Deadline expires for truck stop tower $400K grant repayment

  • Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 12:50 a.m.

SALISBURY — The deadline has come and gone for a Connecticut company to repay $400,000 in federal grant money used for a failed air quality project at a Salisbury truck stop.

CabAire removed 25 truck stop electrification towers at the former Derrick Travel Plaza on Peeler Road just two years into a seven-year agreement. According to the company’s contract with Centralina Council of Governments, which landed federal funds for the project, the company had to pay back the money within 90 days after the towers were removed.

That hasn’t happened.

“This is very disappointing,” Phil Conrad, executive director for the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization, wrote in an email to Centralina. “I’m not sure what could or should happen, but the fact that over $400,000 in taxpayer investment is gone before the end of a two-year window seems almost fraudulent.”

The Cabarrus-Rowan MPO, which funneled the grant funds to the project, delayed several other local air quality projects in favor of the truck stop towers. The project made up 60 percent of Rowan and Cabarrus counties’ federal Congestion Mitigation for Air Quality funding in 2006.

“It was by far the most expensive project in our first round of funding to the Cabarrus-Rowan MPO area,” Conrad said. “We absolutely need some kind of recourse for the citizens of Rowan County.”

The project was one of the biggest initiatives focused on improving air quality in Rowan County. And one of the most expensive.

“That would have gone a long way to building sidewalks and bike lanes and some magnificent projects here in Salisbury,” Conrad said.

Centralina has been discussing repayment with CabAire, which says it was forced to remove the towers in 2012 when the owners of Derrick’s sold the truck stop to Love’s Travel Stops.

Love’s required removal of the towers before closing on the property, according to CabAire.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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