New bypass alternative begs to be studied

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2008

R-C News-Herald Editorial

What would it hurt to add one more proposal to a list of alternative routes for the planned Ahoskie Bypass?

The North Carolina Department of Transportation began their plans for this long awaited, and highly debated, road by announcing last year they had eight routes around Ahoskie under consideration.

In January of this year, DOT officials announced they had sliced that original list in half, but then added a fifth alternative route.

We suggest adding one more possible route and making it an even six alternatives.

The recent suggestion made by the Citizens Against the Ahoskie Bypass to add what they refer to as the NC 305 alternative is, to say the least, an intriguing recommendation. While it’s safe to say that their suggestion would add to the construction costs of the bypass, due to its extended loop around Ahoskie, it does save homes, farms, churches and cemeteries.

While some may be eager to sell their homes/property to DOT to build a bypass, there are others who have a sentimental attachment to their land. They see family heritage rather than monetary gain. Others, most notably farmers who are carrying on a family tradition, see their land lying in the path of the bypass as a livelihood, a way of life they had planned on passing to the next generation.

The added cost of an extended loop pales in comparison to the loss this area will suffer within its tax base if valuable homes, businesses and farmland are erased in the name of a four-lane, 70 mph strip of asphalt. We all know who will pick up the tab in that loss….not DOT, but local taxpayers already facing some of the highest rates in the state.

While the current five bypass alternatives would consume as many as 50 homes, up to 11 businesses, one church and thousands of acres of fertile farmland, the NC 305 route does just the opposite. No homes lie in its path, zero businesses would be affected and not a single church would be destroyed.

The path of this alternative route would follow NC 11 where the right-of-way, purchased over 30 years ago, already exists for expansion to four lanes. It would turn southeast of Aulander, cutting a swath through woods land that parallels NC 305. There, the only creatures affected are of the four-legged or winged variety.

It’s an alternative worthy of further study and we implore the North Carolina Department of Transportation to add it to their list of possible bypass routes. Not doing so would be an injustice to the property owners and taxpayers of Hertford and Bertie counties.