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Monday, 06 August 2018 20:57

County to draft resolution opposing current 125 widening plan

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Halifax County will draft a resolution opposing the current configuration of the proposed Highway 125 widening project by the state Department of Transportation.

The decision comes after Scott Aman of New Dixie Oil spoke with commissioners today. He will also speak with Roanoke Rapids City Council on the matter Tuesday at their 5:15 p.m. meeting.

Aman addressed his concerns with commissioners at their meeting this morning and also wrote his concerns to board Chair Vernon Bryant in a July 19 letter included in the agenda packet.

“As a longtime business owner, I support the expansion of NC Highway 125,” he wrote. “However, the construction of the center median to eliminate left turns except at controlled access areas will have a devastating and negative impact for my business and for other property owners that hold hope for the sale of their properties for new business development.”

He said existing businesses such as Rural Health Group, the state Department of Motor Vehicles license office and others are likely to be less sensitive to access changes “than businesses that rely primarily on pass-by traffic such as gas stations and convenience stores.”

He said in the letter, “I am deeply concerned about the long-term negative impact the improvements to NC Highway 125, as planned, will have for the Shell/New Dixie Mart that I own at the intersection of NC Highway 125 and Interstate 95.”

While not a truck stop, Aman noted the store and gas station at the Highway 125 location does receive and serve 18-wheelers. “For over a year, we have been developing plans to expand our building and footprint and add diesel truck fueling infrastructure and we have shared these plans with NCDOT. Having smooth clear open access for trucks to this area is critical.”

Aman said the current plans for a divided highway and center median which mostly eliminates or controls left turns will negatively impact existing businesses and limit future development.

He said in the letter he believes the plans are over-engineered and include plans for sidewalks in an area which is not envisioned as a walking area.

Aman said in the meeting and in the letter DOT’s original plans for the highway would work better. “Continuing the highway layout from the vicinity of Wendy’s and Touchstone Bank as a five-laned highway with a center turn lane will save state transportation funds and greatly reduce the impact to property owners,” the letter said. “Most landowners along this corridor I have spoken with do not want a divided highway that restricts access and controls left to and from their properties. Controlled access will likely impact business interest in this area as well as future commercial property values.”

For his own business, Aman said the plans will eliminate the ability of his customers leaving Roanoke Rapids and headed to Halifax, Halifax Academy and the interstate to conveniently turn left into his business. “This is a significant portion of my business. As a convenience store, if the customer cannot conveniently gain access to our property, they will go where access is more convenient. I am very concerned about the negative impact this will have on my established business.”

Aman said he has continually expressed these concerns to state DOT representatives. “One consideration recently shared by NCDOT as a potential option is a crossover allowing a left turn that aligns (or centers) on my far property line — closest to Roanoke Rapids — and that of the neighboring property owner.”

Aman said he believes this is not acceptable for several reasons. “First, I would lose one of two drive openings directly in front of my business,” he wrote. “Secondly, it would add a drive to my far property that I must share with a future unknown development.”

He likens this situation to the one on Premier Boulevard in which Chick-fil-A and Starbucks share a drive. “They create bottlenecks and confusion,” he wrote.

Halifax County Economic Development Director Cathy Scott said while the design has become a standard now, she said the county economic development board is crafting its own resolution addressing Aman’s concerns.

Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp said he has his own concerns about the plans currently being considered. “The media would slow down response time.”

Commissioner Linda Brewer said she has concerns about EMS response. “I want to support you and support the others.”

Commissioner Rives Manning said, “I think what they’ve proposed now is idiotic.”

Commissioner Patrick Qualls offered a motion to draft a resolution based on the concerns registered by Aman, concerns about EMS and other first responder issues as well as how the plans might concern other property owners.

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