Granite Quarry aldermen receive information on US 52 bypass

Published 11:11 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

By Robert Sullivan

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen received an update on a proposed bypass during their meeting on Nov. 13. The bypass has been in consideration for decades and would allow drivers on U.S. Highway 52 to avoid downtown Granite Quarry.

The update was presented by multiple officials from Division 9 of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Engineers from the division explained the process of getting a project on the prioritization list and the phases of the bypass project to the aldermen and to members of the town’s planning board, who were asked to attend.

Most of the traffic numbers that the NCDOT uses to inform their decisions come from surveys done by municipal or county governments, Division 9 Engineer Pat Ivey said. Ivey also spoke about some of the budgetary issues that the department is dealing with, saying that costs are rising for transportation projects the same way they are elsewhere.

“But in response to the unprecedented rising of material and labor costs, staff reviewed an updated cost estimate in 2021 and found the TIP to be over-programmed in every single category. DOT initially identified an $8 billion gap, billion with a B, in funding if you were to roll all of the committed projects from the 2020-2029 TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) into the new version of the TIP,” said Ivey.

Ivey noted that both Granite Quarry and Rockwell would see an average of 15,600 drivers a day by 2045 if the bypasses were not constructed, which he said is too high for a two-lane road. Projections say that if the bypasses are constructed, it should cut those numbers by about half for each town, which is why they made the prioritization list.

Ivey could not provide a specific timetable for the Rockwell and Granite Quarry bypasses but he did say that construction is expected to start on the Richfield/Misenheimer bypass in 2029.

State Sen. Carl Ford was also in attendance for the update, and Mayor Brittany Barnhardt asked Ford to provide any assistance that he can from the state level. The planning board was asked to be in attendance for the meeting so that they could take the information given by the NCDOT into account when making decisions and recommendations in the future.

In other news from the meeting, Granite Quarry approved its side of the non-annexation agreement with Salisbury. The agreement sets boundaries for future annexation for each municipality. The county asked the municipalities to consider the agreements to provide clarity for future developers on which town they need to work with. Other municipalities were waiting on Granite Quarry and Salisbury to finalize their agreement, so other towns will begin to work on their own agreements at this point.

The board also approved longevity pay for town employees, which had already been accounted for in the current fiscal year’s budget.