Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ahoskie Bypass Opposition Exaggerates

From the start there has been a campaign of misinformation about the two road projects that impact our area. That continued yesterday

Though not on the agenda for the Bertie County Commisioner's Meeting, some representatives of the group in opposition to upgrading U.S. 13 as a part of the long term plan for a North South corridor serving Eastern North Carolina spoke during "Public Comments" against the Bertie County position. There are two projects, the U.S. 13 Ahoskie bypass and the widening of NC 11. Bertie County Commissioners believe both projects should be built. The NC 11 project serves the North end of Bertie County, and the U.S. 13 project serves the entire county.

Gary Terry (shown below) started the opposition group's comments with "An injustice is being done to families and citizens, the bypass to Windsor is unnecessary." He then focused his comments on the idea that Windsor did not deserve to retain U.S. 13 traffic, but that U.S. 13 should be moved to the NC 11 route and NC 11 widened down to Bethel because it would better serve Ahoskie.

There is a strong argument they are wrong, that a Freeway Bypass of Ahoskie, the road they are opposing, would better serve Ahoskie's interests. The idea that NC 11 better serves Ahoskie is based on the premise that allowing people along NC 11 to get to Greenville easier does not hurt local businesses. This is simply not credible. How is helping people take their local business to Greenville a help to Ahoskie?

Some background to this issue is needed. The Bertie County Commission has supported both widening NC 11 and upgrading U.S. 13 to a Freeway, with the first stage being the Ahoskie "bypass". The Group Terry represents is not happy with doing both projects and wants to kill the plans to ultimately create a Freeway from I-64 in Norfolk to I-40 near Wilmington. This would connect the Inner Banks more effectively to the Tidewater area and its large city services, as well as tie our area to the rest of the Inner Banks and cities like Washington, New Bern, Jacksonville and Wilmington.

The next step in this long term plan requires that the Ahoskie Bypass be built. If it is not built as a Freeway, there will never be a North South high speed corridor tying us to to the rest of the coastal region. Terry claims only Windsor would be served by the new Freeway. This is not true and ignores the fact that many people in the Inner Banks believe we need the North South Freeway corridor to both help us get to other places quickly as well as bring people from long distances to enjoy the hunting and enviro tourism that our area has the potential to provide.

The next person to speak, Kent Williams (shown below) is quite angry about the fact that every one of the alternatives for the U.S. 13 upgrade will affect him personally, since he lives on U.S. 13 and the end of this first upgrade project will be right at his farm. He started his comments by blasting the DOT for not notifying "a single person in Bertie County" about the upgrade. Though he gave some anecdotal evidence he claims proves his case, the next speaker in public comments was from the DOT.

Kim Gillespie (shown below), Project Planning Engineer for the Ahoskie U.S. 13 "Bypass" gave specifics of the public notification process, including explaining specifically how the G.I.S. system was used to get addresses for the more than 1,000 people who were notified. In checking with some local Realtors they assured me that the G.I.S. system is extremely accurate except for very recent changes of ownership, and after talking with 2 different people who own land affected by at least one alternative of the project, both confirmed that they had received notice.

I would probably be more interested in continuing to determine the accuracy of Kent's statement if the "No U.S. 13 Bypass" group had not already been caught in a number of mis-statements, exaggerations and falsehoods. One of the people they have contacted told me of their completely false allegation that the DOT would be buying 1000 feet of right of way from the center line on both sides of the road. The truth is the right of way acquisition will be 250 to 300 feet total, and if built as a freeway will be away from the existing roads minimizing impact on homes and farms. The group earlier mis-stated state ownership of right-of-way along NC 11. This groups seems perfectly willing to exaggerate anything, to the point some of their statements are simply false. A perfect example is their claim that the NC 11 project will not impact any homes or farms. This is simply not true considering the towns it will go through and the great distance below the river where no right of way has been purchased at all. With this track record how can we give credibility to anything they say?

Another questionable tactic is the placement of signs by this group. When I ran for public office I was informed that it was illegal to place signs on public right of way. Almost every sign I see for this group is on public right of way. Most groups that are advocating a public position are not so indifferent to the laws of our country.

There is a meeting tonight at the Hertford County High School to drum up support to oppose the U.S. 13 Ahoskie Bypass.

Some earlier articles on this subject can be found here, here and here


At 6:29 PM, Blogger NMTGurl2005 said...

Well, I can assure you I am a LAND OWNER in one of the affected areas of this "proposed" Hwy 13 bypass and I have yet to be notified by anyone "official." You say that bringing this bypass will bring business to Ahoskie. Well I'm no rocket scientist, but wouldn't you have to have people to work in all those businesses? I don't know what planet your from or where you've been, but most people around here who do not already have a job don't want to work anyway. There are plenty of jobs and those of us with an education have a great job in this area. You need a reality check buddy.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Dean Stephens said...

Actually I am originally from Hexalena in Bertie County and live in Colerain now, though I have worked a few other places. They are all on this planet though! The problem with your statement about not being notified is that no one can prove you have not intentionally thrown out the notice, now can they? Also I am sorry to hear that your friends don't want to work . . . oops, I guess it is not Southern courtesy to say something that sarcastic. However I find it interesting that people who tell me I am not courteous never seem to apply those rules to people like you. I actually doubt I need a reality check. You need to learn how to have a civilized discussion though. If you want a flame war, assuming you know what that is, keep posting! ROTFL

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Catherine said...

I too am a land owner located by Kerr on the outskirts of Ahoskie, and found this article looking for more information on the bypass and where it will end up. In my opinion where ever the bypass ends up it will take business away from Ahoskie. People will be more likely to "BYPASS" us instead of getting gas or food like they do now when they pass through our small town. On top of our town loosing business people who have owned land and homes here for their entire lives will be forced to move. These people will more than likely not relocate here because the economy of this already small, deprived town will fall. I know I wouldn’t stay here to rot after having everything I have and cherish taken. I think the bypass will be a very convenient way to travel to and from places but when it comes to destroying homes and peoples heritage it is NOT worth it. I respect your views and comments on this subject but it’s obvious you are upset because people are opposing it. I think this is why nmtgurl2005 was upset in her comment. It seems like you are trying to make the words of concerned citizens’ sound irrelevant and untrue. That’s what the meetings are for to learn more about the matter and discuss their thoughts. I am thankful for these people because they are trying to find ways around the destruction of homes. In the long run what is going to happen will happen. What’s wrong with being concerned and voicing our opinions?

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Dean Stephens said...

The previous poster included a comment about me being from another planet. I reacted to that putdown in my comments. Not the idea of her commenting at all. Can she be sarcastic and I am not allowed to respond?
All roads impact some people, sometims for the good and sometimes for the bad. The problem I have with much of the bypass opposition is it is looked at solely from the standpoint of a very small area and a small number of people's personal interests. I can empathize without agreeing. There is certainly no doubt that bypass roads sometimes impact a town negatively and some small number of people always have their lives changed. These freeways also help a region for the better, often dramatically better. I doubt that I will ever convince you, but if Ahoskie allowed the bypass as a freeway, and made sure the connection ramps were properly placed, it would help the town create a lot of jobs and have little impact on the current businesses and homes. It would also help the entire Inner Banks region grow. Those are good things. If the focus was on the samll number of people who can only benefit from selling their property for money, none of the Interstate system would have been built. That system is one of the reasons America has the strongest economy in the world. Freeways are a good thing. I am not upset that people are opposing it. I simply disagree with them.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger charles said...

You have mentioned two industries that could benefit from the improved or new HWY 13: hunting and eco-tourism. Do you believe there will be so many hunters and eco-tourists arriving in Bertie, that additional lanes are warranted? How many acres of habitat, currently useful to many living things, will be designated to the ease of travel of one?

I commute between Windsor and Ahoskie every weekday, so see the road at its busiest. Once a week, my rate is hampered ten miles an hour for several miles running. This sometimes sets me back two minutes. Having lived in Cary, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, where most commuter routes direly need expanding, I advise the state to spend money on those roads. A better HWY 13 is the wrong gift to an area which has adequate roads, but inadequate schools and public health programs. Moreover, road changes are never enough to turn a weak economy around. What has resulted from the by-pass in Windsor? Not an expansion, but a relocation of the markets, at the expense of locally owned grocery and hardware stores. What kinds of business thrive on by-passes and four-lanes? Strip-malls and fast-food restaurants.

A vague vision of improved commerce does not alone justify enlargement of infrastructure, especially when it has not been paired with any form of investment; but is denounced, on moral and aesthetic grounds, by the people who should benefit from and be the primary investors in such an endeavor.


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