The following is a message from Ronnie Reese, Chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners.
First of all, I would like to say that it is an honor to serve as your newly-elected Chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners. I will always do what I believe is the best thing for our county and our citizens. Thank you for allowing me to serve.
I suppose many of our citizens, especially in the Bethlehem Community, have heard about the upcoming widening project on NC Hwy. 127. The NC Department of Transportation held a public meeting on November 14 to provide more information about the state project and to address concerns of property owners who live along the route, which extends from Cloninger Mill Road in Catawba County to Richey Road in Alexander County. Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled for 2021, with construction to begin in 2023.
As your County Commissioner, I believe this project is extremely important to future growth in the Bethlehem area as it will increase the likelihood of businesses moving into our county. There is no doubt that this project will be a game-changer here in Alexander County in terms of economic development and residential growth, while greatly improving traffic flow.
As you know, Hwy. 127 is a major north-south road and is one of only two major crossings for Alexander County over Lake Hickory and the Catawba River, which makes the road a critical link between Alexander County and Catawba County. The existing Hwy. 127 has a capacity of 15,400 vehicles per day; however, it currently has more than 19,300 vehicles per day. Without this significant NCDOT widening project, the problem would only get worse as the community grows and traffic increases.
The project, which is estimated to cost $30,800,000 in state funds, will improve traffic conditions and safety by widening the existing roadway from two lanes to four lanes with a median, and replacing the existing bridge over Lake Hickory. It seems there are two options for the bridge — the NCDOT would either build a second two-lane bridge or build a new four-lane bridge and demolish the current one. If you’ve ever traveled on Hwy. 127 in the morning on the way to work or in the evening after work, you know there is a true need for this widening as traffic congestion is a real problem. The project is also important for emergency access.
There is also a history of rear-end collisions on Hwy. 127, particularly near the bridge. A reduction in congestion will certainly help to reduce accidents in the area, and shorten commute times.
I encourage those who own property along this section of Hwy. 127 to have patience during the project, because in the end it will be well worth it.
If you’d like to learn more about this project and others, visit www.ncdot.gov/projects.