WMPO to launch plan this month

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Planning for the future of the Lower Cape Fear’s multi-modal public transportation is one of the tasks the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization is charged with overseeing every five years, and this month the organization will kick off its 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. 

At a media briefing on Tuesday, May 7, WMPO associate transportation planner Suraiya Rashid said the plan would not be limited to merely automobile transportation.  

“Everything from ferries to bicycles, airplanes, highways and freight to see what is needed in terms of transportation in this region,” Rashid said. “We really look at projections in terms of -demographics, land use and travel patterns moving forward to make sure that our transportation projects really hit these needs.”

Long-range transportation plans like this are required to have a minimum plan horizon of 20 years and Rashid said it influences how the state and federal governments appropriate annual transportation dollars. 

“It is the basis for the state’s budget for transportation projects and that includes any federal dollars that come through,” she said. “So it is a really important plan because it guides the way the state and federal government seeks to invest in transportation in this region.”

One of the organizations assisting the WMPO in the formulation of the plan is the Citizen Advisory Committee, comprised of volunteer citizens appointed by the members of the WMPO’s Transportation Advisory Committee. One member of the CAC, Howard Loving, was involved in the previous long-range plan — Cape Fear Commutes 2035. 

“[The CAC] is there to coordinate this plan, make sure it is effective and that it is what the people want,” Loving said.

The first step in the two-year planning process and most important in soliciting public input is raising awareness about the needs assessment survey for the 2040 MTP, Loving said. To be made available from May to November of 2013, the survey consists of 16 questions asking residents within the WMPO’s jurisdiction about current and future transportation needs. 

The WMPO’s boundary includes all of New Hanover County, Leland and north on U.S. Highway 17 up to Surf City. 

Loving and Rashid stressed that residents should include any and all transportation improvements they would like to see in the area but that the complete plan would be carefully reviewed. 

“It is really important that if people want to see something that it gets in here; otherwise it is not coming,” Rashid said. 

Although the survey is not available yet, Rashid said it would be accessible through the www.transportation2040.org website following the plan’s official launch event at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, in the Oleander Room of Northeast Regional Library. 

email cole@luminanews.com

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