Steve Rao

Meeting with Mayor Stohlman and DOT Secretary Tata

On Friday am,  Mayor Stohlman and I met with DOT Secretary Tata to discuss the possibilities for the state to provide matches in funding or to provide credits to Morrisville if we fund via bond or through the General Fund widening of state roads, most notably Morrisville Carpenter Road and NC 54 Bypass.

I am excited to have worked with the Mcrory adminisration to have set this meeting up as the Heart of the Triangle is on the verge of having a heart attack with all our major veins and arteries blocked or congested.   It is time for bypass surgery or a stint but doing nothing is not an option.

We also were joined by Benjamin Howell, our Transporation Planner.

Several state roads and projects were discussed with the Secretary, including NC 54, particularly north of McCrimmon Parkway, the McCrimmon Parkway overpass and the town bond-funded McCrimmon Parkway extension and improvements to Morrisville-Carpenter Road between Town Hall Drive and NC 54.  We explained the future development of the new Wake Tech Campus on NC 54 at Watkins Road (expected to be constructed 2015-32016) with a potential of 7,000+ students, and the future transit station at the McCrimmon Parkway/NC 54 intersection (McCrimmon TOD).

The funding the Town is putting towards the McCrimmon Parkway extension (over $14 Million), with the question of if the Town may be able to get any credit for this investment back for other needed state roadway projects in the Town.

Secretary Tata and his Chief of Staff Bobby Lewis explained the prioritization process (SPOT) that is part of the implementation of the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) legislation, and the portion of the legislation that authorizes NCDOT to give up to 50% (or $100,000,000) of any local funding put towards a ranked project back to the local entity for use on another roadway project.  It was also explained that all the projects discussed are in the SPOT database, and will be scored using the new criteria developed as part of the STI implementation.  Those criteria and their associated weights are as follows:

 

Criteria Regional Tier (NC 54) Weight Division Tier (M-C Rd, McCrimmon) Weight
[Travel Time] Benefit/Cost 25% 20%
Congestion 25% 20%
Safety 10% 10%
Accessibility/Connectivity 10% N/A
NCDOT Division Local Input 15% 15-25%*
CAMPO Local Input 15% 25-35%*

*NCDOT had recommended even split between the Division and MPO for Local Input, but there was discussion at the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee about this.  I believe they changed the final weighting to give the MPO more local input in the Division Tier, but I am not certain.*

 

Below are the follow-up tasks/next steps that were discussed at the meeting:

  • We have sent Mr. Lewis (Sec. Tata’s Chief of Staff) an email with the SPOT IDs of the projects we discussed.  He and Secretary Tata stated that they will work with the NCDOT SPOT office to ensure the NC 54 project (McCrimmon Parkway area north to town limits) gets the proper quantitative credit for its transit and educational facility connections it will provide (would be reflected in Accessibility/Connectivity criteria).
  • Mr. Lewis and Secretary Tata also promised to let the Town know how these projects score (or will score) in the SPOT database, and what they Town may consider doing (adding town investment) in order to try to move the projects up in the prioritization list.  By using Town funds on a project, it increases the benefit/cost ratio to NCDOT, which increases the score.  Any Town investment would also qualify for the 50% bonus authorized in the STI legislation.

Overall, I would rate this meeting as very productive with the Secretary repeatedly mentioning how concerned he is about the increasing congestion on NC 54, and how the Wake Tech Campus and the Transit stop, along with the safety concerns, should help the DOT make the case that this project be advanced.

 

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