Ahoskie Bypass plan modified

Published 9:48 am Tuesday, July 5, 2011

WINTON – The much debated Ahoskie Bypass may one day become a reality. However, it may come in separate stages.

At a recent meeting here of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, Chairman Johnnie Ray Farmer announced that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) is in the early stages of a project that will improve US 13/NC 11 from Winton to the NC 11/561 intersection near the Ahoskie Inn.

Reading from a June 3 letter sent to him from Jay McGinnis, Ahoskie Bypass Project Manager, the Project Development and Environmental Analysis Branch of DOT is starting the development, environmental and engineering studies for US 13/NC 11 from the 11/561 intersection to the US 13/158 and NC 45 intersection near Winton.

The 10-mile project, according to the letter, “involves the widening of US 13/NC 11 and converting existing intersections to interchanges.”

This project is included in the 2009-2015 DOT Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and is scheduled for right-of-way acquisition and construction in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

“One thing I found interesting in this project is that it will widen and convert existing intersections to interchanges,” Farmer stressed. “That’s what we’ve been talking about over the past four-to-five years, addressing those bad intersections. This project will put interchanges there and save lives.”

“There is the whole debate and contention about the Ahoskie Bypass; this is the modified plan to that,” said Sterling Baker, Division Maintenance Engineer for DOT. “This looks at this particular section and possibly some of the overlapping sections. This can address some of the needs of the bypass project. It’s in the TIP; they’ll study it, fund it and come out and do the public hearings.”

Commission Vice Chairman Curtis Freeman asked Baker what this project will do to the famed “Mount Hertford” – so named due to a pile of dirt DOT placed last year on the eastern side of the 11-and-11 intersection in an effort to reduce the number of accidents there.

“The time period in which these TIP projects work, especially big projects such as this, that 2017 time frame is probably right on track, but I know we’re all looking for a sooner resolution to the existing 11-and-11 intersection as far as what we do to make it final,” Baker said.

Baker was at the meeting to present the board the 2011-12 Secondary Roads Improvement Program for Hertford County.

He said that program has set aside a total of $495,194.03 for the county. With no unpaved roads designated in the new budget, Baker said the money will be spent on making improvements to paved roads as well as reserving a portion of the state funding for local contingencies.

“We’re not proposing paving of any unpaved roads; we have no unpaved roads left in the county where we have been successful in obtaining right-of-way,” Baker noted. “All of the unpaved roads left in the county are on the right-of-way hold list. There are 17 roads on that list totaling 20.1 miles.”

He continued, “We have not been successful in getting the landowners along these unpaved roads to donate the right-of-way; by general state statute we cannot pave these roads without a right-of-way agreement.”

“If any member of this board knows a particular landowner along one of these unpaved roads, I would encourage you to go talk with them and make an effort to try and persuade them in signing a right-of-way agreement with DOT,” said Farmer.

“If you have any questions about who has or has not previously signed (a right-of-way agreement), contact me and I can pull that file and provide that information,” Baker stated.

Baker added in some cases, the landowners no longer reside in the county and are not affected by an unpaved road.

“In other cases, some landowners feel that paving a road will increase traffic by their property and perhaps that is not want they want to see,” he said. “Or it could be a case where the right-of-way would affect a farm field.”

Freeman inquired about two roads the board previously added to the list for paving – Chamblee Lane and Celeste Drive.

“Neither of those roads met the state standards,” Baker noted. “Any road that does not currently belong to DOT, the first thing that must be determined before a road can be added to our maintenance list is that it has to exist in its current location before Sept. 30, 1975. We could not find proof of the existence of these two roads prior to that date.”

The board, on a motion by Commissioner Bill Mitchell, approved the DOT’s 2011-12 Secondary Roads Improvement Program list for Hertford County.

That plan will improve (widen, strengthen, upgrade and reconstruct shoulders) on three sections of the St. John-Menola Road at a total cost of $181,000. The same improvements will be performed on short stretch of the Benthall Bridge Road (SR 1160) at a cost of $56,000.

The remaining money will be used for paved road spot improvements ($100,000), pipe replacements ($70,000), unpaved road spot improvements ($65,000) and $20,194.03 in a contingency fund.

Should extra funds from the state become available, DOT will make improvements to other paved roads in the county – Fennell Road (SR 1155), Bazemore Road (SR 1445) and Thomas Bridge Road (SR 1427).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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