Interchange plans fail to gain traction

By Andy Winemiller -

DOBSON — A proposal of a former commissioner gained no traction among current members of the Surry County Board of Commissioners last week.

Prior to his resignation from the county board in late March, then-Commissioner Jimmy Miller asked County Manager Chris Knopf to look into having the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) landscape the “southwest quadrant of the southbound lane” at the N.C. 89 and I-77 interchange.

Miller envisioned Boxwood trees planted at the location in recognition of a local Boy Scout group which runs Raven Knob Scout Reservation, located off N.C. 89.

The draft contract with the DOT Knopf presented included the DOT putting $50,000 in funds into landscaping the area. Any funds needed beyond $50,000 would fall on the shoulders of the county.

A year after the DOT landscaped the area, the county would assume all upkeep of the area, a provision of which commissioners weren’t fond.

“I don’t really like a plan which includes putting equipment on a trailer here (in Dobson) and going up there to perform maintenance,” said Commissioner Van Tucker.

Tucker also noted if the county failed in its endeavors to maintain the property, the DOT could send the county a bill for the original landscaping cost.

Knopf added if there was a car accident or another sort of mishap at the location, the county would be forced to foot the bill for any repairs.

“I’ve taken two trips up there since I saw this (in the board’s meeting packet), and I can’t really see how it would benefit us,” said Commissioner Larry Johnson, who filled the vacancy left by Miller after defeating Miller in the five-way race for the Republican nomination for the seat in March.

Johnson also noted trees have already been planted in the right-of-way. “I don’t know that there’s much that we could do beyond what’s already being done,” said Johnson.

Knopf said other such agreements are in place throughout the county. However, in those agreements another entity, such as a neighboring business, is charged with the upkeep of the property after the DOT performs its landscaping duties.

A business or individual can enter into the same sort of agreement with the DOT without working through a local governmental entity, according to Knopf.

Commissioner Larry Phillips chimed in with, “If somebody wants this, they can go directly to the DOT.”

The proposal failed to gain any momentum when no commissioner opted to make a motion to allow county staff to enter into the agreement.

Miller could not be reached for comment.

By Andy Winemiller

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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