Horse Country Group Makes Case Against Bypass
N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials insist that there is no plan to route a proposed U.S. 1 bypass through Horse Country or any other part of Moore County.
“Yes, there was one in 2005 and that was taken off the table when it became clear that there was community resistance to it,” Ted Vaden, deputy secretary for internal and external affairs at NCDOT, said Thursday. “There is no route on a map now.”
The U.S. 1 bypass is one of five major road projects in Moore County that will be included in a Comprehensive Trans-portation Plan being developed for the county that will reflect the priorities of residents and elected officials.
“We just can’t stress strongly enough that this is a long-range plan, and it’s not just about U.S. 1,” Vaden said. “We are looking to the local people to give us direction on how they want their community transportation problems to be addressed.”
Had DOT officials been at an informational meeting hosted Tuesday by the Walthour-Moss Foundation, they would have heard loudly and clearly that those in attendance don’t want a bypass coming through Horse Country.
A bypass east of U.S. 1 would likely go through the Foundation, a 4,200-acre nature preserve in Horse Country that is home to large stands of longleaf pines as well as numerous endangered plants and wildlife.
“This bypass is sort of a curse hanging over the Foundation and Horse Country,” John Pavan said. “This thing needs to be killed once and for all.”
Pavan was one of about 250 people who came to the Sunrise Theater in downtown Southern Pines to hear a 50-minute presentation and then participate in a 45-minute question-and-answer session.
“We were delighted by the large turnout because it reflects a community that values the Walthour-Moss Foundation lands and how they contribute to our unique quality of life,” said Stephen Later, a Pinehurst attorney and Foundation vice chairman who served as moderator.
Later called the bypass “a threat to much of what we love about this area.”
“This isn’t just about Horse Country,” he said. “It’s about our whole community. We don’t want our downtowns to suffer and decline as businesses move out to the bypass.”
The bypass would likely be an 11-mile stretch of four-lane highway that would start north of Southern Pines and reconnect south of Aberdeen.
“This project, as proposed, will further divide the community,” said Ray Owen, a local historian. “It would really affect the fabric and character of our community, which is not just a bunch of wealthy people on horses. It’s a diverse group of people who share a common passion to preserve this amazing amenity.
“I think it’s absolutely absurd that they would want to put a road through it.”
Vaden stressed that such concerns need to be voiced to NCDOT, whether it be at one of seven charrettes planned for early November or via mail, fax, email or telephone.
“What I feel is lacking here is adequate information,” he said. “We really want to educate the public. That is what the charrettes are about. At the same time, we certainly welcome everyone’s input. It’s vital. We are not going into this with a preconceived plan.
“Ultimately, the plan has to come from the community.”
The other projects include improvements to N.C. 24/27 and the N.C. 211 bypass/western connection. According to NCDOT, the need for these projects is to ease congestion along N.C. 2, N.C. 5, U.S. 1 and U.S. 15-501.
The Walthour-Moss Foundation will conduct another informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The charrettes, or public workshops, will be hosted by NCDOT, the Moore County Transportation Committee, the Moore County Planning and Community Development Department and the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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