Road maintenance concerns under discussion

Published 2:41 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2015


ALDERMAN MIKE CROWDER on Nov. 2 reported to the Columbia Board of Aldermen on the Alternate Detour Committee’s progress toward opening a temporary roadway while North Road Street at North Boundary Canal is closed next spring. Alderman James Cahoon is at right. (R. McClees photo)

Anthony Roper, division maintenance engineer with the NC Department of Transportation, wants to confer with nearby business owners and affected public agency heads “to discuss together our options” regarding an alternative vehicle route when North Road Street is closed temporarily next spring.

Roper’s desire for fuller discussion was reported to the Columbia Board of Aldermen by Alternate Detour Committee chairman, Alderman Mike Crowder, on Nov. 2.

“After lengthy discussion and perusal of maps, Mr. Roper stated that when he receives the final plans from the engineering firm, he will contact me,” Crowder read from a prepared statement.

“At that time he requested that representatives from the ambulance service, fire department, sheriff’s department, prison, Crossroads Oil, Captain Neill’s Seafood and Flemz be asked to attend a meeting with him in order to discuss together our options,” Crowder continued.

“He also said it is not possible to give any timeline because the town sewer and water lines are under the canal,” Crowder stated. “Also, there is a town manhole in the canal that must be protected. Additionally, one power pole will have to be moved.”

Crowder stated that he, town manager Rhett White, and Roper met at 8:30 a.m., Oct. 26, in the Municipal Building. Committee member Janet Walker was absent. However, Leroy Spivey, chairman of the Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners, “was present as an observer,” Crowder reported.

On Nov. 3 the county commissioners approved a $39,100 contract with Rivers & Associates in Greenville to design “drainage culvert and associated roadway improvements for the crossing of North Boundary Canal under SR 1209 [North Road Street] in the Town of Columbia.”

The design, approved in July 2014, specifies that “the existing culvert shall be removed and the roadway elevation raised approximately 18 inches so as to accommodate installation of two new 77-by-52-inch corrugated arch pipes,” the contract states.

The plans have been gathering dust over the past 15 months while the county commissioners maneuvered to obtain the money, the last of which fell into place last month soon after the 100-hour rainy spell and flooding that accompanied passage of Hurricane Joaquin.

Tyrrell commissioners are taking the lead, even though the project is inside the town limits, because North Road Street is part of SR 1209, a state-maintained secondary road. NCDOT usually consults with the county commissioners in setting priorities for local road improvements, and project costs are taken from the county’s annual allocation of state secondary road improvement funds.

Crowder has pressed for upgrading a series of farm paths into a temporary one-mile road between the fire station and Scuppernong Drive near Food Lion. Detouring over existing public roads could be as much as 20 miles.