Saluda hears state road funding process

Published 11:13 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I-26 drainage issues have to be repaired before Howard Gap Road

SALUDA—The City of Saluda had a North Carolina Department of Transportation engineer make a presentation about how state road projects are funded this week. 

The Saluda Board of Commissioners met Tuesday and heard from Troy Wilson, Division 14 Corridor Development Engineer with the NCDOT. 

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Wilson made a lengthy presentation about the State Transportation Plan and where the funds come from, as well as how the state rates the projects. Projects on the STIP list come from the motor fuel tax, department of motor vehicle fees and the highway use tax. 

Commissioner Paul Marion asked what the state plans to do when electric cars are more prominent since the fuel tax will decrease. Wilson said the state is figuring out other types of revenue to continue to move forward. 

“I know you have to come up with that 10-year plan, but I don’t think you have 10 years,” said Marion. 

Commissioner Mark Oxtoby said he thinks a lot of projects across the state are funded from who you know and that poor counties often get money over perceived rich counties. 

Wilson said that is not true, that the state goes on quantitative data. Wilson said it is all about scoring the projects and the law makes the projects data driven. 

“If you have projects you’d like us to take a look at, please let me know or let your rural planning organization know,” Wilson said. 

Howard Gap Road

Wilson also gave updates on the Interstate 26 repairs from the 2018 storms and Howard Gap Road, where a section has been closed since January. 

Wilson said the inventory on the section of Howard Gap Road is about 60 percent complete and the state is already working on a plan to make those repairs. 

A section of Howard Gap Road between Tryon and Saluda has crumbled following a year of above normal rainfall, particularly in May 2018 and again in January of this year. 

Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden asked since the drainage issues took out the city’s water line, is the state going to fix that as well. Wilson said that he did not know, but another engineer assigned to the project could answer those questions. 

Wilson also spoke about drainage issues around Interstate 26. 

“We have to fix I-26 before we fix Howard Gap,” Wilson said. “Then we can find out exactly what can be done.” 

Baisden asked if Wilson is speaking of fixing Cove Creek where the state had to dig out all the debris. Wilson said yes, that section from the failure area. He said the state needs to rehab the entire drainage system. 

Oxtoby asked if the state will have to dig up the road. Wilson said they will likely bore under instead of dig up I-26. 

There has been no timelines yet of when Howard Gap Road will be repaired and re-opened, but state officials said last week the assessment should be completed sometime this fall. 

Wilson also said he understands Saluda has a rock culvert that is collapsing. City manager Jonathan Cannon said that culvert is on Main Street downtown. 

Wilson said initial estimates are that it will cost $1.6 million and the state is trying to find a way to fund that project. Wilson said that project will come from emergency funding and the NCDOT is currently trying to find funding to complete that fix.