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Bypass alternative may bear further study

AHOSKIE – A proposal to add another alternative route to the planned US 13 Ahoskie Bypass is apparently under consideration.

At the June meeting of the Citizens Against the Ahoskie Bypass, group co-founders Kent Williams and Garry Terry suggested that state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials should study NC 305 south of Aulander as a alternative route for the bypass.

Based on information presented at the July meeting, held Tuesday at Bearfield Primary School, DOT officials may be looking at the NC 305 alternative.

Eddie McFalls, an Earth Tech employee who serves as DOT’s Project Manager for the Ahoskie Bypass, said at Tuesday’s meeting that he was prepared to move into the next phase of the planning process, but now has been asked to delay that effort.

“We were preparing to start the detailed studies on each of the five alternative (Ahoskie Bypass) routes,” McFalls said, noting those studies were used to help build the information required in the project’s Environmental Impact Statement. “But now there is some discussion for us to hold off on that right now.”

McFalls did not quote a source of where the information came from for him to delay the start of the detailed studies.

However, Williams said at Tuesday’s meeting that he had received an e-mail from Kim Gillespie, DOT’s Project Planning Engineer for the Ahoskie Bypass, saying that her superiors wanted more information on the NC 305 alternative.

“That’s some good news,” Williams said. “All we’re asking is for that route (NC 305) to be added to the list of alternate routes. It can’t be further studied if it’s not on the list.”

Williams also shared with Tuesday’s gathering the news of a recent meeting he held with Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey and Bertie County Commissioner Wallace Perry. He said that meeting was conducted to inform Spivey and Perry of the group’s desire to add NC 305 as a possible bypass route.

“At last month’s (Citizens Against the Ahoskie Bypass) meeting, you instructed me to move forward with seeing if we could add NC 305 to the list,” Williams said. “We discussed at that meeting that we all needed to be on the same page with this bypass and that (NC) 305 seems to be our best compromise. That’s why we needed to meet with Mayor Spivey and Commissioner Perry, to let them know that highway 13 was still coming to Windsor, it just might take a different route.”

In regards to the meeting with Spivey and Perry, Williams said it “didn’t go too well.”

“First off, they told me they didn’t have anything to do with the Ahoskie Bypass,” Williams said. “Then when I told them about the (NC) 305 alternative, they said they wanted to see DOT stick with their original plan.”

When it was brought to Williams’ attention after Tuesday’s meeting that Spivey and Perry, at a May 10, 2007 Peanut Belt Rural Planning Organization meeting in Jackson, were both part of a majority voting in favor of a 10-project road improvement priority list, one that included plans for the Ahoskie Bypass, Williams said, “That’s right, they did vote for that, so I guess they do have something to do with the Ahoskie Bypass.”

“Again, all we’re asking is for (NC) 305 south of Aulander to be looked at as a possible alternative to the Ahoskie Bypass,” Williams said. “No homes, no churches, no cemeteries will be affected. That can’t be said for any of the present alternative routes.”

If reference to the NC 305 route, the northern end of the DOT’s version of the bypass could remain intact….starting at the US 13/US 158 intersection at Winton and following US 13 south to NC 11. But instead of starting the Ahoskie loop, as currently mapped, at either the NC 11/NC 561 intersection or a bit further south at NC 11/NC 42, NC 11 could be widen, using existing right-of-way, to NC 305 at Aulander. There, US 13 would turn and head south towards Windsor, basically along the current NC 305 route, before rejoining the present-day US 13 north of Bertie High School.

To clear-up any confusion that homes and churches would be affected along the current NC 305 route, Williams explained at last month’s meeting that a new road, running parallel to NC 305, would be built through the woods. He said there was a power line, starting from the electrical substation near Millennium, that runs through the woods all the way to Windsor. He suggested adding to the right-of-way of that power line and building a new road.