For more than 25 years I have been helping clients deal with highway projects that impact their property rights or business interests. One thing I have learned along the way is that having the chance to express your concerns early in the planning process can be key to minimizing the impact that a project has on your interests. That is why I am very pleased to share with you a new online, interactive portal that the NCDOT has launched to collect public input on priorities, projects, and traffic concerns that will help to guide the future transportation projects in our state. I believe that North Carolina may be the first to implement such a comprehensive online system for public input.
Please take a moment to review the proposed projects that may affect you or your business. We are evaluating many projects right now for clients with property interests across the state. If you have a question about a specific project, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (919) 821-7700.
The N.C. Department of Transportation’s transportation plan – called the State Transportation Improvement Program – identifies the construction funding and scheduling for transportation projects at the state level over a 10-year period. Although federal law requires the plan to be updated every four years, the department proactively updates it every two years to ensure it accurately reflects the state’s current financial situation.
The Strategic Transportation Investments law also mandates ongoing evaluation and improvement to ensure the process continues to be responsive to North Carolina’s diverse needs. This is accomplished through what is known as a “prioritization work group,” which is primarily comprised of professional engineers and transportation planners.
The data-driven process to update the State Transportation Improvement Program for 2018-2027 – called strategic prioritization – began in fall 2015 when NCDOT and local planning organizations gathered public feedback on projects and later submitted projects to be evaluated – or scored – for the plan.
On Aug. 24, 2016, NCDOT released preliminary scores for projects evaluated at the regional level – one of three categories in which NCDOT distributes funding.
The scores are based on data as well as “local input points” – rankings based on local input that NCDOT and metropolitan and regional planning organizations collected across NCDOT’s 14 local transportation divisions in June and July 2016.
Also available for public review is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that includes preliminary scores and construction schedules for projects scored at both the regional and statewide levels. Preliminary statewide scores were released in May.
Now that the list for projects at the regional level has been released, the divisions and planning organizations will use that information – along with public feedback previously collected – to determine how to assign local input points for projects to be funded at the division level.
When all project scores are finalized at the statewide, regional and division levels, the top-scoring projects will be scheduled into a draft of the 2018-2027 State Transportation Improvement Program based on available funding and other factors. Those factors include the completion of environmental studies and engineering plans, corridor spending caps and federal and state funding restrictions.
The draft is scheduled to be released for public comment in January 2017 and adopted by the N.C. Board of Transportation in June 2017.