JONESVILLE — Although not required to, the town of Jonesville will hold a public hearing before its regularly scheduled Town Council Meeting.
On Monday, beginning at 6 p.m., local residents are welcome to join the council at the Town Hall to express their concerns and ideas about replacement of the bridge on U.S. 21 near Swan Creek Bypass which separates Jonesville from old Arlington.
“If you recall in the last town council meeting, we discussed that a little bit,” said Jonesville Town Manager Michael Pardue suggesting attending the meetings is an excellent way to be involved with one’s community of residence.
“I contacted [Division Engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation Mike Pettyjohn to find out] the plan,” said Pardue, who read Pettyjohn’s statement at the November meeting which led to the hearings.
Although there are several potential problems, they mainly concern public safety and traffic flow.
The proposed detour would be the Swan Creek Bypass, Shaffner Road and Haynes Road, according to Pettyjohn. “Of course local traffic will use their own knowledge of the area to choose the best routes for their needs.”
The most important of these being emergency response routes, which is part of why a committee including Jonesville town staff, mayor, police department and the planning board met with Yadkin County Emergency Services, sheriff and officials as well as the Arlington Fire Department, North Carolina Highway Patrol and Elkin Police Department and officials to discuss concerns.
“The typical response time from the fire department past the bridge now is one minute,” said Jonesville Planning/Zoning Board Chairman Doug Chappell.
“With the bridge taken out, the Center Street/North Park response time will be three minutes. The problem with that particular situation is the culvert,” said Chappell.
“The culvert is weighted for 13,000 to 20,000 pounds maximum. The fire trucks fully loaded are 75,000 to 85,000 pounds I believe and the culvert has had some problems with a little bit of deterioration, according to Mr. [Tim] Collins [director of Public Works].”
This is only part of the reason this route is not recommended for the detour.
“It’s right there where Jonesville Headstart is,” said Pardue, who was also worried about young residents at Arlington Hill Apartments.
“There are kids through there playing and things like that,” said Chappell.
“These folks are used to traffic,” said Pardue, “imagine a fire truck coming through there.”
It is not only the health and welfare of residents along that shortcut for the proposed route that concerns the town, but those who might be in need of emergency services.
The proposed route using Swan Creek Bypass/Shaffner/Haynes Roads will take seven minutes, according to Chappell.
“For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, the chances of survival decrease by seven to 10 percent,” quoted Chappell from the New England Journal of Medicine.
During a Life Threatening Emergency Training class held at the Elkin Public Library in July, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Stroke and Education Coordinator Emily Parks expressed the importance of every minute when dealing with stroke victims as well.
“Each minute between onset and treatment makes a difference,” said Parks.
“Based on the information from the fire marshal, that adds at least seven minutes for emergency,” said Pardue of the proposed detour that could handle the weight of the emergency vehicles.
“They’re going to make the long loop adding at least seven minutes on to the best of scenarios,” said Pardue. “Not seven minutes time, additional time and it could be 15 minutes or more additional time. That’s going to increase stressors on Elkin or on the county, depending on which side the problem of the bridge the problem is on.”
Someone watching their house burn on the far side of the bridge will not appreciate those extra few minutes which is just one reason the town is seeking an alternative to the detour.
Traffic flow through town is also a concern.
“We want to avoid that at all if possible,” said Pardue, observing the high number of those who use the route for commuting from Elkin and Yadkinville.
Pardue is also concerned about the businesses which will be impacted.
“You’ve got some businesses like Foothills Meat,” said Pardue. “They’ve got buildings on both sides of that bridge. It’s just a quarter-mile or whatever distance, but now there’s no bridge. They’ve got to drive.”
Although concerned about how expediency and smooth traffic impacts the community financially, it is the safety issues that has Pardue, Chappell and other Jonesville leaders most concerned.
“That’s inconvenient, but from the safety perspective and everything, we just wanted to see if there wasn’t another opportunity or solution,” said Pardue.
“With all agencies talking and all of them in agreement with our planning board, we are recommending to the town council that a temporary bridge be constructed if the DOT will allow that,” said Chappell, describing other possibilities with traffic continuing across a bridge at or near the current site.
“Basically our recommendation is to come up with a plan or for them to come up with a plan that can allow this continual flow,” said Pardue, “be it an alternative, be at a temporary bridge during construction, be it leave the old bridge loan and build a new one beside of it and then tear the old one down kind of idea.”
“There’s probably ideas that we haven’t thought of, but we want to continue traffic flow through there the entire time,” said Pardue, “basically one day close this one and open this one. We’re just asking them to think of other options rather than rerouting traffic around town.”
They also are asking residents for other options by holding public hearings like the one that was scheduled for Dec. 4.
“Today we didn’t get any turnout, but we just wanted to make it available for the public,” said Pardue, explaining that the hearings were not a requirement, “but we’re doing it just out of good faith and working with the townsfolk. We just want folks to be aware of these things.”
Keeping citizens of Jonesville informed and involved is important to the town manager even though the work is not scheduled to be begun until October of 2018.
“Even though it’s a few months down the road, it will be here before we know it,” said Pardue, who hopes the community will get involved with maintaining their own safety.
“We’re just trying to look at it from a public safety perspective and making sure everybody is safe. One injury, one fatality,” said Pardue, “my gosh you can’t put a price tag on those things so we’re trying to avoid that and do everything we know to do and still try to not impede traffic flow through there.”
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.