May 052006

End Work ZoneEvery time the state squeezes the NC DOT budget, Union County loses even more; some would argue nothing from nothing still means nothing.

Where the county may have received in comparison a ‘drop’ to the bucket of funds appropriated to other counties, we fast approaching the equivalent of vapor.

…What This Means to You

If you live near a state road project that hasn’t started, it may start later than planned. Among candidates for delay: the Monroe Bypass and the widening of Providence Road south of Interstate 485…

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  11 Responses to “Union County Road Needs: Squeezing blood from a turnip”

  1. As usual the state cuts Republican counties first and assigns the lowest priority to any thing to do with strong republican county’s projects. Ho Hum SAME OLD S…! aSLONG AS WE LET THE d’S APPROIATE FUNDS THEY ARE GIVING IT TO THEIR FRIENDS, NOT US. Of course we have that staunch Republican, Larry Helms looking out for our best interest on the D.O.T. Who cares if the smog from stalled traffic on US 74 in Union County is choking the people of Mecklenburg county, we don’t want to disturb the heel splitter. Or maybe there is another reason Helms and company don’t want the by-pass built, I don’t know.

  2. Well, while we’re talking about the Monroe Bypass let’s just stop with the “democrats are hiding behind every tree” rhetoric and ask ourselves exactly WHAT happened in Union County with an all-republican board of commissioners since 1988.

    And please, let’s stop with the Heelsplitter talk. If the Bypass plan hadn’t been hijacked by person or persons unknown, the Heelsplitter wouldn’t be a factor. And, Hellsplitter or no Heelsplitter, it isn’t about the shellfish; it’s about water quality and I’m for CLEAN water and unpolluted creeks, unlike most of the developers who’ve controlled this county for so long and couldn’t care less about what sort of surface water quality we’re left with in Union County.

    So let’s get that straight right now: it’s the WATER QUALITY, stupid.

    Back to the Monroe Bypass.

    I attended the recent meeting at SPCC regarding the 3 relocation options for section A of the Monroe Bypass. Well, was I ever surprised. I’ve been watching the spin from the locals for so long that I had completely forgotten that the Monroe Bypass was NEVER intended to exist west of Rocky River Road. The corridors were selected by 1991, and final alignment maps were prepared after public hearings in 1996. Here is an updated map showing the REAL Monroe Bypass with the 3 new alignment options: Click here to view Bypass Alignment (5.85 MB, dialup beware).

    Hmmmmmm….where’s that section that runs north of Secrest Short Cut Road west of Poplin Road all the way to I-485…you know, the one shown on this 2005 MUMPO map? Click to view 2005 Thoroughfare Plan(3.68 MB).

    Well…that section, the one we’re hearing being called the “Monroe Connector”, doesn’t even appear on the first map, the map of the MONROE BYPASS. So whazzup with that? NCDOT doesn’t recognize the existence of the so-called “Monroe Connector”, and MUMPO doesn’t recognize the existence of section A of the Monroe Bypass.

    Does anybody wonder why a road doesn’t get built when the two organizations responsible for getting roads built don’t even agree on which roads EXIST on the maps?

    Here’s the bottom line, folks. The proper “Monroe Bypass” – the one shown on NCDOT maps since 1991 or so – doesn’t affect the Carolina Heelsplitter Mussel at all. But…and this is a big but…it also doesn’t include the Monroe Connector, that road with all its interchanges that appears on MUMPO’s map and, as far as I can tell, exists only to serve the special interests of developers and land speculators who have bought up land around the future interchanges.

    But with all the local interest by developers and county commissioners (they’re the same thing, by the way) in the Monroe Conector, everybody just sort of forgot section A of the Monroe Bypass…the section that would have completed the road as planned with no toll controversy and no heelsplitter complications.

    But wait – there’s more. So intent were the developers and their allies on MUMPO and the Union County BOCC to focus attention and funding on their precious Monroe Connector, they FORGOT ALL ABOUT A DESIGNATED ROAD CORRIDOR THAT HAD BEEN ON THE DRAWING BOARD FOR 17 YEARS AND FINALIZED FOR 10!!!!! Yep, take a look at one of the Section A maps – I’ve chosen Alignment 2, because it’s probably the most practical from a transportation point of view: Click to View Alignment 2 (5.08 MB). Zoom in on the area north of the bypass’s interchange with US74. Notice the huge number of houses both right in the road’s path as well as right along its edge. These houses, most of then in the Hamilton Place subdivision, were built in the past few years, RIGHT INSIDE AN ESTABLISHED FREEWAY CORRIDOR! Who approved those subdivision plats? I’d recommend checking into THAT. Who was on the Union County Planning Board? Who was on the BOCC? Who in their right mind approves a subdivision plat with dozens of homes right in the lanes of a proposed highway?

    Meanwhile, I met many of those folks at the meeting: the lucky ones who might have NCDOT buy and buldoze their homes, and the UNlucky ones who will end up with a four-lane superhighway right at their doorstep.

    I think it’s time we stopped pointing fingers at those evil “D’s” in Raleigh and instead, we “R’s” right here in Union County ought to start trying to find out which corrupt members of our own party are to blame.

    The Monroe Connector was offered up as a gift to a few connected developers and land speculators. The Monroe Connector was a monkey wrench in the planning of the Monroe Bypass. The preoccupation with the Monroe Connector lost us the opportunity to get the Monroe Bypass built, and the Monroe Connector brought us the Heelsplitter problem and the toll road controversy.

    Who’s responsible for THAT?

  3. Just as a side note, I heard the Monroe Bypass referred to as the ‘Carolina Coastal Connector’ recently. Do you suppose taking city of Monroe out of the label will actually enhance the possiblity of getting the bypass built? Someone did.

    If thats all it will take to get the show on the road, lets called it the “Jim Black Parkway” or the “Gov Mike Easley Turnpike”.

  4. Rick,

    Blah, blah, blah. Gimme a break. You want to talk about other peoples rhetoric? You are the king of rhetoric.

    The fact is, Union County has always been on the bottom with regards to highway funding. Even with your hero the great DEMOCRAT Aaron Plyler in power….he did nothing for our roads (unless it included paving roads for his good buddies) And the great REPUBLICAN Larry Helms has done nothing either…as he was too busy raising money for Easley and the DNC.

    You can invent all your little conspiracy theories, but it comes down to who has the power in Raleigh had how they choose to use it. Ever wonder why the roads around Wilson, North Carolina are amongst the finest in America? Ever drive down some of the nice divided highways out there that lead to nowhere? 16 years in the Governor’s mansion…that is all it took.

    And just a little history lesson…the Republicans didn’t take over the county commission until December 1990. They lost control in December 2004…but are poised to take control back in December 2006!

  5. Rick, the monroe by-pass is ONE road from US 74 and Rocky river to Forrest hills school road. It indeed was authorized in 1991. The monroe connector is a completely differnt road (even has a differnt DOT project number) that goes from I 485 to US 601. The bypass is an intrastate road funded by the state of NC, while the connector is an interstate road funded (80%) by the US.

  6. P.S. the interstate Connector as shown in the Federal plan has NO interchanges between I-485 and US 601 and is shown as a causeway so that it does not have an effect on the EPA worries.

  7. John, I think that’s part of my point…and the “A” section of the Monroe Bypass doesn’t appear on the MUMPO map. At all. It goes right into the Monroe Connector. So what HAPPENED to the “A” section anyway? And WHY were all those houses built in the approved right-of-way?

    The Monroe Connector shows 4 additional interchanges on the MUMPO map – and I know, from Connector/Bypass meetings, that some people are trying to add a Stallings Road interchange. Notice that MUMPO has already added yet another interchange at a new extension of Secrest Avenue that runs to Olive Branch Road, one that DOESN’T appear on the approved DOT maps.

    An interchange for EVERY developer…part of the Union County “No Developer Left Behind Act”.

    Wow, I’d LOVE to see the Federal plan version of the Connector. I’m serious. I’ve never seen that. No interchanges? It’s a dream come true! Too bad the developers who control everything around here would NEVER go for that. Too bad…what ever happened to the concept of roads for solving TRANSPORTATION problems rather than roads for encouraging more sprawl?

    So if people had left the 1991 bypass alone and focused on getting it built rather than adding the Connector, maybe we would have a bypass by now. Democrat conspiracy theories aside, of course.

  8. If you want to see the corruption and the power of Eastern North Carolina, look at the proposal for the new bridge across Oregon Inlet and the price tag for that. I will bet my house that it is built before the Monroe Bypass.
    It was a major letdown that during the administratins of Holshouser and Martin, two Republicans, that nothing positive happened to stop the corruption of the system. But, it was never a corruption by home developers, it was a corruption that included most of the bidders and the Eastern Democrat Party structure. As long as tobacco was king in North Carolina, there was not a chance that would change.
    Darren is right about the four lane roads to no where. But you do not have to go to Wilson. In and around Raleigh, you find the same thing.
    The only entity to challenge the power of the east is Charlotte and to create a circle of hostility around Charlotte, “The Great State of Mecklenburg” became the ralling cry of the east. Union County is the step child of a step child, and you can vote how you darned well please and it will stay the same.
    Here is a comic moment. When John Feezor was chairman of the county commission, he spoke to our Optimist Club and said bluntly that the next section of Highway 16 to be widened was from the county line to Weddington-Marvin Road(now Rea Road), and that would be soon. The section from Highway 51 to I-485 would come later because of the problem with Providence Presbyterian Church and its cemetary. Seems local developers do not have near the influence that Mayor Becker wants to give them. In fact, if they had any influence at all, Highway 16 would have been widened long ago. Here, we are talking about powerful people like the Graham family.
    And by the way. Stop the development of the Rea Road Connector by purchasing the Deal land and putting it in a trust. My wife and I will put up $2,000 for its preservation. Some of you guys put your money where your mouth is. We only need 2,000 $2,000 contributors.
    That is one beautiful piece of land with some beautiful big trees and when it is gone, it will be a great loss to this area.

  9. Federally funded interstate highways have construction rules that do not allow close interchanges which is why none are shown on the USDOT maps and also why so many developers are fighting against building it as an iterstate. Think about it, if the connector is built at the same time as the by-pass the whole thing is an interstate and USDOT would pay for 80% of $500,000,000($400,000,000)and the state would pay the remainder (100,000,000). If the state builds the by-pass first, they pay the whole $200,000,000 and then pay 20% of the remaining $300,000,000 ($60,000,000) so our state outgo for the project goes from $100,000,000 to $260,000,000. Who but a politician would think that was a good idea? As for the DOT, they have a history of being less than truthful when our needs are contrary to their wants!!!!

  10. Why are houses in an approved right of way? We have politicians telling developers if they want approval on their land plans, (a Developer submits his plan based on town ordinances on lot size, free space, etc al)not to show road right of ways the State has shown. The elected officials to take such action want the houses built in the right of way to create a barrier to the road coming through.

  11. The state of NC just announced this huge surplus of somewhere over a billion dollars(that was a surprise to them)(builds a lot of confidence doesn’t it???) About a month ago they stated that a surplus of 650 million existed….funny thing though…they never have spoke of putting road money back from whence it came! They have been moving road money to balance shortfalls in the general budget for years, combine that with Mr. Black pulling millions of dollars out of a repair budget for the area, and we have no money, no roads, and no luck getting either. We should stop yaking back and forth about the bypass, connector what ever and start working on getting the money back into the road funding where it belongs. It shouldn’t be a discretionary fund for irresponsible politicians to play with when favorite projects are needed. The bottom line is they (state,feds,dot) keep dangling the bypass, connector in front of us like a carrot and we keep chasing it. The darn road should have been built years ago and everyone knows it. The game playing has to stop sometime…

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