WINSTON-SALEM -- Transportation and transportation groundwork throughout the state need some major improvements.
During the “Stand Up 4 Transportation" rally on Thursday, communities across the Triad and the nation united to emphasize the growing need for long-term funding.
"From Winston-Salem, from Greensboro and High Point from North Carolina to Washington we say, 'Make a stand, stand up for transportation,’” said Greensboro Transit Authority Board Chair Lawrence Mann.
MAP 21, the federal bill that's a framework for funding transportation, expires at the end of May leaving local transportation systems across the county with uncertainty of how they'll continue operating.
"Transportation is the backbone of our local and national economy,” said Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation Director of Planning, PART, Mark Kirstner. “A long-term transportation bill is needed to better expanded transportation options and to continue to grow our economy."
MAP 21 was suppose to expire in 2014, but instead of writing a new bill, Congress extended it.
"We want a new bill that will address the outstanding needs found in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point and all of the Triad,” said City of Greensboro Council Member and PART board member Sharon Hightower.
Those needs include railroad grade separations, improving parking decks and making sure there's safe sidewalks.
"Winston-Salem voters last year approved paying for our city share of a sidewalk along the state road and it's on the state's draft plan too for 2021, six years from now, because that's when they expect to have their share of the money for a sidewalk project,” said City of Winston-Salem council member and PART vice chairperson Dan Besse.
It is leaving transportation safety a concern. Another concern is how transportation affects jobs.
"Everyday thousands of people, citizens in Winston-Salem use WSTA Transit buses to get to their jobs just like in Greensboro. An enormous amount of people who use WSTA Transit are using it to get to and from work and yet, those transit routes and those working commuters face the ongoing risks of cut back in their transit due to drops or delays in federal funding,” said Besse.
Local officials think it's time to bring this to the attention of lawmakers.
"We need to address this now,” said Besse. “Not later, not next year, and not after the next election, but now!"
You can sign the petition here.