Spivey clears misconceptions

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2008

WINDSOR – Clearing up some misconceptions.

That’s what Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey aimed to do during Thursday’s Windsor Board of Commissioner’s meeting.

Spivey, who has been targeted recently by many of those opposing the Ahoskie bypass, said he would like to comment on a few issues regarding things that have been said by others.

&uot;I’d like to address one or two items that keep coming up as unfortunate errors,&uot; he began.

Spivey continued, &uot;First of all, regarding the traffic bypass around Windsor (US 17) being 60-70 miles per hour, that is not true. They’ll be slowing down just like in Williamston, to 50 at the most or 45. They will be slowed down before they get to any stop lights.&uot;

In a previous Bertie County Commissioners meeting, Kent Williams, co-founder of Citizens Against the Ahoskie Bypass, had expressed concerns over the safety of Windsor’s bypass due to the road being designed to hold 60-70 mph traffic.

Spivey also acknowledged another comment made publicly recently that Windsor was not actually bypassed.

&uot;Only 37 percent of the US 17 Bypass is in the Town of Windsor,&uot; he said. &uot;The shopping center grounds here (Food Lion shopping center) were purchased in 1992 and it was built in 1995, so in effect the town has done exactly what one of the state’s purposes for the bypass was, to be a catalyst for economic development.&uot;

He continued, &uot;The same is true in Williamston and Robersonville, as the bypasses were built, businesses migrated to it.&uot;

Since construction began on the Windsor bypass, five businesses have opened along the route and a sixth (Bojangle’s) is expected to begin construction in March.

Spivey added, &uot;Certainly the 13 bypass is a good example of a good opportunity for economic development there.&uot;

He also addressed the right-of-way acquisition issue many bypass opponents have argued about.

&uot;Regarding the right-of-way on Hwy. 11, they may have some but nowhere in Bertie County do they have 300 feet. The TIP shows $4.8 million to acquire right-of-way,&uot; he stated.

&uot;We don’t oppose (widening) Hwy. 11. I’d like to see them do that; it’s a good road and carries a lot of traffic, but there’s no need for the US 13 project to be disrupted in order to do that,&uot; Spivey added.

Wednesday, Spivey and other officials from Bertie and Martin counties traveled to the TIP meeting in Elizabeth City to show continued support for the proposed US 13 bypass of Ahoskie.

&uot;We presented that we felt the project should stay on the TIP as planned,&uot; he noted.

Spivey also explained how the Peanut Belt RPO, a group whose actions have been questioned recently, works.

&uot;Some apparently don’t understand what the RPO does and how it relates to projects. The state brought like counties together to study road improvement projects,&uot; he explained.

He continued, &uot;There are four counties in the Peanut Belt RPO – Bertie, Hertford, Northampton and Halifax – and two committees within the group. The first is called the Transportation Coordination Committee, and two representatives from each county in addition to other planners, talk amongst each other about how to present on to the next committee, who then advises the state on their findings.&uot;

The group apparently tries to take politics out of the equation by scoring each project on an evaluation sheet, addressing the water/sewer availability, natural gas and other economic factors that would induce business.

&uot;Points are then assigned based on those factors and the one with the most points is number one, and so on,&uot; Spivey explained.

He added, &uot;Something was said about the Ahoskie bypass project being number five, but actually it’s only two and a half points from being first as two of the projects above it are unfunded.&uot;

Those unfunded projects, according to Spivey, normally take 15 years or more from the first public hearing on the matter until construction begins.

Regarding both bypasses, US 17 of Windsor and the proposed US 13 bypass of Ahoskie, Spivey stated, &uot;We’re just trying to build a future for our young people and to promote economic development.&uot;

Spivey has been a supporter of bypass construction in the area for over 50 years, in the hopes that it will bring more new life through businesses to an area where the population remains stagnant or is declining.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Jimmy Hoggard also made a statement regarding the controversial bypass of Ahoskie.

&uot;Windsor has been picked as a whipping board on this, and though economic development is one reason for improving highways, it’s not the only reason,&uot; he stated.

Hoggard continued, &uot;US 13 has had a lot of money spent along it in Martin County, millions and millions. It would be crazy now to take that 13 traffic away when that’s been the plan of the state for 50 years.&uot;

He added, &uot;I think they (bypass opponents) think we’re promoting one particular bypass in Ahoskie, but that’s not it; we just want it to stay (on the TIP). It’s not just for Windsor, it’s for Ahoskie too. I don’t think there’s a commissioner

alive in the United States who would say ‘take a highway out of my town’ and I think it’s brazen for somebody else to do that.&uot;