One Local Issue That Unites All
When have Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen and Pinebluff ever officially agreed on anything - except maybe motherhood and apple pie?
Yet all of these traditionally independent southern Moore County towns - or at least a majority of the council members in each (Southern Pines Councilman Fred Walden is a notable and unfortunate exception) - have now gone on record as strenuously opposing the specter of a U.S. 1 bypass cutting through Horse Country.
Though admittedly more is involved than municipal wishes, one feels inclined to ask the state: What part of "no" don't you understand?
Perhaps no issue in recent memory has galvanized our greater community than this one. Even though N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials have repeatedly stated - almost to the point that they're blue in the face - that they have no current plans for such an alternative thoroughfare, Moore Countians justifiably remain wary.
This is especially true since NCDOT is on record as having considered a potential bypass of Southern Pines and Aberdeen through Horse Country in the past. Those lines on the old maps remain troubling because they always just happen to be drawn east of U.S. 1, knifing through some of the most lovely countryside in these parts.
Let the Secretary Come See
Bypass opponents cite the economic, environmental and cultural concerns raised by the thought of a four-lane freeway splitting the Walthour-Moss Foundation, a 4,200-acre nature preserve.
Recently, the Moore County Board of Commissioners worked with officials from Aberdeen, Pinebluff, Pinehurst and Southern Pines to draft and adopt a strongly worded resolution asking NCDOT to remove Horse Country from bypass consideration.
The resolution also calls for NCDOT to remove its Strategic Highway Corridor designation for U.S. 1, and to conduct an origination and destination study along U.S. 1 between Morganton Road in Southern Pines and N.C. 5 in Aberdeen.
Perhaps most important, the resolution invites Transportation Secretary Gene Conti to visit Moore County for a more in-depth discussion of the issues. Here's hoping he'll accept the invitation and get a firsthand look at what we're talking about here.
A Welcome Consensus
In reality, County Commissioner Larry Caddell was probably correct in telling an overflow crowd at a public hearing earlier this month that the resolution likely will have little influence with NCDOT. But Caddell was also quick to note that, at the very least, the resolution was another way to call attention to the views of Moore County residents.
Commissioner Tim Lea urged freeway opponents to "remain vigilant" and find solutions to the traffic issues that have led NCDOT to keep the proposed bypass alive.
A bypass would impact the whole county in countless ways, not just the municipalities that the route would circumvent - literally and figuratively. We applaud the commissioners and their municipal counterparts for setting aside potential turf battles and working together for the county's best interests.
It is a rarity that we would like to see occur on a regular basis.
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