The closure of two access points to Marston and Stroman roads in Marston, brought to the attention of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners in February, resurfaced at this month’s board meeting on Monday night.
As part of the U.S. 1 expansion project, the northern ends of Marston and Stroman roads, where the roadways crossed the CSX railroad tracks, were closed by the state.
Both the North Carolina Department of Transportation and CSX determined it best to close the roads where they crossed the railroad tracks adjacent to the highway because there were less than 100 cars crossing the tracks each day, according to state officials.
Lewis Alsbrook of Marston represented the community to the board in February, and said that the closed roads made the community hard to access, leaving people stranded in emergency situations. At Monday’s meeting, Alsbrook said there was no notice or discussion by NCDOT of the roads being closed; on the contrary, Alsbrook said engineers told him the roads would stay open.
According to NCDOT Division Engineer Richard Hancock — who was also at Monday’s meeting — a public hearing was held in Raleigh before the project began, at which the plans for the road closings were included. However, officials were not aware of any opposition to the planned closures, he said.
“The closure was shown on the maps,” said Hancock. “We went back in our meeting minutes and there was no indication it (opposition to closure) was brought up or discussed. We moved on with final plans. We were not made aware of this issue during construction.”
Hancock insisted there is a paved road with which community members of that neighborhood can access their homes. He said NCDOT “had no documented concerns.”
According to Alsbrook, he was told something different.
“The original plans showed no work on the Stroman side of U.S. 1,” Alsbrook said. “The NCDOT said nothing about the road closings during the right of way purchase. I even asked an engineer on the project, and he said that wasn’t going to happen. There has been some double-talk, and some dishonesty.”
When asked by County Board Chairman Kenneth Robinette to summarize, County Manager Rick Sago said, “The request has been denied. Beyond that, I’m not sure where to go with it. It’s up to DOT. I think the commissioners have done all they can.”
In other action on Monday, the county board:
• Discussed with Planning Director James Armstrong three orders of demolition and removal, one of which is Bethel Hill AME Zion Church on Fox Road. The board agreed to wait 30 days before making the demolition and removal effective, to allow the church members to work on the building.
• Approved funding to extend the Richmond County Airport taxiway.
• Granted approval to Emergency Services’ mutual aid and assistance agreement between Richmond and Scotland counties.
• Heard an update on Richmond Community College by RCC President Dale McInnis.
• Agreed to apply for a North Carolina Rural Center Building Reuse Grant to benefit FerroFab, Inc. in Hamlet.
• Authorized a request by Public Works Director Bryan Land for the ‘piggybacking’ on a purchase agreement from Loudon County Public Schools in Virginia for a front-end loading truck.
• Recognized the Rockingham 10U Dixie All-Stars team and coaches for their victories.
• Agreed to rename the portion of Cartledge Creek Road between Highway 73 and the county line to “Everett Chappell Road.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.