Stephens pitches parkway

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2006

WINTON – A proposal for a new $185 million scenic parkway was presented to the Hertford County Board of Commissioners earlier this month.

Dean Stephens, representing Patriot Blogs of the Inner Banks, made a proposal to the board; suggesting a parkway stretching from Havelock to Gatesville that would be a valuable thoroughfare for those looking to visit eastern North Carolina as well serve as a buffer for over expansion in the region.

&uot;We need to have controlled growth,&uot; Stephens said. &uot;We want to make sure that growth is spread widely across the entire Inner Banks.&uot;

According to Stephens, the parkway would not be facilitated by a major construction effort, but rather by connecting state highways 32, 45 and 306 via three, two-lane bridges and one or more bypasses.

The proposal indicates the parkway would begin in Gates County, end in Craven County and replace ferries that currently service the Pamilco and Neuse Rivers.

&uot;Over the next 30 years, the North Carolina Department of Transportation will spend $4.5 million per year to keep these two ferries operating,&uot; Stephens added. &uot;It is quite likely that an additional $50 million in capital investment costs will be needed as well.&uot;

Stephens asserts that the entire costs of developing the scenic parkway are unlikely to significantly exceed the estimated $185 million in existing costs.

According to the Bertie County Patriot, a blog site maintained by Stephens, a group calling themselves Inner Banks Scenic Parkway Taskforce, who Stephens is a member of, has assumed the task of promoting the concept to local governing bodies in an effort to garner support.

The group has made its presentation to the board of commissioners in Gates, Bertie, Beaufort and Hertford counties.

The term &uot;Inner Banks&uot;, used by the group to describe the western area of the Albermarle and Pamilico sounds and the four rivers that connect and feed those sounds, the Chowan, Roanoke,, Pamilco and Neuse, has come under fire from another group who has claimed to have trademarked the name.

Stephens’ group suggests the area which they detail are the true &uot;Inner Banks&uot;.

&uot;The company that claims to have trademarked the name Inner Banks insist that the Inner Banks extend west to I-95,&uot; Stephens said. &uot;To try and claim that Rocky Mount, Wilson, Goldsboro and Greenville are a part of the Inner Banks is not credible.&uot;

Wikipedia, the internet’s largest free dictionary, names New Bern, Tarboro, Kinston and Fayetteville as several cities included in the territory known as the Inner Banks.

Stephens suggests the funding for the project could be facilitated by money from North Carolina’s State Park system.

Adding a horse trail is one of the suggestions Stephens offered to make the parkway suitable for development by the state.

&uot;There are no permanent horse trails in the eastern United States,&uot; Stephens stated. &uot;Other state parks and wildlife refuges could be created along the parkway.&uot;