A little over a year after the state funds were approved for sidewalk construction in Swansboro, the money has been authorized.
Lauren Haviland, communications officer for N.C. Department of Transportation Divisions 2 and 3, said funds total $483,302. Of that Swansboro will put in $116,634 and the state will put in $366,668.
“The department is currently coordinating with the town of Swansboro to prepare and execute a formal written agreement for the project,” she said in an email.
The work will be prioritized, based on the proposal for which funding was approved in Dec. 2019. The approval followed an August 2019 resolution approved by the Swansboro Board of Commissioners.
The resolution was a formal request to the area’s state legislators, Reps. George Cleveland and Phil Shepard and former Sen. Harry Brown, for sidewalk-building money.
The state funds come from the Division-wide Small Construction, Statewide Contingency, Public Access, Economic Development, High Impact/Low Cost, according to Chris Seaberg, town manager.
DOT will design and install the sidewalks, which Seaberg said is a real boon. DOT’s involvement will mean that there will be more sidewalks built than if the state agency were not involved. The reason, he explained, is the difference between what is required for stormwater mitigation between the town and the state. Swansboro falls under a different set of stormwater rules than DOT. DOT has a national discharge permit and Swansboro does not.
However, Commissioner Frank Tursi questioned that line of thinking during the Feb. 3 meeting of the town commissioners.
“Is DOT going to own the sidewalk?” he asked Seaberg.
Seaberg said that the town will own the sidewalk.
“That has always confused me,” Tursi replied, “how DOT will be able to claim it is treating runoff … under its federal permit if they don’t own the sidewalk.” He then asked, “Has DWQ signed off on all this?” Tursi was referring the state Division of Water Quality, the agency that considers wetland mitigation.
“It’s going to be under their permit because it’s in their right of way,” Seaberg said. And, in reply to another question from Tursi, he said the town will be responsible for sidewalk maintenance.
Tursi pressed the issue. “It’s implied that DOT will own the sidewalk. Are we going to sign an agreement that we will maintain them?”
Seaberg said that is the case. And, he added, it is a situation similar to an agreement on sidewalks put in place in Cedar Point when Seaberg was administrator of that town.
Tursi said he believes that DWQ’s policy on impervious surfaces of sidewalks has changed since the Cedar Point Project.
“I’m fearful this is going to blow up in somebody’s face,” Tursi said.
While Swansboro appropriates funds annually for the construction of sidewalks, the amount of funds available falls far short of the need for new sidewalk construction.
Seaberg said the town had hoped to receive $500,000 in DOT funds in order to complete a list of projects listed by Davis, including:
• Priority number 1 is to complete gaps on the south side of N.C. 24. It is approximately 1,239 linear feet from McDonald’s to Hammock Beach Road.
• Priority number 2 is to complete a gap on the east side of Old Hammock Road from Deer Island Road to N.C. 24, approximately .89 miles. For this section, Davis suggests “optional surfaces,” such as asphalt and marl, be considered.
• Priority number 3 is to complete the sidewalk from Moore’s BBQ to Park Place, approximately .38 miles along Hammock Beach Road. An elevated section will be required at Park Place to reach the adjacent residences.
• Priority number 4 is the Hammock Beach Road multi-use trail from Halls Creek Subdivision to 4H Road. This section is 2,323 feet.
In her email, Haviland said the DOT priority order is based on feedback provided from the town. She said:
“Priority 1 – Sidewalk installation along Corbett Avenue, from Hammocks Beach Road to Phillips Loop Road;
“Priority 2 – Old Hammocks Beach Road from Deer Island Road to existing sidewalk near Fredericka Lane;
“Priority 3 – Hammocks Beach Road from Moore’s BBQ sidewalk to Park Place Drive.”
“We expect construction may begin in March or April and expect to be complete by this fall,” Haviland said. “We would accomplish as much work as possible without exceeding the total funding amount.”
Email Jimmy Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.