Weddington prepares to take over streets

WEDDINGTON – As the North Carolina Department of Transportation rolls out changes for the maintenance of roads in Union County, leaders in Weddington have to face challenges they haven’t seen before.

While other towns in western Union County, such as Indian Trail, Stallings and Waxhaw, already have some roads under their jurisdiction, Weddington does not have any town-maintained roads – yet.  NCDOT recently sent out a memo to municipalities in Union County stating all roads constructed in the future will be the towns’ responsibility to maintain, as the department will not take on any new roads. This policy is practiced throughout the rest of the state and District 10, which includes Union, Mecklenburg, Anson, Cabarrus and Stanly counties, and is a means for the state to save road funding in exchange for passing on the cost to municipalities.

“After looking back at what we do in other counties in the district … it was pointed out that we were doing things that didn’t happen across the state,” John Underwood, with NCDOT, said. The state department isn’t asking municipalities to begin maintaining existing roads, only roads that will be developed in the future. And that could have a big impact on Weddington and upcoming projects.

Weddington Town Council held a special meeting on Oct. 28 to begin discussions with NCDOT and town staff about preparing for the town’s new responsibilities. Recently approved subdivisions like Vintage Creek, Atherton Estates and Highclere will likely fall under the new rule unless NCDOT is far enough along in the development process.

“We realize there is going to be a learning curve and some growing pains with the changes,” Underwood said. “… If we are actively working with a developer and engaged in the process, then (NCDOT) is going to honor that commitment.”

Weddington could choose to limit the type of developments it accepts, require the homeowners associations for new developments to chip on or accept Powell Bill money from the state in an effort to fund all needed repairs in the town.  Many other towns in western Union County, and throughout the state, currently accept Powell Bill funds, which are given out to help municipalities with transportation projects in their jurisdiction.  More than 500 North Carolina municipalities received Powell Bill money from NCDOT this year.

“We are shifting the financial liability to the municipal taxpayer … and we need to plan ahead for that,” Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry said during the Oct. 28 meeting.

The town also will be able to put its own regulations and standards on roads developed in the future.  Previously, road infrastructure was built to NCDOT standards – something the town could leave in place as it moves forward.

According to Underwood, most municipalities in Union County maintain some roads.  Indian Trail maintains nearly 60 miles of road infrastructure, he added.

NCDOT has not set any cut-off date for when towns must take over new roads, and  the department plans to continue working with municipalities across the county to smoothly transition into the new policy.  Weddington Town Council will continue working through details in regard to town road maintenance at future meetings.

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