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Stanly Board of Commissioners vote to save Aquadale bridge

Back in April, the Stanly County Board of Commissioners heard a report from the Department of Transportation. A concern raised after the previous presentation concerned a single-lane bridge on Bethlehem Church Road in Aquadale.

At that meeting, DOT District 10 deputy division engineer Brett Canipe said the bridge had a lowered weight limit and was limited to light traffic. No fire trucks or school buses could use the structure. The DOT representatives asked at that meeting for a resolution to remove the bridge.

Last Thursday at a public meeting in Aquadale, residents expressed their desires to have the bridge stay open. Officials at that meeting said if residents could get support from the community, including local governing bodies, the bridge might get replaced.

Monday’s meeting of the Stanly Board of Commissioners saw a group of nearly 20 citizens make an appeal in the public comments session for the bridge.

The commissioners agreed and voted unanimously to have a resolution drafted to send to the DOT to ask for the bridge to be either repaired or replaced.

A number of residents spoke to the commissioners, including Walter Bunn who lives on Bethlehem Church Road. He said the elimination of the bridge would add approximately 1,680 extra miles in driving distance for himself, his wife and family each year.

He noted others in the community would be more adversely affected as well. The DOT said approximately 220 cars pass on the bridge each day; those cars would spend more time on N.C. Highway 138, Bunn said. Much of that traffic would come and go at the start of the regular business day, he added.

Aquadale School is also directly on the route, Bunn said, and additional cars at the stop sign near the school could add more time for those picking up kids.

“It would inconvenience a lot of people in terms of things they have done,” Bunn said, noting he has been using the bridge since 1970 and with greater frequence. “It’s much more personal to me but it’s also a convenience.” He also said the $2.3 million estimated for the new bridge and roads up to it “we would like to see that money, not from taxpayers, spent in our areas for convenience and enhanced safety.”

Judy Lucas, who lives on Carpenter Road, said many in the group are cirulating petitions while also sending letters and emails to the DOT.

Lucas said the DOT “made a good judgement call” in saying the current bridge is not safe, with the reduced weight limit. One argument against the bridge, saying school buses can’t use, is not valid because Long Creek divides the southern and western Stanly school districts.

“We don’t want to lose infrastructure in our county that we already have,” Lucas said. “It is a convenient road…more people would use the route to get to Locust, Oakboro, Charlotte.”

Resident Tommy Curlee said he drives over the bridge two times every day to go to work. His boss drives it four times a day.

Mike Swaringen, who lives on Old Aquadale Road, said he uses the bridge while riding a tractor. Should the bridge be torn down, safety could be an issue driving the tractors on N.C. 138.

Jimmy Hudson said a two-lane bridge would allow emergency vehicles to use it.

“Minutes can save a life,” Hudson added.

Chariman Joseph Burleson said he had personally shared his concerns with the Div. 10 egineer.

Vice chairman Gene McIntyre said the board could pass a resolution at a special meeting planned for Sept. 17 but Commissioner Bill Lawhon noted the deadline was Sept. 13.

McIntyre made the motion, seconded by Ashley Morgan, and the motion passed 7-0.

The Board also:

  • appointed Joyce Ross to the Nursing Home Advisory Committee.
  • presented a retirement award to Glenn Misenheimer, retiring from Animal Control.
  • heard a report on agriculture from Samantha Foster of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Stanly.
  • denied a rezoning request by Jason T. Gallagher for 1.52 acres at 40316 Old Salisbury Road from Residential Agricultural to Highway Business. Gallagher had requested this change from the zoning board to allow the construction of a new mini-storage facility. The planning board voted 4-2 against and the commissioners voted unanimously to deny the request.
  • approved a rezoning request from Oakmont Acquisitions to rezone two tracts of land on Buster Road in Oakboro from residential agricultural to M2, or heavy industrial.
  • approved an amendment recommended by the Planning Board to revise language in the county’s ZA 18-07 ordinance on Solar Electric Power Generating System Overlay District.
  • approved a property tax incentive grant for eight years for a business investing $4.26 million and creating at least 44 jobs.
  • approved another property tax incentive grant for the expansion of an existing manufacturing company, creating at least five jobs with a $1.3 million investment.
  • authorized a contract for $125,000 with an economic development firm for professional management on a project entitled Project Blue Sky; the confidential project will be between Stanly’s Economic Development Commission and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
  • conducted a public hearing and passed a resolution supporting a no-wake zone designation for a cove located in the Randalls Ferry Road and Talon Court area in Norwood.
  • reviewed and adopted criteria to utilize a design-based construction delivery method for a new EMS base and fueling station.
  • reappointed five members of the EDC board whose terms ran out in August.
  • approved the consent agenda, which included approving a fireworks display in Locust on Sept. 15 and amendments to the EMS and Sheriff’s Office budgets. One item, approval of tax refunds for August, passed 6-0 with Commissioner Matthew Swain recusing himself from the vote.