DENVER – Representatives of Kimley-Horn, a planning, engineering and design consulting firm hired to complete a study of the roads in eastern Lincoln County, outlined the scope of their work and answered questions at the East Lincoln Community Center May 30.
“This study is really the first of its kind in Lincoln County,” said Lincoln County Planning and Inspections Director Andrew Bryant. “We’re taking a concept that other communities have used successfully to have their projects prioritized and funded at the state level. The purpose of the study is to identify and prioritize different levels of transportation projects so that we’re prepared and ready to react accordingly when opportunities to fund those projects are presented.”
The study, which was authorized by county commissioners in December, will examine the area bounded by N.C. 16 Business, North Little Egypt Road, St. James Church Road and N.C. 73. Kimley-Horn will study 29 intersections within that boundary, which has experienced population growth of nearly 17 percent since 2010, with nearly 40 percent of the homes in that area built since 2000.
While the May 30 meeting was held to introduce the project, Kimley-Horn had already taken field visits for data collection to analyze the traffic conditions while school was still in session. The data being collected includes signal timing, road projects that are already in the works, traffic counts and crash statistics.
When that data has been collected, Kimley-Horn will enter the information into a model to further examine the existing condition of the roads. Specifically, the model will allow for analysis of the crash and traffic data.
Kimley-Horn will use the data to develop a plan to address traffic issues, starting with safety improvements at up to eight of the identified intersections. The plan will also include up to 15 transportation alternatives, as well as potential funding opportunities.
Members of the audience asked for specific outcomes expected from the study. Former county commissioner Martin Oakes, who also represented the county on the Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization (GCLMPO), chimed in on the study’s potential impact.
“At one (GCLMPO) meeting, (representatives from) Belmont showed up with a project, and I asked the N.C. Department of Transportation guy how they got their project included,” Oakes recalled. “He told me that it was because Belmont showed up to the meeting with a plan. This is our plan. We need to have this plan, otherwise NCDOT will continue to ignore us.”
Not everyone agreed, with one member of the audience referring to the plan as “bureaucratic nonsense.”
“In all fairness, we’ve had all these meetings about new developments and everything being added over here, so this is something that’s been inevitable and that’s why you hear frustration in the room,” said Elaine Jenkins, a former county commission candidate. “Some of these very same questions were posed when all these developments were being approved. It just feels like this is late, but at least it’s going to happen.”
Kimley-Horn will return to the East Lincoln Community Center July 23 to provide an update on the study. To follow the progress of the study, visit the “planning and inspections” page at lincolncounty.org.