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Road projects pending

GATESVILLE – The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has scheduled several improvement projects in Gates County.

At the Feb. 7 meeting of the Gates County’s Board of Commissioners, Jerry Jennings, NCDOT Division I Engineer, revealed those pending projects.

Included are the following:

Replacement of the bridge over Duck Swamp on Drum Hill Road. That estimated $600,000 project is scheduled to begin as early as April with a tentative completion date sometimes in November.

Replacement of the bridge over Raynor Swamp on Bosley Road. The contract on that estimated $750,000 project is projected to be let by the fall of this year. Some utility relocation work is now underway on that project.

Replacement of the bridge over Buckland Mill Branch on NC 37. That project is estimated at $1.1 million and the contact is expected to be let later this year, with some of the utility relocation work now underway.

Jennings added there are two pending projects, both involving safety improvements to the intersection of NC 37 and US 158 Business within the town limits of Gatesville as well as another junction of the same two roads just north of Gatesville.

“Both of these projects are new and we were able to fund them through a new program called the High Impact / Low Cost Program,” Jennings noted. “We can turn these projects around quickly and they will have a high impact and a great benefit.”

He said the one inside the town limits of Gatesville calls for the reconfiguration of that intersection.

“It’s a very awkward alignment there now, especially with the (traffic) islands,” Jennings stressed. “The plan is to remove those islands and make it a traditional T intersection, resurface it and get the utility pole out of the middle of the intersection.”

That $90,000 project was funded last month.

“We don’t have a definitive schedule yet, but we’re hoping to have it under contract later this year,” Jennings said.

The other intersection north of Gatesville is one that Jennings said the Gates County Commissioners have expressed their concerns about over safety issues.

“Again, this intersection was designed very awkwardly,” he observed. “Often there are motorists driving through that intersection in an unsafe manner.”

Currently, those traveling south on NC 37 are required to stop at that intersection. Jennings said the new design will allow that traffic to have the right-of-way.

“There’s more traffic on 37,” he said. “The design will be for US 158 business to T into that intersection.”

This is an estimated $115,000 project. Jennings said he hopes to have it under contract later this year.

Jennings informed the Commissioners of another pending project along US 158 in the Dismal Swamp that he said, “was a bit further out (on the list of improvements).”

“That would be a positive safety improvement there, beginning at Acorn Hill Road to the Pasquotank County line,” Jennings stated. “For years there has been talk about multi-laning that particular stretch of highway, but it’s not in our 10-year plan.”

He said the current plan, a $5 million project, calls for widening the shoulders of the road. The right-of-way acquisition is scheduled for 2021 with construction to begin in 2023.

“There is a lot of planning, design and permitting that goes into a project like this,” Jennings said.

Commissioner Jack Owens inquired if the Dismal Swamp project would include guardrails.

“The plan is to widen the shoulders enough where guardrails would not be needed, but the design has not been finalized,” Jennings answered. “The plan is to have wide paved shoulders and wide earthen shoulders.”

As far as road maintenance, Jennings said maintaining existing pavement is NCDOT’s biggest investment.

“We have a five-year plan in how we address our pavements; it’s a route-specific plan five years out,” he noted.

Included in that plan are resurfacing, and pavement preservation (surface treatments, crack sealing, thin overlays done in an effort to extend the life of the pavement).

In Gates County over the next five years, Jennings said there is $2.4 million planned in pavement preservation activities (covering a total of 83 miles) and nearly $12 million for resurfacing (86 total miles). One of the major resurfacing projects on tap is NC 37, north of Business 158.

Another part of the road maintenance improvement package includes ditch drainage, shoulder maintenance, pipe replacements, and pavement markings.

Citizens wishing to make NCDOT aware of maintenance concerns can contact the Gates County Maintenance Yard at 252-357-0844.

Commissioner Henry Jordan asked for NCDOT to consider placing guardrails along a section of NC 32 in Sunbury where the road crosses Raynor Swamp.

“We had a local resident to be pushed off that road during a flooding event (Hurricane Matthew) and he died,” Jordan said. “We asked for guardrails to be put there. Where do we stand on that?”

Jennings said he did not recall a request for guardrails at that particular location, but promised Jordan he would look into it.

Jordan also advised of an area of Flat Branch Road and Carter Road where the pavement floods during a heavy rain.

“I get complaints, calls, about that area,” Jordan said. “One resident advised me that when there is a heavy rain the water, from a ditch, rises to his back porch.”

Owens said he was advised of the same complaint and contacted the local office of Soil and Water Conservation. The engineer there said he would look into the problem.

“We’re responsible for the roadside ditches; when you get to an outlet ditch on private property that’s when it becomes a more difficult challenge,” Jennings said. “That’s when it becomes a joint effort between DOT and the private landowner to address the problem.”

 

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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