To help provide more options and keep people safe while walking or biking, NCDOT provides communities with support to enhance these two modes of transportation.
Applications are being accepted for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative which provides funding for municipalities to develop comprehensive bicycle or pedestrian plans. Plans should represent an all-inclusive strategy for expanding bicycle and pedestrian opportunities in a municipality, not just a singular project. These projects may include facilities, programs, policies and design guidelines that encourage safe walking and bicycling.
The deadline to submit applications electronically is Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. Recipients will be notified by November. Learn more and apply here.
From Kerry Giles, Director of Rutherford County Transit
I wanted to share some exciting news regarding Rutherford County Transit’s deviated fixed route, also now called the Tri City Xpress. Back in 2015, we worked with NCDOT to completed a 5-year plan for Rutherford County Transit. In that plan, was an outline to increase ridership on the deviated fixed route.
This route has been around for many years and travels through the core area of Rutherfordton, Spindale and Forest City. Up until 2015, ridership was pretty steady at around 350 trips per month. In January 2016, Transit received approval from the County Commissioners and the Transit Advisory Board to go fare-free on this route (the cost to citizens had been $1.00 to ride). Since 2016, we have seen our ridership grow to an average of 850 trips per month. That is a 143% increase!
However, even as happy as we were with the increased ridership, we knew that if we could shorten the route and travel time for our passengers, we would increase ridership. It took an hour and 45 minutes to complete a full loop. I applaud our Operations Manager, Jeff Hill, who spent countless hours trying to logistically lay out a route that could be shortened without cutting too many stops.
What he developed, we launched last month as the new Tri City Xpress. There are now 2 loops. One runs through Forest City and the other through Rutherfordton and Spindale. They have a transfer point at Walmart; as well as at Isothermal Community College and a few other stops in Spindale. We were concerned about passengers getting confused if they needed to transfer, but survey information indicated that many who were picked up in Forest City, also got off in Forest City. The same held true for the route through Rutherfordton and Spindale.
We have only been running these new loops for one month and for the month of April our ridership shot up to 1550 trips for the month! That is another 82% increase in ridership. We are confident ridership will continue to increase as more citizens become aware of our services. One of the main reasons for adding the 3 bus shelters in town was to gain visibility for this route.
Our next steps are to try and expand this route to include shuttle services along the Thermal Belt Rail Trail, possibly evenings and weekends. It is our belief that providing services for active lifestyles, may help us encourage more people to use transit.
RALEIGH – Teams from Polk and Moore counties were the statewide winners today in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s annual Model Bridge Building Competition in Raleigh. The contest is designed to give middle and high school students a hands-on opportunity to apply their science, technology, engineering and math skills to a real-world scenario. Seven schools took part in the finals, after emerging victorious during regional rounds held in March.
Today’s winners were Highfalls Elementary and Polk Early College. The other notable contenders included students from NCMSEN-Pre College, Polk Middle School, West Craven Middle School, Franklin Academy, and Whiteville High School. “This is always a great day at the DOT,” said NCDOT Human Resources Operation Analyst and event organizer Sterling Johnson. “We’re so thrilled to give students this unique opportunity to display their talents.”
In today’s finals, each team provided some background regarding their design techniques. That was followed by testing sessions in which each bridge made out of balsa wood had its maximum weight capacity assessed by suspending a bucket through the center of the structure as specific amounts of sand were consistently added to the bucket.
The competition helps create a greater awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) studies, particularly as they relate to the world of transportation. By honing their critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and presentation abilities, students become more informed about the complex nature of transportation design and strengthen their understanding of STEM education.
Middle and high school students who are interested in competing in next year’s competition are highly encouraged to participate. Learn more details on the competition’s NCDOT website.
RALEIGH – State Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon announced that he has formed a commission to develop recommendations for modernizing North Carolina’s transportation investment strategy.
The commission will research the impact that emerging technologies, shifting behavior patterns and changing demographics will have on North Carolina ’s transportation investment system and then develop new ways to meet the need for critical resources in the future.
“The transportation industry is on the cusp of fundamental changes that will forever change our relationship to moving goods and people,” Secretary Trogdon said. “The work the NCF1RST Commission will do will be critical for the economic vitality of North Carolina.”
The commission will hold its first meeting Friday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to noon, in Raleigh.
More information regarding the current members of the NCF1RST Commission, meeting dates and other resources can be found at http://www.ncdot.gov/ncfirst.