Dec 202006

Dead End At the end, [Union County Chamber of Commerce President Jim] Carpenter seemed to sum up the feelings of many chamber members when he said with exasperation, “Every time I have a meeting like this, I feel like I just want to go home and have a glass of wine.”

That quote from the Enquirer article linked below, is a feeling that most of us have experienced some time or another. We all can sympathize.

The Enquirer Journal: Bypass frustrations boil over

Since moving to Union County, I have heard about the Monroe Bypass (euphemistically, The Carolina Coastal Connector) often. Argued points of toll road, no toll road, Heelsplitter exists, no it doesn’t or ‘who cares’, local exchanges, fat cats buying all the property along proposed routes, Alignment A, or B or C and on it goes.

One thing Union County needs as much as new schools is roads. The bombed out roads in Iraq are in better shape than Old Monroe Road, in fact most of the roads in Union County need help.

The EJ article spoke of the frustration felt by many, over the 20 year battle to get the bypass built. It’s easy to understand the delays given federal and state agencies involved, add in the county and local municipalities — a bureaucratic nightmare!

The bulk of the effort and coordination is now being shouldered by Christie Putman, Union County Public Works Director, who is trying to negotiate with literal ‘road-blocks’ like the US Fish and Wildlife and the Federal Highway Administration over issues of 200 foot stream-side buffers and other bureaucratic minutia.

Leaving the question of a bypass to these bureaucrats will only guarantee another 20 years of hand-wringing and foot-dragging — surely that’s obvious.

Union County needs leadership from it’s highest elected body, the County Commissioners to move the Monroe Bypass forward.

I suggest that the commissioners create a Bypass Committee, whose sole function will be to support, inform, coordinate and advocate the Monroe Bypass.

I further suggest this committee be bipartisan, funded and staffed by the county and meet monthly in the County Government Services building.

Who should be on the committee?
First, I’d recommend Commissioner Kevin Pressley, as Commissioner Chairman and Mumpo Representative,(1) he will be able to coordinate efforts though both organizations. I would further recommend that State Senator Eddie Goodall, State Representative Pryor Gibson, Chamber of Commerce President Jim Carpenter and the mayors of effected municipalities, Unionville, Fairview, Indian Trail, Monroe and Wingate be invited to join the committee.

These are just my suggestions, but I truly believe to get the Bypass built, we need the commitment and efforts of Union County’s leadership – an united front.

The synergy of a coordinated ‘political’ effort is the only way to accomplish this goal, anything less and we will get more of what we have now — nothing.

  1. link: Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization []

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  4 Responses to “The Monroe Bypass — a road going nowhere, paved with good intentions”

  1. Mark, at one time we had such a commission (the Targeted Roads Improvement Patrnership) and it existed for several years. Turf wars broke out with Mumpo (which involves only western Union County), the Chamber of commerce (they did not want the traffic diverted because it would damage the tax base on U.S. 74,Vision 2020 (controlled by the chamber to forstall any progress on the bypass) and The State Senator(Plyler) whose land was on the route (he sold the right of way to the state but prevented the building of the road, thereby netting millions of dollars while still farming the untaxed land). The road is opposed by Anson county becaused their work force (highly underpaid) would be able to commute to Charlotte in less than an hour and collect a $2 per hour increase for doing it, leaving Anson with having to give it’s people a living wage to keep them home. I sat through hundreds of hours listening to these people. The cost estimate in 1996 was $385 million (it is now $625 million). Finally they forced Union County to join a multi-county RPO and disband the Trip Commission. During this experience I learned several things about building highways. 1) we have paid more than 1/2 billion dollars into the highway fund that should pay for this and never recieved one cent back from it! 2) there is little possibility of the bypass ever being built as long as the Democrats controll the DOT because they use the highway trust fund money to insure re-election of their people. I would be glad to go back and fight for it again but, if you put the people you suggest on it, it is guaranteed to fail again!

  2. P.S. In the state of N.C., all roads are the property of the state so Ms. Putnam cannot really do anything and the commissioners have alraedy petitioned the Federal Government to move this project along to no avail.

  3. Since part of this bypass will be built on my land that is condemned and taken from my grandfather. I would be happy to see this die.

  4. Mark L,

    What is the moral difference between condemning your grandfather’s land for a bypass, and condmening someone’s land for “open space” for the good of the community?

    Under new liberal viewpoints, “open space” is just a valid reason to take someone’s land as a school, or a road.

    It’s all the same- most people aren’t landowners and know these takings will never impact them, thus they don’t give a damn.

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