‘Mt. Hertford’ bid awarded

Published 5:42 pm Monday, July 31, 2017

AHOSKIE – The construction contract has been awarded and work is expected to begin soon on a major road project near here at the infamous NC 11 & 11 intersection.

As reported last month by the News-Herald, the North Carolina Department of Transportation announced a project (R-5311A) to fully reopen that intersection. The east side of that intersection was closed in 2010 due to a high volume of motor vehicle accidents.

The newly designed intersection will feature an overpass with entrance and exit ramps on opposite corners of the bridge. Since the project will not include widening NC 11 to four lanes at this time, the on-off ramps will be designed to handle two-way traffic (entrance and exit).

Additionally, the project includes an overpass (spanning NC 11) on Modlin Road. However, there will be no access of NC 11 there.

“You will not be able to get on Highway 11 at Modlin Road,” said Hertford County Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer, who also has a seat on the Peanut Belt Rural Planning Organization, an advisory council that gives suggestions and receives feedback from NCDOT regarding highway projects. “It will be a bridge overpass, what they called a flyover, built there without entrance and exit ramps.”

Scott Emory, Resident Engineer for NCDOT’s Division One District office in Ahoskie, said the project will be funded from two revenue streams – $10.88 million in federal funds and $2.72 million from the state’s coffers.

However, when the bids were opened they came in at more than the state expected.

At their most recent meeting, the North Carolina State Board of Transportation awarded the project contract to W.C. English, Inc. of Lynchburg, VA. Their winning bid of $15.36 million was 26.3 percent higher than what NCDOT had projected in their estimate.

Barnhill Contracting Company of Rocky Mount also submitted a bid ($16.26 million) for the project.

According to NCDOT, the project is expected to be completed by November of 2019.

“This has been a passion of mine since the state closed 11 and 11, to finally see it reopened,” stated Curtis Freeman, Vice Chairman of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners.

Freeman has been one of the biggest critics over DOT’s decision to close the 11 and 11 intersection.

“Yes, I agree that it was a dangerous crossing at one time and I still mourn the loss of those who died there in traffic accidents, but that was before the state went in and made great strides in making that intersection safer by cutting back all those trees, which made visibility greater there,” he said.

When the intersection was closed off in 2010 by the means of building an earthen barrier on the east side of the intersection, it was Freeman who jokingly named the dirt mound as “Mount Hertford.”

“Well, I guess Mount Hertford is about to get taller as the state wants to build a bridge across that intersection,” said Freeman during a Commissioners meeting held earlier this month.

According to numbers kept by NCDOT, in the 20 years prior to that intersection being closed on one side, there were 140 accidents; 120 of those were angle crashes (a t-bone accident where a vehicle pulling out is struck by another traveling along the main line). During that same time period there were six fatalities and 242 injuries.

Farmer added that he inquired of Winn Bridgers, NC DOT’s Division One Maintenance Engineer, if the existing stoplight at the intersection of US 13 and Modlin Road would be removed once the project was completed. DOT erected that stoplight upon closing the east side of the NC 11 and 11 intersection, which placed the traffic burden on Modlin Road.

“He said DOT is unsure at this time on what they will do with the traffic light now at Modlin Road,” Farmer stated.

As for another major project planned for NC 11 and US 13 (constructing a four-lane highway from just south of the NC 11 / NC 561 intersection near the Ahoskie Inn to the new existing four lane in Winton, Farmer said that project is still hopeful.

“As you can tell by the drawings for this project, the four-lane is absent, but this particular interchange – with the overpass and the on-off ramps – is part of that larger project,” Farmer said. “There is hope that the four-lane project will come. They have the right-of-way to add those extra lanes, but the (construction) funding isn’t yet applied.”

That project (R-5311B) is expected to be reprioritized to determine its eligibility in the next State Transportation Improvement Plan.

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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