Contrary to Mr. Alsbrook’s statements in the Daily Journal Friday, the Richmond County Board of Commissioners and county staff have worked very hard over the last 13 months attempting to get NCDOT and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to upgrade the dirt road between Old Laurel Hill Road and Stroman Road.
Mr. Alsbrook approached the Board of Commissioners at their February 6, 2012 meeting requesting the Commissioners help in resolving the situation on Stroman Road. I wrote to NCDOT on behalf of the Board of Commissioners on February 8, 2012 and February 7, 2013 asking for NCDOT to address the dirt road upgrade issue. In addition to these formal requests, I personally made numerous telephone calls and other communications asking both agencies to work together to improve the road, to no avail.
In addition to verbal and written requests, the Commissioners asked District 8 Division Engineer Richard Hancock to attend the September 10, 2012 Board of Commissioners meeting to discuss this issue that was also documented in the Daily Journal. Therefore, in my opinion, Mr. Alsbrook is incorrect in stating the Richmond County Board of Commissioners has not tried to work with all parties to address this situation.
When I said we didn’t have a dog in this fight last year, I meant that the county was not involved in the widening of US #1, the closing of the CSX crossings, nor do we construct or maintain roads as Mr. Alsbrook requested. However we did make several attempts to get NCDOT and the Wildlife Resources to upgrade the road even though we have no control or power over either of these agencies.
As far as the events from this past Monday night, Donna and the Sheriff were on this issue as soon as they found out about it, as detailed in the Wednesday, February 6, 2013 article in the Daily Journal. Donna and her staff did everything they could to notify the affected residents, including communicating with CSX and convincing them to reopen one of the closed crossings. Unfortunately, the citizens in the Stroman/Marston Road area were apparently not notified in advance by CSX of the maintenance work and closing of these crossings, but Richmond County Emergency Services, Donna Wright, Sheriff Clemmons, nor any other county agency is responsible for the lack of communication from CSX and NCDOT .
The Richmond County Board of Commissioners and their staff always try to help Richmond County citizens, but in the end we have no authority to force NCDOT to do anything. Ultimately NCDOT is responsible for construction and maintenance of State roads and only NCDOT can decide what fits within their transportation plan.
— Rick Sago is County Manager in Richmond County.