Event Brings NC Transportation Groups Together

Wed April 13, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Cronin

They say it takes a village to solve major problems.

Now, at least for this problem, all the villagers finally met one another.

The North Carolina Transportation Forum brought together representatives of 21 organizations involved with ways of getting people from one place to another — something that is becoming more and more difficult in the state.

“I had no idea there were that many,” said Calvin Leggett, manager of program development for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

More than 400 people, including exhibitors, presenters and attendees were involved with the forum — 100 more than expected.

The goal of the forum, held March 23 and 24, was to get the state’s transportation organizations on the same page and let them know all of their skills combined could help solve the state’s transportation issues.

The organizations included the American Concrete Pavement Association, Southeast Chapter; the North Carolina Aggregates Association; and the North Carolina Public Transportation Association.

Leggett charged those in attendance with meeting a new friend or catching up with a former colleague as a way to open lines of communication among different organizations.

“Sooner or later, you’re probably going to need that skill. We can’t do our work in isolation anymore,” Leggett said.

He said some of North Carolina’s major transportation problems are centered in Mecklenburg County, especially Charlotte.

“Congestion in Charlotte is a major issue,” he said.

In contrast, the people in the state’s rural areas spark issues such as accessibility and safe mobility.

“Bigger, better new roads are part of the solution everywhere, but more people are realizing that it’s not 100 percent of the solution,” Leggett said.

In some areas, new roads aren’t the most practical solution because a lot of the population doesn’t drive.

Leggett said it’s easy for a highway engineer or a public transit service to say their way would solve a certain issue, but “hopefully, people took away from the forum a greater appreciation of the role other people play.”

Charlotte is well on its way to solving its problems, Leggett said. Public officials are working on a $1 billion land use development plan and are installing a trolley system on the south end.

He said they understand a multi-modal solution, coupled with good planning, is the best way to get people around the city more easily.

“They’re looking at transportation as a fabric of the community, not just as moving people around,” Leggett said.

The second day of the event was filled with educational workshops on such topics as HOV design, bus and commuter rail design, shaping public policy and environmental issues.

Leggett said people were invited to attend seminars to learn more about their own specialty or to learn about something new.

Fred Allen, executive director of the North Carolina Aggregates Association, said the forum was on-target in its mission.

He attended several sessions on the second day and thought the discussions on funding issues were well done.

Allen agrees that “the solutions aren’t going to come from one single source.”

For more information, visit www.nctransportationforum.org. CEG