U.S. 1 Landscaping Topic of Wednesday Meeting
State and local officials will meet next week to begin developing a plan for plantings and landscaping along U.S. 1 that will mitigate the imminent loss of hundreds of crape myrtles.
Southern Pines Town Manager Reagan Parsons said the town will sit down Wednesday with N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials at their Aberdeen district office.
"We're simply there to listen and to learn," Parsons said Thursday.
The crape myrtles will be removed once Barnhill Construction Co. begins work in mid-August to install 3.6 miles of guardrail on U.S. 1 from Morganton Road in Southern Pines to Valley View Road by Hyland golf course. NCDOT awarded the contract to Barnhill in June after the company submitted a bid of slightly more than $1 million.
Work on the hazard-elimination project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 30.
The crape myrtles were planted two decades ago to enhance the U.S. 1 median before the return of major championship golf to Moore County.
Ted Vaden, deputy secretary of internal and external affairs for NCDOT, said in an email that Barnhill will not start work before the meeting.
The goal of the meeting will be "developing a plan for plantings that can help mitigate or offset the beautification loss caused by the removal of the crape myrtles," Vaden said.
NCDOT Division Engineer Tim Johnson told Parsons in an email Wednesday that Barnhill can start anytime and "we do not plan to stop the project."
"The purpose of the meeting is to present some possible planting/landscaping options that may occur after the current guardrail installation project is completed and ascertain the town's willingness to provide the maintenance for some items," Johnson said.
NCDOT has cited the 29 median-related crashes, including two fatalities in separate accidents, during a five-year study period from Feb. 1, 2004, to Jan. 31, 2009, as the main reason for the change.
"I regret that we cannot accomplish the town's goal of saving the crape myrtles in the median," Johnson wrote in a July 15 letter to Mayor Mike Haney, "but I hope you understand our imperative to provide a safe roadway for the traveling public."
The state explored using Brifen rail, which would have allowed for one line of guardrail that may have been adjusted in the median to save some of the crape myrtles. But the median is too narrow for Brifen so two lines of standard metal galvanized guardrail will be used.
The crape myrtles were planted around the time the season-ending PGA Tour Championship was conducted at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1991 and 1992, and the 1994 U.S. Senior Open was contested on the famed Donald Ross golf course.
Since then, the resort has hosted the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens as well as the 2008 U.S. Amateur. Pine Needles has also hosted the U.S. Women's Open in 1996, 2001 and 2007.
The demise of the crape myrtles comes as NCDOT prepares to implement its 2014 U.S. Open Regional Enhancement Plan. Renovation and rejuvenation of the plantings at the Midland Road and Pennsylvania Avenue interchanges along U.S. 1 will begin later this year.
The 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open will be held in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst No. 2.
Contact Ted M. Nattt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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