Lawmakers Struggle with
Could this spell the end to a nightmare commute?
The Gastonia Parkway – Could this spell the end to a nightmare commute?
Anyone who’s had to commute between Belmont or Gastonia, and Charlotte – and many do – will testify that the traffic is a commuter’s worst nightmare. The announcement of the Turnpike Authority to build a parkway from I-85 at Bessemer City, meandering south round Crowder’s Mountain then heading east toward Charlotte to end at the airport, should have met with jubilation. But surprisingly instead, scores of detractors speak with a voice of doom.
Opening a New Frontier
Opinions come thick and fast. Many believe that a billion dollar toll road will be a bit of a gamble in a state unused to toll roads. Whether they will be used by truckers, who are expected to be the backbone of the road, remains to be seen. Diehard skeptics remain unconvinced. Even if all goes to plan, they cannot see the road generate the expected revenue. Why, they ask, should the state assume this additional debt with all the other issues already weighing it down?
A Non-Issue Really
Belmont residents too have their own axe to grind. The Belmont City Council has to pick up the tab for relocating water and sewer lines currently in the path of the proposed road. The cost of this exercise is estimated at a whopping $562,000. While they feel the State should have absorbed the cost, they are faced with the terms of an existing encroachment agreement which squarely puts the ball in their court.
A Brighter Future
The 22-mile proposed road has been riddled in controversy since it was conceived. However those in favor of the toll road far outweigh the detractors. Many of them are regular commuters forced to spend an hour each way traveling to work in Charlotte, because of lack of technology and job opportunities in their own turf. Many of them are old-time residents looking to a sea change to the steadily increasing poverty and decline they have been witness to. The openings that were once present no longer exist.
Why neglect an entire section of this region?
They are all agreed that something has to be done in Gaston County, regardless of whether the economic engine of salvation comes in the avatar of the parkway or in some other form. Connectivity to Charlotte and her Douglas International Airport is critical to bring new technology and jobs back to this once prosperous mill area. The Gastonia Parkway might not solve all the area’s problems, but it’s the best opportunity there is at present to garner the attention of prospective businesses and employers.