Mar 072013
 

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A map of the Quad East Interstate Loop released last week shows the proposed highway system will be built around the 795 bypass in Wayne County, using N.C. 11 and U.S. 70 and 164 to connect Greenville, Kinston and Goldsboro.

A map of the Quad East Interstate Loop released last week shows the proposed highway system will be built around the 795 bypass in Wayne County, using N.C. 11 and U.S. 70 and 164 to connect Greenville, Kinston and Goldsboro

By Wesley Brown

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Greenville City Council is looking to unite the region tonight in support of a $300 million Interstate loop that will connect more than 100 miles of airports, medical centers, industry and college campuses across eastern North Carolina.

The council also will get its second look today at a new comprehensive approach to residential trash collection designed to save the city more than $5 million by 2020 in a sanitation fund that for the past two fiscal years has operated under a $900,000 deficit.

The high-tech trash-collection system would ­ — in time — raise garbage rates by 30 percent and lay off or relocate up to one-third of Greenville’s sanitation force.

The seven-member panel is expected to approve a resolution endorsing the highway system as the foundation of “Quad East,” a cooperative network of communities developed by Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas to give the coastal plain a competitive economic advantage, much like the alliances formed in the Piedmont Triad, Research Triangle and Charlotte Metro areas.

Access an obstacle

Once the Quad East resolution is signed, the plan is to forward the petition to municipalities and boards of commissioners in Pitt, Greene, Lenoir, Wilson, Nash and Wayne counties over the next two months to start promoting the proposal as a top-priority highway project in eastern North Carolina.

“One of the main obstacles we face in trying to bring big industry to the area is the lack of local access to the Interstate,” at-large Greenville City Councilman Dennis Mitchell said, calling the idea “transformational.”

“Any activity moving toward filling that missing link is a step in the right direction, especially if our regional partners and neighboring communities are on board to help us with lobbying efforts and potential costs.”

Conceptual drawings of the Quad East Interstate Loop released this week show a system that will be built around the existing Interstate 795 bypass in Wayne County.

Under the proposal, the travel circuit will retain 795 as its call numbers and include an estimated $75 million in federal and state upgrades to N.C. 11 and U.S. highways 70 and 264. The high-speed corridors will be used to connect East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center in Greenville with the Global Trans-Park in Kinston and the Seymour Johnson Air Force in Goldsboro.

Local officials from the N.C. General Assembly and the Eastern North Carolina Coalition, which includes all transportation planning organizations east of Interstate 95, said they see the Quad East concept as the “single-most effective way of growing the region in the next 20 to 30 years.”

Sanitation plan

In approving a two-year budget for the city last summer, the council directed staff to draft a five-year plan that would transition Greenville — the last of North Carolina’s 10 largest cities to still offer backyard trash service — to a more modern and efficient curbside-only collection system.

The proposal would spend $1.2 million to purchase 25,000 garbage and recycling carts and about $2.8 million to replace 12 rear-loading trucks with 11 new automated vehicles that use driver-operated pincers to grab the cans, lift them overhead and dump their contents into the truck.

The change will reduce garbage and recycling crews, now staffed by three, by one, allowing city administration to eliminate eight drivers and 16 trash-collector jobs from the sanitation division’s $7 million budget.

Early projections also show the plan will steadily increase refuse collection fees to $16.75 a month by 2020. In 2012, the council raised curbside rates from $9.60 to $11.75 a month in approving a two-year budget that included a $578,000 subsidy from the General Fund for sanitation.

Although the transition may provide greater efficiency, the new plan is not expected to net positive income returns until 2016 or a positive overall balance until 2021. If the city were to continue with its current collection process it could lose $16.8 million by 2020 without a rate increase, and $5.7 million with a rate increase.

The council’s workshop session begins at 5 p.m. in City Hall’s third-floor conference room. The regularly scheduled meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.

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