Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

  • issuu

Southern Caldwell County business owners respond with growing concerns about the US 321 Widening Project

CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (August 7, 2017)…Concerns are growing about the US 321 Widening Project and how it will affect Southern Caldwell County businesses and residents.

After a public meeting in Hickory on July, 27, 2017, a commenting period was announced which goes through August 10, 2017.  Business owners and residents are hoping for more time to comment.

A community meeting is in the works with the hope that representatives from local government and NCDOT will attend to answer concerns and questions.

NCDOT US 321 Widening Project Page

Below you will find an outline of the concerns and letters from two business owners…

Outline of Concerns:

HWY 321 WIDENING PROJECT (Southern Caldwell County) — DOT MEETING INFO FROM 07/27/17
www.ncdot.gov/projects/us321widening/ for info. Map U-4700-US-321-Section-A-2017, as it affects Southern Caldwell County

This “SuperStreet” is not going to allow Left Turns onto Highway 321?
It’s adding a lot of U-Turns & Stoplights.
It’s supposed to make traffic flow smoother & faster, although a longer route.
What is the value of that turn-around Extra Time worth to you?
What is the Wear & Tear, from routing to turn-arounds, on your vehicle going to do?

• So – GRACE CHAPEL ROAD RESIDENTS must turn Right (North) onto Highway 321 & then make a U-Turn – just to go to Hickory?
• So – LAKEVIEW PARK RESIDENTS must turn Right (North) onto Highway 321 & then make a U-Turn – just to go to Hickory? In addition, there will be no left turn from 321 South into Lakeview Park.
• So – RIVER BEND RESIDENTS must turn Right (North) onto Highway 321 & then make a U-Turn – just to go to Hickory or across to 321-A? Won’t Property Values Be Reduced Dramatically?
• So – WAL-MART COMPLEX SHOPPERS must turn Right (North) onto Highway 321 & then make a U-Turn – just to go to Hickory or across to 321-A? Won’t Customer Traffic Be Reduced?
• So – New RIVERCREST MEDICAL PARK & PLUS URGENT CARE patients must turn Right (North) onto Highway 321 & then make a U-Turn – just to go to Hickory or across to 321-A? Won’t Client Traffic Be Reduced?

• Additionally – MIDWAY SAND ROAD & SAGE MEADOWS RESIDENTS will now have to travel South on Highway 321, and cut around a new road behind SunLife to get to their homes. Won’t Property Values Be Reduced Dramatically?
• Additionally – TEFF HAIR SALON CLIENTS will now have to travel South on Highway 321, and cut around a new road behind SunLife to get to their homes. Won’t Client Traffic Be Reduced Dramatically?
• Additionally – THE SUNLIFE CENTER (Including SunLife Sunrooms, Spas, & More) will lose FRONT PARKING & DRIVEWAYS – impacting 36+ years of customers all over North Carolina & Upstate South Carolina, and the livelihoods of over 20 employees & their families.
• Additionally – THE SUNLIFE CENTER will now lose land already purchased for future expansion with an over 20,000 s.f. addition (set to begin construction within the next 3 years).
• Additionally – HABERER INSURANCE will lose their ½ of their FRONT PARKING & DRIVEWAYS – again impacting their customers & long-term livelihoods. Won’t Client Traffic Be Reduced Dramatically?
• Additionally – PARKWAY INTERNAL MEDICINE will lose over ½ of their FRONT PARKING & DRIVEWAYS – again impacting over 10,000 customers (many elderly with difficulty traveling) & livelihoods of over 15 employees & their families. Won’t Client Traffic Be Reduced Dramatically?
• Additionally – D&T HOLDINGS will lose their livelihood of maintaining lessees for these buildings, leaving empty spaces due to the limited access.

• ALSO – School Buses and Emergency Vehicles are having to make these Right Turns Only, and U-Turn in Hickory (past Arby’s), just to get into LAKEVIEW PARK.

These are Major Devastating Changes To Years Of Residents & Property Values, Businesses & Livelihoods, and Years Of Customers – Are All Due To This NEW ALEX LEE BLVD./MDI FACILITY INTERCHANGE.

All of this was released at the 07/27/17 DOT Meeting – with BIG changes at the Alex Lee Blvd / MDI Interchange.
See attached maps. Why can’t the ALEX LEE BLVD./MDI Intersection be changed to the WalMart intersection or Grace Chapel Road Intersection? Why did they build New Farm Road & Alex Lee Blvd. extension if they’re not going to allow trucks to use it (currently posted with “No Trucks” signage) to exit via Grace Chapel or WalMart? According to Caldwell Journal (02/19/2015), New Farm Rd & the Alex Lee Blvd. extension was aimed at providing another access point to the MDI Facility (HOW WITH NO TRUCKS ALLOWED???). The $5 million project was the result of a partnership between Caldwell County, City of Hickory, and the Town of Granite Falls partly to help MDI with its ongoing expansion plans. Further, per the Hickory City Council meeting on 10/29/2009, Caldwell County and the City of Hickory contributed $30,000 each toward this road (THAT CAN’T BE USED FOR TRUCK TRAFFIC!!!).

The new design is permanently affecting many long-term businesses & residents (taking buildings, parking, driveways) – that it didn’t affect as harshly on the 2016 plans (didn’t show alternate plans for Alex Lee Blvd. then).

COME ON D.O.T. & CALDWELL COUNTY – YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS! Please contact them & let them know!

Take a look at the attached maps, and forward your concerns & questions to the DOT or county commissioners. They only opened a 2 week comment period, and it ENDS AUG 10th!

See attached maps with details by Clicking Here.

Comment here:  apps.ncdot.gov/ContactUS/PostComment.aspx?Unit=US321

NCDOT Project Development Engineer:
Gene Tarascio – gtarascio@ncdot.gov

NCDOT Senior Public Involvement Officer:
Diane Wilson – pdwilson1@ncdot.gov

N.C. House of Representatives:
Destin Hall – Destin.Hall@ncleg.net

NC Senate:
Deanna Ballard – Deanna.Ballard@ncleg.net

Here is a statement from John Dunn (SunLife Sunrooms Spas owner):

The NC DOT hosted a meeting on July 27 at Western Piedmont Council of Government for Hickory residents for the updated design of widening Highway 321 from 4 lanes to 6 lanes. There have been 2 articles in Hickory Daily Record about how it affects Hickory residents and businesses, but nothing about how it affects Caldwell County residents and businesses. This is a 13.9 mile project from Hwy 70 in Hickory to Southwest Blvd in Lenoir with less than 3 miles of this in Hickory.

There is far more impact in the 11 miles thru Granite Falls, Sawmills, Hudson, and Lenoir in Caldwell County.

Let me start by saying I live in this area and am a business owner in this area and am affected by this Highway.

I’m not sure that the many Caldwell County residents and businesses realize how they will be affected by this, not the inconveniences while the highway is being widened, but the ongoing affect for all the years after it is completed.

There was a DOT meeting in July 2016 in both Hickory and Caldwell County where input was accepted from both areas on the proposed maps for the widening of Highway 321. However a new meeting with updated designs was held July 27, 2017, only in Hickory at Western Piedmont Council of Governments. Why was this?

The design for the Caldwell County section at the 2016 meeting provided normal access from the side streets and roads onto 321; that is, normal right and left turns and across 321 with one interchange at Falls Ave. in Granite Falls, and two alternate designs for interchanges from Grace Chapel Rd.

The 2017 design is a Super Street design with RIGHT TURNS ONLY from all side streets and roads onto 321. You cannot turn left or go straight across, you MUST TURN RIGHT, then go down and make a U TURN. There is still an interchange at Falls avenue. The alternate designs for Grace Chapel have been eliminated but there is now a Huge interchange at Alex Lee Blvd at the MDI facility. Several families will lose their homes. A construction company and an auto dealer will lose their buildings, and several businesses will be affected. Huffman Hosiery Mills will lose part of the front of their building.This interchange terminates all the way to the SunLife Center, thereby closing Hickory Sand Road and Sage Meadows Road. A new street will be cut in beside the SunLife Center and across the back of the SunLife Center property to access these roads.

This interchange eliminates access to the front of the SunLife Center which houses a medical practice with ten thousand patients, an insurance agency, and a 36 year old specialty retail center with thousands of customers throughout NC and upper SC. It also affects the planned addition of 20,000 sq ft to the SunLife Center.

According to the Caldwell Journal (02/19/2015) the extension of New Farm Rd, and Alex Lee Blvd was constructed at a cost of five million dollars to provide another access point for the MDI facility.

Also both Hickory and Caldwell County contributed $30,000.00 each for land purchased for this road according to Hickory Council meeting (10/20/2009).

However these roads have No Trucks signs posted. How does that provide another access for MDI. Five Million Sixty Thousand dollars down the drain. Now there is this huge interchange planned.

If an interchange is needed, it should be moved to Grace Chapel Rd as the alternates from the 2016 plans. There would be no loss of homes, no closed roads.

The citizens of Caldwell County need more time to look at these new maps and make comments.

The DOT has only given until August 10 to make these comments.. Their contact info is Gene Tarascio gtarascio@ncdot.gov (919) 707-6046. Please contact your commissioners, city councilmen and state representatives to ask for more time.

Here is a letter to NCDOT Project Development Engineer Gene Tarascio from Kimberly Teff (Teff Hair Design Studio):

Dear Gene Tarascio,

I am writing in regards to the future Hwy. 321 widening project in Caldwell Co.

I recently learned that the project has been redesigned to meet the needs of MDI. Thus, destroying many other businesses and homes on 321. My business will be personally effected due to the closing of Sage Meadow Circle. The state will be creating a new road to access my business and the neighborhoods behind me. My business will be wedged between an entrance ramp/ deceleration lane and the new road that is going to be constructed. This is going to make the entrance to my business extremely awkward and I fear loss of future business as well as a loss of existing clients. Not to mention the danger of a transfer truck or car careening into my business due to such close proximity to the highway.

Neighboring businesses are either going to be destroyed or lose their entire parking lots. How will they continue to do business without a parking lot? How will they continue to lease their sub parcels without a parking lot? At the meeting, a NCDOT employee stated “But we are saving 30 business”. You may be saving 30 structures, but you are destroying our business. These are “fake saves”!

Grogan’s entire family works at Grogan Construction. SunLife Sunrooms has three entire families employed there and I am a single woman trying to secure my future by owning a business that I could someday sell or lease for my retirement. I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO SELL OR LEASE THIS BUILDING DUE TO THIS HWY. 321 PROJECT.

There are 12 families in the Sage Meadow development (plus future home sites that no one will purchase because of this project) that will be effected due to closing Sage Meadow Circle. The closing of Midway Sand Road will affect nearly 50 families. There are several thousands of residents in the Grace Chapel community that will be effected by the new intersection at 321. The Riverbend neighborhood is losing their entrance. Walmart and entire complex, Wendy’s, Bojangles, Murphy Express, Autozone, and a BRAND-NEW Emergency Medical Facility will all be effected by this altered highway proposal. Do our tax dollars not count?

A few years ago, the state constructed New Farm Road behind MDI. We were told it was for the use of MDI trucks. Why can”t they use that road via Grace Chapel Rd. instead of creating a whole new interchange at the front of MDI? Or perhaps create a new interchange at Poovey’s Grove Church Road/ Wesley Place where there are no businesses currently.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my letter. I hope that it will enlighten you and NCDOT of our grave concerns regarding this project. If you cannot accommodate my plea, then purchase my businesses so that I may relocate.

Kimberly Teff
Teff Hair Design Studio INC


About The Author