The Statesville City Council is urging the state Department of Transportation to improve U.S. 70/Garner Bagnal Boulevard by widening the road to four lanes between I-77 and I-40.
The city also has petitioned the state for new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.
“Through the Strategic Highway Corridor Program, the state has established a priority system for the improvements of major highways,” City Manager Rob Hites said. “One of the goals of the program is to establish orderly evacuation in case of emergencies, such as hurricanes or floods.
“Right now, I-40 is the only four-lane, east-west highway serving Statesville,” Hites said. “Widening U.S. 70 would clearly provide a second option for motorists.”
The 4.8-mile section of U.S. 70 targeted by the city for improvements runs from just east of I-77 to I-40. The state already owns the right of way for a four-lane highway, although the road is currently only two lanes wide.
In addition to widening the road, the council requested in their resolution adopted in August that “suitable lighting of the corridor” be installed and that the DOT coordinate landscaping plans with the city.
Hites said improving U.S. 70 in Statesville would appear to comply with the state's strategic highway program, thereby providing the potential for an additional source of state funds which could be used to undertake the project.
Hearing process will stand
In other news, the council has reversed itself and decided not to drop the city's quasi-judicial hearing process for special-use permits.
Earlier this year, council members had voiced displeasure with the process, which bars them from discussing pending applications with citizens.
However, after dissecting a proposed change to a conditional-district zoning format, they decided to leave the process as is.
“Be careful what you wish for,” council member Cecil Stallard at a special meeting earlier this month. “While initially, the change looked good, after we heard all the facts, it seemed like we were navigating uncharted waters.”
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Johnson concurred. “The new process would eliminate a ‘finding of fact' in these types of cases, which to me is a serious flaw. We don't have that many of these hearings, anyway.”
The process rejected by the council has been adopted by several area municipalities, including Charlotte and, most recently, the town of Troutman.
The council also postponed until Sept. 15 the selection of an architectural firm regarding new buildings needed to support the Public Works and Electric Utilities departments, both of which are currently housed at the City Warehouse and Garage.