Council: No change in bridge’s location

Published 5:53 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By Staff
Mayor says DOT has same view as city officials
Contributing Editor
Washington’s mayor and City Council made it clear Monday night they want the location of the bridge that connects the city with Washington Park to remain unchanged when the old bridge is replaced with a new span.
Councilman Archie Jennings, who referenced a plan calling for the replacement bridge to be located north of the existing’s bridge location and improvements to Havens Garden, said the council’s unanimous decision “puts to rest” the location of the replacement bridge — as far as the City Council is concerned.
Jennings’ remark about a plan was in reference to one developed and funded by a group of residents. Planner Allison Platt, who’s worked on several area development projects, helped develop the plan.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette and City Manager James C. Smith, who met with N.C. Department of Transportation officials recently, said those officials are not inclined to build the replacement bridge anywhere but at the existing bridge’s location.
Jennette said Ed Eatmon, a construction engineer with DOT’s highways division, is aware of the plan to locate the replacement bridge north of the existing bridge’s location. The mayor said Eatmon told her and Smith the “bridge has to go where it is,” meaning the replacement bridge will be built at the existing bridge’s location.
DOT had prepared an alternative plan for replacing the bridge, a plan that called for moving the bridge farther to the north of its existing location.
In July 2007, the council and Washington Park’s Town Council approved motions asking DOT to study placement of the bridge, which was built in 1947. Later in 2007, the City Council changed its mind, preferring to build the replacement bridge where the existing bridge is located to prevent disturbing businesses that would be affected if the new bridge were to be relocated north of the existing bridge’s location.
At the July 2007 meeting, Washington Park Mayor Tom Richter proffered a redesign aimed at improving boat access and minimizing traffic problems. “Making a left turn out of Washington Park, even now, is really a trick. … If there was less of a slope, the alignment would make it easier to turn,” he said then.
The plan developed by Platt calls for improvements and changes to Havens Garden.
Jennette and the City Council made it clear they plan on the city making improvements and changes — more picnic shelters, trails and bike paths — to Havens Garden to better meet people’s recreational needs. They also want improvements made to the existing boat ramp on the north side of the bridge and Park Drive.
For additional coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions.