The nature of transportation planning for the New Bern urban area may change from the development of a new Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The City of New Bern, Craven County, River Bend, Trent Woods and Bridgeton are all on board now with a Memorandum of Understanding forming the MPO for cooperative, comprehensive and continued transportation planning.
Craven County potentially stands to lose some rural planning funds and possible grant opportunities for its Craven Area Transportation System, since some non-municipal county territory is included in the MPO.
But after two meetings with federal, state and local transportation planning officials, the county decided to join the only new North Carolina MPO designated by the federal government from numbers in the 2010 Census with the city as the lead planning agency for the area included.
Representatives from the five government groups agree to form a New Bern Urban Area Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) to serve as a forum for cooperative transportation planning so as each government works on transportation projects, they will do it with better understanding of neighboring area plans.
Membership in the TAC gives each of the government groups and the N.C. Department of Transportation Board one vote on Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) designations and on Metropolitan and Comprehensive Transportation Plans. The planning and program development engineer from the Federal Highway Administration North Carolina Division and CARTS will each have a non-voting member on the committee which will meet as often as deemed appropriate in by-laws yet to be written.
There will also be a Technical Coordinating Committee with members including New Bern 's director of development services, MPO coordinator, city engineer; Craven County's planning director and operations and facilities director; town managers from Trent Woods, Bridgeton, and River Bend; CARTS; Coastal Carolina Regional Airport Authority; New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce; and federal, state and local transportation officials.
It will cost some money because the staff required to coordinate planning from the local level requires a 20 percent match divided among the participants.
But officials from the participating governments, including Craven County Manager Jack Veit, think that could be a wash since new grant opportunities are opened by the MPO designation.
Trent Woods Mayor Chuck Tyson said, "We're hoping to tie-in with New Bern on a bike path and pedestrian walkway through a grant from N.C. DOT."
He also said the cooperative planning is important because "all of our citizens use those roads."
Participating governments also can withdraw if they find the cooperative planning doesn't work well for them as long as they give a 180-day written notice to other members.
Sue Book can be reached at 252-635-5665 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter@SueJBook.
Copyright 2013 - Sun Journal, New Bern, N.C.