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Section of Klumac Road to be relocated as part of underpass construction

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

It’s a $6.1 million project at least two years in the distance, but a new Klumac Road underpass promises to change the landscape in Salisbury’s southern end.

State transportation engineers and planners met informally with the public Monday night at Salisbury City Hall to review the project’s latest design.

A section of Klumac Road will be relocated to the west, on the opposite side of Johnson Concrete, so the road can go under the north-south railroad tracks with the least amount of impact on existing homes and businesses.

The new half-mile section will intersect with Mooresville Road, proceed east under the railroad tracks, create a new intersection with South Boundary Street and go through undeveloped land before meeting up with the current Klumac Road at Kentucky Street.

The existing Klumac Road will have cul-de-sacs on each side of the railroad tracks. Vehicles will no longer be able to cross there.

Old South Main Street also will have cul-de-sacs on each side of the new Klumac Road, because of retaining walls that will be necessary for the underpass.

Property owners, who have been closely following the state and city’s plans for almost four years, generally gave the latest design a thumbs up.

“Any property with a road going by it is better than property without a road going by it,” said Norde Wilson, who owns some acreage that will be along the new section of Klumac Road.

Wilson, associated with Salisbury Lumber and Supply, said he also is a supporter of high-speed passenger rail service, which has an connection to the project.

Charles Newsome, general manager for Johnson Concrete, said the current design is about as good as the company could hope for, given all the other options.

As early as 2003, Johnson Concrete officials had warned that designs calling for temporary tracks on their side of the existing tracks could put them out of business.

During construction of the underpass, the temporary tracks would have blocked trucks from bringing in raw materials to west side of the concrete plant.

But the latest design places the two sets of temporary tracks on the opposite side, which will allow trucks to come and go from Johnson Concrete.

The temporary detour for the two sets of north-south tracks will come first, before construction on the underpass can start.

Marc Hamel, rail environmental planning engineer, said these kinds of track detours on grade-separation projects — whether a bridge or an underpass — are “absolutely common.”

He added that the Klumac Road underpass is being fit into a tight area and called it “a tricky place to put a road.”

Department of Transportation engineers have worked closely with the city in coming up with a project aimed at affecting the least amount of people, yet still be functional, Hamel said.

DOT environmental assessments and design work will take up to two more years.

Hamel predicted that it would take a year-and-a-half for DOT right-of-way representatives to begin contacting property owners.

The new section of Klumac Road requires a 100-foot right of way. The new, two-lane road would be 28 feet wide with curb and gutter and sidewalks on each side.

A preliminary budget calls for right-of-way purchases to cost $1 million; road construction, $2.6 million; the underpass construction, $1.7 million; and utilities relocation $850,000.

The relocated Klumac Road is a federal-aid highway project, in which federal funds would pay for 80 percent; state funds, 20 percent.

But Hamel said the funding is “a little bit up in the air” at present, and the DOT will have to identify where the federal funds for this project are.

The state says this North Carolina Railroad Co. and Norfolk Southern rail corridor between Salisbury and Charlotte is one of the most heavily traveled in the state. Roughly 50 trains — 44 freight and six passenger — use this section of track daily.

In 1992, the corridor through Salisbury was one of five national corridors designated for high-speed rail service. At the time, Salisbury had 17 at-grade crossings within a 3.5 mile section of the north-south tracks — the highest concentration of at-grade crossings in the state.

The city worked with the state in closing eight of those crossings, leading to a traffic increase on Klumac Road and the state’s agreeing to a grade separation, either a bridge or underpass.

Written comments on the project will be taken through March 7. They can be addressed to Jamille A. Robbins, public involvement officer, N.C. DOT-Human Environment Unit, 1583 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1583.

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