My Turn, Steve Blount: Reconsider visiting Spencer

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2022

Dylan Horne’s June 26 “My Turn” opinion piece concerning bike lanes and road diet efforts along Salisbury Avenue in Spencer certainly echoes my personal beliefs on this issue but apparently he stopped watching the board’s meeting before final action was taken.

As a part of NCDOT’s periodic resurfacing efforts, the town was asked to provide input on any desired changes to the road cross section for Salisbury Avenue from 17th Street to Long Ferry Road. The Town’s Planning Board and staff, with the help of an outside consultant, studied this section of road, looking for opportunities to improve identified traffic problems through our town. The result of that effort was a suggested restriping of this two-mile section of road, reducing traffic lanes to one in each direction with a dedicated center turn lane and bike lanes on either side.

Public response to this suggestion was mixed. After deliberation, the Board of Aldermen initially voted to reject staff’s suggested plan but quickly approved a second motion which approved the proposed restriping plan from 17th Street to about Jefferson Street, a 1 ½ mile section, and retained the four lane profile but with shared lane arrows added in the last 1/2 mile section from Jefferson to Long Ferry. This action provided the full effects of the “road diet” proposed for about 75% of the project and at least improved the use for cyclist on the remaining 25%.

When NCDOT resurfaces the remaining section of Salisbury Avenue from Long Ferry Road north to the Yadkin River in about 2027, the town will have another opportunity to consider the best uses of this corridor, but Spencer is not waiting until then to take progressive actions.

Plans have been approved and construction will soon begin on the town’s Yadkin River Trailhead Park at the Wilcox Bridge. Efforts are underway to create a Riverfront Park that will provide a mix of business development and public recreational access to the Yadkin River. When coupled with Davidson County’s similar efforts on the north side of the bridge, this area will become a mecca for river related recreation and entertainment venues.

Spencer will soon begin construction of our downtown park in front of our new town hall/police department building. Located across Salisbury Avenue from the N.C. Transportation Museum, this park will provide a new, more welcoming look for our downtown area along with a pavilion for a farmer’s market, outdoor weddings, and special events.

The town’s 42-acre Stanback Educational Forest, originally know as Spencer Woods, will soon more than double in size. The passive park’s trail system is already being expanded and new trailheads are planned on 7th Street and Salisbury Ave. The Salisbury Avenue trailhead location (think kudzu gully) is also being considered for an Environmental Arts and Community Center. Ways to connect this trail system to Salisbury’s Greenway and an urban greenway connecting our downtown core to the Yadkin River are in the planning stages.

New industrial growth is coming to north Spencer. Properties along Long Ferry Road and north between I-85 and Salisbury Avenue are under consideration for new commercial and industrial developments bringing new jobs and tax base to our community. The town is working with Rowan County on a corridor study for Long Ferry Road and a small area plan for the areas north. Recognizing the impact of new residential and commercial development on the town, the Board of Aldermen recently approved sweeping changes to the town’s comprehensive land use plan.

Mr. Horne closed his opinion piece with a promise to avoid our town in the future. I hope armed with this correct information he and others will reconsider and visit what is fast becoming the best little town in North Carolina.

Steve Blount is planning and zoning administrator for Spencer.