Aug 282008

‘Taxpayers’ of course, who else?
ast week we discovered that Waxhaw’s 1.3 mile Cureton Parkway and bridge is still a private road, despite being open for more than two years and serving as an access roadway to Kensington Elementary, the Millbridge subdivision and connecting to Waxhaw-Marvin Road from Providence Road.

According to North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the Village of Waxhaw, the town plans to take responsibility for the maintenance of Cureton Parkway, once the developer, GS Carolina has completed the shopping center.

The question Waxhaw taxpayers should be asking is WHY?

For readers not familiar with area in question, the above photographs will help make sense of the discussion. The aerial images are a few years old.

Who cuts the grass?

A citizen complaining about high roadside vegetation along Cureton Parkway, called NCDOT to request they send in the mowers, but instead he was informed that NCDOT does not maintain the road or the bridge. When the caller inquired as to who was responsible for maintenance, he was told either Waxhaw or GS Carolina, the developer.

When the nature of the phone call was related to me, I became very curious and made calls to the NCDOT Division 10 bridge inspectors office and the Monroe NCDOT office.

Bridging the facts

I was most troubled by what I learned concerning the bridge. According to the NCDOT representative I spoke to, the state has not inspected, nor is it responsible for the safety or upkeep bridge that spans the Twelve Mile Creek. The bridge design was reviewed and approved by the NCDOT, but has never been inspected (by NCDOT) to this date. An engineer, Eric Burgess from Triplett King & Associates (Rock Hill, SC) inspected the bridge a year ago last May. It is possible that NCDOT could at some point take the bridge into the state system, but in the meantime, we have to trust the safety and maintenance of the bridge to the Waxhaw administrators and contracted engineers.

The road itself does not conform to NCDOT standards for design. At issue is the parallel parking as the roadway moves past the shopping center. If you’ve ever dined at MOE’S and parked in one of those spaces, you have to be very careful making your way across the street.

Waxhaw allowed the developer to implement a road feature best suited to the interior of a retail commercial strip, meant for 15 mph parking lot traffic, not a 45 mph roadway. On the flip side, NCDOT is very narrow-minded when it comes to road design, they really want a uniformity in design as it minimizes maintenance cost. Had Cureton Parkway design been in the downtown center project, which lends itself to an ‘Ole Towne’ flavor, then Waxhaw taking over a road into the ‘Town’ system would at least have some basis in logic.

The Cureton roadway is just a case of Waxhaw’s commissioners (of the time) being too influenced by silver-tongued developers, to the determent of Waxhaw’s taxpayers pocketbook.

Private Road Issues

Typically, a new road(1) remains private as the developer completes the project, after-which NCDOT is petitioned, the road is inspected, defects repaired and then NCDOT accepts the road into the state highway system, taking perpetual responsibility for the upkeep and repairs.

The sad reality is that Waxhaw taxpayers are going to pay to maintain a road and bridge that adds no value to the to the community, no aesthetics, no tree lined roads, no neighborhood sidewalks – nothing.

It is actually a form of double taxation as Waxhaw residents already (we all do) pay for roads maintenance though the gasoline tax, but town residents pay additional taxes so the Waxhaw can maintain the road. Ask yourself who benefits? Do you, your neighborhood, your traditional downtown area? No, just the developer gains — why else would they plan as they did.

For the rest of us, driving down Cureton Parkway, slowing slightly for pedestrian traffic, is just an avenue of travel. As we motor past the sewer plant, do roll up the windows as it is all too often aromatically distasteful — just ask a Quellin resident.

Hey! would you please mow that tall grass!

The Mayor’s response

Waxhaw Mayor Duane Gardner issued a statement concerning the Cureton Parkway controversy.
Statement {Click to View}

A number of Union County’s municipalities have qualified for ‘Powell Bill(2) funds, a program that allocates state road monies to local municipalities to perform road maintenance. Click the link for more information on the NCDOT website.

  1. The road must be designed and built to NCDOT minimum specifications []
  2. Powell Bill funds shall be expended only for the purposes of maintaining, repairing, constructing, reconstructing or widening of local streets that are the responsibility of the municipalities or for planning, construction, and maintenance of bike-ways or sidewalks along public streets and highways. []

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