Rowan commissioners reject Wil-Cox Bridge offer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to reject a state offer to give Rowan and Davidson counties ownership of the Wil-Cox bridge that spans the Yadkin River at Spencer.
A group of bridge supporters called “The Bridge Club” has worked for several years to save the U.S. 29 bridge, which opened in 1924 and is one of six in the state of the same type of design.
But commissioners Chairman Carl Ford called the bridge a money pit, citing concerns about the its condition and the potential cost of repairs and maintenance.
In 2004, a previous Board of Commissioners voted to accept the bridge and use it as part of a regional greenway linking Davidson, Rowan and Cabarrus counties.
Ford noted that in 2004, the N.C. Department of Transportation had promised to provide $1 million for upkeep once Rowan and Davidson took ownership. The state highway department planned to demolish the bridge once the new Interstate 85 bridge over the Yadkin is built.
Ford noted that the Department of Transportation is running $30 million a month in the hole and said he doubts the agency’s ability to provide any money for the Wil-Cox bridge.
Ford also told the board about a call he received from a retired maintenance worker who contacted him to express concern about the bridge.
“I’m not against the bridge, … It’s just not worth it,” Ford said. “If Davidson wants it, they can have it.”
The board unanimously approved a motion by Ford to reject ownership of the bridge.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain said it might have potential, but also expressed concern over the potential cost of maintenance.
Vice Chairman Jon Barber said the state would just be shifting the cost to the county.
The discussion came about after state highway officials contacted Rowan and Davidson officials pointing out that while they had previously signed a letter of intent to accept the bridge, no final agreement had ever been executed.
Davidson commissioners are expected to discuss the bridge later this month.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.