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Council shelves anti-median vote; DOT pushing I-40 bridge work

By Jim Buice

The Clemmons Courier

The Clemmons Village Council loaded up the agenda on Monday night’s meeting with hot topics such as concerns on changes to the exterior of the new library, an update on the Idols Road Industrial Park and discussion of a resolution to support the median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road by the previous council.

By the end of the lengthy two-and-a-half hour session, it just turned out to be lots of talk in an attempt to ultimately seek better collaboration from Forsyth County officials on the library and industrial park, and a change of heart on rescinding the resolution on the median after some new information was revealed.

At first, new councilwoman P.J. Lofland made a motion to reverse the resolution to support the NCDOT request for the construction of a median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road from I-40 to U.S. 158 that was adopted in September 2016. That was before last year’s election where three new council members and a new mayor opposed to the median were voted in last November.

“I absolutely see no reason why we shouldn’t go ahead and reverse this resolution like we said we would do when we ran,” Lofland said.

After a long pause, the motion was seconded by new councilman Scott Binkley, but after discussion that included new information discovered by Mayor John Wait in a recent conversation with Division 9 engineer Pat Ivey regarding the median now being tied to a bridge over I-40 project on the road and further comments by new councilwoman Michelle Barson and councilman Chris Wrights, Lofland opted to withdraw her motion.

“I didn’t know the median was connected to any other project,” she said.

It appears no one else did either. Wait said that he spoke with Ivey last month after being elected mayor and wondered how it happened and the impact of the bridge project if the median portion was removed.

“Apparently at some point in the fall or early winter, DOT decided to put the Lewisville-Clemmons Road bridge over I-40 project into the median project,” Wait said. “It’s not recorded on any paper anywhere. Either it’s happening or it’s not. I don’t know. That’s what he said.”

Wait, who is the Village’s Transportation Advisory Committee representative, added that NCDOT wants to move on with the bridge regardless of the median, and even if the council wanted to withdraw the earlier resolution, points for projects can’t be reassigned until late this summer.

Barson said she was concerned reversing the resolution could impact the current traffic study being conducted by NCDOT.

“Does this get rid of our entire feasibility study on this road?” she asked. “I don’t want to it to impact the rest of the bridge study.”

Wrights, who was the lone member of the previous council who voted against the resolution to support NCDOT’s request for a median, said he thought it would be best to get the additional information first before making a final decision.

“Are we overturning the resolution just to make a statement we don’t want a median, or is it overturning the project?” Wrights said. “The mayor said he can’t officially stop it until September. My opinion is for us to wait and see what DOT presents to us in May. Then we try to negotiate with DOT and see if it’s something what we can live with. If they’re still saying all they’re going to do is a four-lane road with a median down the middle of it, then we say no then. I would say 95 percent it’s going to be a median, but we should at least talk with them. We can’t do anything on Lewisville-Clemmons Road without DOT’s approval.”

At that point, Lofland decided to withdraw her motion.