Ahoskie officials oppose NCDOT’s current design of proposed roundabout

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

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AHOSKIE – The Ahoskie Town Council has approved a resolution that opposes current plans by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Academy Street.

As previously reported by the News Herald, NCDOT’s project includes widening Memorial Drive from Peachtree Street to the intersection with Academy Street, replacing the bridge over the railroad tracks, and replacing the traffic light at the Memorial/Academy intersection with a roundabout.

The Ahoskie Town Council initially discussed this project at their regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 15 meeting. At that meeting, Town Clerk Jennifer Bracy stated she and other town department heads were concerned about the roundabout part of the proposal and did not think it’s a “good idea.”

At their scheduled meeting on Feb. 14, council members were informed about the resolution opposing the roundabout.

Town Manager Leigh Etheridge noted that the Ahoskie Planning Board met Feb. 1 and a discussion ensued regarding the proposed NCDOT roundabout as part of their R-5796 improvement project. The Planning Board requested that staff draft a resolution for council members to review and approve opposing the current design of the roundabout.

“The roundabout itself was not in the discussion of being opposed,” Etheridge noted of the Feb. 1 meeting. “It was the proposed design that is opposed.

“The concern of the Planning Board, as well as of many citizens and staff, is that this may have adverse impact to the flow of traffic, to include emergency vehicles, and there may also be adverse impact on those residents that reside along U.S. 13 and N.C. 42,” Etheridge added.

“You reference current design, is there another design,” Councilman Roy Sharpe inquired.

“Not that we are aware of,” Ethridge answered.

Mayor Weyling White said there are safety concerns and other factors he saw as “major issues” with NCDOT’s current design of the roundabout.

“I would support this resolution opposing the current design,” White remarked.

A motion was made by Councilwoman Linda Blackburn to adopt the resolution. Councilman Charles Freeman offered a second and the motion was adopted by unanimous vote.

The resolution calls for the traffic light to remain at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Academy Street, leaving the flow of traffic as it is currently. The resolution further states that the “Ahoskie Town Council supports a design that does not significantly alter the flow of traffic at [that intersection] and strongly encourages NCDOT to continue refining design options in order to minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to the flow of traffic in the surrounding area; ensure design that allows for sufficient emergency response; and minimize and mitigate adverse impacts on those residents that reside along U.S. 13 and N.C. 42.”

The approved motion also included sending copies of the resolution to NC House Representative Bill Ward and NC Senator Bobby Hanig, whose respective districts in the North Carolina General Assembly include Hertford County.

As presented by NCDOT at a public meeting held Dec. 6 in Ahoskie, the cost of the entire project is estimated at $15 million. As currently proposed, right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin in July of this year. Construction is slated to get underway in June of 2025.

In addition to the proposed roundabout, the project will widen U.S. 13 (Memorial Drive) from its intersection with South Academy Street (at the hospital) to Peachtree Street (adjacent to Feyer Ford).

It also includes replacing the bridge now spanning the railroad tracks. The new bridge will consist of two, 14-foot travel lanes (one in each direction), a 12-foot center lane, and a 5-foot, 6-inch sidewalk on both sides of the travel lanes.

At the Dec. 6 meeting, NCDOT officials confirmed they will keep the existing bridge open while the new one is constructed.

The biggest impact, according to NCDOT, will actually come from the widening part of the project. NCDOT consultant Aileen Mayhew said at the Dec. 6 meeting that the “worse-case scenario” they’re looking at right now is 10 residential relocations. But since the project is still in the preliminary design phase and they haven’t finalized drainage placements or utility relocations yet, they hope to be able to reduce that number.

“When we estimate an easement, we estimate on the high side,” Mayhew explained, “and so we’re hoping that once we get the final surveys, we can reduce that and minimize the relocations.”

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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