Gastonia wants to borrow money to improve roads

Gastonia voters will decide in November whether or not to allow the city to borrow money to improve Gastonia’s roads, sidewalks and other transportation infrastructure around the city.

If Gastonia voters approve the plan, Gastonia will borrow $75 million through the sale of bonds to improve streets, highways, sidewalks, bridges and other traffic necessities.

Bond proceeds must be spent within seven years, but that could be extended to 10 years, City Manager Michael Peoples said.

Michael Peoples

The city will have 20 years to pay off the debt, and they hope to pay off the debt using money generated from the county’s upcoming property reassessment.

If the reassessment is 20% to 25% higher than the properties’ current value, property taxes will produce the revenue the city needs to pay off the debt, Peoples said.

City of Gastonia officials hope to use much of the $75 million — up to $20 million — to repave the city’s roads.

Another problem the city hopes to solve is manholes that need to be repaired.

The city has 806 manhole covers. Of that total, 719 are in good condition, 65 are in good condition, and 22 are in poor condition, according to Peoples.

The highest concentration of manholes requiring inspection are on Franklin Boulevard from the FUSE neighborhood to the Eastridge Mall, Peoples said. Other areas of interest include Garrison Boulevard between South Chester Street and South New Hope Road, and the majority of Broad Street and Union Road.

Peoples said part of the reason for the $75 million loan is that the city hopes to take advantage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in November. This bill provides “unprecedented amounts of funding” for transportation, Peoples said, but much of that funding requires the funds provided to be matched locally using money from city coffers.

Having the $75 million would help the city do that.

“So the idea is that it would be nice to have our own financial tool to provide this game to make us more competitive, to hopefully leverage those federal dollars here in Gastonia,” Peoples said. . “And so we’re researching and evaluating how we’re going to apply for these programs to leverage local dollars.”

City officials also hope to make the city more walkable by building sidewalks, especially in areas like bus stops where there are likely to be pedestrians. People have said that although there are new developments that have sidewalks, as well as older central neighborhoods and commercial areas that have sidewalks, between some of these places there are areas that are not connected. The city seeks to fill these gaps.

“Walking is a goal and has been a city goal. We have an enhanced citywide pedestrian plan, a citywide greenways plan. We are developing and should soon complete a cycling plan for the whole community. Peoples said “So we just need to identify some of the things that need to be connected.”

School safety is also important to the city.

They hope to improve sidewalks and walkways near schools in the city, “just trying to make it as safe as possible,” Peoples said.

City officials also hope to improve traffic congestion in parts of the city by adding turning lanes on roads that don’t have them. People specifically mentioned the intersections of New Hope Road at Franklin Boulevard, as well as Lowell Bethesda at Cramerton Road, as possibilities.

“I think it’s just a very sensible approach to meeting a real need, a visible need, if you’re driving through town and responsible for the next generation,” Peoples said.

Journalist Kara Fohner can be reached at 704-869-1850 or [email protected] Support local journalism by signing up here.

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