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Letter calls for concerted transportation planning

Posted on January 3, 2022

Updated on January 8, 2022

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JCATS mostly provides rides rides for clients of government agencies.

JCATS photo

JCATS mostly provides rides rides for clients of government agencies.

sbolejack@johnstoniannews.com | 919-424-1776

SMITHFIELD — Johnston County should seek dollars from the federal infrastructure bill to expand public transportation.

That’s the gist of a letter that four Johnstonians recently penned to County Commissioners.

“This bill can make serious headway for JoCo citizens,” said the letter from Linda Bennett, Carolyn Cash, Stuart A. Lee and Angelique Legette. “We are asking you to create a committee or a Johnston County transportation board that would ensure Johnston County is not overlooked in this funding.”

Among many things, the committee could work to:

• Expand public transportation options.

• Create a system of interconnected streets, including thoroughfares, collector streets and local streets.

• Relieve existing congestion on key roadways.

• Create a plan that accommodates community growth and its related traffic increases.

• Implement roadway projects to connect to other counties, such as Raleigh’s Outer loop and the U.S. 64 Bypass.

• Support planning for regional rail and commuter rail.

• Create interconnected bicycle and pedestrian networks.

The county’s existing transit system, JCATS, falls short of its potential, the letter said. “Although JCATS attempts to provide rural general public transportation to school, work, appointments, etc., at a reduced cost to riders, it prioritizes medical needs, veterans and senior citizens,” the letter said.

Legette, one of the letter writers, came to the commissioners’ evening meeting in December to reinforce the letter’s message.

“I think it is a great foundation,” she said of JCATS. “It takes care of the people who need it the most. Who we’re trying to expand it for are those who don’t have a job and don’t have the money for insurance to get a car, get a license.”

Commissioner Ted Godwin said Legette and her fellow letter writers might be setting their expectations too high. “I’m not sure this county is ready for full public transportation,” he said. “That might be somewhere in the future.”

But Godwin said Johnston should be able to accomplish something in between JCATS now and full-scale public transit. “When people need a ride, they need ta ride, and we ought to figure out a way to do that,” he said.

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