By Jesse Wood
April 14, 2014. At its meeting on Tuesday morning, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners will look to prioritize four transportation projects to be submitted to the High Country Council of Governments for the state Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which is a new strategic planning process for ranking projects in North Carolina.
The High Country Council of Governments is the regional planning organization (RPO) for Alleghany (3), Ashe (5), Avery (3), Mitchell (3), Watauga (4), Yancey (4) and Wilkes (7) counties and the Town of Boone (1). In parenthesis is the number of projects the RPO will score and rank from each county or town before forwarding the prioritized list to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Because of a bill passed in 2013, all of the transportation projects, whether they are highway, bicycle and pedestrian, transit, airport or rail modes, are lumped together and compete for funds with potential projects across Division 11 and 12.
“As a result, the number of projects to be scored and ranked will need to be narrowed down in an effort to maximize allocated points for scoring fewer projects thus enabling the reduced number of projects to better compete for available funding,” David Graham, transportation planner with HCCG, wrote in a memo to county and town managers in March, adding that the RPO “will score and rank the number of new and existing projects.”
Joe Furman, director of county planning, reached out to municipalities – excluding Boone because it automatically receives a project for scoring and ranking – in the past month to see what priorities were across Watauga.
According to a memo from County Manager Deron Geouque to the commissioners,
- Boone is likely to choose an “in-town” project such as King/College streets improvements
- Seven Devils favors N.C. 105 bridge and turning lane at Broadstone Road
- Beech Mountain’s top project is Beech Mountain Parkway walkway
- Blowing Rock – in this order – favors King/College streets improvements; U.S. 421/321/194 North to Vilas widening; and U.S. 321/N.C. 105 intersection improvements
- AppalCART wants an additional bus if student housing at Shadowline Drive is built
In the memo, Geouque reminded the commissioners that the board was interested in improving intersections and widening lanes at Bamboo/Wilson Ridge roads in the fall of 2013 and mentioned that the board may also want to consider the Daniel Boone Parkway proposal among its four projects.
The deadline to submit four projects to the RPO is April 22.