The comprehensive pedestrian plan approved by the Kinston City Council in 2008 could be the city’s ace in the hole when competing for a chunk of $6 million in N.C. Department of Transportation funds available for local pedestrian improvement projects.
“Just by having a plan, it makes your projects more competitive for the limited funds,” said Mayor B.J. Murphy, who also serves on the Lenoir County Transportation Committee.
Some aspects of the plan — which was developed with residents’ input five years ago — such as streetscape improvements along Martin Luther King Boulevard, have been implemented.
Members of the Transportation Committee recently asked city officials to update the pedestrian plan, though, and reprioritize the projects.
Murphy said the list should include projects which best fit the DOT’s funding requirements.
“By updating it with priorities that will most likely receive funding though the DOT TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) program we can accomplish more projects in a quicker amount of time,” Murphy said.
Amanda Engesether, the city’s planning director, recently presented a list of the top five pedestrian projects selected for presentation to the Transportation Committee during its June 20 meeting.
Those projects include installing sidewalks along Vernon Avenue, with intersection improvements at Hardee Road and MLK Boulevard; a multi-use trail along West Vernon to serve the Woodmen Community Center — with intersection improvements at Pecan Lane to help nearby Caswell Developmental Center residents have access to the community center — install sidewalks along MLK with intersection improvements at Washington Avenue and Caswell Street; a greenway and riverwalk along the Neuse River and streetscape improvements in downtown Kinston.
“We wanted to look at things that were feasible, things that could be implemented fairly quickly and things that would be looked on favorably for access to the Woodmen facility,” Engesether said.
The DOT is not being considered as the only source of funds for these projects — others include local funds, the Golden LEAF Foundation, the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Mountains to the Sea Trail, the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and private contributors.
Engesether said the priority list has been presented to the Kinston Planning Board and the Kinston-Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Commission, which both approved.
It will be presented to Pride of Kinston’s Design Committee on Wednesday and to the City Council on June 4.
Lenoir County Commissioner J. Mac Daughety, chairman of the Transportation Committee, said Bob Moser of the DOT recently spoke with committee members about how the department ranks and evaluates projects for funding.
“He was very helpful, very insightful, and I think the city has taken a lot of direction from that,” Daughety said.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.
Kinston’s pedestrian plan can be viewed online at ci.kinston.nc.us, through the Planning Department’s link. Public comments can be emailed to Planning Director Amanda Engesether at Amanda.email@example.com.