Maps peppered with comments written with Sharpie markers were spread around the Town Hall conference room on Tuesday, Sept. 18, during the public mapping session for the Wrightsville Beach Comprehensive Transportation Plan. Funded and initiated by the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organizations, members of both the staff of the WMPO and Wrightsville Beach hope this plan will provide a foundation for transportation planning that can be used to draw funding for area projects.
Stephen Stansbery of Kimley-Horn and Associates — the design consulting firm for the plan — said his organization is in the very beginning of the process of gathering data about the area and that the public mapping session would provide valuable local input about the transportation system around Wrightsville Beach.
“One of the things that we recognized right away was that there have been a number of studies done in the past,” Stansbery said. “What we are thinking is enough things have changed here in the last 10 years that it might be time to dust off those ideas and find out if they have merit here and to contemplate what, of those ideas, might be able to be implemented in a shorter time frame.”
Stansbery said the most significant issue facing transportation planning across the country is a lack of available funding.
“The competition for transportation dollars is at an all-time high,” he said. “So one of the things we want to make sure we are doing is putting forth ideas that have sound endorsements from the community.”
Around 20 people attended the public mapping session, most of whom serve on various boards and commissions for the town. At one table, Mayor Pro Tem Susan Collins, historic landmark commission members Robin Spinks and Nancy Faye Craig, and parks and recreation advisory committee member Katherine Brunjes gathered around large maps portraying the entrance to Wrightsville Beach with Stansbery and parks and recreation program supervisor Katie Ryan.
During their discussion, the entrance to Wrightsville Beach and the intersection of Causeway Drive and Salisbury Street were identified as one of the main problem areas on the beach for supporting multiple modes of transportation. The main areas of concern in that cross section were the second turn onto Salisbury Street from Causeway Drive and the intersection of Keel Street and Old Causeway Drive.
Overall, Bill McDow of the WMPO said he was happy with the turnout for the mapping session and the more than 200 responses the public survey posted on the town’s website has generated.