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Alternatives added to Ahoskie bypass

AHOSKIE – A U.S. 13 bypass of Ahoskie is moving forward.

Monday morning, Acting Division Engineer Jerry Jennings and other Department of Transportation staff briefed members of the Ahoskie Town Council and the Hertford County Board of Education concerning new alternatives for the Ahoskie bypass.

The DOT added alternates 12 and 16 which would take the bypass of Ahoskie on the western side of the town and allow it to join with the existing portion of N.C. 11 from just south of N.C. 561 to the U.S. 13/U.S. 158 intersection at Winton.

According to information provided in a DOT handout, both alternate 12 and alternate 16 would deviate from the current route of U.S. 13 near Powellsville, take a westerly turn and move on the south side of Ahoskie. Alternate 16 takes a more wide-ranging turn and connects further down N.C. 11 (near Bonner’s Bridge Road) than does alternate 12.

The new alternates do have drawbacks, however, with alternate 16 expected to affect the most businesses if it were chose. It appears from the project map that the majority of those businesses are in the Poortown community, west of Ahoskie on NC 42. According to potential impact numbers, alternate 16 would affect 11 businesses, compared to just six for alternate 12. Alternate 16 would also affect more residences (48) than would alternate 12 (31).

Meanwhile, one leg of alternate 12 places the bypass along a corridor that covers portions of the Johnny Mitchell Road, Jernigan Airport Road, Lee Jernigan Road and Williford Road. En route to its terminus with the existing U.S. 13 at Powellsville, alternates 12 and 16 join and become one corridor in the Proctor’s Store community south of Ahoskie.

Alternate 16 would also affect 444 acres of prime farmland and is the longest of the proposed alternates at 17.4 miles.

Where alternate 12, listed at 15.9 miles, could potentially have problems is in wetlands impact as the proposal would affect 133 acres of wetlands, more than any other of the possible routes.

There are five other alternate routes, all east of Ahoskie and each making their way to the U.S. terminus at Powellsville. Those routes, all of which are 14.5 miles or less in length, would affect homes and businesses in the Little California, Brinkleyville and Brantley’s Grove communities as well as residences along the Harrellsville Highway (NC 561) and the Ahoskie-Cofield Road, both on the east side of Ahoskie. Of those, alternate 18 would affect the greatest number of residences (145).

The U.S. 13 project is part of the 2007-2013 North Carolina Transportation Improvement Program. The proposed project would be a four-lane divided roadway.

According to the DOT briefing, all alternatives except 18 could be developed as either a freeway or expressway. Because corridor 18 would improve existing roads, it would be developed as an expressway.

Both town of Ahoskie and Hertford County officials have attempted to delay the U.S. 13 widening, preferring to have the money programmed for that project to be transferred to N.C. 11.

After Monday’s meeting, Hertford County Manager Loria D. Williams said she believed that would not happen. She said it appeared the state was continuing with the U.S. 13 project.

Williams also said she believed the county would support alternate 12 because it affected the fewest number of homes and tied in with N.C. 11.

The town of Ahoskie also showed its support for alternative 12, adopting a resolution supporting that route during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The project timeline calls for a completion of environmental studies by the fall of 2007 followed by a public hearing in spring of 2009 and selection of a preferred alternate in the summer of the same year.

Right of way acquisition is scheduled to be funded in fiscal year 2012.

The total cost for the project is projected at $111,250,000.