Understanding tomorrow’s transportation needs today is the theme of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Cape Fear Transportation 2040 long-range plan. As mandated by the federal government, the WMPO and its 13 member municipalities are required to complete a long-range transportation plan every four years and on Tuesday, May 21, the 2040 plan was launched.
After the successes of the previous long range transportation plan — Cape Fear Commutes 2035 — WMPO associate transportation planner Suraiya Rashid said the 2040 plan would seek to improve on those achievements like the completion of the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail and WAVE Transit’s Fordham Station.
One of the different project management tactics being employed on this plan is the involvement of various subcommittees for each mode of transportation, which are comprised of experts in that area.
“We were fortunate enough to get a mock debriefing on what we could have done better and worse from the last plan,” Rashid said. “That really got us thinking about a different way to manage this project and what we are doing to address that issue is really involving the subject matter experts from the very beginning and getting them more integrated into these situations.”
Allowing these subcommittees to interact with the WMPO and the Citizen Advisory Council — the citizen organization that will drive the plan — will provide a more comprehensive and detailed plan for each mode of transportation, said CAC chairman Howard Loving.
In addition to the input from these subcommittees and the CAC, Loving and Rashid said enough emphasis couldn’t be placed on the importance of the citizen survey that was also launched Tuesday. Loving said he would hope to receive more than approximately 3,500 surveys completed during the planning process for the 2035 plan.
“We would like to have 4,000 [or more] for several reasons,” Loving said. “One, we get a better idea of what people want; we don’t want it all slanted to more bicycle paths or wider roads, we want a broad sampling.”
Wrightsville Beach’s appointed member to the CAC, Jim Smith, said the 2040 survey contains 16 questions tailored to return smart data to the committees.
“One of the things we wanted to do was make it more personal rather than these medicinal type of surveys,” Smith said. “Most importantly we need zip codes. Say we get 1,000 responses in zip code 28403 about how we need more bike paths … well then we know we need more bike paths there.”
Once complete and approved by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration, the Cape Fear Transportation 2040 plan will help determine how the WMPO allocates the millions of dollars in federal transportation funding it receives annually.
“We get millions of transportation dollars every year and we will continue to … so if we don’t know what the public wants we are going to have millions of dollars invested in the wrong thing,” Rashid said. “It is critical that people get involved so we can put these dollars in the right places.”
To complete the survey and for more information about the plan, visit www.transportation2040.org