Bypass meeting set for Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2007

AHOSKIE – Information only please.

Those wishing to learn more about the proposed Ahoskie Bypass are urged to attend an information workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 13 hosted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The informal session, not a public hearing, will be held between the hours of 4-7 p.m. in the Jernigan Auditorium of Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

Included in the session will be aerial maps displaying the seven potential bypass routes. Handouts and comment sheets will also be distributed.

NC DOT representatives will be available to discuss the project on a one-on-one basis.

According to NC DOT, the comments and information received from the public in regards to the planned bypass will be used in conjunction with comments provided by environmental review and regulatory agencies to identify alternatives to be studied in detail. Additional public involvement will be conducted throughout the development of the project. This project may require the purchase of additional right-of-way and the relocation of homes and businesses.

Tuesday’s information session comes on the heels of a Sept. 10 meeting between DOT and Town of Ahoskie officials. There, DOT officials introduced two new alternative routes for the 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).

This isn’t the first time Ahoskie residents have learned of bypass plans. In August of 1996, DOT formally introduced its original bypass route. That route, 14.3 miles in length, was on the eastern side of Ahoskie and, according to current information, would affect 73 residences and three businesses.

According to DOT, 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.

DOT officials have said that no preferred corridor has been identified for the project. However, the Ahoskie Town Council, at their Sept. 11 meeting, voted to support alternative route #12. DOT said it would like to have a preferred alternate route selected by the summer of 2009.

Right-of-way acquisition, estimated in current dollars at $8.85 million, is scheduled to be funded in fiscal year 2012. Project construction, currently unfunded in the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan, is estimated at $104.4 million.