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DOT Seeks Public Input in 25-Year Strategic Plan

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DURHAM — For many Triangle residents, getting from point "A" to point "B" cannot be done without getting stuck in traffic. The stateDepartment of Transportationwants to clear the bottlenecks, with your help.

If the DOT had a strategic plan 25 years ago, it is possible Interstate 40 would not be the mess it is today. The people who build the state's highways say they are trying to avoid troubles like we have now. So they are holding a series of public meetings as they develop a 25-year strategy to improve North Carolina's roads and interstates.

DOT board members, road engineers and people who use roads are invited to offer input. Officials hope the input will help set the DOT's philosophical goals for the next quarter of a century. The result will be the DOT's Strategic Transportation Plan.

"We're making our strategic direction visible," says DOT Chief Planner Janet D'Ignazio, "and asking the public, 'Are we doing all the things that you want us to do?'

D'Ignazio says the plan lets the DOT capture in one public place the agency's understanding of citizen priorities.

So what philosophical direction do the citizens want the DOT to take?

One person says the DOT should become an advisory agency. Southern Pines resident Joe McDonald says the DOT should get out of the road-building business and leave road decisions up to people who have to face the voters.

"They should not make the final decision on what transportation projects get made any more than the Marine Corps would make the final decision on what wars are to be fought," McDonald says.

Some people say roads are not the solution.

A member of the NC Sierra Club, Ed Harrison says the DOT should be focused on funding public transit.

"Public transit is something that gets more effective and more efficient the more it's used," Harrison says. "Roads get less effective the more they're used."

The DOT will take public input through May. If you have suggestions, call1-877-DOT-4YOU. The DOT will send you an information packet and a comment form.

The agency hopes to have a Strategic Plan, the people's plan, in place by summer.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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