Watauga County Comprehensive Transportation Plan Roadway Deficiencies Public Workshop Thursday

Published Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 10:38 am

April 22, 2012. A workshop regarding the Watauga County Comprehensive Transportation Plan is scheduled for Thursday, April 26, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Watauga County Commissioners room in the Administrative Building located at 814 King Street. (For previous articles on the plan, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Watauga County and the Towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, and Seven Devils, the High Country Council of Governments, and NCDOT’s Transportation Planning Branch have been working since September 2010 to develop a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) for Watauga County. A Steering Committee comprised of planning staff and elected officials from the county and municipal governments along with representatives from ASU, AppalCART, the Blue Ridge Conservancy, Boone Area Chamber or Commerce, and NCDOT was formed to assist in the development of the Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

A public survey concerning the CTP was administered in March, 2011. The CTP Steering Committee used the survey results to assist with the development of a Vision Statement as well as Goals and Objectives which were then approved by the local governments. The committee and all local governments approved current and projected socio-economic data that was used to project future traffic demands around the county. After reviewing the current and future traffic volumes, the committee developed recommendations based on goals and objectives to address deficiencies identified in the roadway network.

At this time, the Watauga County Comprehensive Transportation Plan Steering Committee would like to request feedback from the public concerning their recommendations and to receive additional recommendations for addressing highway deficiencies at a public workshop scheduled for April 26, 2012 from 4:30 PM -7:30 PM in the Watauga County Commissioners Room. The public is invited to attend the workshop to review the deficiencies that have been identified, review the Steering Committee’s recommendations, and provide additional recommendations for the Steering Committee to consider. After comments have been received, they will be presented to the Steering Committee for consideration. A draft Comprehensive Transportation Plan, which will include recommendations for all transportation modes, will be prepared and presented at a later date for public review.

For more information about the Watauga County Comprehensive Transportation Plan contact:

Cooper Sellers 
dcsellers1@ncdot.gov 
919-707-0978 

or

Craig Hughes
chughes@regiond.org
828-265-5434.

 

 November 17, 2011

Comprehensive Transportation Plan Still in Early Stages Boone Bypass Not Discussed Much Thus Far
Story by Jesse Wood

The need for more bike lanes was the No. 1 concern of respondents to a survey that is helping shape a new Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) for Watauga County.

In summer 2010, the High Country Council of Governments (HCCG) formed a steering committee to develop a CTP to identify and address deficiencies in future traffic patterns of Watauga County.

Craig Hughes, transportation planner for HCCG, said the plan is still in its early stages. Using previous pedestrian, retail and local land use plans, along with estimated growth rates, the CTP committee has created a preliminary plan—with goals, objectives and measures—that, according to the CTP mission statement, is safe, environmentally responsible, accessible, efficient and provides multi-modal connectivity to local and regional areas and preserves the character of High Country.

By the end of the week, Hughes will have appeared before the local municipalities seeking approval for socio-economic data used in estimating future population and employment trends in the area. This data will help predict future traffic patterns.

Using data from the 2010 Census and the Office of State Budget and Management, the CTP committee estimates that Watauga County’s population will grow from 51,079 to 80,511 in 2040, and the labor force is forecasted to grow from 21,728 to 36,230.

Assuming all local governments approve the data, the committee will send the proposed plan in December to the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT), which will identify any shortcomings for the committee to address beginning February, Hughes said.

The HCCG plans to hold public hearings and workshops in April and May prior to adopting the plan in August 2012.

Last winter, about 1,000 people completed a Watauga County CTP survey. One of the overwhelming responses from people, Hughes said, was that “folks expressed concern for bicycle improvements.”

In the survey question, “Which improvements should be considered to address traffic problems in High Country?” 60 percent of respondents said more bike lanes are needed. Other responses to the question that scored high included: greenways and off-road paths, 51 percent; improving intersection design, traffic signals and creating traffic circles, 51 percent; add turn lanes at specific intersections, 50 percent; and expand sidewalks, 47 percent.

The plan has eight goals with more than 25 objectives and 15 measures. Objectives include, among others: increase access transit and non-vehicular modes for college students and tourists; reduce crash rate by 5 percent by 2040; increase bike trails and sidewalks that are separated from roads; connect transit between Boone and other municipalities; install bike lanes or widen lanes; perform benefit analysis of each project’s life cycle; connect greenways to ASU and neighborhoods; alleviate traffic congestion; and reduce time spent at traffic lights.

The basis for the plan formed in summer 2010 when NCDOT asked local municipalities for a preferred route for a Boone bypass, also known as the Daniel Boone Parkway. Appearing before the Boone Town Council in June 2010, Phil Trew, HCCG director of planning and development, said HCCG feels the county needs the CTP before a decision for a preferred bypass route is made.

Hughes said the main purpose for the CTP wasn’t for the creation of the Daniel Boone Parkway. He noted that the last time a thoroughfare plan was done for the Town of Boone was 1991. Watauga County created a thoroughfare plan in 2002, but it didn’t include the Town of Boone, he said, adding that if a plan isn’t identified in a comprehensive plan or long-range thoroughfare plan then it is not likely to get NCDOT funding.

Though the Daniel Boone Parkway hasn’t been discussed in a while, Hughes said the idea for a Boone bypass “is still out there.”

“The hope is after going through this process, we will be clear on what the needs are and what the deficiencies are, and we can make a recommendation based on that and either move the project forward or explore some other alternatives.”

For more information about the CTP, contact Hughes at 828-265-5435, ext. 135, or chughes@regiond.org. For more information about the HCCG, click to www.regiond.org.

Comprehensive Transportation Plan Objectives

Listed below are some objectives of the Comprehensive Transportation Plan in Watauga County.

• Increase access to transit and non-vehicular modes for university students and tourists
• Separate, where possible, pedestrian ways and bike routes from vehicular areas
• Sidewalks should be on both sides of primary streets and one side of collector streets within municipal limits
• Connect greenway paths between neighborhoods and ASU
• Alleviate congestion at the intersection of U.S. 321 and N.C. 105
• Vehicles should not be stopped at a traffic signal for more than one cycle, except in Central Business Districts
• Provide for alternative modes of transportation between the towns of Boone, Blowing Rock, Seven Devils and Beech Mountain

 

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