With its federal designation as a Metropolitan Planning Agency in July 2012, the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization will receive a total of $2.7 million annually in Surface Transportation Program Direct Attributable funding.
Given the new source of funding, the WMPO has developed a priority allocation for roadway, transit, intersection, and bike and pedestrian improvements that can be submitted by the 10 municipalities the WMPO serves. The Transportation Advisory Committee approved 15 percent of the funding to be taken for the WMPO to hire two additional staff members and to create a reserve fund for projects that run over budget. The TAC also approved 15 percent to be allocated for qualifying roadway improvements, 20 percent for transit improvements, 50 percent for bike and pedestrian improvements and 15 percent for intersection improvements.
At a STP-DA workshop hosted by the WMPO on Wednesday, Jan. 23, WMPO executive director Mike Kozlosky said to qualify for funding, all projects would be for public use with a 20-percent local match associated. Kozlosky also said because this is the first year going through the process, the WMPO is requesting that no municipality submit more than four projects this year. Not all projects submitted would be accepted, and Kozlosky said there was no way of predicting how many would be accepted because that number will depend on the costs of each individual project.
The deadline for submitting projects is March 1, after which the WMPO will review all projects for eligibility from March to June and announce the most qualified projects to receive funding in July. If a project were selected, construction authorization for that project would have to be approved within 10 years.
Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens, and parks and recreation program supervisor Katie Ryan represented the town at the workshop and said Wrightsville Beach would pursue a few projects to be submitted for review. Those projects included roundabouts at Salisbury Street and Lumina Avenue, and at Salisbury Street and Causeway Drive; the North Lumina Avenue bike and pedestrian facility from the Salisbury Street intersection to Ridge Lane; and the Pelican Drive Bicycle Plan.
Projects can only be eligible if they are on the WMPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan. Although some of the projects the town plans to include are not on the LRTP, WMPO associate transportation planner Suraiya Rashid said the WMPO would work to have the TAC add the requested projects to the plan.