DOBSON — County commissioners are urging state lawmakers to remove a bank and trees along a road in Surry County.
At last week’s Surry County Board of Commissioners meeting, board members voted unanimously to approve a resolution urging lawmakers to provide funding to remove the bank and trees along a portion of Shoals Road near Shoals Elementary School.
“It’s been an issue for a long time,” said Commissioner Van Tucker, who lives in the Shoals community. “There are multiple opportunities for a tragic accident there.”
Tucker indicated the bank and trees, which are positioned on a curve in the road about 300 feet from the elementary school, obstruct the view of a driver who is approaching the school from the south. Often times buses and vehicles operated by parents picking up their children are backed up to the curve.
Tucker said he’s worried a vehicle rounding the blind curve at the posted 55 mph speed limit could end up colliding with one of those vehicles.
In a subsequent interview, Tucker indicated he has had conversations with N.C. Department of Transportation personnel regarding the situation. They have said the only means to remedy the situation is by eliminating the visual obstruction.
Tucker noted the 35 m.p.h. school zone begins toward the middle of the curve, but that could be too late, as traffic backs up beyond that sign frequently at the beginning and end of a school day.
Compounding his concerns, Tucker said salt trucks, trucks carrying sand from a sand mine on the Yadkin River and tractor-trailers hauling chickens and chicken feed frequently travel the road. Those heavy vehicles can’t stop abruptly.
D.O.T. officials estimate the cost to remove the trees and part of the bank to be about $60,000. The resolution asks legislators to consider allocating D.O.T. discretionary funds to remedy the situation.
Tucker told his fellow commissioners that state Rep. Sarah Stevens and state Sen. Shirley Randleman, who represent the county in the General Assembly, have told him the funding for the project is available.
“Far too many times we wait for a tragedy to occur to act,” said Tucker. “Why not act before we have a tragedy here?”
• In other business, county commissioners opted to change the county’s worker’s compensation insurance. The self-insured county will join a pool of insured entities through the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.
The county will pay $141,000 for catastrophic coverage to pay claims of more than $500,000 and to adjudicate claims in the 2017-18 fiscal year. It paid $139,000 for similar coverage in the current fiscal year.
• Commissioners gave Facilities Director Don Mitchell the go-ahead to contract with Brite Engineering to provide architectural services at the Dobson Plaza shopping center the county recently purchased. The contract will encompass structural, architectural, plumbing, mechanical and electrical planning needed to begin renovating the property. The county will pay $123,716 for the services.
• The county board put the brakes on a project at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport.
A letter from a D.O.T. official, which was included in the meeting agenda packets of commissioners, indicated the department is considering funding an apron, general aviation area and hangar expansion at the airport. The letter noted a letter of support from the county board would be needed for the D.O.T. to consider funding the project.
The letter states the county’s 10-percent match for the project would be $597,000.
County Manager Chris Knopf said the letter was citing a new project at the airport, not the runway expansion project underway there.
Commissioner Larry Phillips said it would be difficult to “walk it back” after the letter of support was delivered.
“This would be saying we are on the same page as the airport, and I’m not,” said Phillips.
Board Chair Eddie Harris said, “Here in the immediate future, we may have something else to say about this.”
Four days after the meeting, Surry County officials asked for and collected the resignations of three members of the seven-member airport authority, and two others were told they would not be re-appointed to the authority by the county board.
County commissioners intend to appoint themselves to the five vacated positions.
The city of Mount Airy controls the other two appointments to the board which oversees the airport.