History lovers, bridge builders near accord
The Interstate 85 bridge replacement project over the Yadkin River, still waiting word on whether it will receive federal stimulus money, has made a step toward clearing an important historic preservation hurdle.
This month’s filing of a Memorandum of Agreement among the Federal Highway Administration, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office completes requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
The agreement recognizes that the highway project would have an adverse effect on the “Yadkin River Crossings Historic District,” which has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
In that light, it says the bridge replacement and widening project for 6.5 miles of I-85 will follow certain stipulations, including the following:
– Photo documentation of bridges ó Before construction, the N.C. DOT will record Rowan County Bridge Nos. 46 and 392 and their surroundings, and the DOT will provide copies of that documentation with the State Historic Preservation Office, the Historic Architecture Group of the DOT, the N.C. Transportation History Museum in Spencer, the Davidson County Historical Museum and Historic Salisbury Foundation .
The documentation has to be supplied within three years of the agreement.
– Wil-Cox Bridge (Rowan County Bridge No. 46) ó The DOT will attempt to find a new owner for the bridge. The new owner must be willing to accept all future financial and legal responsibility for the bridge, including title, liability and maintenance.
The DOT will assist the new owner in the identification of and application for financial resources to maintain the bridge, if requested in writing by the new owner, which for now looks as though it will be Davidson County.
According to the agreement, if no willing owner were identified by completion of right of way consultation, the DOT could elect to remove the bridge.
If the Wil-Cox Bridge were removed, the DOT will provide a sidewalk and “pedestrian-safe railing on the replacement bridge so that pedestrians may safely cross the Yadkin River.”
– Design of replacement bridge or bridges on U.S. 29/70 ó The DOT will develop plans for the replacement bridge or bridges in the Yadkin River Crossings District “that, barring unforeseen circumstances, should last more than 50 years.”
Before completion of the designs, the DOT will allow the State Historic Preservation Office and concurring parties an opportunity to review and comment on specifications for the parapet and bridge rail.
The Federal Highway Administration and the DOT will arrange for a joint consultation to address any questions or comments received within 30 days.
– Borrow and waste pit areas ó The State Historic Preservation Office will review any waste and borrow areas proposed by the contractor. “Special consideration will be given to any proposed waste and borrow areas within one-half mile of the river.”
– Staging areas ó The DOT will not permit staging areas for construction within the boundary of the Yadkin River Crossings District.
The DOT will permit overnight parking of equipment and storage of materials within the construction right of way along any part of the project corridor.
– Heritage kiosk ó The DOT will provide the public with information about the historical and cultural significance of the Yadkin River Crossings Historic District.
The DOT will design and produce a custom kiosk at a location specified by the State Historic Preservation Office, with input from Rowan and Davidson counties and the Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association, within a year of the construction’s completion.
The DOT will maintain the parking area and execute an agreement with Davidson County to transfer maintenance responsibility of the kiosk to the county after the DOT installs the kiosk.
The DOT also will provide $10,000 to Davidson County for future maintenance costs of the kiosk.
Parties signing the agreement included John F. Sullivan III, division administrator of the Federal Highway Administration; Jeffrey J. Crow, N.C. State Historic Preservation officer; Greg Thorpe, project development and environmental analysis branch manager for the DOT; Robert C. Hyatt, Davidson County manager; and Ann Brownlee, founder of the Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association.
The $300 million widening project, including a replacement of the I-85 Yadkin River bridge, would extend from just north of Exit 81 (Long Ferry Road) in Rowan County to U.S. 29-52-70. I-85 Business in Davidson County.
Gov. Bev Perdue has sought federal stimulus money for the project, which currently is unfunded among DOT projects in Division 9, which includes Rowan and Davidson counties.
According to the agreement, the Yadkin River Crossings Historic District includes Fort York, Rowan County bridges 46 and 392, N.C. Railroad Bridges 1 and 2, Beard’s Bridge site, Big Island and the Trading Path Road Trace.