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Bypass alternative further detailed

AHOSKIE – Close, but no cigar.

In reporting of a possible new alternate route for the US 13 Ahoskie Bypass, this newspaper misstated information in the Saturday, July 5 edition (“Bypass alternative may bear further study”).

In the closing sentence of that article, it was stated that the possible new alternate route could be added to the existing right-of-way of a power line that stretches southeast between NC 11 near Millennium and Windsor.

“You’re close, but that’s not we are proposing,” said Kent Williams, co-founder of the Citizens Against the Ahoskie Bypass, as he addressed the reporting error to this newspaper. “The new route we’ve proposed is in-between NC 305 and the power line; not adding to the existing right-of-way of the power line.”

Williams explained that adding to the power line right-of-way would affect many homes in Hexlena since the line cuts a swath across that Bertie County community.

“We’ve said all along that if this road has to be built, we must find a way, find a route that will not affect one single home or one single farm,” Williams stressed.

Williams and fellow Citizens Against the Ahoskie Bypass co-founder Garry Terry have commissioned the drawing of a computer-aided map showing where the new bypass alternative might be located. Its path is west of the power line right-of-way back towards NC 305.

“It’s located in the woods, away from homes, churches and cemeteries,” Williams said. “There are two pieces of farmland, both way off the road, that may be affected, but from studying the map we think DOT (Department of Transportation) can curve the road to miss both those farms.”

Another strong selling point for the new alternate route, one which will rejoin US 13 north of Bertie High School, is its elevation.

“That area is smack dab in-between the Chowan River basin and the Roanoke River basin, meaning it’s the highest point in the area,” Williams explained. “That’s why we feel it’s perfect….there are no bridges to cross on 305; there’s not even a large culvert to cross on 305. That alone saves money as compared to any of the current five alternate bypass routes.”

DOT officials have not yet decided whether to add the new alternative to its list of possible routes. However, Eddie McFalls, an Earth Tech employee who serves as DOT’s Project Manager for the Ahoskie Bypass, said at a July 1 meeting held at Bearfield Primary School that he was preparing to start detailed studies on each of the current five alternative routes, but now has been asked by DOT officials to delay that effort.

Williams said at the same 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 on July 1. “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.”

In January, DOT narrowed a list of eight proposed bypass route to four plus added one new alternative. The four routes that will undergo further study include alternatives 1, 2 and 2A on the east side of town and alternatives 12 and 16 on the west side.

All five of those routes begin at the intersection of US 13 and US 158 at the Winton stoplight and end near Powellsville.