Action Alert: FRIDAY Deadline to Send Prioritization Comments to NCDOT

Our colleagues at Bike Walk NC have informed us that we have until end of business day this Friday, Feb. 21 to give public comment on statewide funding for all future transportation projects.

It is crucial that you contact NCDOT division staff, your metropolitan planning organization (MPO), and your representative on the Board of NCDOT, and let them know that you are aware of how serious this situation is for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

What you need to do:

Send an email to the relevant parties!  Copy all these people on your email.

If you live in Wake County, your contacts are in NCDOT Division 5 and CAMPO:

  • Joey Hopkins NCDOT Division 5  jhopkins@ncdot.gov
  • Wally Bowman NCDOT Division 5  wbowman@ncdot.gov
  • Chris Lukasina Capital Area MPO  Chris.Lukasina@campo-nc.us
  • Michael C. Smith NCDOT Board of Transportation  mcsmith6@ncdot.gov
  • Jim Crawford NCDOT Board of Transportation  crawprop@raleigh.twcbc.com

What to say?

Scott Lane, local advocate and owner of J S Lane Company summarized the situation with these three points:

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  1. Establish a Fair Economic Connection between Local Development Choices and Transportation Infrastructure Investment. The current STI and priority systems don’t go far enough in this regard. If bicycle, pedestrian, and public transportation projects are held to a matching requirement to receive state and federal dollars, then the same should hold true for all projects, including new location / widening projects for roadways. Maintenance should be treated similarly. Local governments, both municipal and county, need to be involved in the project selection process, but they also need to take responsibility for their fair share of the costs. Until the day arrives when matching requirements for all transportation projects are a reality, then no form of transportation should have a required local match.
  2. Finance the Complete Streets Policy Already Adopted by North Carolina DOT. North Carolina can then take a firmer stance on financing its adopted complete streets policy, the abdication of which will weigh unfairly on low-income / minority populations across the State that rely on methods of transportation other than private automobile to a disproportionate extent. This fact can be easily seen by considering recent crash statistics: although non-white persons make up only about 28% of the state’s population, 41% of reported pedestrian crashes occurred to non-white people (where the race of those involved was known) in North Carolina between 2010 and 2012. People of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in lower income urban and rural areas also tend to feel the safety effects of automobile-only street design much more keenly.
  3. Recognize that the Old Paradigm of Assigning Economic Value to Roadways Doesn’t Fit the Needs of Many Markets Any Longer. From an economic perspective, investing in walk-able and bike-able communities is becoming a well-established mantra for cities as diverse as Indianapolis, Austin, New York, and West Jefferson, NC. Information-based economies want to see more trails and safe cycling accommodations; service and manufacturing economies rely upon low-wage workers often without good access to their own automobiles – both markets are important to North Carolina’s current situation and its future, and both groups are weighing livable communities and streets heavily in their location decisions. The decision to de-fund bicycle and pedestrian projects with state matching dollars is essentially telling small- and medium-sized communities that they have a much harder path forward to realizing economic prosperity in the new economic conditions in which our state must compete. If anything, North Carolina can emerge as a national leader by financing more, smaller, more cost-efficient multi-modal projects to help make our communities more competitive, instead of investing in single-purpose, major roadway projects that impact ever-fewer communities as their price tags go up and up.

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Here is the link to last week’s op-ed piece in the Charlotte Observer which gives additional viewpoints on the subject:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/02/12/4687685/nc-transportation-reforms-are.html#.UwFl_YW-Nkt .

In addition to this, you can also let your local reps know what local projects you’d like to see completed. Many roads in North Carolina are owned by the state of NC rather than being under control of the local cities and towns. Let NCDOT know what type of improvements you’d like to see such as bike lanes, separated bicycle facilities, sidewalks, and paved shoulders.

This is an important opportunity and we need to let NCDOT know that bicycle projects need a fair chance at funding.

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