State to pay city’s actual winter road costs

Henderson does not face a “take it or leave it” position in its maintenance agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation on the upkeep of state roads in the city, the City Council’s Public Utilities Committee learned Thursday.

Wally Bowman, the deputy division engineer of the 5th Division of the Department of Transportation, raised no objection to a crucial part of the contract at the committee meeting in the Operations and Service Center. For this winter, the state will pay the actual costs of snow and ice removal on state roads in the city.

The city will do the work and will be reimbursed for the actual costs. That is a departure from the way business has been done in the past.

The other part of the contract, in which the state reimburses the city approximately $30,000 per year for maintenance, also will come under the microscope. Those terms have not been renegotiated since at least 1989.

Henderson has lost money on that contract each year, and the engineers at the committee meeting agreed to bring a new proposal to the city after the numbers are crunched. They warned, however, that the total could be reduced because snow and ice removal will no longer be in the contract.

City officials asked whether the responsibility of paying for state streets to be lighted was borne by municipalities, and the answer was yes.

But Public Works Director James Morgan asked about the cost of the electricity for the lights; the city has paid that bill out of Powell Bill funds for at least 20 years. Bowman said he assumed those signals were metered and the bill sent to the state. That city expense of about $490 monthly will also be investigated.

Council member Mary Emma Evans expressed displeasure that all of those costs to the city should have been watched more closely. She questioned how all of that could have been overlooked.

Council member Elissa Yount brought up the Chavasse Avenue project. City Engineer Frank Frazier said the right-of-way issues should be resolved in two to three weeks, and the state agreed to confirm the funding source. Bowman agreed to ride by Chavasse Avenue for a firsthand look before he left town.

The committee also elected to bring to the full council the recommendation that Westover Terrace be fixed.

Frazier said the city owns the street and is responsible for the road and for the pipe under the road that has washed away. The committee agreed to look at the priority and removing funding for Alexander Avenue paving and replacing it with the Westover Terrace project.

The spillway in the pond will be repaired, with those costs incurred by the Westover Terrace Neighborhood Foundation.

Exact estimates and an approved contractor will be presented to the council at its next meeting. The initial estimates are approximately $15,000 less than the cost the Alexander Avenue paving.

Lelia Bingham commended the committee for working on the Westover problems and not giving excuses for what could not be done.

Later the committee members commended council member Ranger Wilkerson for taking the initiative on such important matters to all the people of Henderson.