Trees in Median of U.S. 1 Targeted
Hundreds of crape myrtles planted two decades ago to enhance the U.S. 1 median before the return of major championship golf to Moore County are apparently on the verge of elimination.
The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will close the bidding at the end of the month on a hazard-elimination project that will install 3.6 miles of guardrail on U.S. 1 from Morganton Road in Southern Pines to Valley View Road by Hyland golf course.
"Unfortunately, all of the crape myrtles in the median are going to have to be removed," NCDOT District Engineer Chuck Dumas said in a June 14 email to Assistant Southern Pines Town Manager David White.
Dumas said several iterations of the guardrail design were considered in an effort to save some of the crape myrtles.
But NCDOT was "unable to come up with anything that would meet (safety) standards," he said in the email.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin July 25 and be completed by Nov. 30.
Southern Pines Town Council member David McNeill said he is encouraging NCDOT to look at other options and has enlisted the help of the Rural Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) of the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization (TARPO).
"I'm not against improving safety conditions," McNeill said. "I'm just trying to help the state accomplish its goal while maintaining the crape myrtles. I've counted more than 300 crape myrtles along that stretch of U.S. 1."
Town Manager Reagan Parsons agreed.
"Obviously, if there is an ability to save the crape myrtles while addressing the safety concerns on U.S. 1, we have an interest in seeing that happen," he said
McNeill made his case at a June 16 meeting in which RTAC approved a motion to request that NCDOT revise its plan to ensure that the crape myrtles are preserved.
"While the RTAC recognizes the safety concerns at this location, they want to ensure that the implemented improvements do not unnecessarily destroy this beautiful landscaping feature," Matthew Day, a senior planner for TARPO, said in an email sent after the meeting to Donald Lee, state roadside environmental engineer for NCDOT.
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.
"That's probably not the standard we want here," McNeill said.
As a result, there will be only six to seven feet of median width between the rails for the crape myrtles, which is inadequate.
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.
Ironically, the apparent end 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. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
More like this story