Accidents prompt city to change detour

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — City staff on Tuesday changed a detour around the entrance to the Jersey City neighborhood after two traffic incidents occurred in the area within a week.
The city started an $85,000 project on Sept. 26 to improve the intersection at Mocksville Avenue and Caldwell and Cemetery streets. Since then, trucks have run over a curb and into the grass and hit a power pole while making the turn from Mocksville Avenue onto Craige Street.
A Duke Energy crew stabilized the pole after it was struck.
The new detour will route traffic farther into the neighborhood but eliminates the sharpest turn, City Planner Lynn Raker and Traffic Engineer Wendy Brindle said. The historic neighborhood sees a good amount of truck traffic.
Despite the hiccups, City Council praised the intersection project and said the improvements could help revitalize the struggling neighborhood.
The city has focused on Jersey City for years, buying and demolishing vacant eyesores and moving properties around in hopes to spur development, Mayor Susan Kluttz said.
“It really has not progressed like we had expected and hoped,” she said.
The neighborhood represents a gateway to the north end of the city for people driving over historic Shober Bridge, Kluttz said. Jersey City is the entrance to areas including the hospital, the Country Club and the Crescent, she said.
Kluttz called for the city to return its focus to Jersey City once again to see if something else can be done to spur development. She suggested the Salisbury Planning Board study the area and make recommendations, possibly to change zoning or alter lot sizes.
“We were hoping medical offices and small businesses were going to go in, and it sort of just died on us,” Councilman Paul Woodson said.
The neighborhood includes 3 acres of undeveloped land, Raker said.
City Council had thought Rowan Regional Medical Center would expand toward the neighborhood, “but the hospital went elsewhere and development just stopped,” Kluttz said.
Councilman Brian Miller said while Jersey City is likely zoned properly for development, having Planning Board study the neighborhood is a good idea.
Joe Morris, director for Community Planning Services, said the city has worked to protect residential property in Jersey City. There are some environmental concerns in the area and monitoring wells have been installed on the site of a former convenience store, Morris said.
The intersection upgrades, which include new trees, landscaping, curbing and crosswalks, will improve the appearance of the neighborhood, Kluttz said. She also praised city staff for improving infrastructure as well, including a new underground storm drainage system and sewer line.
“I hope the improved appearance will improve the marketability of the surrounding properties,” Kluttz said.
An original contract for $76,000 awarded to Carolina Siteworks Inc. has been adjusted to $85,000 to reflect additional work, Raker said. The project still came in about $15,000 under budget and is paid for with federal funds.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.