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Article 66

Commissioners narrowly approve Wil-Cox bridge repairs

By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch

Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.

The Davidson County Board of Commissioners opted to move forward with cosmetic repairs to the Wil-Cox Bridge, set to be done by Flatiron-Lane Construction, the same contractor heading up work on the new Interstate 85 bridge project over the Yadkin River.


The board heard an update on repair costs Tuesday night from N.C. Department of Transportation Division 9 Engineer Pat Ivey. It was the first such update from the DOT to the board since May, after the department said it would work on getting an estimate to commissioners.


On a narrow 4-3 vote, commissioners approved Flatiron-Lane’s quote of just over $1.1 million to do necessary cosmetic repairs to the bridge, which primarily includes sealing cracks that were not deemed structural issues by the DOT.

 

Commissioners Larry Potts, Sam Watford and Don Truell all voted against spending the money. Board Chair Dr. Max Walser gave the decisive “yes” vote alongside commissioners Fred McClure, Billy Joe Kepley and Cathy Dunn.


In March, commissioners voted to accept ownership of the bridge from the DOT, which would have knocked it down as part of the I-85 project had commissioners not accepted ownership. Since then, DOT closed the bridge to traffic in April after finding several structural deficiencies.


Part of the agreement between the county and DOT was that the transportation department would pay for repair costs to bring the bridge back up to code. Shortly after the county accepted the agreement in March, the bridge was closed in April to traffic. The DOT also pledged $2.5 million to the county in repair costs that would also give the county the opportunity for cosmetic upgrades.


Ivey said the DOT is expected to spend about $3 million in structural repairs but told commissioners, in his opinion, the price from Flatiron-Lane to do cosmetic repairs is a good one.


“This is an excellent deal for the county,” Ivey said. “The reason it is a low as it is, is because that contractor will be out there already. If you all had this project yourself, it would be significantly higher. Plus it would be a different contractor who would not be familiar with the project. Our original cost estimate for this work was closer to $2 million.”


Ivey also pointed out that the longer the cosmetic repairs went unaddressed, the more money those repairs would potentially cost.


Commissioners debated at length, asking Ivey a series of questions and expressing concern on whether postponing cosmetic repairs would be a better option for the county.


“I think we should save the money,” said Watford. “We don’t have to do this.”


But concerns over future prices and different contractors prompted the board to move forward.


“I think the time to do it is to do it all at one time,” Kepley said. “When you start something, do it completely, then you can forget about it and go on to other projects. I would encourage everyone to support it. I think it should all be done at one time.”


In other news, the board:


• Approved economic incentives for Project Lynx and scheduled a public hearing on the matter for Sept. 28. Under the proposal, the county will enter a lease agreement with the City of Lexington and will have one-half interest of the property, slated to be located in the Lexington Business Center. The agreement is for 12 years in the amount of $72,916 each year as the county’s share of the rent. Project Lynx proposes to invest $20 million in new plant, machinery and equipment and create 42 jobs over three years.


The Lexington City Council unanimously approved the economic incentives agreement at its meeting Monday night.
Steve Googe, executive director of the Davidson County Economic Development Commission, said talks with Project Lynx have been ongoing for more than six years. While Googe didn’t offer further details about the company he said he plans to meet with Project Lynx officials later this week, during which he will present the incentives in hopes of finalizing the company’s move to Davidson County.


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