Comments requested for evaluation of transportation needs

Wil Petty

February 18, 2014

The High Country Rural Planning Organization, a branch of the High Country Council of Governments, has drafted a plan to provide a ranking process evaluating the region’s needs for highways, cycling and pedestrian trails, aviation and rail modes.

Now, the organization is looking for the public to comment about the new process.

According to the draft’s introduction, the N.C. Department of Transportation and General Assembly have required all rural planning organizations (RPOs) to develop a project solicitation and ranking process for the State Transportation Improvement program (STIP).

The STIP program is part of the DOT’s transportation reform, requiring the regional governments to rank how major of a necessity a particular project is.

Projects will be judged by a point system, according to the draft report, with 1,400 points being the highest priority.

For example for highway priority, the RPO will look at different DOT statistics to determine how important a project is. If there were over 150 crashes on one stretch of road between 2006 and 2010, that would be 15 points added to the score.

Also taken into consideration are how important the county governments believe a project is.

The High Country’s RPO will request 20 projects from the region’s counties and the town of Boone to be ranked. The RPO’s region includes Ashe County as well as Alleghany, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties.

Ashe County will have three plans submitted. According to the draft, the number of projects was based on population, area and primary road mileage.

The draft plan can be found at their website,

According to the draft, another public comment period for the program will take place from May 1 through May 19, when the RPO posts a priority needs list.

Public comment for the RPO draft will run through March 17. The comments can be submitted to the High Country Rural Planning Organization’s Transportation Planner, David Graham by email at or by mail to 468 New Market Blvd. Boone, N.C. 28607.

For more information, contact Graham by email.

Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty