Dylan Horne’s June 26 “My Turn” opinion piece regarding bike lanes and road diet efforts along Salisbury Avenue in Spencer certainly echoes my personal beliefs on this issue, but apparently it stopped watching the board meeting before the final decision was made.
As part of NCDOT’s periodic resurfacing efforts, the city was asked to provide feedback on desired changes to the road cross-section for Salisbury Avenue from 17th Street to Long Ferry Road. The planning board and city staff, with the assistance of an external consultant, studied this section of road, looking for opportunities to improve the traffic problems identified in our city. The result of this 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 cycle lanes on either side.
Public response to this suggestion has been mixed. After deliberation, the Board of Aldermen initially voted to reject the staff’s suggested plan, but quickly approved a second motion that approved the proposed restriction plan from 17th Street to approximately Jefferson Street, a 1½-mile section, and retained the four-lane profile but with shared lane. arrows added in last 1/2 mile section from Jefferson to Long Ferry. This action provided the full effects of the proposed ‘road diet’ for about 75% of the project and at least improved use for cyclists on the remaining 25%.
When the NCDOT resurfaces the remaining section of Salisbury Avenue from Long Ferry Road north to the Yadkin River around 2027, the city will have another opportunity to consider the best uses of this corridor, but Spencer isn’t waiting. until then to take progressive action.
Plans have been approved and construction will begin soon at Yadkin River Trailhead City Park at the Wilcox Bridge. Efforts are underway to create a riverfront park that will provide a mix of commercial development and public recreational access to the Yadkin River. Coupled with similar efforts by Davidson County on the north side of the bridge, this area will become a mecca for river-related recreation and entertainment.
Spencer will soon begin construction on our downtown park in front of our new City Hall/Police Department building. Located across from the NC Transportation Museum across Salisbury Avenue, this park will provide a new, more welcoming look to our downtown area, as well as a pavilion for a farmer’s market, outdoor weddings and special events.
The city’s 42-acre Stanback Educational Forest, originally known as Spencer Woods, will soon more than double in size. The passive park trail network is already being expanded with new trailheads planned on 7th Street and Salisbury Avenue. The location of the starting point of Salisbury Avenue (think kudzu ravine) is also being considered for a community center and environmental arts. Means of linking this network of trails to the Salisbury Greenway and an urban greenway linking our town center to the Yadkin River are in the planning stage.
New industrial growth is coming to northern 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 a new tax base to our community. The city is working with Rowan County on a corridor study for Long Ferry Road and a small area plan for areas north. Recognizing the impact of new residential and commercial developments on the city, the Board of Aldermen recently approved sweeping changes to the city’s overall land use plan.
Mr. Horne closed his op-ed by promising to avoid our city in the future. I hope that armed with this correct information, he and others will reconsider and visit what is fast becoming the best small town in North Carolina.
Steve Blount is Planning and Zoning Administrator for Spencer.