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WMPO seeking public comment on short-term transportation plan

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 at 5:28 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) and its “Go Coast” committee are hoping to get feedback on a plan to cut down on traffic congestion over the next five years.

By 2025, the committee hopes the region will see at least a 10% reduction in vehicle miles—the amount of miles driven by individual automobiles—but doing it will mean shifting the mindset of the community.

“This is a lofty goal, no doubt,” said WMPO Transportation Demand Management Coordinator Nick Cannon. “We are a community, most of America is a community, that prioritizes just a car because it’s easy, and it’s safe, and for the most part, it’s more efficient than other opportunities in the area.”

However, Cannon said Wilmington’s density does put it in the position to benefit from alternative forms of transportation, such as walking or biking, while big fixes such as infrastructure and increased public transportation are still in the works.

“We are a community that’s relatively densely populated, and it’s very possible to get to areas conveniently and safely by walking or biking,” he said. “We’re not a community that you’re going several miles just to run some errands. So a lot of what we have outlined in this plan is to create some habit change.”

The plan, Cape Fear Change in Motion 2020, was developed as a short-term solution to the area’s congestion, while the larger Cape Fear Moving Foward plan continues in the background.

The Moving Forward plan was developed to deal with the expectation that about 390,000 people are expected to call the Cape Fear region home by 2045.

For the time being, Cannon said WMPO and its member organizations are hoping for buy-in from the public, including utilization of existing bike and pedestrian paths.

They are also hoping to work with the area’s largest employers to see if other mitigating methods, such as shifting of workdays or a continued use of telecommuting, can keep the workforce from all being on the road at the same time.

The plan is open for public comment through Jan. 3, and comments can be made on the website or directly by emailing gocoast@wilmingtonnc.gov.

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