DOT project for interchange, L-C Road improvements on hold

Published 12:10 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

NCDOT Project U-6004, which is better known for proposed improvements on the busy stretch of Lewisville-Clemmons Road and the I-40 interchange, has taken a sudden detour with news last week from Division 9 engineer Pat Ivey that all preconstruction activities on this project have been put on hold until further notice.

Scott Buffkin included the item on his manager’s report in Monday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting that “at this point, it certainly sounds like that the project is stalled until there is an infusion of money on the state level, and it’s not likely to move forward any time soon.”

Buffkin said that the email received from Ivey stated that NCDOT was forced to take steps to mitigate budgetary challenges created by the impact of recovery efforts from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, rockslides, snowstorms and isolated flash floods as well as settlement expenses related to Map Act cases.

Ivey said that NCDOT consultants have been notified to stop all work, including this update on the preliminary engineering schedule for Project U-6004, and that there is no timetable for when work will resume or how this delay might impact right-of-way and construction schedules.

Buffkin said that right-of-way acquisition for the Lewisville-Clemmons Road project, which was approved at this time last September, had been scheduled to begin in 2023 with construction to start in 2025.

The town had already met with Ivey and NCDOT representatives in the spring to discuss the project and had planned to have a follow-up meeting soon.

“Basically, the reply back was, ‘there’s not a whole lot that you guys didn’t see last time, but we’re happy to go through it again and let you know where we are at this point,’ ” Buffkin said.

He added that the next meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept. 17, and that “hopefully we’ll know more at that point in time.”

Mayor John Wait said he wondered if this project could be on the “chopping block” and was wanting to get more information from Ivey.

“My concern when I got the email was the scope of the project because there’s a lot of other things — some things that were promised and other things that were potentially on the table as far as improvements in and around the corridor,” Wait said. “I’m just wondering if this funding issue is being delayed because they want to continue those commitments or whether they want to scale it back, which would be terrible.”

Councilman Chris Wright said he was encouraged because the Clemmons project has only been postponed for now.

“There are projects all across the state that have been cut completely,” Wrights said. “They are just done. They have been defunded. Our funding at least hasn’t been taken away at this point.”

In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the Council:

• Heard details from a Stormwater Audit Report from Buffkin regarding how Clemmons was the first Phase II community whose program was found to be in compliance by federal and state agencies with no deficiencies. Wes Kimbrell, a member of the stormwater staff, gave a brief report and praised the work of all involved.

• Heard a report from Wait on a recent meeting with officials involved with the Tanglewood Festival of Lights on how improvements on traffic flow have been made over the last two years for the annual holiday lights show.

• Discussed how to address Volunteer Board Recognition with Shannon Ford, the marketing/communications representative, bringing up the possibility of paying those who volunteer for local boards a stipend as some other towns do instead other types of recognition. In her discussions with volunteers, Ford said that most who serve aren’t concerned about the public recognition, and that an option of receiving a gift card instead led to learning that some other towns pay members on their boards. The council discussed what might be fair compensation and decided to revisit the issue after doing more research.

• Had a discussion on local ordinances with Wait saying he would like to consider looking at three categories based on complaints he has heard — 1) properties that cause nuisance issues to neighboring landowners; 2) not having fair guidelines for driveways and entrance standards; and 3) not have the ability to enforce all ordinances, such as parking tickets. “We’re not looking at a total overhaul,” Wait said. “We need to have ordinances that fit the size of the village now. It’s time to recognize that we’re a much bigger municipality than when these ordinances were first put in place.” Councilwoman P.J. Lofland said she would like to look at the sign ordinance, particularly regarding those signs for businesses along the expressway — not main street — that could be bigger.

• Approved Budget Amendment 20-G-4 for the re-appropriation of James Street Extension expenditures that were carried over from the previous fiscal year.

• Heard from Ford in the marketing/communications report that the most recent Movie Night in the Village, featuring “Small Foot,” drew a crowd of 500 at the Jerry Long YMCA last Saturday night. The next movie night will be Saturday, Sept. 28, featuring “The Lego Movie 2.”

She noted that the next Coffee with a Cop program would coincide with the National Coffee with a Cop Day and will be held Oct. 2 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Clemmons Food Pantry.