Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Former county commissioner circles back to moribund road project to address future growth

Meridian Waste’s pitch to Alamance County’s commissioners took a bit of a detour on Monday when a former public official approached the county’s governing board to share a potential solution to the traffic-related tribulations in the southern part of the county.

Sam Powell, a one-time county commissioner who also did a turn on Burlington’s city council, stepped back into the fray that evening to recall a long-dormant road project dubbed the “Southern Bypass,” which he felt may deserve a second look from the county’s current leaders.

Former county commissioner Sam Powell

Once hailed as the means to bring more development to areas south of the interstate, Powell acknowledged that this project has hit some rough patches due to problems with its proposed trajectory. The former county commissioner conceded that Graham’s city council has declared its opposition to the bypass because it would tear through some of the city’s newer residential developments. He also acknowledged that the route has recently raised some concerns for the Burlington-Alamance Airport Authority, which serves as the governing board for the county’s regional airport.

Powell, who has served as a member of the airport authority, went on to suggest a new, more southerly route that he said would effectively skirt these problem areas. Although this new path would still run several miles from the landfill that Meridian plans to acquire, Powell insisted that it could still improve access to this out-of-the-way site as well as other locations in the county’s southernmost reaches.

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“If we could make the southern bypass extend down south of the village of Alamance and pick up 119 back toward Mebane, it would allow for the southern bypass to be south of the Greater Alamance [Creek], and the Meridian project is also down there,” he added. “I’ve been talking about it a long time, and now is the time that I think we need the state to have its engineers take a look at it.”

Powell’s new vision for the Southern Bypass seemed to have a certain allure to some of the commissioners.

John Paisley, Jr., the chairman of the county’s governing board, readily admitted that there are “potentially massive transportation issues” for anyone “riding through the village of Bellemont.”

County commissioner chairman John Paisley, Jr.


Meanwhile, the board’s vice chairman Steve Carter observed that the bypass could be a shot in the arm for the landfill even before the new roadway is open to traffic.

“Just think of the amount of construction debris that would be generated if we were to build a road like that,” he told the rest of the county’s governing board.

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