the future of US 64 & NC 49 from Raleigh to Statesville and Raleigh to Charlotte. The plan will assess the mobility needs of people and freight to and through the central portion of the state. This study is ongoing, and will integrate public participation.

Strategic Corridors Concept
In an era of shrinking budgets and increased demand for services, the NCDOT knows the importance of being proactive in providing quality transportation infrastructure. The NCDOT's newly initiated Strategic Corridors Concept identifies and suggests improvements to important, exhisting highway corridors vital to moving people and goods within and just outside of North Carolina.

Through this concept, the NCDOT will develop corridor "master plans" that will:

*Enhance regional mobility and safety
*Foster economic prosperity to the surrounding environment
*Minimize impacts
*Protect local communities
*Develop cost-effective solutions

US 64 and NC 49 - A Strategic Corridor for the State
The US 64 & NC 49 corridors are a critical link in central North Carolina, connecting three of the state's major urban areas (Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte area). The NCDOT selected these corridors as the first to be studied under the Strategic Corridors Concept. Results from the Corridor Study will guide the development of the highway corridors that will serve the travel needs of people and freight to and through central North Carolina for the next 25 years.

Project Goal
To develop a highway corridor vision consistent with the Strategic Corridors Concept definition that will serve the mobility needs of people and freight to and through Central North Carolina while fostering economic prosperity and minimizing impact to the surrounding environment.

Project Objectives

* Enhance transportation connectivity and mobility
* Serve as a reliever to I-85/I-40
* Improve safety
* Support regional and local transit plans
* Support economic development
* Support the development of liveable communities
* Optimize costs and benefits to system users and funding agencies
* Be sensitive to environmental factors and social factors

Study Process
The US 64 - NC 49 Corridor Study will develop a clear vision (called a master plan) of the physical and operational elements needed along the US 64 and NC 49 corridors to meet defined project objectives. This study process will involve:

*Identifying potential physical, environmental, social, and economic opportunities and constraints
*Examining the relationship between land use and transportation
*Providing guidance for multi-modal and inter-modal solutions
*Assessing project financial feasibility
*Actively involving citizens throughout the study process

The study, initiated in the fall of 2003, utilizes a "tiered" process to reduce and refine a range of transportation alternatives into a comprehensive corridor improvement program. The study's analysis procedure identifies regional transportation deficiencies, evaluates an array of corridor improvements, and culminates in a comprehensive improvement program that is financially feasible, environmentally sensitive, cost effective, and serves the travel needs for a variety of users.

The study will develop and evaluate alternatives through a 2-tiered process.

Tier 1 will focus on identifying and addressing regional transportation needs. Tier 1 will consist of a qualitative evaluation of broad alternative improvements that address existing and future regional transportation deficiencies.

Tier 2 will narrow the focus to a corridor-specific level. Corridor improvements will be recommended following the development and evaluation of general alignment locations. Improvement specifics, such as roadway design elements and scheduling considerations will be considered in Tier 2. Tier 2 will also examine current land use policies, describe land use policy guidelines that would support the recommended improvement plan, and will consider existing and innovative local and state-level corridor protection methods.

Study Schedule
The study is currently in Tier 1. Tier 1 was initiated in the Fall of 2003 and will be completed by the Spring of 2004. Tier 2 will begin immediately following completion of Tier 1.

The schedule displays key activities for Tiers 1 and 2.

The Study Process in Action
The Study Team has been out in the corridor conducting two types of travel surveys - a Roadside Survey and a License Plate Video Survey. These surveys have been conducted to help the Study Team understand existing travel characteristics throughout the study area. This understanding helps the Team to consider potential future travel patterns.

Roadside Surveys
Three roadside surveys were conducted in October 2003 along the US 64 - NC 49 corridor: one in Lexington on US 64, one east of Siler City on US 64, and one west of the Yadkin River on NC 49. Roadway drivers were stopped and asked questions about the origin and destination of their trip.

Public Involvement
To ensure that everyone along the entire length of the study corridor (nearly 200 miles in total) has the opportunity to learn about and comment on the study process and progress, the Study Team is undertaking public involvement actions in each of five loosely delineated public involvement cells.

Public Involvement "Cells"
The five geographic cells were defined based on their unique transportation and land use characteristics.
Cell #1: US 64 - Cary to Pittsboro
Cell #2: US 64 - Pittsboro to Asheboro
Cell #3: US 64 - Asheboro to Lexington
Cell #4: US 64 - Lexington to Statesville
Cell #5: NC 49 - Asheboro to Charlotte

The Public Involvement Program will be used throughout the study process to 1) involve key stakeholders early in the study process to provide insight into the wants and needs of the communities throughout the corridor, and 2) disperse information about the study to the public. Details about each aspect of the Public Involvement Program are provided below.

Stakeholder Involvement

What is a Stakeholder?
Key stakeholders may include elected officials, active citizens, organizations, and various agencies interested in shaping the future vision of the corridor and/or may be impacted by the study recommendations.

How will Stakeholders be involved?
Stakeholders will participate in and learn about the study process through Stakeholder Interviews, the Corridor Development Team (CDT), and Outreach Presentations.

Stakeholder Interviews
Four stakeholder interviews for each public involvement cell will be conducted (a total of twenty stakeholder interviews). Stakeholder interviews will be an opportunity to discuss goals and objectives of the study and serve to gather critical information on the potential concerns, opinions, and issues of the groups represented by the stakeholders.

Corridor Development Team (CDT)
To ensure that the US 64 - NC 49 Corridor Study recommendations consider community visions and needs, the NCDOT assembled a Corridor Development Team (CDT) to oversee the study. This multi-agency team represents a comprehensive knowledge of the regional study area. Organizations represented on the Study CDT include the FHWA, NCDOT, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs) for the communities within the study area.

CDT members will aid the study team in meeting the study objectives through their willingness to:

*Review and comment on regional transportation objectives and priorities for the study
*Use their knowledge of the study area to help generate viable alternatives
*Act as technical "sounding board" for potential strategies to be evaluated
*Assist in developing measures and methodologies for testing strategies
*Review and comment on the results of the evaluations
*Assist in framing issues, alternatives, and next steps for stakeholders
*Foster regional cooperation
*Raise and discuss issues of concern
*Help to anticipate community reactions
*Reflect the range of affected interests
*Help the Study Team establish a working relationship with communities affected by the project

Corridor Development Team Meetings and Agenda Items

CDT Meeting #1 - November 2003
US 64- NC 49 Scope and Schedule
Project Goal and Objectives
Study Area Definition
Tier 1 Definition of Alternatives
Evaluation Criteria
Public Involvement
*CDT Meeting #1 was held on November 12, 2003.

CDT Meeting #2 - March 2004
Tier 1 Methodology, Findings, and Recommendations
Draft Strategic Purpose and Need
Stakeholder Interview Results
Land Use Characteristics/Assumptions
Tier 2 Scope Overview
Tier 2 Definition of Alternatives

CDT Meeting #3 - June 2004
Revised Strategic Corridor Purpose and Need Statement
Environmental Constraints
Corridor-level Travel Demand Forecasts
Land Use Forecasts
Tier 2 Evaluation Criteria

CDT Meeting #4 - October 2004
Presentation of Tier 2 Methodology, Findings, and Recommendations
Land Use Policy Guidelines
Corridor Protection Methods
Design Concept and Scope
Next Steps

Outreach Presentations
The outreach presentation will include:

*Overview of the Strategic Corridors Concept
*Overview of the US 64 - NC 49 Corridor Study (including project goal, objectives, and evaluation criteria)
*Tier 1 Analysis

Public Involvement
Outreach presentations about the US 64 - NC 49 Corridor Study will be given throughout early 2004 at a variety of locations along the study corridor.

Public Information
The following methods will be used to inform the public about the Study:

Media Releases
Media releases will be sent to television, newspaper, and radio organizations along the corridor. The releases will provide detailed information at key points throughout the study.

These releases will be posted to the NC DOT website as they are developed.

Study Brochure
A brochure providing information about the Strategic Corridors Concept, the US 64 - NC 49 Corridor Study, the Corridor Development Team, and the Study Schedule will be available on the NC DOT web site.

Related info:
NC DOT 64/49 Study
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NCDOT initiates US 64 - NC 49 corridor study

Related info:
NC DOT 64/49 Study

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