Forums rescheduled from August; residents can see potential routes, interact with DOT officials
by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press
Two public forums on a proposed U.S. 70 bypass of Kinston, which were postponed because of Hurricane Irene, have been rescheduled and will be held today and Thursday.
Kinston and Lenoir County residents are encouraged to attend the meetings, which will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the cafeteria of Kinston High School, and from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the city of Kinston’s Public Services Complex off U.S. 258 South.
Officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation will be present at both forums and will display the potential routes for the proposed bypass.
“These will be preliminary routes for the public to look at and comment on, and to determine if they’ve got other routes that we need to look at, said Mark Pierce of the DOT, the project planning engineer for the U.S. 70 Kinston Bypass.
That bypass would start in the La Grange area and end around Dover, and could run either to the north or south of Kinston — routes have been designed for the north and south.
Another alternative is to upgrade U.S. 70 in some areas and bypass other areas, instead of a single bypass.
The opening of the Kinston Bypass could be about a decade away, though. Pierce said land acquisition is scheduled to begin in 2020, and the bypass is not designated for funding in the department’s Transportation Improvement Plan.
That could change, though.
“The prioritization process is a continual process that is upgraded throughout the year,” he said. “We continually take a look at funding allocations and priorities of the division engineers and the Rural Planning Organizations and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations.”
Business owners along U.S. 70 East have opposed a southern route for the bypass, fearing it could steer beach traffic away from their establishments.
Local officials, heeding those concerns, have worked with the DOT to develop a northern route as well.
“Obviously, it would support the future success of the Global TransPark and our ability to attract an interstate-quality road there, and two, the existing Highway 70 is a strong economic corridor in terms of sales tax dollars and we don’t want to impede that either,” said Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, who also serves on the Lenoir County Transportation Committee.
The city and county are not among the federal, state and regional agencies that are part of the “merger team” set up to determine where the bypass will go, so Murphy encouraged residents to visit today’s and Thursday’s meetings to make their views known.
“Kinston (and) Lenoir County won’t have a vote as to which routes they pick, so therefore getting as many citizens to make comments as possible is of urgency because those comments weigh heavily in the decisions,” the mayor said.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any comments or questions about the proposed U.S. 70 Kinston Bypass should be directed to the following individuals:
Chris Werner, PE, URS Corporation
Address: 1600 Perimeter Park Dr., Ste. 400, Morrisville, NC 27560
Mark Pierce, PE
Bypass project planning engineer, DOT
Address: 1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1548
Project hotline: 1-800-233-6315
Project website: ncdot.gov/projects/kinstonbypass
4-7 p.m. today
Cafeteria, Kinston High School
2601 N. Queen Street, Kinston
4-7 p.m. Thursday
Kinston Public Services Complex
2360 US 258 South, Kinston